Here you got a quick test that I have been performing lastest days.
To paint a figure uniform adding lights and shadows in an easy way.
REQUISITES: (both mandatory!)
(b) Figure must have good sculpt detail.
(b) Figure uniform must be single coloured.
My goal was to find an easy and reliable way to paint figures quickly. Why? I see that many armour modellers do not use to add figures to their AFVs. But the fact is that, general speaking, we all use to like to see those little humans close to our tiny vehicles.
Many modelers do not worry about it. Ok, thatīs fine. But many others do not include figures in their models because they are not familiar with (any of the) figure painting techniques.
If you belong to the second group. I hope you may find this useful at some point.
Please, notice this is not a detailed how to in the use of any paint. I will try my best to avoid tech data. I just want to show you what I tried and the result.
THE TEST SUBJECT
As you may already know, I have been playing with the ICM figures lately. Well, those are more aircraft oriented than amour crews but I like them very much because those figure sets are (a) in plastic, (b) highly detailed and (c) quite cheap. Perfect for basic figure conversions, in one word.
When I was working on the Clear the deck vignette figures, one of those ICM ones, a US mechanic, was familiar to me. I was sure to have seen that coverall in use by the US tank crews before.
Digging in my hard disk I found the answer! Here you got a Sherman tank crew during maneuvers. Fort Knox. 1942.
If you browse the net you may find many other colour pictures of those Army exercises, BTW.
Well all I had to do, then, was to add a tank crew head to that figure. Here it is!
I cut off the figure head and replaced it with (a) plastic head inserted into a (b) drilled resin helmet. The googles were casted using the same silicone compound Konrad Schreirer showed us here few days ago. The strap for the googles was done with Kneadatite putty. I also added a small detail to the tshirt with Tamiya epoxy putty.
But how I transformed the figure it is not important now. Iīm sure that you can join any tank crew head to any body. My warm welcome to the little Frankensteins surgery school!
We will need no less than three different colours. Colours of the same colour pallete, of course.
In this case, we are going to do a khaki or green uniform. BTW, I do not believe in true colours neither for AFVs nor uniforms. Have you noticed that the Sherman crew of the first picture wear the same uniform and all of three have a different shade?
Here you got my choice.
Please, notice this is just a computer generated colour chart but it looks (on my screen) quite close to the colours I used. Once more, exact shade is not important. We just need a quite dark colour, a ligther one and a third shade between the previous. So simple.
Are we ready to go? Airbrushing figures you say?
If you do not want to ruin your careful paintwork on that figure, you should better take care when handling it.
With a clip, some strechted kit sprue and a pin vise we can fix that easily.
Now we can move to the next step.
I do not want to make you waste your time reading about figure painting techniques. That is something out of the scope of this test.
In short, remember, general speaking, we use to enhance shadows and lights to our figures to avoid them to look flat.
A quite popular, quick and easy approach is to add a wash of a darker colour, so the paint flows into the uniform creases. This uses to work in most cases but the fact is that you are fixed to the gravity law! I mean, the wash flows to the deeper part of the crease. So simple like that. You got a basic colour transition and thatīs all. You are limited by the sculpt details at the end.
Another way is to carefully paint the figure with acrylics, overlapping layers of highly thinned paint. Feathering. This is a highly effective technique to have a perfect colour gradient and you are not limited by the sculpture detail because you can control both the colour transition and its direction. Thatīs why acrylic painted figures are so appealing to most of us.
Well we want to reproduce the way the light interacts with an object, having true lights and shadows. Ok. Letīs paint light then!
Firstly, apply a base coat of the darkest colour. No secrets here!
Now we are going to paint the other two shades like light so you have to paint from above! This way is how this test perform its best!
Here you got the figure with the medium shade airbrushed from above.
And here it is with the lighter colour.
You may not notice it in these big pictures but letīs take a closer look at our tiny figure.
Here you got a view of our figure from above. Notice looks like it was entirely painted with the lighter colour!
And now, letīs flip the figure and take a look again. Great! All the darker colour is up there!
So when we put the figure under a source of light, we do not notice about the previous paintwork because the ligther colour is where the figure receives more light and the darker colour is where the strongest shadows are as well. It works!
Please, notice that if you ran into troubles and you need to repaint any shadow, then you have to do it in the opposite way! Airbrushing from below!
From now on, I continued brush painting the rest of the figure details. Do not forget my single goal was to paint the uniform.
But I think that, in fact, all the previous airbrush work will be a perfect base to finish the uniform enhancing and forcing- a bit more some extreme lights and shadows with the brush. I will have to try that in a future figure.
FINISHING THE JOB
Nothing new here. Just brushpaint the rest of the figure. Boots, helmet details, face and hand no SBS here, sorry guys. Those details are too small to take easy pictures of!
Notice that, in the uniform, I have only added a pin wash to outline the details. No new shadows. No new lights.
Here you got the figure already finished.
Looks like I will have to do a US armour subject in the future!
Unless you are doing a camouflaged figure, seems to me a quite simple way to paint single coloured uniforms. US, Brits, Russians those black German tank crew uniforms can be painted this way easily.
You can paint the entire uniform in just minutes. You can save figure painting time to invest it in the rest of the figure details.
You can paint single stowage accessories as well. Tarps, bedrolls
The main shortcomings, to me, are the already pointed requisites. You will have to follow a more conventional path if you want to fix those.
Is all of this worthy?
Please, take a minute, save the lastest picture to your hard disk, resize it to a real 1/48th scale size and take a look at that uniform. Then, feel free to let me know your comments!
Or even better, take that useless figure from your spare box and give it a try. You will not regret!