Saturday, December 15, 2012

Tutorial: Painting a shipping container

A step-by-step guide to how I quickly painted my shipping containers. I used the same basic formula to paint all of the containers, only changing the base colour. This tutorial will show you how to quickly paint your shipping containers to a tabletop standard. To see how to build shipping containers, check out my post on building shipping containers. Also, please vote on my poll on the left for what you would like to see on this blog.

Step 1: Prime the model
I primed these models with a simple grey spray paint. Any primer will work. A light colour will be easier to get coverage of your base colour.

Step 2: Base coat
I used the airbrush to quickly base coat the solid colour on the models. You could just as easily use spray paint or brush on the base coat. I based this model in Vallejo Model Air Light Sea Blue, as I was using it on another model. The orange containers were base coated with a 15 year old pot of Citadel Blazing Orange (not a good idea, it was strange paint after so long).

Step 3: Stencil the lettering
I used a standard lettering stencil and white paint to paint on most of the stenciled letters. I used some letters cut out of some masking tape for the thicker letters.
Step 4: Add decals
I didn't want to freehand tiny letters. Instead, I used number decals from the Cadian infantry box to add numbers and a few other symbols to the containers.
Step 5: Wash
I then washed the entire model with a brown wash. Any commercial wash or just paint and water will work. I kept it thin.
Step 6: Chips
I painted the chips by using a sponge to dab chips of dark brown all over the models. Dip a sponge into the paint and then dab it on some paper until it is mostly dry. Then dab it on the model where you would like wear and chips. I used a mix of Vallejo Charred Brown and Black. Any dark brown will work. I also painted the dark brown into the broken areas of the model.

Step 7: Metal
I then did the same thing with some old Citadel Boltgun metal. I tried to focus on putting the metal somewhat inside the brown areas.
Step 8: Dirt and rust
Next, I airbrushed Vallejo Model Air (VMA) Burnt Umber at the edges of each panel. I also did lines below chips to show some rust streaks on the metal. You could do this step using a brush by carefully drybrushing in the same areas.
Step 9: Add graffiti (optional)
If you would like, you can add graffiti on the container using the tutorial on airbrushing graffiti.
Step 10: Dirt
To tone down the graffiti and add some dirt around the bottom of the container, lightly airbrush or dry brush a dirt colour around the bottom of the container and anywhere you want to tone down the colour. I used VMA Dark Earth for this.
Step 11: Streaks
Finally, I added a few drips and streaks running down the container using Citadel Gryphon Sepia (now Seraphim Sepia I believe). I used a brush with lots of wash and slowly brought it down from the point where I wanted the rust to start.
Done! Here are a few pictures of the finished model. Tomorrow I will have some pictures to put up of the first five finished shipping containers. Thanks for visiting.

Other shipping container links


  1. Arg! Those are so good! Might be wroth getting a bunch of different sized alphabet card stencils from Michael's or Curry's for serial numbers and such.

  2. I think it looks great, awesome job!

    -Panamerican Shipping

  3. What's great about these shipping containers is that they're available in various sizes, making them fit for several uses such as in hobbies just like what this blog post has described.


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