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Painting
Discuss all areas of historical miniature painting and painting preparation.
Advice for New Guy
retiredyank
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Arkansas, United States
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Posted: Monday, June 25, 2012 - 01:37 PM UTC
OK. So I'm not quite "new" to painting figures in 1/35, but I am looking for all the help I can get. I need help on adding shading to the face. Right now, I airbrush the base color on and add highlights. I also know how to represent stuble and eyes. What I don't know, is how to add shadow effects to the cheeks and ears. Also, I am looking at how to diversify the colors of one piece of clothing. This so as not to have a(forgive the pun) uniform color. I know how to shade the clothing, but I don't want field gray to look just like new all over. Another problem I have is hair. I currently paint it just one color. Is this appropriate for 35 scale figures? Do I need to drybrush it with a similar color? And, finally, how to add distinctive hair to the face. By this I mean a beard or mustache. Is it even possible without adding putty or clay to the figure? Thank you for any advice.
SdAufKla
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South Carolina, United States
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Posted: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - 07:17 AM UTC
Hey Matt,

I really like Mark Bannerman's oils over acrylic undercoat face painting technique.

Here's a link to some SBS's that he's put on the web:

M-L::Articles:Figures

He also has a very good Osprey title on painting and "Modeling Panzer Crew of the Heer" that has an excellent SBS on face painting.

However, if you're not an "oil paint kinda guy," then these won't do you much good. On the other hand, if you don't have a preference, then you can't go wrong with these.

Here's some faces that I've recently painted using the "Bannerman technique":









Basically, this method starts out with an acrylic flesh-colored undercoat. This is followed by an oil paint wash made of burnt umber. This wash is allowed to dry out some (enough time for the mineral spirits to evaporate) and then any excess on the high points is removed with a nearly dry brush.

The basic flesh colored oil paint is then added to the high points and blended into the burnt umber for the dark shadows. Touch up the basic flesh areas aftewards if necessary. White is then added on top of the basic flesh high points and blended for the highlights.

A dash of burnt sienna is blended into the cheeks, forehead, etc, for the "warm" flesh areas. Payne's gray is blended in for the 5 o'clock shadows. The lower lip is alizarian crimson and the basic flesh with a touch of white blended in for the highlight. The eyes are added (or you can leave the classic "Clint squint" already formed by the burnt umber wash).

The idea is to blend from shadows to highlights. This includes the ears.

An essential point for using oil paints is that you need to use very small amounts, and because they're so easy to blend, you need to be careful to blend just the edges where different colors come together. Their long working time, though, will allow you to take your time while you're painting - you can go as slow or fast as you want. The paint will not dry out on you in a single painting session.

For hair, I generally use raw umber for brown hair and use either the basic flesh color or yellow ocher to blend the highlights. More yellow ochre makes for blond hair. I tend to stay away from black hair as it looks too stark, but I guess it's an option.

I think Bannerman's is a very effective technique, and it's quite easy once you get it down.

Check out his SBS's and his Osprey book.

HTH,

PS: It really helps to have nicely sculpted faces to paint, too! All of the above faces are either Hornet or Alpine resin heads.
retiredyank
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Arkansas, United States
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Posted: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - 07:57 AM UTC
Mike: thanks for the reply. These articles look like they will be of great help, as does your method. I don't normally use oils, as I have been doing great with water colors. However, I did buy a tube of W&N about a year ago, whith the intent of using it for washes. I'll try it on a few spare figs and see how I like it.
Karl187
#284
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Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
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Posted: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - 11:29 PM UTC
Matt- Have you seen Calvin Tan's website, Perspectives in Miniature?

He mostly works in arylics and there he gives some top-notch advice about various techniques including faces. His Osprey book on painting Figures of the Waffen SS also has some some fantastic SBS'- useful even if you aren't painting SS figs.

Planet Figure also have a great 'Articles' section which covers different figure techniques.

I hope this helps a bit- good luck with your figs!
retiredyank
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Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2012 - 12:38 AM UTC
Thanks Karl
SdAufKla
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South Carolina, United States
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Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2012 - 02:35 AM UTC
Hi again Matt,

Karl's post suggests a critical point that should be considered when looking for advice or tips on painting figures:

The painting medium that you use or want to use really drives the techniques and methods, so that what works for one medium doesn't necessarily work for another.

Calvin Tan is a phenominal painter! I'm in awe of his work, but his acrylic painting techniques really don't help me much. (I do have his Osprey book, though, and it's inspirational to say the least.)

These differences between the techniques used with different mediums aren't absolute, and there are some techniques that carry over or that can be combined, but generally, the beginning painter should have a clear idea of what medium he's going to be working in first.

With that knowledge in mind, finding new or variations of particular painting techniques is much easier and far less confusing.

The differences between Bannerman and Tan technique-wise are largely driven by the fact that they use completely different mediums (oils vs. acrylics).

Obviously, I'm partial to oils, and I find them much easier to use than acrylics (hence my advice above). But this preference is largely a result of how I started figure painting back in the 70's with hobby enamels and gradually transistioned to oils. Hobby enamels and oils use similar color-blocking and blending techniques, so the transition from one to the other was quite natural for me.

However, most model builders now use acrylics instead of hobby enamels (often because of availability more than anything else), so experience painting figures with hobby enamels isn't so wide nowadays, and consequently, there are fewer model builders today who make the same transition as I did to oils.

Most model builders now who want to develope their skills as figure painters tend towards acrylic techniques because they're more familiar with acrylic paints, but the shading and highlighting techniques used with acrylics are very different that those used with hobby enamels or oils.

However, without an understanding of these differences, reading about various techniques and methods can be very confusing and frustrating.

One thing that I suggest to guys who ask me about figure painting, but who have never done much of it, is to find a figure painter who's work you admire and then research that painter's medium and techniques.

For instance, right now, Gunter Sternberg has a couple of Photo Features here on H-F. I think he's a great figure painter and since he works in a mixed medium, hobby-enamels and oils, I'm always looking for ideas and tips from his postings (he posts quite often over on M-L). SMH also uses a mixed medium method with hobby enamels and oils, as does Bill Horan (with more emphasis on hobby enamels). Sheperd Paine, a classic oils painter, was the guy who's how-to's and SBS got me started in figure painting. The techniques and methods used by these guys (and others) provide me lots of inspiration and new ideas. (I've already mentioned Mark Bannerman's influence on my painting.)

So, I'd offer the same suggestion to you - Find a figure painter who's work you admire and who uses a medium that you want to learn to master and follow his techniques and methods. This gives you a firm starting foundation to build on as you strive to develope your own skills and craft as a figure painter. Once you have a basic medium that you're using, you can then find other painters who use that same medium and pick up tips and ideas from them.

HTH,
Graywolf
Staff MemberSenior Editor
HISTORICUS FORMA
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Izmir, Turkey / Türkçe
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Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2012 - 07:47 AM UTC
Hi Matt,
The following articles can help you,
Painting a Face: Oils over Acrylic by John Pradarelli
Painting Figures with Humbrol Enamels by Marjin van Gils
Painting Faces by Gino Poppe
Basics of figure painting - pdf download available

best regards
Engin
retiredyank
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Arkansas, United States
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Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2012 - 09:06 AM UTC
Mike: I currently use acrylics as a base with enamels as highlights, and watercolors for the eyes and mouth. I'll try oils to remove the need for watercolors and will be experimenting with highlights.
Engin: Thank you for the links.
Karl187
#284
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Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
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Posted: Friday, June 29, 2012 - 03:40 AM UTC
I think what Mike said is very important, especially in considering another modeller's work- i.e. what medium they are using.

Plenty of modellers I know use a mixed medium like you do Matt- usually oils over acrylics but also enamels over acrylics. I've tried those and enamels and oils just on their own and I now just use acrylics- as with any of those mediums there are lots of techniques and tips to go with them.

Years ago I used to have a copy of an Andrea Press book called 'FAQ Figure Painting- Frequently Asked Questions About Figure Painting Techniques'>
'FAQ Figure Painting- Frequently Asked Questions About Figure Painting Techniques' (Those amazon.com prices are extoritionate by the way, it can be bought much, much cheaper elsewhere.) It explains different mediums, techniques, colors etc etc- in roughly the same vein as Mig Jiminez's original FAQ book- I found it really useful when I first started doing figures seriously.

MSGsummit
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Tennessee, United States
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Posted: Friday, June 29, 2012 - 06:25 AM UTC
Matt,
I use a variation of the Bannerman technique combined with the oil mixes in Craig Whitakers (Mongo Mel) article over on HF. Here are a few shots of what I am able to achieve combining these two methods:






Craig Whitakers oil paint mixes can be found at this link:

http://hfmodeling.kitmaker.net/modules.php?op=modload&name=Sections&file=index&req=viewarticle&artid=117&page=1
SdAufKla
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South Carolina, United States
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Posted: Friday, June 29, 2012 - 09:58 AM UTC
Matt,

I think you'll find that the color-blocking and blending techniques for oils and hobby enamels are very nearly the same (only the working time is dramatically different with the enamels drying much faster, as you'd expect). You should have no trouble adding oils to your figure painting "tool kit" if you want. In fact, I suspect that once you see how easy it is to blend oils wet-on-wet, that you'll wonder why you ever waited so long to give them a try!

The basic flesh mix that I use is very similar to the "Mongo Mel's" mix no. 2 in Art's link. It's also the same basic one used by Bannerman and Paine and can be varied easily once you get used to using it.

Call it the "1-2-3 flesh mix," all very simple: 1 part burnt sienna, 2 parts yellow ochre, and 3 parts titanium white. More burnt sienna will warm it up, more white will lighten it (duh!), etc. Shadows are made by blending this basic mix into the burnt umber used as the initial wash. If you need to intensify a shadow, then just add straight burnt umber and blend. As I described above, blend white directly on the basic color for highlights.

Blending the shadows and highlights directly on the figure also helps to keep the amount of paint used as small as possible, whereas blending on the pallet requires that each shade has to be blocked in separately - not on top of each other- or the amount of paint will build up. This is a good tip to use for figures in the 1/35-54mm or smaller range. Larger scale figures have more room to block in the various shades adjacent to each other (after mixing on the pallet), but on the smaller scale figures it's often easier to blend directly on the figure. This is especially true for faces and hands where the working areas are very small.

I've found that one of the easiest ways to vary the final skin tone is to use different shades when doing the acrylic undercoating. My most common flesh undercoats come from the Citadel / Games Workshop line - Elf Flesh, Bronze Flesh, and Dwarf Flesh - each progressively darker than the last.

I also use Tamiya Desert Yellow straight or mixed with Flat White or Tamiya's Flesh (very pink and similar to Citadel's Elf Flesh) when airbrushing the undercoats.

Reaper Miniatures also has a very nice bronze flesh acrylic that falls between the Citadel Bronze and Dwarf colors. Vallejo has a nice color called Sunny Skin Tone thats a little on the ocher-yellow side and about as bright at the Citadel Elf color (just not so pinkish).

These variations on the acrylic undercoats make using the basic "1-2-3 flesh mix" easily variable, especially if you have several figures that will be displayed together.

One of the issues that you'll find when trying to use many of the various oil flesh mixes on 1/35 - 54mm figures is that they're often complicated and require a lot of blending between the colors used in the mixes. Also, much of subtilty that can be shown in the larger scale figures is simply not possible in the smaller scales. This means that a lot of the work involved with the more complicated flesh mixes is wasted on 1/35-54mm.

However, I've been very happy with the flexibility in the simpler basic flesh mix. Varying the overall skin tone is quite easy, and there's plenty of room for highlights, shadows, and contrasting details.

HTH,
retiredyank
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Arkansas, United States
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Posted: Friday, June 29, 2012 - 10:15 AM UTC
When I have money again, Nationals means I'll be broke for two months, I'll go by Michael's and pick up some more oils.