Specialised painting techniques



Specialised painting techniques

This is a selection of tutorials I found online that I have found particulatly interesting or helpful.

With all these tutorials, you can click on the link embedded in each title to go to the original source material –  or, if you wish, download a PDF backup of the page they are on.

Why the backups? Well, I created them as an ‘insurance’ because I have been disappointed to find, in the past, that some of my favourite tutorials suddenly disappeared from the web. ( Also a few of the backups have been auto-translated – with varying degrees of success –  into English from their original language, saving you the trouble of doing it.)

Painting Eyes

I always begin with the face, on which I lay the basic colour and then completely paint the eyes. More exactly the eyes and the position of the pupils are painted in this stage, rather than at the end.

This is so I can correct anything I don’t like again and again problem free, and without worrying about damaging the. Because I find the chances of painting the eyes correctly the first time improbable, since the left side is always seemingly more difficult than the right, I always need several attempts, until I am finally content.”

Marion Ball, expert painter

A selection of tutorials on painting eyes. The two most important tips I have ever been given as an aid to painting eyes are these:

1. Position the pupil of the eyes marginally closer to the nose than to the ears – otherwise your figure can look cross-eyed.

2. Having painted the ‘easy eye’ (depending if you’re right or left handed), flip the figure upside down to paint the other one. This also helps you to see the pupil positions objectively.

Le Petit Site de JFP (Jean Francois Pierre )

Download English version (PDF) (Auto translation Google)

Painting Eyes – Mark Benette, PlanetFigure


(Download PDF backup)

From Staffan Linder of “Swede Creations”:

This is a more basic guide but very clear

Download PDF

Guide to Painting Eyes – Marike Reimer, Destroyer Minis

Clearly illustrated guide to complex eyes for gaming figures


(Download PDF backup)

Painting Eyes by Tony Barton (Antheads)


Some great tips on the expression in the eyes by Tony Barton

“The positioning of the iris is crucial to the finished expression. For a calm expression , the upper lid should cover the top quarter of the iris .These sketches show the different effect of the positioning of the iris and pupil :


This is a subtle business, but bear it in mind , since it strongly affects the end result. Many people find it helpful to sketch in the pupil position using a very sharp pencil before adding paint.”

Painting Eyes – David Powell


Painting Animal Eyes by Dan Cope, The Clubhouse

Download “Painting Animal Eyes” (PDF)

Painting Tartans

From: Le Petit Site de JFP (Jean Francois Pierre )

Download English version (PDF) (Auto translation Google)

A Guide To Painting Tartans on Toy Soldiers by John O’Brien

Clear diagrams, easy to use

Download PDF

How to Paint Tartan the Japanese Way



Painting A Leopard Skin Pattern

From: Le Petit Site de JFP (Jean Francois Pierre )

Download English version (PDF) (Auto translation Google)



How to paint leather

Painting leather tutorial from Massive Voodoo

Clearly written instructions from top tutorial site

Download PDF

Painting Worn Leather by David Powell


PDF backup

Painting Textured Material – Twisted Brushes (Marta)

An inspiring article on adding texture to a painted surface.


(Download PDF backup)

This article is linked to its original source but I have reproduced it here because it contains so many invaluable tips which generally apply to painting:

Painting Skintones by Jerry Buchanan

A Crash Course In Painting Skintones

Skintones! Man, I can remember the times when I thought skintones would be impossible to achieve. I mean all that I had painted up until that time were dinosaur models and a few creature kits. Don’t have to worry about peachy skintones on a slimy alien! Luckily, I had some experience with an airbrush which I believe to be an essential tool for good skin tones on a one sixth scale kit. The reason for this is that the bigger the kit, the more area you have to cover with paint. This leaves more room for brush marks from a paintbrush and I detest brush marks! An airbrush can get you those gradual color changes and give your figure some depth.

deept2I use a Testors modelmaster airbrush which is a pretty good airbrush when the tips are in good shape. I have noticed that after you use a tip, the spray may start to appear spattered due to imperfections in the tip (or a year’s worth of paint accumulation that you just can’t clean up). Some people suggest that you let the tips soak in water or cleaning solution when not in use. I usually do this when the tip is so bad that paint will not flow through it. I need to send some of mine back for repair or replacement because of their unlimited warranty. After you get proficient with the airbrush and can lay fine lines and get good color gradations, you should have no problem with skintones.

The only challenge left is getting the color correct. I learned to paint skintones from David Fisher. His technique was simple and it produced great results. I use the same formula to paint skin now but every kit is different in some way. Different paint ratios will yield different results. Plus, I don’t want every kit to look the same! Each one has its own personality.

Now for the colors. I imagine that the brand of paint does not matter but I use Liquitex. This is because I know they have the colors I need and I know where to get them. They come in tubes or small bottles of concentrated colors which are thinner. I think you get more bang for your buck with the tube type paint although the thinner, concentrated colors are easier to mix and thin down. The three primary colors for skin are: Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna, and White. Other colors can enhance this mixture. I usually use any type of blue or green to make dead skin. Red Oxide is used for blush shades and Burnt Umber is used for shadows.

For normal, Caucasian skin, I mix up equal amounts of burnt sienna, raw sienna, and white. I will usually cut down on the burnt sienna because too much will make the skin red looking. I mix these three colors up and thin them down with Polly-S thinner.

A trick I use to make sure the paint is thin enough for airbrushing is to tilt the paint jar and then let the paint run back down. If I can’t immediately see through the paint as it runs back down, it is probably too thick. Paint too thin is almost always better than paint too thick although you will probably have to put down 100 coats to get any coverage on the model.

A little bit about primers. I use gray figure primer under all skintones. Call me crazy, but the gray warms the skin up and dulls it down a tad. This is because the paint is transparent to some extent. Skintones on a white background tend to be too gaudy for me. Anime’ kits can be an exception.

When I spray the first coat of skintone on a primed figure, the paint will bead up. Therefore, do not be too heavy-handed with your first coat, because it will bead up and drip. You do not want drips! In order to speed up the drying time, I always use a hairdryer. This will dry the paint, but will not cure it, so the paint is dry but it isn’t.

Confusing? Just be careful how you handle the kit while you are painting it because you can rub the paint off. Try to hold the figure by a boot or something that you know will not be skin-colored. After you get the fig fully covered with this first coat, it should appear unusually dark. This is normal because you are working from dark to light. I lighten up my paint mixture with a little white and a little raw sienna and spray the kit again.

The next step is to spray in the shadows.

I get a small bottle and thin Burnt Umber. I then take some of my skin formula and mix some of that in with it. This will make the brown color not as harsh and it will tie into the skin color better. I then crank the air pressure down on my compressor and get a fine line spray out of my airbrush. I use a big, artists sketchbook to test my airbrush colors on. This way, you can see exactly what color the paint will look like when sprayed because the paper is white. You can also practice a few airbrush strokes before actual painting. I never let the first paint sprayed through the airbrush hit the figure.

After testing a few lines on a piece of paper, I ‘draw’ in all the shadows. Shadows will not be a big part of the overall skin color, but play a vital role in creating realism. Try to find all the creases and folds where you think shadows should be and lightly airbrush in the shadows. Don’t worry if the shadows look too harsh because they will be covered with many layers of paint yet to come.

For a female figure that is pretty much nude, I shadow under the breasts, lay in a vertical line down the abdomen, shadow under the ribcage, under the arms, down both sides of each knee, the back fold of the legs where the leg bends at the knee, underneath each buttock, down the spine, and sometimes a touch in each eye socket. Occasionally I will shadow where skin meets clothing to give it greater depth.

After the shadows are complete, go back to your original skin formula and ‘mist’ over the entire figure. By ‘mist’ I mean hold the airbrush back away from the kit and lightly spray it with paint so that just the mist hits it.

This will tone down the shadows and tie them into the rest of the skin areas. I have noticed that after you do this, if you want to add shadows again, the shadows look really brown, so you may have to mist the kit again. You don’t want your shadows to overpower the kit.

Ok, now for the highlights! David had a phrase that went something like, ‘pretend your airbrush is a light source’ which makes perfect sense. If you sprayed highlights on the kit in every possible direction, you would loose the realism you are trying to create. Where shadows fell into the creases and crevices, highlights will be on all the raised areas.

Lighten your skin tone mixture once again with more white and a touch of raw sienna. Now, using the same techniques you did in shadowing, lightly spray all the raised areas of the kit. For instance, tops of arms, breasts, cheekbones, bridge of nose, etc… You really can’t spray the tops of legs so to speak, so spray the centers of the calves, and thighs and work your way to the outer, and inner edges letting the color fade into the darker skintone you already have down. Then spray straight down the front of the shinbone.

Right about now I will pour some skin color in a separate jar and add some red oxide to it. I use this shade for the cheeks, nipples, any raised area that needs a splash of color. Sometimes to get a pinkish skin tone, I will mist this color on the figure.

The trick in getting the skin tone to look right is knowing when to stop painting. Just about every kit I have done, the skin looks too light. Most of the time it isn’t light enough. Skin changes in appearance when other colors are added – like hair, clothing, etc… Sometimes the skin will look pasty or reddish. This may be because you had too much burnt sienna in your original mixture, or you added too much white in the lightening process.

Skin can be warmed up at the very end by misting on your second darkest skin tone mixture. You must be careful not to mist too much or you will obliterate all the play between the highlights and shadows and end up with a flat looking kit. For unusual skin tones, mix in other colors. Adding blue tends to turn the skin a gray color. This can be seen in the picture of the two Pumpkinhead II’s . The one on the right was painted with the standard skin formula. The one on the left was painted with the skintone mixed with a touch of blue. A pretty dramatic difference.

Any kind of burgundy color makes wonderful bruises. Look at Chatterer’s skin. Burgundy bruises were feathered in here and there on his head. Sometimes, I will apply washes of darker colors to the face to really bring out the detail. If I am too heavy handed in the wash process, I just mist on some skin color to lighten the shadows. I painted Locutus of Borg with the gray skin tone mixture but I applied washes of blue to give him that deathly blue pallor. The Unnamable was painted in similar fasion with dark gray washes.

Finally, I seal the kit with Testors flat. This clearcoat adds a slight sheen to the skin and really makes it look real.

So there you have it, quick and dirty skin tones!

Ethnic Skintones – CoolMiniOrNot Forums


Comprehensive article on ethnic skintones

Download PDF backup

Burned out and rusty – C’tan, Fantasygames

A technique involving sea-salt and hairspray!


(Download PDF backup)

Alternate takes

For a different take on the same technique:

Chris Clayton of Model Works has this tutorial. (PDF backup)

Kris of Scale Model Guide also has this tutorial (PDF)

Painting a turquoise stone effect – C’Tan Fantasygames


Download PDF backup

Painting blood splatters by Danno

I like to start by using Citadel Chestnut Ink to set up where I’m going with the blood. It’s a great color for older blood that is staining and a bit more dry. Then I mix Chestnut ink with a bit of black to get that thick
blood thats coming out look. Then I go through and using Tamiya Clear Red over the top of the blood that has been laid down and add the thicker fresh blood.

Adding the Blood to your kit.

I’m of the school that less is more. If you are doing a bloody sword, try to only hit the top 1/5 of the blade (or less) with a solid blood covering with the older blood (Chestnut ink) first. Use a paint brush and build up layers of the ink for a varied…blotty effect. Then take an old worn out flat shader brush and dip it in the ink….touch the brush to a sponge and get some of the ink off and then hold a stick over an area that you want tny little bloody spatters and run the bristleson the stick (downward) to spatter little specs. A tooth brush tends to leave too large of a spec…so the old brush will leave spatters that look nice on smaller scale pieces.

After the spatter is done…go trough and add additional spots up the blade with the ink so that it does not look like one big blob and a bunch of tiny specs. Then add a bit of Tamiya Clear red along the blade edge for a touch of that fresh blood look.

Painting Bruises by Justin (Planetfigure)

For stuff like bruising, I usually go light to dark. Start with pink and cover where you want the skin I flamed/irritated, then go darker with red toward the center of the bruise (doing it in a corner, closer to the mouth may look good, too) and then just concentrate with deeper reds, purples.

I’m not sure a blue would look good, but I’ve never tried it. Just go slow and make sure you don’t go too dark too quickly. Building up the depth of color is important for a convincing look. (Justin recommends using chalk pastels)

OPROil Paint Rendering by Michael Rinaldi at Missing Lynx

This is an advanced technique for using oil paints to age and distress models. Examples can also be found at the Industria Mechanika site.

Download PDF backup

Burning Hot Lava by James Wappel

GGG WIP 7The effect of red hot lava is well illustrated in this step by step tutorial by James Wappel

(Download full PDF backup)

(Download short PDF backup)


Other tutorials:

Fire Painting Tutorial by Jim Jackson (Si Vous Play)

A Miniature Grainer

Decorators have been using a tool for years to create faux (false) woodgrain effects. The effect is created by dragging a rubber stamp through a thick paint glaze, sometimes called a ‘scumble’ glaze, leaving ridges and whorls behind.

There’s a certain knack to it which involves twisting and dragging but it can look quite convincing if it’s done well. I thought it would be interesting to try and make a miniature version that would work with models. Ideally, of course, you’d carve this with very fine detail in something hard and then cast it in rubber but I thought I’d see how far I got just carving lines in a eraser.

I bought a soft one and used an engraving tool. The eraser was too soft, it broke in half, but I was able to try it on a piece of foam board. One area I painted first and then sealed with dull-cote. Another area I just did on to the bare cardboard.

I used acrylic paint and a glazing medium. It wasn’t a serious attempt, just a quick trial ‘play’, but the results showed promise. I think, with practice, you could get quite a nice paint grain.


Painting unnatural skintones – David Powell

Unnatural_Skin_FigureVery interesting tutorial on making colour selections for skintones that are ‘outside the box’

(Download PDF backup)

How I paint a pattern by Olga Zernina (Planetfigure)

Hello! Not long ago I promised to tell and show how I paint patterns. I hope that my recommendations will help someone else 🙂

Fig 1. This time I used two fotos from a magazine ” Interior and Design”. I liked the pattern in one of the fotos and I liked the combination of colours in the other.

Fig 2. First, you cover with the main colour the piece of the clothes you are going to patterns. You don’t need to make the transition from light to dark very accurate , with further development of ornament everything will look neat.You paint the main large elements of ornament ( curls ) distributing them evenly on the cloth.

Fig 3. Then, you start drawing smaller elements of ornament – flowers , leaves.

Fig 4. Then you correct the pattern with spots, painting spots where the pattern is drawn with errors. Spots also add light and colour where we feel it is necessary. I painted spots in Neapolitan yellow, warm green, cool blue -green. Picturing spots can simulate carpet or velvet nap.

Fig 5. Finished bust

Best regards,
Olga Zernina.