A Guide To Figure Painting.

Discussion in 'Workbenches, including workshop techniques.' started by Prairie Tank, 12 January 2019.

  1. Prairie Tank

    Prairie Tank Western Thunderer

    I have been asked many times to do a walk through guide on how I paint figures.

    There are far better figure painters out there and lots of different techniques. The following is a very easy way to get ok results in a short space of time.

    I am currently painting more figures for a friends lay out so I will show the stages on 3 of these. I will include photo's of the colours I have used. There are lots of paints out there and what I show is in no way an endorsement or advertisement. it is just what I use.

    The three figures are by Andrew Stadden.

    Please note, my flash makes some of the paints look shiny, they are not and are defiantly matt.

    John :) :)
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  2. Prairie Tank

    Prairie Tank Western Thunderer

    Step 1.

    The first thing to do is clean off any mould lines or excess flash. This varies considerably between different manufacturers and is dependent a lot on the age of the moulds. Laser Printed figures are very different and tend to be lots cleaner!
    The three figures used here had very little to do regarding clean up, Andrews figures have very light mould lines that are usualy cleaned off prior to dispatch so all that is needed is a look over and very slight attention.

    Once cleaned the figures need to be under coated. I normally under coat in white because I can see the detail better and the figures tend to be a little brighter when finished. However black is popular and I some times use that also. Other good under coat colours are grey and light sandy brown.
    Yellows and Reds tend to go better over white under coat as does flesh.

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  3. Prairie Tank

    Prairie Tank Western Thunderer

    Step 2

    The next thing to do is wait for the paint to dry. This is very important and is also the most time consuming part! Each coat must be thoroughly dry before any other colour or shade is used on that area. This will apply through out so I will just write it here ;)

    The basic flesh colour is added next. There is a HUGE range of flesh colours out there and which looks best is a very personal choice. One advantage with the choice is subtle skin tones can easily be achieved by using two or three flesh colours on different parts of the face, for instance Vallejo Flesh Base to but lines under the eyes.

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  4. Prairie Tank

    Prairie Tank Western Thunderer

    Step 3

    For the next step I have, in these instances, mixed colours. The army officer's uniform is a mix of 85% Army Painter Necrotic Flesh/20% Vallejo 887 Brown Violet.
    This is the first coat, a second will be applied but I will not show a photo of that because it will look very similar.

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  5. Prairie Tank

    Prairie Tank Western Thunderer

    Step 3a

    I am painting showing two lady's to illustrate how subtle differences in colours can easily be created by using a different % mix of the same two paints. In this case Vallejo White and Army Painter Skeleton Bone.

    The lady on the left of the screen has you view is 85% White/15% Skeleton Bone mix.
    The lady on the right of the screen has you view is 70% White/30% Skeleton Bone mix.

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    Last edited: 12 January 2019
  6. Prairie Tank

    Prairie Tank Western Thunderer

    More to follow, I am doing this while I paint.

    John :)
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  7. Prairie Tank

    Prairie Tank Western Thunderer

    Step 4

    All three figures have now had a second coat of flesh and clothing colour.

    A light wash of Citadel Reikland Fleshshade has been applied, this is worked into eye sockets to make them slightly darker than the other parts of the face detail lines.

    If you want a slightly darker '5 O'clock shadow' effect you can use Citadel Agrax Earthshade, paying extra attention to the facial hair areas, just don't have a shave for a day and copy that ;)

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  8. Prairie Tank

    Prairie Tank Western Thunderer

    Comparison before and after.

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  9. Prairie Tank

    Prairie Tank Western Thunderer

    Step 5

    I will break this step into 3 parts because of the slightly different techniques used.

    First up we have our Army Officer. Mix the darker of your original colours with matt varnish. If you remember we used a mix of 85% Army Painter Necrotic Flesh/20% Vallejo 887 Brown Violet for his uniform.

    Now take the 887 Brown Violet and mix it with Army Painter Anti Shine Matt Varnish. This technique (easy cheating way) of adding shadowing also gives the added bonus of varnishing and matting down the colour. Remember that it will also darken down the finished colour so allow for this in your original mix.

    When mixing the paint and varnish you must consider how dark you want the shadowing and over all colour to look on completion. The higher the percentage of paint to varnish the darker and more concentrated the final finish. In this case I have used a 15% 887 Brown Violet to 85% Anti Shine Varnish.

    If you wish to do this to metallic colours use a gloss varnish.

    The following photo's show the mix I used and also how you can remove/move around the shadowing before it dry's (do it quickly) to change the effect or move any heavy congregation of shade. If you look at the small of his back and jacket tails.

    I have taken the photos before the shadowing is dry because my camera picks it up better.

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  10. Prairie Tank

    Prairie Tank Western Thunderer

    Step 5a.

    The darker dressed lady. We had created two slightly different toned dresses from the same original colours Vallejo White and Army Painter Skeleton Bone. Once these colours had dried I decided (for this thread) to make the darker toned dress a little darker compared to the lighter toned one.
    This necessitates a slightly different wash for each dress.
    First we will look at the darker toned one.

    I mixed 40% Army Painter Skeleton Bone to 60% Army Painter Anti Shine Matt Varnish.

    20190112_104655 (2).jpg
  11. Prairie Tank

    Prairie Tank Western Thunderer

    Step 5b

    The lighter toned dress required a slightly different type of mix, this time using 3 'colours' White, Skeleton Bone and the Anti Shine Varnish. This is some times necessary when doing lighter colours.

    I mixed 25% White/25% Skeleton Bone/50% Anti Shine Matt Varnish.

    20190112_104655 (3).jpg

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  12. Prairie Tank

    Prairie Tank Western Thunderer

  13. Prairie Tank

    Prairie Tank Western Thunderer

    Army Officer. Final Stages.

    Once all of the shadowing has dried you can get on with the finer detailing, eyes, buttons etc.

    The Army Officer needed a little more than is the norm for railway figures. As well as the normal brass buttons he received, red flashes, medal ribbons, red cap band and Khaki Drill trimmings.

    Hair colour is always a very personal choice, taking into account age, skin complexion and any siblings you plan to paint. I always use a base colour, lightened. For instance a dark brown mixed with a sandy brown. Once dried it is shadowed in the same way we did for clothes and then, once again when dried it is 'dry brushed with a slightly lighter version of the original colour.

    For those not familiar with dry brushing it is simple a case of using an old brush (because dry brushing is a perfect way to ruin any brush) which is dabbed into the required paint, most of which is remove with tissue paper or rag and then gentle brushed over raised surfaces, in this case the hair.

    Eyes are simple white dots. Allow to dry then apply a smaller dot of blue, brown or green. I tend to put eyes looking side ways, this helps to stop the figures looking like they are starring in surprize (unless you want them to be). Don't worry if the dot is to big, just wait for it to dry (there is a lot of that in figure painting) and then just paint over with a darker flesh colour than the base flesh.

    From opening the packet to the final dap of paint, this chappie has taken me most of which is drying time!!!!

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  14. Prairie Tank

    Prairie Tank Western Thunderer

    Final Stp 'The Colonels Daughter'

    This young lady was much easier to do when it came to detailing, she had several buttons and a feather in her hat but other than that she was straight forward. He eyes are harder to do because they are smaller than on male figures due to her slimmer face.

    I first off painted her eyes to illustrate how not to do them. Tiny blue dots giving a quite unsettling effect. She has applied make up so her face is more rouge than her Dad's plus she has lip stick on.

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    Last edited: 12 January 2019
  15. simond

    simond Western Thunderer

    They look most effective, the Colonel particularly so, but I’m unconvinced about eyes.

    If you walk down the street, and you see someone, say three coach lengths away, 150 - 200 feet, you will not see their eyes. It’ll be simply darker under their brows.

    During the so-called Battle of Bunker Hill, Israel Putnam (some say William Prescott) issued a command: “Do not fire till you see the whites of their eyes!” The Whites of their Eyes - Journal of the American Revolution - the article goes on to suggest that this is around 10 yards, thirty feet, half a coach length.

    Unless you’re getting up close & personal with the characters on your layout, I’m not sure the eyes have it.

  16. Prairie Tank

    Prairie Tank Western Thunderer

    That is very true Simon. A lot of war game figure painters just use the flesh wash and that indicates were the eyes are.

    I just prefer to see eyes on my figures, even teeth too.

    John :)
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  17. Prairie Tank

    Prairie Tank Western Thunderer

    Final Step 'Buff Coat Lady'

    Another simple bit of detailing for this one. Her hat was painted with a mix of cream and yellow. Once dried I shadowed it with Army Painter Soft Tone.

    Lip stick is red mixed with Basic Skin Tone.

    I have been working on other figures while the pain dried on these, I have a lot to do :eek:

    I hope this as all been a help, John :)

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