Let's face it: when you play Orks, whether it be for BFG or 40K, converting is a must. No two pieces of Ork equipment are alike, and that goes doubly for ships. Ork machines are cobbled-together, barely-functional, amazingly-improvisational hunks of junk. So why have a fleet with two ships of any kind that look the same? I myself am ashamed that my two Kill Kroozers look as similar as they do. Orks don't mass produce things, or even work from a set of blueprints, the way Imperials and other races do. So every ship, even ones of the same class, should be different.
Now that I've driven all the BFG Ork players to give up modeling and go have a good cry with a bucket of deep-fried Gretchin, let me put out a beacon of hope. If you're up to the challenge, there are plenty of ways to make your Ork fleet look more Orky. I'll start with the simpler stuff, and work my way up to more advanced techniques.
As was stated in the Warp Storm article "Space is Green!", the trick to painting Ork fleets is to allow each ship a bit of variety without deviating from a general color scheme. Paint schemes that are too similar make your fleet look conformist and Imperial. Too much variety makes it look cobbled together and eclectic. After all, we don't want the other Warlords to think you have no control over your Kaptains' color preferences, do we?
Choose a general scheme, and improvise on it. I used the "Space is Green!" idea: colored prows with black bodies and checked white highlights. I don't like the dags, so on some ships I used hazard stripes. I picked yellow, orange and red for my prows (which I like to call the "Life Savers" color scheme). I colored gun barrels with Boltgun Metal (for obvious reasons).
Griming up the metal colored bits is also a good idea (something I have yet to do on some ships). Try a wash of Black Ink, or touch some of the areas with a more rusty color like Tin Bitz.
The devil's in the details, as they say. Little bits of improvisation can greatly add to the diversity of the fleet. For example: Terror ships don't seem to have teeth, like the rest of the Ork fleet. So, I cut out some pieces of plastic and glued them to the jaw of one of my Terror Ships, giving it a decidedly meaner look.
You can also add antennas from Imperial or Chaos ships. On one of my Ramships I cut off the dorsal turret and replaced it with an Imperial lance turret, just for aesthetic variety. This brings me to my next subject.
If there's one thing that can be said about Orks, its that they don't waste good bitz. Orks make good use of ship hulks that they come across. Many Ork ships are actually refitted Imperial or Chaos vessels. You can buy some Imperial/Chaos cruisers for your Ork fleet. Build them to match the stats of a particular Ork Kroozer (ie: Launch bays for Terror Ship). Give them some Orky looking extras and an Orky color scheme, and presto, they're Ork Kroozers.
If you can't afford plastic cruisers and you know someone who plays Imperial or Chaos, try getting them to give up some of their unused cruiser bits (ie: ask, beg, bribe, steal). With one of my Terror Ships, I painstakingly cut off the standard Ork launch bays and added some Imperial ones instead. You could also use Chaos launch bays. On your Kill Kroozer, you can stick some Imperial weapons batteries on the side hull, or some Chaos batteries on the wing. This can require a little cutting, and the application of green stuff, but in the end it will look fine, or at least Orky.
My squadron of Ravager attack ships is actually made up of three Chaos Infidels and one Imperial Cobra, all converted. I did this because they are all torpedo-launching escorts, and because the prows of the Chaos Infidels have always looked like they had teeth to me (a feature indicative of Ork ships).
The biggest Ork ships such as the Roks, the Space Hulk, and the Hammer Battlekroozer (not to mention my Zappah Big Kroozer), have no official models. We, as hobby gamers, are expected to build our own. But what to make them out of?
First and foremost, you'll want to access as many BFG bits as you can. I've found that unless you use a good number of these on your model, it won't quite seem to fit with the rest of the fleet. Again, Imperial/Chaos cruiser extras are good.
You also might want to check out stuff from other space combat games. My old gaming store used to sell Jovian Chronicles from Dream Pod 9. Babylon 5 is another game that gets a good bit of exposure. The Earth Alliance ships are probably the best to use for Ork conversions, as they are the least organic.
There are also some great bits in the ranges of other Games Workshop games. For example, the heads of the Ork Gargant and Great Gargant make fabulous prows for Ork ships. I used this with great success on my Hammer Battlekroozer. For my transport conversions, I used the jaw bit from the 40K Orks in Heavy Armour models as prows.
But don't go nuts buying new stuff if you don't have to. If you're been modeling for years, try cannibalizing some of those old, broken jet fighters hanging from your ceiling. The main body of my Zappah class Kroozer is made from the engine of an X-Wing model.
Some of these modeling techniques may sound difficult if you've never done any scratchbuilding. Just remember, practice makes perfect: start with the simpler stuff and move up from there. Next thing you know, you'll have the Orkiest fleet on the block. WAAAGH!!
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