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Painting Example
28mm Faces

Schutztruppe from HLBSCo
World War I/Colonial German Riflemen.
(Typical sample faces)

The piping colour indicates the colony they are stationed in - in this case white for German East Africa.

For us as human beings, the natural focus of anyone else is the face, to which we look for social and emotional cues. This is also true of the larger scale figures, which are just about large enough to show a certain amount of character. It is therefore worth lavishing more attention on this part than any other when painting.

In reality most 'white' people appear fairly pale, but a certain amount of artistic licence is necessary to achieve a more natural look. Skin is not particularly pink or white (as commonly described), but more of a very pale chestnut brown. Due to the yellow in this basic colour, you cannot just add black to shade it, or you will get a completely unrealistic olive green. Instead it is best to use a very reddish brown, which will give the figure a healthy glow.

Because of the sensitive nature of the facial area, I would recommend using a blending technique to shade, rather than washes which would be acceptable for smaller scales (20mm and below). Drybrushing is certainly not to be recommended because of the chalky, dusty finish it creates.


Initially the models had been undercoated white. The areas of skin were then base coated with a flesh coloured paint (in this case an artist's acrylic: Rowney Cryla Flesh Tint 578) .

The eyes have been painted black, which isn't really necessary, but I find it a slight aid in judging the amount of shadowing required.


Shading Stage 1 - Shadowing


My standard shading technique with pale colours is to shadow first, and then highlight. With darker colours it is the opposite - i.e.whichever will be the greatest tonal range is done first. This helps to get an even distribution of shades/tones in the final figure. In line with this, as skin is quite pale the first stage is to apply the basic shadowing.

Colour Range
Here you can see a section of the palette showing the range of colour which was prepared on it prior to blending (although as it was scanned after it had been used, it looks a bit less pristine and organised than it did at the start). It was created by putting on a blob of the basic flesh colour and a blob of the shading colour. The shading colour was Citadel's 'Dark Flesh', mixed with a bit of Humbrol 186 'Matt Brown' to tone it down. I used to use Citadel's 'Swamp Brown' but this is no longer available (it was also a little too purple). Having the full range of colour which you are blending to on the palette allows you to immediately pick up the right colour for a particular patch and then mix it in.

Shading Stage 2 - Highlighting

The 'sticking out' areas of the face are now highlighted, which includes the cheekbones, the jawbone, the upper lip, the nose and the edges of the ears.

Note the knuckles and fingers have been particularly picked out, to help prevent the hand looking like one big blob.

Colour Range
Another range has now been mixed on the palette. The dark mix is still visible, but at the bottom, a range has been created by mixing white and the basic flesh colour. I very rarely use pure white, even on the uppermost highlights, because I find it looks a bit out of place. Instead I mix in a tiny amount of the base colour to give it the right hue.

Shading Stage 3 - Dark Shadowing

The shadowing is now increased in depth using a small amount of brown ink in addition to the earlier shading mix.

Particular areas for attention are the eye sockets, below the chin, the edges of the ears and hair line as well as below the brim of any headgear.

If the figure's eyebrows are visible, paint them in now with a dark brown line, unless they are huge bushy eyebrows, in which case they are best drybrushed.

A little dark brown ink , was painted in a fine line to accentuate the mouth. Ink makes a fine line more easily than paint because it is more fluid.

The eyes were painted in again in black in preparation for the next stage.

Eyes & Lips Stage 1

The lips were painted in a dark pinkish/red brown . Note that lips are not particularly red unless your figure is wearing lipstick. This colour was created by mixing Citadel's 'Dark Flesh' with a little of the basic flesh colour.


These are painted in white, with a thin black rim being left aroung the edges. The whites of eyes are really a pale grey, but slightly thinned down white works well. If you do actually use a grey, the eye will appear from a distance as just a dark blob and you might as well not have bothered painting a detailed eye at all.

Eyes & Lips Stage 2

The lips are now highlighted using a mixture of the basic lip colour (if you are quick it will still be wet on your palette) and white . A very tiny amount of red is also added to make them a little pinker. Blending is not really required because the area being painted is so small.

The pupils were painted in with black. At this scale it isn't worth trying to paint the iris a separate colour - it will not be noticeable and will lack the impact of pure black. Normally the white of the eye is only visible at the sides of the eye, and not above and below, so paint a band of black from top to bottom of the white area. It also often helps to thicken the black line above the eye, has can be clearly seen on the figure on the right, as this gives the impression of eyelashes.

2001. All rights reserved.