Anglo-Saxon ship

This Anglo-Saxon ship is from the early 7th century, 27m long, 4.5m beam with single square sail and six oars. No detailed drawings exist so I am constructing from knowledge, experience, advice and guesswork. For accuracy the build of the 3D model has to follow the method of construction of the ships of the period. This is where some guesswork comes in; Viking ship construction is well understood but they used a technology that was developed later.

Ribs were profiled from an average of the Sutton Hoo and Graveney archeological findings. The starboard front dozen ribs have been created and chamfered. Modifications need to be done to the intermediate rib profiles to give a smooth hull shape. Duplication mirroring and refinement come later.

Planking is to done. How to do it?

The current idea to create planking is to use Bezier curves, convert to 3D curves then loft to create a rectangular mesh. Each plank will have to be made separately and laid clinker fashion from the keel up.

Any cracking ideas?


Do you really need that level of detail or would texturing the planks onto a one piece hull mesh do the trick?

The catch with curves is you can’t get the plank shape twisted the way you want. What I mean there, is that at the top of the hull the plank will run along the side and curve in towards the bow - fine, but near the keel you want to curve up a bit as well as twist the plank to get it from the horizontal at the bottom to being vertical at the bow, you can’t rotate a point in a bezier curve at right angles to it’s length so it will always be parallel to the keel not twisted around to vertical to meet the point of the bow.

The way I think may be easiest is to start with the plank - a mesh object, then use a lattice modifier to twist and bend the plank the way you want. With enough divisions the lattice can be twisted and bent to shape the plank the way you want, the plank mesh will need enough subdivisions to follow the shape smoothly as well.

You may also find some help/inspiration at -

Thanks LoopyShane. I really need to construct each separate part of the ship. I want to make an authentic model, not just a good looking image - so I will have to make the planks. The links you gave I will exploit later but they do not apply at this particular stage.

As you said, I think I will have to construct planks the hard way by manipulating high density meshes. Its all part of the fun. All the best.

The studio setup was improved by introducing three camera along each axis, equal distance and equal focal lengths so that each view through the camera was at exactly the same magnification. Long focal lengths were used to avoid distortion. The alignment of the frames could then be checked and rechecked from each point of view. The profile of an intermediate frame was modified by Lattice.

Duplicates were made and additional frames created for the stern half of the ship. Alignments were checked again, bearing in mind that this ship was constructed by hand over a thousand years ago.

Construction proper is now underway. Bezier curves were traced on the side elevation and converted to mesh, extruded and Edge Loop used to create the first plank curved in one plane. The plank was rotated slightly to sit on the mid frames then manipulated with Lattice to bend it further at the bow and stern. The overhanging edge was trimmed by vertex manipulation.

Planking will continue in a similar manner - unless you guys have any splendid ideas - and each new plank will be laid clinker fashion; I think there are only nine per side.


The garboard planking was not in full contact with the frames. Manipulating the mesh with Lattice doesn’t give the degree of control needed; or at least I haven’t the skill. Reading plank-on-frame modelling and Viking ship reconstruction sites have helped. Reluctantly, the first plank was deleted and started over again.

After searching here and on the net the best method I can come up with is to create a Bezier curve along the ‘keel’ and convert to mesh as before. It was subdivided once for detail and another mesh was created in the same way further down the frame positions to make the ‘lower’ outside edge of the plank (the ship being constructed upside down). The two curved meshes were different. The vertices were joined by hand then it was duplicated to make a rectangular section. The vertices were joined and faces made - all by hand. I don’t know of any quicker ways but I’ll keep looking; any ideas welcome.


This project really interests me. I’ve been putting off the modeling of a old Portugese ship from the time of Bartolomeu Dias (about 1450). We have a museum here in Mosselbay that currently displays a replica that sailed (in 1988) the same course as Dias did around the southern point of Africa.

I’ve thought about modeling the hull plank for plank but I think that normal mapping might be the best. Dunno. I’ll have to see how your modeling process is later going before I finally decide :wink:

Development has ceased on this model after more work on the planking. It was decided to terminate effort on this generic model and restart effort on a specific ship.

A new thread will be started, assuming it is permitted.

The Sutton Hoo ship was selected.

i like ships but dwgs are not always available
mostly for very old ships PC did not exist in the 15 century saddly
or we would have good dwg of these ships! LOL

you could model the whole outside ship with nurbs
see wiki for nurbs curve

then you can always add bezier curve that you retopo onto the nurbs surface
worst you can convert the nurbs to mesh before!

then your bezier would be precisely onto the surface as such if you have enough cross section details !
and use a bevel for the shape may be with a second curve to shape it a little !

hope to see your new model
you could also do a search for ships in this forum there are execellent threads on this

good luck

happy blendering