It just occurred to me that nearly all imperial and rebel ships are grey in colour. Is there any reasoning to why all ships are this colour?

I understand they might want all ships to be uniform in colour, but solid light grey seems to stand out a lot in space. One might think it'd be better to have a darker coloured ship to hide easier in space, especially when all targetting seems to be visual based.

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    Possible dupe Why are the standard Star Destroyers white?
    – Valorum
    Nov 24 '17 at 20:39
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    It is not all ships that are grey as you say. Poe's x-wings is iconic, Slave-1 is also unique, etc. It really boils down to the factory line. The vast majority of ships come off of a factory line and, by the default color of most metal, are grey. Sure you could paint them all black but that costs money and you are expecting them to be destroyed sooner rather than later. In addition to saving money on paint there is also the point of rank and file. You do not really want to stand out amongst the crowd in war and make yourself a target more than you have to... so you have to paint all or none...
    – Odin1806
    Nov 24 '17 at 20:59
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    A few google image searches should suffice to show that only the Imperial ships are primarily grey. The rebel ships are mainly tan or ecru, with red and/or other color markings. Of the rebel ships that are grey, some sources have those as stolen from the Imperials, such as the medical frigate. The Kenner Toy versions of the rebel ships and the Millenium Falcon were definitely tan/ecru. Nov 24 '17 at 21:03
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    Cinematically it could be to provide a better contrast against the blackness of space, so they viewer has a better idea of what the ships look like.
    – n_b
    Nov 24 '17 at 21:09
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    This image shows very well the difference in color between actual models used for filming: spikeybits.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/KIws7Pl.jpg The TIE fighter is clearly grey and the X and Y wings clearly aren't. Nov 24 '17 at 21:14

There are a couple of different out-of-universe reasons. One reason for the gray hue of many ships, as well as the death star, was that the early special effects crew built many models by "kit-bashing." To get the look they wanted, they glued together pieces from model battleship kits. So a lot of things ended up looking battleship gray by default.

The other out-of-universe reason was that it contributed to the "used future" aesthetic of the original Star Wars films. The full-sized X-wings used in some shots were, after they were originally built, found to be too bright and shiny looking, so the crew rubbed them down with dirt, to make them look used old and heavily used.

In universe, the color of ships is just pretty much irrelevant. It you want to spot something in outer space, the color doesn't really matter, only the size, how far away it is, and the total surface brightness. And for really small objects, even the surface brightness doesn't matter that much; small things are just going to be really hard to spot unless they are really close.

  • Model kits come unpainted, and the models made for Star Wars were certainly painted after assembly, so the idea that kit bashing had an effect on the final colors seems unlikely. Nov 24 '17 at 21:01
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    @ToddWilcox The plastic pieces for the battleships and cruisers that I built as a kid (a few years later) started off gray.
    – Buzz
    Nov 24 '17 at 21:03
  • Yes, but that means you're suggesting that the model makes for Star Wars did not paint the models they made after assembling them, which I can't currently directly claim is completely false, but it is highly unbelievable. Nov 24 '17 at 21:05
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    I would suspect that the battleship grey, at least in some cases, what more deliberate, to actually invoke the idea of a warship, particularly in the case of larger craft like the star destroyer. Pure speculation though
    – Jack
    Nov 26 '17 at 23:23

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