So ever since I did the post on How to paint World Eater Space Marines I have a lot of positive feed back, in fact its been a very popular post. One question that I’ve continually had was “how did you paint the face?” So I thought I’d do a quick tutorial on how to paint faces to a good table top standard. Believe it or not, its not that hard and with a little patience and practice you’ll dramatically improve the presentiment of any miniature where flesh tones are present.
So lets take a look at the process.
For the tutorial I’ll be using the old Citadel range of paints. I do like the new range, however I’m buying to replace them with the new ones as I go so I’ve still got a fair few of the old range on hand. But if you use the Citadel conversion chart if you don’t have any of the old paints you should be golden.
The paints & materials I’ve used are
- Abaddon Black – Undercoat and detail
- Tallarn Flesh – Base coat and component for highlights
- Dwarf Flesh – For highlighting
- Red Gore – A component colour for the lips
- Ogryn Flesh – Base coat wash
- Devlen Mud – Shading
- White Scar – Eyes etc
- W & N No 1 Brush
- Marines Head – I like mounting pieces on tooth pics for ease of handling
Step 2. Undercoat
I’ve used Abaddon Black applied with an Air Brush, or use a spray can. This is important and many of the small details on the face can be erased or compromised if you don’t apply the paint thinly enough. I’m not saying it can’t be done with a brush, but it just makes your job harder if you do.
Step 3. Base coat
Again I’ve applied Tallarn Flesh with an air brush for the same reason that I applied Abaddon Black with an air brush, so as not to compromise any of the fine detail on the face.
Step 4. Wash
Using my W & N no 1 brush I applied a liberal amount of wash. Don’t be scared to do this as you’ll find that when the medium dries (evaporates) all that will be left is the pigment in the recesses. You want that to create definition.
Step 5. Re-apply the base coat
This is where you need to be mindful of a few things. The first one is paint viscosity, and the second one is your brush condition. Let me explain. Where a lot of people fall down when painting flesh is that the paint has already started to dry when its being applied. This makes the paint lumpy and has an inconsistent appearance in its application. In some climates where the air is dry (< 30% humidity) you may need to use a wet pallet. Or just do what I do and take a blob of paint out of the bottle (I live in a humid climate), put it on my pallet and mix in a bit of paint thinner. This is really important, especially for skin tones, the reason is that our skin is sort of translucent and when we paint it to re-create that effect, we need to simulate this and the best way to do that is to make the paint thin. I’ll get into more detail on this later, but for now, just make sure that your paint it thinned down a little so it flows better.
The second point you need to be aware of is your brush condition. There are two aspects of this, the first is that your brush is set up to facilitate capillary action, and the second one is that the tip of the brush is the right shape. Many painters don’t use their brush the way its meant to be used, and that is having a nice amount of paint on the whole brush (bristles) and then shape the brush tip so that it makes a nice fine point for painting. A lot of guys I see dip the tip of their brush in the paint and use only that part. This seriously limits the full capability of the brush and you are doing yourself a big disservice. To help your brush facilitate capillary action, just make sure that before you dip it in paint (thinned down I hope) that you first dip your paint brush in some clean paint thinners first. Remove the excess with a tissue or something then dip the paint brush in your thinned paint, using the same tissue shape the bristles so that you have a nice point.
You can now pick out the raised areas of the face with the Tallarn Flesh. Before you do this take a few moments to consider where you’d like the paint to go by studying the face and its contours. By having a plan of where you’d like the paint to do will dramatically improve your results.
Step 6. First Highlight
Mixing about 70% Tallarn Flesh with 30% Dwarf Flesh, begin highlighting the areas of the face that would naturally catch the light. So areas like the ears, nose, chin, cheeks, brow. Again, make sure you follow the points I make in Step 5 about paint viscosity and having your brush set up properly. Paint viscosity is important for the next three stages. As I mentioned before, skin is sort of translucent, so when you paint flesh tones, try and make your paint go on in very thin layers so that the edge of each layer of paint isn’t too contrasted against the previous one, and allows its colour to be blended with the previous colour that was applied.
Step 7. Second Highlight
Mixing about 30% Tallarn Flesh with 70% Dwarf Flesh, begin refining the highlighting of the previous areas of the face that you worked on in Step 6. Again, make sure you follow the points I make in Step 5 about paint viscosity and having your brush set up properly.
Step 8. Final Highlight
With straight Dwarf Flesh go and pick out the final areas where you want attention to be drawn to. Tip of the nose, ears, brow and top of the cheeks.
Step 9. Lips
With a a mixture of about 60% Tallarn Flesh, and 40% Red Gore, apply a small amount to the lower lip. This is very subtle but crucial to achieving a more realistic effect.
Step 10. Eye Shading
Place a small amount of Devlan Mud in each of the eye areas and a small amount under the bottom lip. Again a subtle but crucial step.
Step 11. Pick out Details
Step 12. Finished
Paint in the eyes with white, followed by a small dot of back. This may take several attempts to get right. Pick out the service stud with your choice of silver and finish up any other details you’d like attention paid to.
So there you have it. It’s doubtful that you’ll win a Golden Daemon trophy with this scheme, but it will with any luck improve the quality of your table top miniatures.
A few points to remember about painting flesh. The first is no matter what tone of flesh you are wanting to achieve, always start with a warm flesh tone. For example, if you look at the picture below of my Iron Hands Librarian, you’ll see he’s quite pale. I still used Tallarn Flesh as the base colour, I just used a mixture of grey and bone to dull down the warmth of Tallarn Flesh. This is a convention to be mindful of when painting flesh tones. It seems that our eye is programmed to see flesh tones in a certain way and we accept simulations of flesh tones better when they have a warm base to start with.
Thats me for now. Hope you’ve found this helpful, and until next time chat later.
John Sutton, Brisbane, Qld