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Painting
Discuss all areas of historical miniature painting and painting preparation.
What made the biggest improvement?
thewrongguy
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Ontario, Canada
Joined: October 17, 2002
KitMaker: 448 posts
Historicus Forma: 70 posts
Posted: Sunday, November 25, 2012 - 09:32 AM UTC
Hi

I returned to the hobby 2 years ago and have built armoured vehicles almost exclusively. I'd say in those 2 years the quality of my builds has increased quite a bit. However my figure painting has not improved at all since I've come back.

I'm frustrated. It's hard to look at a tank I've built and think "Hey that's actually pretty good", but to look at the figure I built to go with it and think "Maybe he opened the Ark of the Covenant and that's why his face looks melted".

Did anyone read or try a new technique as a amateur and it helped refine your skills a decent amount?

Thanks for your time.

Jeff
weldingrod
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Auckland, New Zealand
Joined: May 19, 2012
KitMaker: 54 posts
Historicus Forma: 24 posts
Posted: Sunday, November 25, 2012 - 12:05 PM UTC
Hey mate,back many years ago,I did not even paint the eyes,just painted the face a flesh colour,I have improved alot.
Resin heads that have a greater amount of detail are easier to paint than a square t--iya head.
Also practice,practice,practice,search the net there are lots of how to paint faces blogs articles out there and this is the place to ask for help,your have some of the best figure painters on the globe here.
endrju007
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Wojewodztwo Podkarpackie, Poland
Joined: December 05, 2007
KitMaker: 2,435 posts
Historicus Forma: 909 posts
Posted: Sunday, November 25, 2012 - 07:39 PM UTC
Well, there sure is no panacea...
I have no idea what are your skills of figure painting (maybe I'm trying to help someone better than me ) so I'll just say that for me the biggest jump was reading THIS feature. I don't know what paints you use - at that time I've been using only humbrols but you can simply get the general idea and apply it to other paints.

What else - read, try, retry...
You can find some really usefull stuff HERE (i.e. Gino Poppe's feature on painting faces).

I hope to see your figures soon!
SdAufKla
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South Carolina, United States
Joined: May 07, 2010
KitMaker: 2,238 posts
Historicus Forma: 16 posts
Posted: Sunday, December 02, 2012 - 04:34 AM UTC
First, pick ONE of the three most common media - hobby enamels, acrylics, or oils. ONE not all three.

This is the biggest problem that I see beginner figure painters having. They try to use the wrong techniques for the medium that they're painting with, or they read seemingly conflicting information and descriptions of techniques without realizing that these descriptions and instructions are for different media. There's so much information available on the web that it's easy to get information "overload."

At the beginner level of painting, there's very little over-lap between the techniques and materials used for each media, so it's very easy to get confused and frustrated trying to apply something you've read in an article about one medium while you're actually trying to use a different one.

If you want to learn to paint with oils, I recommend getting a copy of Mark Bannerman's book:

Osprey::Modelling Panzer Crewmen of the Heer

In it, he gives one of the best illustrated how-to's for face painting in oils that's been published. After that, anything by Shep Paine that you can find.

(I am biased since I paint in oils over acrylic under-coats.)

For painting in acrylics, any of Calvin Tan's Osprey books like this one:

Osprey::Modelling a Waffen SS Figure

For painting with hobby enamels, one of the masters is Bill Horan. His book, "Bill Horan's Military Modelling Masterclass" is about the best single source for painting with hobby enamels:

Amazon::Bill Horan's Military Modelling Masterclass

There are many other good references, but you have to understand that each painter writes about the techniques he uses with his chosen medium and what works for that medium often WILL NOT be applicable to other media. When you expand you references, look for ones written by painters who use the same medium that you use.

As you develop more skill, then you'll be able to "cross-pollinate" techniques from one medium to another, but you need some experience to understand the limitations and possibilities before you can do this without a lot of frustration and confusion.

Once you have decided on which media you're going to use, then learn all you can about it. Then...

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Seriously, the more you paint the better you will get. I'd say you should figure on taking your time with 20-30 (or more) carefully painted figgies before you crack the code and develop your own "style."

Use the best brushes you can afford (W&N Series 7 if you can get them) and take care of your brushes. They aren't magic, but you won't get better trying to use cr*p, el-cheap'o brushes, either.

Finally, have really good light (day-light balanced CFL bulbs in swing arm desk lamps work very well) and use some sort of magnification (unless you have excellent close-up vision).

And then...

Practice, practice, practice...!
thewrongguy
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Ontario, Canada
Joined: October 17, 2002
KitMaker: 448 posts
Historicus Forma: 70 posts
Posted: Sunday, December 02, 2012 - 07:04 AM UTC
Thanks for the advice.

I'd say the number 1 problem I'm having right now is not sticking to a single medium. I think I'll pick up some decent DML figures and have a serious go at them (after required reading).

Probably a hornets nest, but from a beginners perspective which of the three (oils, enamels & acrylics) have the easiest learning curve? I'm leaning towards acrylics simply because I have a baby in the house and I'm trying to get away from solvents as much as possible.

Thanks again

Jeff
SdAufKla
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South Carolina, United States
Joined: May 07, 2010
KitMaker: 2,238 posts
Historicus Forma: 16 posts
Posted: Sunday, December 02, 2012 - 11:39 AM UTC

Quoted Text

... Probably a hornets nest, but from a beginners perspective which of the three (oils, enamels & acrylics) have the easiest learning curve? I'm leaning towards acrylics simply because I have a baby in the house and I'm trying to get away from solvents as much as possible.

Thanks again

Jeff



Everybody will give you their own opinion, but as for myself, I think artist oils are the easiest.

But of course, that's what I paint with!

I started back in the early 70's with hobby enamels and used those almost exclusively until the early 90's when I made the switch to oils entirely for figures. (Still used enamels for my models, though...).

In the late 90's, I made a foray into acrylics and painted a lot of figures for a couple of years using just acrylics. I never could quite get the hang of shading using glazes and was never really satisfied with my inability to paint details "crisply." However, I did learn a lot about brush painting with acrylics.

About 10-12 years ago, I made the switch to acrylics with my airbrushing and brush painting on my models, but at the same time, I switched back to oils for my figures with one change - I now undercoat all my figures with acrylics before the oils.

I'm really pleased with how the oils over acrylics works for me with my figure painting, so I've stuck to that now.

I guess all told, I have about 20 years experience painting figures with hobby enamels with a gradual transition to oils followed by about 10 more years of just oils. My experiment with acrylics lased about 5 years, and I've added about another 12 years of oils over acrylics. So, all together I have almost 25 years painting figures with oils.

I guess that's what works for me.

However, there's no arguing with the results that a guy like Calvin Tan can get with acrylics, and acrylics are the probably the most used figure painting medium now.

Honestly, though, I'd say if you have any experience painting with hobby enamels and blending those for shading, then using oils will be very intuitive for you.

On the other hand, if you've never really done any blending or shading before, then you should pick which ever medium you're most used to brush painting with. That is, if you're comfortable brush painting hobby enamels, then hobby enamels or oils should be your choice. You'll be familiar with the materials and how they work for you. You're likely to have many of the materials already on hand, etc.

But, if you've been painting your models with acrylics, then I'd recommend trying those for your figures as well. You're likely to have the paints and be comfortable and familiar with using them.

Oils are the traditional and classic "toy soldier" painting medium, but acrylics are now the most widely used. Both will get you where you want to go if you learn and master the techniques, but they are quite different from each other in the way they're used for shading and highlighting.

I would say that while your concerns for a healthy home environment are understandable, for figure painting, you'll be using so little of thinners like mineral spirits that you shouldn't be worried. So, I wouldn't suggest basing your decision on that.

Here're some "happy snaps" of 1/35th scale figures that I've painted, all with artist oils over acrylics:







(I just started this Israeli Tanker this afternoon for practice. It's still wet and has a little work to be done yet...)















Happy modeling!