Painting 1/35 scale heads in 8 steps
By Mark Bannerman
I would like to share with you the most common approach I use when painting a head. There are many ways but this is the quick and easy system I have used for the past few years. It is essentially a mix of many techniques wrapped into one methodology.
Step 1 – Priming
Prior to starting, wash the figurine entirely with soap and water; for white metal use vinegar and water. Remove all flash, and fill joints and holes with Milliput or plastic putty. Spray an undercoat of Tamiya Dark or Desert Yellow mixed with acrylic Flat White in a ratio of 1:1 mixed with gloss coat Let dry for 24 hours.
Step 2 – Deep Shadows
Give yourself fifteen minutes a day for each of the following steps over a course of two weeks. I have chosen oil paints as my standard medium for painting figures. You will require four tubes of oil paint -Gold Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber Flake White. Mix up Raw Umber and enamel thinner. It should be tainted thinner, and not thinned paint. Apply a thin wash to the entire face, neck and hands as well as any other exposed flesh area. The oil/thinner mixture should find itself into all the crevices. Little by little , add a wash until you are satisfied with the results. Let it dry for a day and prepare yourself to work on the eyes.
Step 3 – Painting the Eyes
Drop a little spec of enamel Flesh Pink to white oil on your palette and bring the mixture to an off white-pink colour. Before you do the eyes, the sockets should be dark as a result of your umber wash. Dip your toothpick/needle in your whitish mixture and place a tiny spec in the inner and outer corners of each eye socket. Basically, you’ve put in the whites of the eyes, leaving the middle area with a dark residue from the original wash . Let this cure for two days. Split toothpicks in half and you will note that the halve-ends actually break into extremely thin splinters. You may need to split a dozen before you get that perfect splinter. Dab a splinter into a brown/black oil paint mix and place a dot in each of the sockets between the two specs of white. I tend to avoid straight head-on glares, and generally place irises looking slightly off centre, either looking left, right, up or down. In my experience, straight on looks can never be perfect! Let the paint dry thoroughly for three days.
Step 4 – The Flesh
There are few important steps which can make your figure look that much more realistic. The 5 o’clock shadow can be achieved by combining of Paynes’ Grey with Burnt Umber and applying it very lightly, almost a drybrush stippling motion to the area you want covered. It has to be very subtle. “Rosy” cheeks is quite easily duplicated by adding Humbrol 50 with Burnt Sienna (50/50) to your flesh base and lightly applying to the cheeks area. It is best to apply this when the base flesh tone used for the face is still wet so that you can blend the two together. However, I tend to apply this last and directly on top of the dry flesh paint. If it looks too rosy, add a little of your mix of flesh to it and blend it in. I rarely paint eyebrows unless they protrude – but in some instances where these are necessary, use a toothpick splinter and apply dotted line of Raw Umber across the eyebrow area. I treat hands similarly to the face. However, the Raw Umber wash could a be a little heavier to ensure that the recesses between the fingers are well accentuated. Another wash of Burnt Sienna will shade those areas between the deep shadows and high points on the hand. A neat trick after this all dries is to add little specs of white oil on the knuckles and joints. Once the white dots are in place, draw a wide brush across the hand and the white oil paint will blend out. This could either be done wet on wet or right over the dry paint.
This last step is probably the easiest. When your head is thoroughly dry, spray a coat of semi or gloss coat to the head from above so that the gloss catches only the protruding features. This is really crucial. It will add that much more life to your figure.
That wraps up a step by step. I have attached a few heads which were painted in this manner.