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Amarynceus's avatar

Pirate 'Frigate' c.1670


What started as a simple project, to turn my little pirate ship scribble into something respectable and to try to bring up the accuracy of my rigging, quickly grew into a drawing that ate part of my life. This took two solid months of work, and including research amounted to around 300 hours (besting my previous time record at least fourfold). I attempted to be as close to 100% accurate as I could with the rigging, with varying success.

The ship is based on an English 34- or 36-gun man of war built in 1660, which I had only a small photograph of a model to work from at first. (The photo is found on page 153 (plate 231) of Dr. Frank Howard's Sailing Ships of War 1400-1860, Mayflower Books, 1979.) The photo is from the front quarter, hiding the stern, so that part I made up (loosely based on the stern of the Mordaunt of 1681, and therefore quite anachronistic). Naturally enough, about halfway through the project I found more photos of the ship when I discovered that the National Maritime Museum has excellent photos of everything in their vast collection, giving me all-round references. But, by then, the drawing was too advanced to make the hull completely accurate. (The ship may be found here ->… )

Just to be clear, although the ship is referred to as a "frigate", the term doesn't correspond to the common notion. The true frigate wouldn't come about for almost another century; in the 17th century, "frigate" seemed to refer to a quality of hull shape(greater length to beam ratio) rather than a type of ship. The 90-gun Naseby, for example, is referred to as a "frigate".

The rigging is based almost entirely on James Lees' magnificent The Masting and Rigging of English Ships of War 1625-1860, which I cannot recommend highly enough. I chose to depict the ship rigged as she would be in 1670. There are one or two deliberate departures, but I doubt you'll find them!

Anyway, here she is, and I hope you enjoy her. I could natter on about all the things that are wrong, but I also think only an expert would notice most of them! One note -- the boat is mostly speculation, as there is a dearth of information on 17th century ship's boats. Also, much the decoration is a pure figment of my fancy, the ropes are mostly too big, etc. etc.

Some full-size details here ->Pirate 'Frigate' details by Amarynceus

References: Besides the Lees and Howard books, which I again recommend, and provided the vast bulk of information, I also used the following:

The Art of Rigging, George Biddlecombe, Dover Press 1990 (1848 Edition)
The Arts of the Sailor: Knotting, Splicing and Ropework, Hervey Garrett Smith, Dover Press 1990 (orig. 1953)
The Elements and Practice of Rigging and Seamanship, David Steel, 1794, which can be read online courtesy of the HNSA:
Text-Book of Seamanship, Commodore S. B. Luce, USN, 1891, again available from the HNSA:
Boy's Manual of Seamanship and Gunnery, Commander C. Burney, R.N., F.R.G.S., 1883, read it online here:…

Painter X, Cintiq, elderly iMac

Image details
Image size
7200x7200px 10.94 MB
© 2012 - 2021 Amarynceus
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ItinerantDjuradhan's avatar
:star::star::star::star::star-empty: Overall
:star::star::star::star::star-empty: Vision
:star::star::star::star-empty::star-empty: Originality
:star::star::star::star::star: Technique
:star::star::star::star::star-empty: Impact

My good sir, this is spectacular. While the surrounding environment is quite minimalist in nature, I think it works to this piece's benefit. Simply put, that ship is beautiful. The detail-work, like a leaf, grows and grows the closer you look. Two months worth of time and effort, and it certainly shows. As far as your historical research, this looks like an illustration I would normally find in a nautically based historical fiction. Suffice it to say, based on your other work, I am impressed, but not surprised. I could stare at this for hours. All in all, top marks from me. Well done.
Amarynceus's avatar
Thanks kindly for looking closely!  Much appreciated. :heart:
Metalsheen's avatar

Your illustrations are amazing, the level of detail is inspiring! Such dedication.

RGAmos's avatar
I love looking at fine illustrations of sailing ships and this is a particularly splendid example.
KosmoKOYOTE's avatar
Your knowledge of 17th century warships is so impressive!
I'm currently constructing a wooden scale model of the "Vasa"
(Billing Boats #490.)
I could actually use your drawing to set the rigging to her.
The standing and running rigging. It's all here!
Amarynceus's avatar
Thanks kindly! :ahoy:
CapscesDigitalInk's avatar
My pleasure, I love your style and pirates.
redcyana's avatar
Unbelievably gorgeous! Unique style for naval paintings, and thanks for all the efforts put into accuracy, it's rare to find such a blend of art and sailing accuracy.
Thanks for sharing!
Amarynceus's avatar
Thank you very much, your words are encouraging. :)  Glad you enjoyed it!
redcyana's avatar
You're welcome! As a ship lover, you would probably find exciting to learn that a Russian team (the crazy guys who rebuilt the frigate Shtandart and the schooner St Peter) has undertaken to rebuild Cutty Sark and sail her again!
Amarynceus's avatar
Oh, that is exciting!  I had not heard of it, thank you for the link.
redcyana's avatar
Haha! You're welcome. I'm delighted you find this exciting! They'll be recruiting an armada of volunteers to help with the building once the dust has settled and they know in what yard this will happen, so keep an eye out if it's something you'd be interested in!
wytherwing's avatar
very impressive work! :ahoy:
wytherwing's avatar
:nod: you're absolutely welcome!
davincipoppalag's avatar
Amarynceus's avatar
Thanks kindly! :ahoy:
Clearmirror-StillH2O's avatar
amazing details^^ holy cow!
Amarynceus's avatar
Thanks kindly!  This piece was all about the details. ;)
TheBrassGlass's avatar
Really incredibly impressive. I also love the grayscale look. Everything is so gorgeously precise.
Amarynceus's avatar
Thank you kindly.  Precision was the goal -- after a lifetime of drawing ships, this was the first time I decided that every aspect would be completely researched.  Every rope properly proportioned, led, and belayed, and so on and so forth.  All, I think, but two that I left out on purpose as bait for bigger ship nerds than I. :D
warrior1944's avatar
Wow around 300 hours spent on this one and all the work, damn! But I can tell it looks awesome and stunning, everywhere there are so much details and spot on, I love it :D
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