Painting a Model Figure

Orangeville, ON (James Doan) It has been a long time since I built a model car, airplane or military vehicle. For over thirty years, my interest has been exclusively working with miniature figures. And I don’t get upset if you call them toy soldiers!

Most of the local modellers are primarily interested in cars and trucks. Almost every time, someone will look at one of my figures and say “I wish I could do that kind of detail work.” And yet, when I look at the detail that they have put into wiring an engine or painting the scripts on a fender, I tell them “You can do that kind of detail work, it’s just in a different setting.”

Figure modelling is no more difficult or easy than any other discipline of modelling. But many people are unsure of trying to complete a figure. The major deterrent seems to be having to paint the figure’s face.

The face, while it can be the critical aspect of painting a figure, is also the area that can prove to be the most satisfying. Just as the quality of the body paint job on a car model is the first thing that most people notice when looking at it, the face is the essence of a model figure. How well you paint the face will determine your reputation as a figure painter.

Of all the features of the face, the eyes are the most significant. They must be level, the same size and properly located in the face. Never paint the whites of the eyes white! Instead, you should use the highlight shade of the face. After painting the eyeball and socket, next paint a thin, vertical line of brown or light blue through each eye socket for the iris. Then paint a narrower vertical line of black or dark brown at the centre of the iris colour.

Frame the top of each eyeband with a dark brown line for the upper eyelash. Take care to align the bottom edge of each lash line correctly, and be sure to keep the two eyes level. Follow this with half of a bottom lash at the inner side of each eye, making both eyes symmetric.

Now work with the main flesh paint to trim the eyes down to the correct size.

All that remains then is to complete painting the face. With the highlight and shadow colours, you can define the character of the face.

As the last step, the hands can be painted with the same colours used for the face. Be sure to add the darkest shadows in the area between the fingers.

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