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Painting: Painting with Oils
Discuss Oil painting techniques.
Trials of First Time Figure Painter
England - North East, United Kingdom
Joined: June 22, 2010
KitMaker: 1,224 posts
Historicus Forma: 12 posts
Posted: Monday, October 01, 2012 - 07:12 AM UTC
Ok, so I am trying to get to grips with oil painting figures. Using a "throw-away" Tamiya 1/35 Tanker (from the PzII kit)... Started with priming then read forums on here...

mixed some green (meant to be german uniform green but 100% off - but I thought its for testing technique so that doesnt matter) and proceeded to paint (water mixable oils straight from tube and mixed, shading and highlights blended in as per the excellent tutorials on this wonderful forum)...

well I am sure a 1 year old dog could paint better....


was i too rough with the stippling of the base? is it just the colour making it look bleurgh? should I slacken the paint a little with water first?

any tips (even - dont bother you suck ;-)) greatly recieved....

needless to say he has been cleaned off ready for priming again.....
United States
Joined: September 22, 2010
KitMaker: 102 posts
Historicus Forma: 100 posts
Posted: Monday, October 01, 2012 - 09:14 AM UTC
We've ALL been down that road, bro...don't worry...the only way you'll improve is to keep trying and asking everyone you can about technique...some colors such as green, blues & yellows are extremely transparent/translucent...UNDERCOATING with a similar/same color in important; if you undercoat use a water based paint like Vallejo/Andrea, Polly-S or simnilar model paint...you'll be paintinbg over in oils so do not use a thinner based paint...keep painting - in the beginning you be be extremely frustrated, as I was, but don't stop (EVER) unless you completely lose interest...ask others to criticize your work - the good ones will be honest and NOT abusive...I was lucky to have the input from a number of award winning painters early in my association with the hobby; Andrei Koribanics, Phil Kessling, the late Robert C (Bob) Knee Jr and others who helped me with technique and color mixing advice...Paint is relatively cheap...if you're not happy with the color, use it as your example of what NOT to do and try, try again. You might want to try and find Bob Knee's book - out of print - "Color Theory & Application" (R & K Pubs) or check online for color mixing sites - the guys on this list will guide you in this search...Also there are books available (MANY) on color mixing - just check online - my wife bought me a number of them through Amazon.com. Yes the green is way off, but so??? Mix again - put it on a piece of index card stock (to absorb the oil) and see it it's what you want, if not, mix again...keep a record of your colors and ratios...it'll insure you don't make the same mistake twice OR that you get the color you want AGAIN if the mix turns out right!!!

CB in FL
England - North East, United Kingdom
Joined: June 22, 2010
KitMaker: 1,224 posts
Historicus Forma: 12 posts
Posted: Monday, October 01, 2012 - 06:21 PM UTC
Thanks CB much appreciated. Have cleaned him up and will keep trying and posting. Looking again I do think the base coat let me down. If that was neatee then it gives a better foundation..

As to thebtype of base, as I am using watee-mixable oils am I not ok with enamel as the base? Any thinner of the oil would be plain water...

Willbscout around for the books as well as re-read the forums....
England - North East, United Kingdom
Joined: June 22, 2010
KitMaker: 1,224 posts
Historicus Forma: 12 posts
Posted: Thursday, October 04, 2012 - 01:52 AM UTC
well i think I have made a LITTLE progress... least this time there is an obvious shading... so mixed a blue/green (Black, White, Pthalo Blue and Lemon Yellow) and then used plain black and white for shadow/highlight.

Shorts & Hat are black, white, yellow and raw sienna (not as good as the jacket - should;ve done it in 2 sessions really)....

(colours are limited at the moment so going for technique first then looking to add some extra oils to my set)

all painted over mid-grey acrylic as base coat

still a LONG way to go with improvements - need some different colours (a proper grey for starters) and some smaller brushes... but am slowly getting the hang of it.... and i mean SLOWLY
South Carolina, United States
Joined: May 07, 2010
KitMaker: 2,238 posts
Historicus Forma: 16 posts
Posted: Thursday, November 01, 2012 - 01:37 PM UTC

I would say that your second try looks much better than the first, especially in the "smoothness" of the colors.

Stippling is usually the brushing technique used to blend and not the technique used to apply the colors. For that, use a normal brushing method.

I paint with oils over acrylic undercoats, but I've never used the types that thin with water, so from that point of view, I'm not sure about that aspect of what you're doing.

Undercoating with acrylics is very important and should include everything on the figure (flesh areas, major uniform areas, and details).

I would suggest that you consider the sequence of how you're applying the colors. The "classic" technique is to paint from the "inside out."

Start with mixing your base (or medium shade) color. Decide what colors you'll need to make the shadows and highlights from this base color (often black and white, but not always).

Take some of your base color and mix up your shadow color.

I generally start with "blocking in" the darkest shadow colors while leaving the medium and highlight areas unpainted.

Next I add the medium area colors. I put these on the highlight areas too.

Blend the edges of these color blocks (shadows and medium / base colors) only along the line where they touch. Here is where you want to use a light stippling technique. Sometimes you need to blend again on either side of the first blend to get a nice gradual transition in shade from dark shadow to the medium.

Be careful though, since it's easy to over blend and make all the areas the same shade. Remember, you need to have contrasts.

I then usually add the color (say white) that will be used to make the highlights out of the medium color. I add this directly to the highlight areas of the figure and mix them on the figure.

(An alternative is to mix the highlights on the pallet and block them in like the shadows and medium shades.)

Use the stippling method to mix the white into the medium color starting in the center of the highlight area working outwards.

I then usually do the same (using black) to make the darkest shadows blending them directly on the figure.

If indicated, a "super highlight" can be added with more white blending again directly on the figure.

You'll note that I tend to blend quite a bit directly on the figure because for me this helps to keep the amount of oil paint added to the figure to the minimum. Putting too much paint on the figure can be a problem for beginning oil painters. It's almost impossible to use too little paint.

However, this is why undercoating in acrylics is so important. The underlying colors help in keeping the oil paint layers as thin as possible.

Finally, try to restrict your colors to just the areas where they should be and avoid adjacent areas (even small details if you can). Again, this is to keep the amount of paint to a minimum and also to make these other areas easier to paint later.

Here're a couple of sets of downloadable notes for figure painting. There are some basic uniform color mixes as well as several flesh mixes:

AMPS Central SC Figure Painting Part One

AMPS Central SC Figure Painting Part Two

AMPS Central SC Figure Painting Part Three

These notes are from a series of figure oil painting demos we had a few months back. They might seem incomplete since they were used in conjunction with a hands-on presentation, but hopefully they'll be of some use.

Happy modeling,