Researching a Commission - Part 1
Researching a Commission - References
Historical research is often the first step in building a custom ship or model. Sometimes drawings of the vessel have survived; this may be particularly true for Navy ships, to a much lesser degree for merchant vessels. Depending how far back in time we go, the information becomes sparse and much harder to find, if there's even anything beyond some anecdotal data to be found!
A variety of artwork such as carvings, etchings, paintings and even surviving models may sometimes be our best and only source of information for vessels of the 17th century or earlier.
Photographs do not appear until the latter half of the nineteenth century. For all intents and purposes no photographs of vessels exist from before the late 1850's. Of course the color scheme is hard to discern from the shades of grey in black and white photographs.