airbrushing, model building, painting, paints, Uncategorized

Painting Faces!

Okay, I’ll admit right now as I have in the past, that painting human faces on figure kits is not my favorite. Making them look realistic takes a great deal of time and it’s mainly because I do not have the time to paint several hours each day, that I cannot get a leg up on this. If I did, I’m sure I’d improve greatly as it’s like anything else we do in life. The more time you pour into something, the better the results. It’s always interesting watching people like Bill Craft, David Fisher, Tom Gilliland and others paint faces. They’ve been doing it so long and on so many models that they probably do it in their sleep without thinking about it.

We went out to California recently for my wife’s 40th high school reunion. While there, I was fortunate enough to get together with an old modeling buddy of mine – Dave Bengal from Skyhook Models. Dave would not claim to be a master modeler as far as painting faces goes either, but for my money, I learn a great deal from him every time we get together. In fact, I’m always impressed with the quality of his painting. His version of Moebius Models’ Adam West/Batman is looking really nice. He actually takes the time to create mixes of paint on a separate index type of card to determine which is the best color for the cape, the cowl, the gray areas, etc. I appreciate the thought and work he puts into things and it shows in his results.

Robin, after Cork Flesh is applied, is getting highlights with the 80/20 mix of Light Flesh.

As we worked away in his modeling room inside his house (it was over 100 degrees outside, so the garage was not an option), we took to the task of painting Robin’s and Grandpa’s faces. Dave went over with me how he was now doing faces and I have to say I like it. It’s really a work in progress though because again, as a modeler spends more time working on the art of painting faces, he/she will learn the nuances that are needed to make faces come alive. At the same time, it really depends upon the racial make-up of the particular modeling character. You can’t simply paint them all the same, even if they’re Caucasian. Variations will occur from one model to the next.

We started with the acrylic Vallejo Paints, specifically Cork Flesh as the base coat; airbrushed on for a very smooth undercoat. This was followed by a mix of 80/20 (paint/water) of Light Flesh. The thinned mix allowed the paints to flow onto the face in the highlighted areas. Once the paint was thinned, dip the brush into the mix then wipe off most of the paint. It’s almost like drybrushing over the base coat of flesh, but a bit heavier. More paint is left on the brush here than in drybrushing.

After I returned home, Dave did more experimentation and determined that thinning the paints down a bit more is better. Each modeler will have to decide what’s best for their particular approach. There’s no one way to do this. It’s what works best for the individual modeler and what they’re attempting to achieve.

The third paint used is Beige Red, which is applied to the lips. Again, this will vary from model to model and certainly to female models kits where the lips could be painted a number of colors depending on the character.

Eyes are very difficult for me. As I’ve gotten older and don’t model as much as I used to, I noticed my hands are not as steady as they used to be. I recall sitting in Tom Gilliland’s studio one day watching him paint the Wolfman’s face. It was a joy to watch. For the eyes, he used Horizon’s Black and with a small brush, dabbed on the eye as perfect circles. Because the Horizon paints were thicker, they tended to stay where put.

Of course, I painted the eye area an off-white first, then after it dried, went in for the eyes. I basically took a toothpick, cut off the end, sanded it smooth, then dipped the end in Vallejo Black Paint and carefully dabbed it onto what was to become the eye. You still have to be careful in lining up the eyes so that they don’t look crossed or anything else. You also need to be sure that the eye itself does not look too big or too small for the face. It took some experimentation to get the right size of the end of the toothpick and seeing it on a scrap piece of paper, but once I did, I was comfortable with how the eyes look. The hole above Robin’s nose in the photo above is where his mask attaches.

The same principles apply to painting Grandpa Munster’s face as can be seen in the photo. You’ll note that the creases, etc., are a bit darker where the Cork Flesh shows through. Neither Robin or Grandpa are done yet. I hope to get to them one day soon. Even though I’m retired, I feel as though I’m busier than I was when I was working it seems, though maybe that’s simply my perception.

I really like building models, but I’m finding out that I enjoy modeling dioramas more than painting figures. In fact, if I had to do it all over again as far as the magazine, Modeler’s Resource is concerned, I would have emphasized diorama building mainly because it applies to all genres of modeling.

Along those lines, Dave showed me the work he recently did for related to the Psycho House. He designed and built the master for the Bates Motel and the base/hill for the Psycho House. You can see the base here and the Bates Motel here.

I’m amazed at the amount of model-related things that are still being produced. Certainly, there appears to be a market for it and that’s great!

airbrushing, model building, modeling, painting, paints, Uncategorized

Robin the Boy Wonder

A few months ago, I visited an old modeling buddy in California. My wife had business out there so I flew out with her and spend a good portion of two days at Dave Bengal’s house. We had previously decided to work on models, which is what we did much of the time when I lived in California.

I had decided to work on the Moebius Models’ Robin the Boy Wonder kit, and interestingly enough, Dave had decided to work on the same model!

This particular article is simply going to introduce the model, which will ultimately take several articles to complete. Even though semi-retired, I seem to not have all the time I’d like to have to work on models, so I do it when I can fit it in. Unfortunately, it’s not often enough but it works for now.

A couple of things about this particular model. Most will likely realize that all the model kits in this series are designed to have similar bases. The bases, when all are put together, form a bat signal from above. While that makes sense and it’s an interesting idea, there are several downsides. First, it’s probably best to do all the base pieces at the same time so that they blend as far as paint is concerned. If you do the Batman kit, or Robin or something else in the series and then also paint the base part that will ultimately become part of the completed base (bat signal), there’s a good chance the paint will be slightly off. Of course, if you decide to paint all the base pieces the exact same color with no variation, there probably won’t be a problem since they would all match. But they wouldn’t necessarily be exciting to look at either.

Second, the base doesn’t really cut it for me. It’s okay, but doesn’t rock my boat. I have always been one for a more intricate base, as I’ve stated here on this blog and in the magazine many times during the length of its run. A good base tells a story. It adds to the model subject by enhancing it. I of course realize that not all modelers think that way and that’s fine. I’m simply sharing what I believe about models and bases.

The thing is that I’ll have plenty of time to decide what kind of base to create for Robin because I probably won’t do anything with the base that comes with the kit. The sky’s the limit as to what type of base to create for it. I’m thinking of making part of the Batcave background with Robin standing next to some computerized equipment, but who knows?

As an aside, look at the Joker kit also from Moebius. Take a good look at that box art. Wouldn’t that make a fun base? I think so. We’ll see what happens when I get to that kit.

So the good thing about these kits is that they are wide open to interpretation, at least as far as a base is concerned. Conversely, the modeler can simply opt to paint each part of the bat signal base and display the kits that way.

The models themselves are fairly well designed and molded. Great job. That said, it’s important to understand how the various parts of Robin go together. My suggestion would be to do some serious dry fitting before any gluing. Working with Dave helped me because he had already put some of the kit together and was able to warn me that certain things need to be done in order for gluing.

Beyond this, Robin looks very much like actor Burt Ward, who of course, portrayed Robin the Boy Wonder in the 1960’s series on television. It’s really well done in my opinion. The Batman kit also has a very nice resemblance of Adam West.  Catwoman is a pretty decent likeness as well and so very glad it is of the incomparable and luscious Julie Newmar. Both the Joker and Riddler kits seem to be slightly “off” however, in the final analysis, painting may help here.

It’s really nice to have these Batman-related kits in my collection. As a kid, I had the Aurora kits (and still do), but of course, none of the kits then were created based on the Adam West Batman TV show. It’s so nice to see them out and available and with such overall great quality.

Painting them is enjoyable because of all the colors that pop. Today’s Dark Knight is relatively easy compared to the vibrant color schemes of the TV show or the comic book. Eventually, these will be a welcome addition to my modeling shelves.

Of course that these kits are in 1/8 scale make them work with previous Aurora kits too. Either way, bigger or smaller, I would’ve ensured that I bought at least one of each.

Next time we get together, I’ll have a few photos of the basic painting accomplished, without the dry brushing or shading.  Join me then!

model building, modeling, painting, paints, Uncategorized

A Bridge too Cool!


While visiting a modeling buddy – Dave Bengel – one day, we took a trip to Viking Model Shop in Sacramento, CA and I found a bridge that was created for use with small white metal figures. When I saw it, all I could think of was how great it would be to use this base for my Confederate Soldier!

The diorama would show the soldier crossing over the bridge which stood just over a small creek bed. I talked to Dave about it and we both agreed that trying out oils on this bridge to bring out the detail was the way to go. So I bought the base, went to Dave’s house and began working on it. First, washing the bridge and then priming it (image 1). Click on any image to open in a new window, full size.


After that, I laid down a few browns or tans. You’ll note that the base looks much lighter through the middle (image 2). This gives the illusion that there has been a good deal of foot traffic across the bridge over time.

Once I was happy with the way it looked, it was important to let dry then spray a coat of Future acrylic floor finish over it. This of course would protect the paint job and allow me to wipe off the additional oil paint that I did not want.


As you can see, three different colors were used to achieve the final color of the bridge (image 3). I began with a dark brown, and then mixed up a lighter brown by adding Tan, then adding highlights by adding Dark Yellow to the mix.

The final version of the bridge can be seen after the oils have been applied. The best way to describe that is to understand that you take a small “glob” of oil color, place it on the small piece of white plastic (as shown), then dip your brush into some Turpenoid.

From there, dip your brush into the oil color glob and you’ll use that to highlight the bridge (in this case). You are looking for thinness so that the color will literally “run” into the crevices all by itself. Excess can be wiped up with a cloth and since the bridge was sealed with Future floor finish, the paint underneath is not harmed. It may take a bit of practice, but practice makes perfect, right?

Use of oils brings out the sculpted details quite nicely!

airbrushing, model building, modeling, painting, paints, product reviews

Modeler’s Resource Dot Net is Here!

Just a quick blurb to let folks know that Modeler’s Resource will have a presence on the ‘Net after an absence of nearly a decade.

There will be no printed magazine. All MR articles will be posted here and of course, all content is free to everyone. People can subscribe or not.

It’s been a while since I’ve actually had time to get back into modeling with everything that’s been going on over the past decade, but things are finally coming to the point of being able to step back into the modeling arena.

I also want to say that if I had to do things over, I would have concentrated on dioramas as opposed to individual kits. I’ve realized that creating diorama bases are what I particularly enjoy. In that case, it doesn’t matter to me whether a vehicle, a figure, a Sci-Fi subject or something else is used because the focus is on the diorama itself, of which the model is certainly part of.

The cover image in this article is for the FineScale Modeler Winter 2018 Special Issue called “Damaged.” Flipping through the mag, we see one article after another that highlights a variety of kits and situations from very well-versed modelers. This is the kind of thing I have always enjoyed and it is the type of thing we’ll be covering here.

I tried to do this with the magazine during our ten-year run, but probably was not as clear as I could have been. This is why we offered articles by Bill “The Craftbeast” Craft using action figures in a diorama setting. It’s also why we included vehicular or Sci-Fi kits with diorama bases.

I’ve never been one to simply build a model without a base or diorama scene and put it on the shelf. I know that there are plenty of car and plane modelers who do just that and they are completely content with it. For myself, a basic base or intricate diorama is what tells the story for me. If I build a Batmobile for instance, just putting it on the shelf by itself is like placing a toy on the shelf. However, place that Batmobile in a scratch-built portion of the Batcave or parked along some back city street and all of a sudden, the model is in a scene and therefore tells a story.

That being said, there are a few model articles in this special issue of FineScale Modeler that have no base or diorama. While the model itself looks absolutely fantastic, to me, it appears to be unfinished solely because of the lack of a scene that a base or diorama would create. Of course that is up to each modeler to do or not.

I have always been a modeler who can benefit from nearly any genre of modeling because many of the techniques in vehicular, Sci-Fi/Space, and/or figure kit modeling are transferable to other genres. The problem I ran into constantly was with modelers who only worked on and enjoyed figure kits. They could not appreciate techniques accomplished if the modeling subject was a car or truck. This was in spite of the fact that many figure kits had armor plating or other attributes that required weathering or other things to make them look more realistic.

Does it matter that I can take the weathering or creating rust techniques used on vehicular (or even trains/HO) modeling and apply it to figure kits or Sci-Fi/Space kits? It really shouldn’t, but too many cannot see beyond their own particular genre of modeling.

I’ve attended many IPMS national meetings where tons of models were on display. I always came away with something unique that could easily be applied to my preferred genre of modeling. I learned a great deal from the people who specialize in trains and all the scenery that goes with that genre.

I’m at a point in my life where I am simply getting back into modeling because I enjoy it. I have no deadlines, no advertisers to worry about, no paid subscribers. It’s funny how all of that can thoroughly detract from the hobby of modeling. Now, I can go to a model show if I want without having to deal with all the pressures that go along with that, including having to fly in product, sit at a table and sell. Certainly, talking with customers and other modelers was a tremendous highlight, but I’d rather just go to shows and enjoy them as a consumer.

We left California about 6 or 7 years ago and now live in the Southeast in the country on several acres. I have begun setting up my hobby area in my 24′ x 30′ shop. There’s plenty of room but I’ll have to figure out something for the summers as it gets fairly humid here.

In spite of that, I have enough models to last me several lifetimes. I’m going to enjoy working on them at my own pace and posting articles about these models during the process and after completion.

I hope you enjoy what we’ll be posting. We’ll talk soon and like The Craftbeast has always said, “Keep your modeling fun!”