How I paint figures.(easy and simple with gauranteed results)

Discussion in 'Dioramas & Displays' started by JohnReid, Mar 17, 2008.

  1. JohnReid

    JohnReid Active Member

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    The Headless Horsemen!
    These figure were lit from above to create max shadows in the depressed areas.They were all basically painted the same.The hands- in- pockets and the hands-on- hips guys are underpainted with the same olive green color.I worked a little dark grey pastels into the low depressed areas and a little yellow oxide and white into the high areas.The browns for the leather boots , belts and jackets are tube colors and are hand rubbed for a dull shine.The laces were dry brushed using the same brownish color with a little white added to it.Metal boot and belt buckles and tunic buttons are painted silver ,to which a little black gesso has been added, to get a kind of gunmetal look.The flesh of the hands has yet to be finished.The hand - on -hip figure's tunic and leather jacket color has since been revised.Most of the shine that you see here was created by my handling of them.
    Lighting is the great variable here.How much,how little and what direction it is coming from are all important factors.What type of lighting or mixture of lighting ?natural,incandescent or florescent ? are all huge factors.
  2. JohnReid

    JohnReid Active Member

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    The important thing to remember about my way of painting ,using pastels over a flat acrylic undercoat ,is that you can modify the intensity of your pastels right on the figure.If a depressed area gets too dark you can come back with a lighter pastel and modify it.Want to give more highlights to raised areas ,add a little white to the mix by applying it directly to the figure.Just play with it until you are happy.
    Some have asked just how permanent is the finish? well it is a lot more permanent than if you had tried to use any other paint than flat acrylics.My figures are used in my dioramas, so granted they don't get a lot of handling once installed.But neither do figures on pedestals especially those in glass domes.Why would anyone want to put their hands on a finished figure anyway,we are not talking toy soldiers here being moved around on a board.My answer to the "how durable" question is durable enough for the purpose for which they were intended ,to be looked at.Hands off please(and that includes you judges)
    You can do your own testing and I will bet that you will be surprised just how durable the surface really is.
    As far as fixatives are concerned,I have never used any myself.You may want to give it a try if you think your figures really need it .Personally,I would be a little concerned about their use in areas of subtle shading.
  3. JohnReid

    JohnReid Active Member

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    What about the dreaded face!
    I can here you saying well that is fine for the body but what about the face?well the face is nothing more than a bunch of hills, valleys and crevasses like the body but mostly on a smaller scale.What about those eyes that no one can seems to get right? the hair how do I get it to look soft,almost touchable?
    Well provided that the scupturer did his job right there should be lots of hills and valleys to work with.This is where the quality of the casting comes in. I am happy to say most figure castings offered for sale today are pretty good.Don"t try going cheap here buy the best casting you can afford.If possible shine a light down from the top .Do the features pop out at you? do they look natural?Is everything in the right place(remember we are all experts at the human face)Does the face fit in with your storyline?Will he be carrying on a conversation or gesturing to another figure?
    I find that most painters overdo the face to the point that it looks painted.We want to avoid this at all costs.Subtle is the word here.What about the eyes?nothing looks worse than a bug -eyed face.Well relax,most scales don't even require that we paint them and at the larger scales we can fake it to make them look like they really are there.Now for a few examples......
  4. JohnReid

    JohnReid Active Member

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  5. abutt

    abutt Member

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    John...As a trained fine artist (Yale), graphic artist and designer...I couldn't have put it better. Well done.
    Allan
  6. JohnReid

    JohnReid Active Member

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    My setup!
    This is my setup for applying pastels.The two circular plastic plates is where I shave off the pastels sticks ,using an xacto knife held a a 90% angle. The pastel powder obtained is usually fine enough to use directly on the figure.
    The bright colors in round tubes I sometimes use to modify the square stick colors.Mostly I use the browns,grays,black and white,burnt sienna that you see in the plates.
    The brushes are mostly small soft brushes of various shapes.I really like the cats tongue brushes in various sizes.The smaller your scale the smaller the brush required.I even have a makeup brush or two borrowed from my wife.The important thing here is the the brushes be very soft and hold enough pastel to work with.Don't load up your brush but just transfer enough color to your figure that your first attempt may hardly even be noticeable, much like when you are drybrushing.Continue until you see subtle changes between the hills and valleys with no hard edges.Experiment,have fun and remember you can't make a mistake that can't be corrected when using this method.
  7. JohnReid

    JohnReid Active Member

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  8. JohnReid

    JohnReid Active Member

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    Here is a painted face that is easily obtainable with my methods, of using chalk pastels over flat acrylics.I would consider this face as finished.
  9. JohnReid

    JohnReid Active Member

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  10. JohnReid

    JohnReid Active Member

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    Here is the same face that I would consider overpainted to the point that it looks painted.
  11. JohnReid

    JohnReid Active Member

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  12. JohnReid

    JohnReid Active Member

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    This is about the harshest light that any of my figures would ever be exposed to.The shine that you see is from me handling them.
    If you look closely at the figure facing you,you could almost swear that you can see eyes looking at you.This is an interesting phenomenon where your brain automatically fills in the detail for you.The side view of the figure on the left foreground still needs some work as you can see.