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?