Drukharidron: Ship Rigging


After months of building and painting everything else in avoidance of tackling the frigate, I finally sat down, stared it in the face and started building. Of course the most important things I needed to figure out was the ‘mast’ how the sails attached (for looking cool and being easy to pack away), and what rigging would make this feel believable.



The curvy design of the Drukhari ships didn’t accomodate a traditional vertical mast. It simply breaks the motion of the curved hull and sleek design. Plus, an Aethership doesn’t work like a windsail ship in my head, so a strong, stiff mast can be ditched in favor of something flexible and ornate.

So I went with a curved mast with a split that could clamp around a cross beam to hold up a sail. It certainly gives you a sense of aerodynamics and motion. Being able to slide the booms up and down the mast, lever them and tie them down. The physics falls off a cliff here, but so far no Aether-Sail shipwright has corrected my design. This very much ties with my conversion philosophy, anchor it just enough in reality that people make the leap that it works. I’ve gotten very positive feedback that this was accomplished here and I’m thrilled.



This design of the sails themselves is quite different to what I had started with. Previously a more ‘Disney Treasure Island’ design, the new design lets me layer multiple smaller sails giving it a layered, fuller feel. I wish i’d done more to curve some of the veins to give them a more organic feel. They are going to be painted as if they are a blue ivory. The sails themselves are harvested from the giant sailfish that they hunt, so I wanted to keep them very organic with rips and holes across them.

I ended up adding another sail to the keel of the ship as a way to add height to its presence and add to the exotic-ness of the design. Where water vessels have to push all their sails upwards, a flying vessel has more room below it, as long as it doesn’t need to land I guess.

I’m hoping I can iterate on this design for the other frigates and Ironclad I plan to make. I’m very excited to show off the painting which I think really accentuate the sails and silhouette of this vessel.


I hemmed and hawed on how to finalize this. Initially I thought I might use model shipbuilding rope material to string it and give it tension and the most believability. I had used twisted floral wire for loops of rope hanging of the Kingfisher’s belts which helped them feel more fantasy. In the end, the floral wire gave me consistency and was a tad easier to glue in place. My fear is that I’m going to bend it so that it starts revealing the lie that there’s no real tension. The blocks and locations for the tie-downs had more to do with aesthetics than realism, cuz again, I have no clue how to rig a real ship. But giving them space, anchoring them opposite the sail itself, and varying the distance they span all adds to the balance of the design and believing the lie.

BUILD: Materials

  • Expanded PVC Sheet - cut and shaped for the mast and booms.

  • Plastic Rod - for the sail veins, whittled to a point at the end to feel like fishbone.

  • Plasti-card - for the sails and some of the ship’s hull. I used clear plasticard thinking I could make them semi-transparent, but that wasn’t the case.

  • Aluminum Rod - for pinning and mounting to the rock.

  • Floral wire - twisted with a drill to make rope which I used everywhere to really sell the fantasy and sailing aspect of the piece. This ended up being my favorite discovery of this project.

Thankfully, Paul gave me enough to mess up and try again because it required considerable trial and error.