Painting a Face

One of the trickiest, but ultimately most satisfying aspects of figure painting is painting the human face and it behoves the fledgling figure painter to find some straight-forward, fool proof  method of getting reasonable results in this respect. I have tried numerous types of painting with various types of paint. For the finest results you cannot beat oil paints, the blending qualities of which are matchless. Enamels too, long a mainstay of the model making world, and the newer acrylic ranges by the likes of Humbrol, Vallejo and Citadel can produce very impressive results. But whatever paints you prefer the basic way of painting a face seldom varies. You build the skin tone from the bottom up from a base coat, through shadows and up to the highlights, varying or adding details as they present themselves.
 1) Here's the head, its a spare part from the large scale space marine figure from Forge World. A grim, gnarled looking geezer indeed.

2) The figure was already prepared, so straight on to giving the head a base coat of Humbrol 61 Flesh enamel.

3) Four hours later and the base coat is touch dry (I'm over eager, I know) so on goes a coat of Games Workshop Tanned Flesh.

4) Once the Tanned Flesh was dry I add a layer of GW Dwarf Flesh to the top of the cheeks, the chin the leading edge of the nose, the upper nostrils and the folds around the mouth. I preserve the shadows in the folds and the underside of the brows and jaw and in the hollows of the cheeks. I then filled the eye sockets with Daler Rowney Burnt Umber artist paint also using it on the eyebrows, upper lip and in the nostrils.
5) The eyes are picked out in Dwarf Flesh, a thin line of dark brown being left at the top. It's best to avoid using white for the eyes as it makes them look too prominent, giving the head a 'pop eyed' look which is rarely attractive. Viewed from a distance most people's eyes look a sort of pinkish grey as a result of shadowing and the presence of blood veins in the eyes. The irises were then painted in with the same Burnt Umber used earlier. Never make the irises round as it looks like the eye is staring wide eyed. In a typical relaxed pose the human iris is partially hidden behind the upper and lower lids.
 I have also reddened the lower lip with some thinned Daler Rowney Carmine Red and used the same to give a slight flush just under the cheek bones.
 Hair is added with a light brown Humbrol 110 (Natural Wood) which is used also on the eyebrows. A subtle  five o'clock shadow is added with a mix of Dwarf Flesh and the Humbrol 110. The face is also given a very thin wash of Dwarf Flesh to blend the colours together better.
 6) Once that was all dry the head was given a further wash, this time a thinned coat of Army Painter Soft Tone to get into all the nooks and crannies, but also to give the head a slightly more tanned look. Is it me, or does this first picture look a little like Ernest Borgnine?

Small Stuff - A Few Miniature Figures

Checking through an old memory stick of mine I came across a few images of several miniature (35mm -ish) figures I've painted over the last few years, some of which I no longer have. They are a mixture of Games Workshop Warhammer 40,000 and Reaper Miniatures figures, though Grud knows who made Thrud.
An Ultramarines captain in all his wacky, impractical finery



Thrud the Barbarian

Tamiya 1:16 WW2 German Field Commander

My adventures with 1:16 figures continue with this large scale Tamiya kit that I spotted looking rather lonely amongst a batch of tanks, armoured cars and 1:35 figures in a model shop. Though my personal taste veers more towards earlier eras or sci-fi and fantasy, I'm fairly well versed in painting World War Two figures, and though I don't buy many nowadays sometimes one sneaks in under the radar just because I like the look of it, and such was the case here. I liked the simplicity of the pose and the uniform had a certain appeal with its ribbons and badges which are always fun to paint.
The build was incredibly straight-forward and easily managed over a couple of long evenings and when I did break off it was mostly to let the glue dry before attaching anything else. You know how it is, sometimes in your excitement you do try to assemble an entire kit only to have bits start dropping off or drooping because you've rushed things and not given it sufficient time to cure, I plead guilty on all these counts on numerous occasions throughout my model-making career. Anyhow, I resisted temptation and all went well with very little to tidy up and only a minor amount of filling to do which was managed easily with some Plasto and Green Stuff.
Before building the kit I had trawled some previous builds by other model makers and noticed that many had left the collar slightly open around the neck, giving the figure a relaxed, informal look and sure enough there was something of a gap left when the collar was filled in place. I didn't like this, though as I wanted the figure to look very neat and very formal. So, to get the correct fit I needed to shave away a band around the bottom of the neck which was easily achieved using a reaming tip fitted into a battery powered engraving tool I bought from Wilcos – there's no need to reach for the mini tool so often now I have that useful gizmo at hand, especially as all the mini tool tips fit it! Once I had the right amount shaved off, I glued the collar around the neck and secured it in a completely closed position with some super glue and I later reinforced the bond with some polystyrene cement. A minor gap between the neck and collar was patched with Green Stuff.
Another element I added was a ribbon to support the Iron Cross suspended around the officer's neck as this was not included with the kit. This was made from a thin strip of paper which I pinched with tweezers. I then soaked this in super glue to make it stiff and finally carefully cut it to size, adding the Iron Cross once the ribbon was in place. My first attempt (seen in the pictures) was a bit of a disappointment and I didn't like the Iron Cross itself which was far too lumpy to accept the Iron Cross decal ever when drowned in Decal Soft, so I later replaced both, carefully cutting the replacement medal out of some sheet plastic to which I had glue an Iron Cross decal. That was the trickiest task, requiring my highest mag goggles, a sharp knife, a steel ruler and lots of patience. An easier option would have been to simply flatten back the original medal supplied, but by that time I had rather ruined it with my efforts.
Iron Cross Mk 2
The figure was painted using the same colours referred to in my earlier blog entry about the German gun crew, but rather than shading with Army Painter Soft Tone, this time I lightly shaded the folds in the cloth with darkened versions of the base colours. The Humbrol 78 of the jacket was mixed with Humbrol 30 (Dark Green) to give that particular shade, while Humbrol 27 for the trousers was darked with Humbrol 32, the same colour I used for the helmet. The helmet was given some wear with Games Workshop Boltgun Metal and once the decals were applied I coated the helmet with Pledge Floor Wax to blend the decals to the helmet, hence the shiny look in some of the images. This like the rest of the model (barring the metallic bits) would be later dulled down to a nice matt finish with Army Painter Anti-Shine.
Painting the face and hands was done with my now time honoured combination of Games Workshop's Tanned Flesh, Dwarf Flesh and Elf Flesh paints, which were then blended together with a very thin glaze of Dwarf Flesh to even it all out. These colours are really useful and as they are getting a little low I took a trip to the local Games Workshop store to purchase replacements. Thankfully, the fellow running the shop now isn't as pathologically cheerful as some of his predecessors which made the experience much less wearing, though I once again had to go through the rigmarole of trying to discover what those particular colours are now called. In the process I discovered a new skin colour, Cadian Fleshtone, which looks promising; I shall try it out on some smaller figures first, though.
The leather items were undercoated in Humbrol 62 (Leather), then in Daler-Rowney Burnt Umber and Burnt Sienna and shaded with Army Painter Strong Tone. The officer's pistol was picked out in Humbrol Metal Cote 27004 (Gun Metal), allowed to dry then polished up with a cottonbud. The jacket buttons were painted first with GW Boltgun Metal and highlighted with Citadel Mithril Silver, so too were the badges on the uniform, being shaded with Citadel Nuln Oil before applying the Mithril Silver. The small collection of decals supplied with the kit had decals for these, but considering the trouble I had with the Iron Cross decals, I rather wisely decided to avoid using them.
The decals were used for the collar patches, the uniform eagle and armband and the medal ribbon attached to the button. There were also decals for the shoulder boards, but I decided (again wisely) to paint these, though as the officer is depicted as a member of the Grossdeutschland Division, which carried a shoulder motif on their epaulettes, I carefully cut these out from the supplied transfers and stuck them in place. It was a tight fit between the button and lieutenant's pip, but we got there in the end.
Epaulette motifs in place.
No base was supplied with the figure, but I had the perfect solution in the bases left over when I painted the ICM Grenadier Guardsman. These fitted perfectly on top of a small stand I had bought from the Telford model show. After painting it up in the same way as the previous stand I glued it in place atop the wooded stand with Araldite. Leaving it over night I carefully decided on where to place the figure and after drilling a hole I fitted the figure in place, leaving a small bit if metal paper clip poking out of the soldier's heel to fix it in place, gluing it down with poly cement.
And there you have it, bingo, another nice figure for my collection.