Out of the North: Dicky Boyd on How to Build, Adapt and Paint A Viking Long Ship

Hi, I’m Paul, and welcome to another edition of Sculpting, Painting and Gaming, your hobby oasis in a desert of Brexit, soap operas and Love Island.

This week returnee Dicky Boyd brings us another of his unique articles about building stuff.  Dicky’s hobbying tips are consistently entertaining and illuminating, and this new opus is no different. Today he shows us how to build Sarissa Precison’s new Viking Longship, bringing his own touch of invention and colour to proceedings.


“Out of the north an evil shall break forth on all the inhabitants of the land.”

Jeremiah, 1:14.


In this article we will look at how to build, adapt and paint the fantastic Viking Long Boat by Sarrisa Precision. A fantastic and typically well-designed kit, it provides a very reasonably priced solution for landing your Northmen onto the wargaming table.


Always always always look at the plans before you begin this – or any other – build. I like to do this whilst prepping all the bits. Remove the component parts from the frame, sand off all the little bits that held them in place, and then compare them to the plan. This is the familiarisation period. Wear a mask for the sanding; MDF dust isn’t pleasant on the bronchial tubes.

As you work through the pieces, opportunities to enhance the model will present themselves.

The oar blades can be sanded.

Group pieces to speed sanding off the knobbly bits.

Organise all the ribs of the boat ready for assembly in size order. Note the central rib does not have a slot for the keel.

The instructions in the kit are clear, so just follow them.

Stick the keel down onto paper to make it easier to assemble.

Leave the last two ribs off until you have inserted the locking bars. These locking bars need teasing in, and you may wish to open the joints a little with gentle sanding.

Here you can see both sides locked together.

Make sure you push the piece pictured left into place before putting the deck on.

The deck needs easing into place. I found this process easier to present one edge to the ribs, locate them into the deck and then lower the other edge into place.

You’re now almost ready to begin painting. I suggest leaving off the planks from the hull for ease of painting and spraying. Its also a good idea to drip glue into the joints from underneath to secure everything.

Whilst you are waiting for the glue to dry on your superstructure, you may want to turn your attention to the cardboard elements. Here you can see I have applied a basecoat to the hull:

Whilst the paint is drying on the cardboard elements, the glue has dried on the superstructure and my longboat is solid as a rock.  I intend to rig the boat. Whilst this adds a great deal to your Viking long ship, as we shall see, it is by no means essential. If you do decide to rig your longship, the kit has been designed to allow you to have the sail up or down, so you can decide on whether to build a crafty river raider or a ship skimming the surf with a full sail.

Now is a good time to give the superstructure a base coat. I say this as, once the greyboard elements are in place, it will make painting some parts of the ship harder to reach.

I need to complete the detail on the greyboard hull before I can fix it in place. This is where the build really gets exciting, as you can see the colour and detail falling into place:

Here we see a size comparison with the well known Revell longship. The Sarissa kit clearly sports a bigger deck on which to place your miniatures:

And now for some adjustments to the prow of the vessel. Nothing says Viking ship more than a beautiful curve:

The model can’t give you this sweep completely, but you can hint at it. Be careful to measure and mark your kit carefully (as per the picture above right). It is possible to remove enough of the greyboard and the MDF to suggest its heritage.

Next we apply the basic colours with a dark wash. Note the bright colours on the gunwales which lifts the model from the standard grey. The model also has a set of shields to attach. I chose not to use them as I figured my warriors would be using them.

Now we can build a star board using our ready supply ever-useful coffee stirrers, and we can add rivet work to the boat with our equally useful acrylic pens.

And now we can add some finishing touches by adding detail and definition to the decking planks with a fine brush, and colour to your stern and prow, hinting at the ornate carving.

Rigging preparation.

Whilst you can buy scale rope or elasticated thread to get the desired tension in you rigging, this is a quick way to make your own convincing ropes.

We begin with normal cotton thread, which we cut into five lengths at three meters; you can never have too much rope.

Tie a knot/loop in one end and attach to a fixed point e.g. a door handle.

Then twist the strands together, after which apply PVA glue down the whole length of now rope-like thread. This will keep the twist in place.

And that’s it! Finished! Ready to go to the shipyard. 👌

The Sail.

Add an extra layer of authenticity to your longship with a sail! To begin, roll tissue paper and tie it into a sausage using single strands of cotton, then tie the sail into position and coat with watered down PVA.


From this shot you can see the direction of travel for your thick rope as rigging.

Drill holes to allow rope to be tied off. I used super glue to secure the knots.

Final Touches.

Add some cheap filler to the ‘skirt’ of the model to simulate waves.

Paint  with rich deep blue.

Apply a wash to deepen the texture.

Finally a drybrush of white to add the salt and foam to your surf.


Sarissa’s Viking Longboat is a great kit. Not only does it look magnificent, but it is also versatile enough to be used not only in many historical periods but also the fantasy genre. It’s relatively challenging as a hobby project without being difficult, and, if prepared and finished correctly, look incredible.

Further more—and this is a key consideration on a hobby where there is so many excellent products vying for our hobby pound—it is great value for money; well done, Sarissa!



Dicky’s Viking Longship is taken from Sarissa Precision’s Dark Ages range of MDF kits. Perfect for Saga, the Dark Ages range is just one of the many lines on Sarissa’s webstore, which includes kits and accessories from almost every conceivable time period and setting. Their expansive catalogue offers you buildings and accessories for games as diverse as Test of Honour, Star Wars: LegionGangs of Rome and many more.

Better yet, postage is only £2.50 worldwide, whatever you order, wherever you live.



Long before he established Dicky Boyd Builds—a bespoke terrain building service for for gaming companies and individuals—Dicky’s first models were cut from card and coloured with felt tip pens. He progressed to Airfix kits in the 1970s, and discovered the mysterious world of role playing games in the 1980s.

Dicky has previously worked for private clients and companies in the wargaming industry (including War Banner!)



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About the Author

Paul L. Mathews
A born-again wargamer since 2015, Paul L. Mathews is now the editor at War Banner. He is also the head honcho at his own freelance enterprise, Tabletop Creative. A dull boy, Paul's interests include editing and staying up past his bedtime

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