Painting Tutorial - Klingon - TNG

Hello everyone, I present to you today a painting guide on how to paint small scale Klingon ships from the the TNG era in a quick and dirty fashion. This will not be a masterclass in painting but rather a method to get your Klingons done fast but not have them be an eyesore. For this tutorial I will be walking through the steps of painting a Beta Canon model that I have used to represent a Bortasqu' Class Battlecruiser first seen in the online game STO. Most of the steps involved are common to all Klingon ships from the TNG era. The model that I chose came from and can be found at the following link: This model was printed in Smooth Fine Detail Plastic.

This fantastic model is in a nebulous scale but fits perfectly in with a 1/7000 fleet and measures 9.95cm/3.92in long. As is normal with ships in this scale and print material, the details are quite small and subtle which results in a different palette than a model in a larger scale necessitating different techniques.

Step 1 - Model Prep

As with any miniature straight out of its packaging the first step is to clean the model. Using a clean toothbrush, warm water, and dish soap we will first scrub our model to get any agents left over from the manufacturing process. Be careful not to scrub too hard in the case of resin models as you may break delicate components. On this model the underside of the bridge module has a very cool looking protrusion that is thin and breakable and the nacelles have a void area making the rear of the nacelles fragile; pay close attention to these areas.

After drying the model it is time to drill out a hole in the underside of the model for the peg. The hole is then cleaned up and the peg glued in place. By having the peg in the model during painting we have created a convenient holding point that will not screw up the paint job as we move forward. The superglue will need to fully dry before we spray paint and so we will go and watch Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country in its entirety to get our Klingon hearts beating.

Step 2 - Reference Material

The next step will be to exercise our Google muscles and look for some reference material. I settled upon this mock-up of a Negh'Var Class as no material really exists for this model and because the Bortasqu' appears to be of a similar generation.

Step 3 - Gather Supplies

With our reference material handy we must now decide what colors, brush sizes, washes, after effects, and what brew to drink while painting this miniature. The supplies I used are the following:

Large Dry Brush
Medium Wash Brush
Small Area Brush
Detail Brush
Olive Green Spray Base Coat
Light Olive Green Acrylic
Leaf Green Acrylic
Red-Brown Acrylic
Bright Red Acrylic
Orange Acrylic
Pure White Acrylic
Steel Acrylic
Black-Brown Wash (Citadel Nuln Oil)
Gloss Brush Coat
Matte Spray Sealer

1 or more Premium Beers

Step 4 - Base Coat

With our supplies gathered, our reference material handy, model prepped, and at least 1 brew finished, we can begin the real painting process. Using an even application, base coat your model in the Olive Green. It is always better to apply multiple thinner coats than 1 heavier coat. Since we have to wait a short while for the base coat to dry we will now go watch the Klingons come to Starfleet's rescue during Operation Return:

Step 5 - Base Dry Brush

Using our Light Olive Green Acrylic paint we will perform an even medium dry brush with our Large Dry Brush across the entire model. Our intention is to cover all the surfaces but leave the recessed details a little darker.

Step 6 - Highlight Dry Brush

Next using our Leaf Green Acrylic we will perform a light dry brush with our Large Dry Brush across the entire model. Our intention is to catch the edges of the raised details but leave the majority of the surfaces.

Step 7 - Panel Blocking

Using our Red-Brown Acrylic we will block in the wing panels with our Small Area Brush. Not all Klingon ships include this panel scheme, however, I decided to include them on this model to add a little pizzazz to what would otherwise be a green blob. That being said in this case less is more, we only want to do a small number of panels or else we might lose the utilitarian look of a Klingon ship. Do not be afraid to do more than one coat on the panels to get the color consistent; it is better to go thin with multiple coats than make a mistake with a large amount of paint.

Step 8 - Metal Vents

This model shares some common detail elements with the Vorcha Class and as such includes the vent like structures along the central spine of the ship. Using our Steel Acrylic we will paint the 'vents' with our Small Area Brush. Metal paints are quite thick and so we will be extra careful with the edging as it will be a pain to cover up any spillages on the hull.

Step 9 - Hull Wash

Using our Black-Brown Wash, in this case Citadel's Nuln Oil, we now wash the entire surface of the model including the red-brown paneling and the steel vents. Because of the size of this model we will use the Medium Wash Brush, however, if you are inexperienced or uncertain with the use of washes then I recommend the use of the Small Area Brush. There is a fine line to be followed in this step. A certain level of precision and evenness of the wash is required but as this is a Klingon ship and most likely has not had its hull cleaned ever, we still want suitable dirtiness to complete the aesthetic. In situations like this, start on the bottom of the model as you discern the proper method. The wash will take some time to dry so in the meantime we will watch the Klingon fleet attack Deep Space Nine:

Step 9 - Bussard Collectors

Next we will tackle the bussard collectors. Using the orange acrylic we will fill in the collectors with solid orange. More than one coat may be required to achieve the solid look. Make sure that you do both the outside and inside of the nacelles or you will have to double back in a later step. Like I did. The coloring of Klingon nacelles is inconsistent in the media ranging from dark red to orange. I chose orange only to make them a little different than my Starfleet ships.

Step 10 - Impulse Engines

Using the Bright Red Acrylic we will fill in the impulse manifolds with the Small Area Brush. Like with the bussard collectors we may need more than one coat to assure a consistent color.

Step 11 - Lights

The next step is both optional and a pain; using our Pure White Acrylic we will paint running lights and window lights. Individual preferences/ambition may limit the number of lights that are painted across the hull. The important part of this step is patience. As soon as we start to rush we will make the dots too big or overlapping. Take your time and do it right. At a minimum paint running lights and then move on to a few areas for windows. It takes less than you might think to create the correct impression.

Step 12 - Matte Coat

In order to protect our model from the grubby fingers that will inevitably handle it we will now seal it with our matte spray sealer. It does not take a heavy coat to protect the model so apply it thinly. The sealer will take some time to dry and so we will watch General Chang attack the Enterprise at Khitomer:

Step 13 - Glowy Bits

Finally, using our Gloss Brush Coat we will cover the bussard collectors and impulse manifolds using our Small Area Brush. We need to be careful not to overlap the hull as we don't want a shiny hull. Also make sure that you forget to take a picture of this step to show the internet. Once this step is complete we are ready for basing and pretty pictures.

Step 14 - Picture Time

With our new model complete we can take pictures so that we can post them on the internet, receive many accolades, and reinforce our sense of self importance.


  1. Accolades indeed! Quite a good result, and with a non-canon ship, who is to say that you painted it rightly or no?

    The ruddy brown paneling and the windows/running lights really make it seem more "realistic".

    1. Thank you, I do generally try to get a more realistic 'weathered' look to my starships.

  2. Excellent tutorial, especially as i am not the best at painting....thank you!
    Great job on your Klingon ship. Nive touch with the space battle vids too.


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