Saturday, February 23, 2013

Action figure 1/18 scale face repaint tutorial

I've been asked to do a tutorial on how I repaint faces on 1/18 scale action figures.  So here it is!

What you might need:
Soft Color Pastels, Soft Color Pencils such as Prismacolor,  Acrylic Paints, Matte Medium, Flow Release.  Paint Brushes cheep and good. Pencil Sharpener, Gummy Erasers and Dust Free Eraser,
Not pictured Mr Super Clear Flat Spray Sealer,   Nail Polish Remover, cotton swabs, Alcohol and other basic craft supplies

Now onto the fun stuff
First Remove the existing paint if you can, I've been using acetone but it can melt soft plastic very quickly.
Then add a coat of Mr Super Clear Flat to your dry clean head. This will give something for the pastel  pigments to stick to.
Then using a Deerfoot brush  (I used a $3 Deerfoot 1/8 artist loft brush from Michaels craft for almost all of this)
Pastels I use are a $15 set of Artist Loft Portrait pastels form Michaels as well.
since my camera washed out all the work I did here is what it looks like with photoshop magic.
Start with the lightest color a bit darker than the skin tone and start shading where the natural shadows would fall. If you aren't sure hold your figure under your desk lamp and take note at where the shadows are.
Then with either the same color or darker color add more pigment to where you want more shadow to fall.
If you find yourself unable to add more color you can always add another coat of Mr Super Clear and then go from there.  This will seal in your work and allow you to add more color.
You can also apply the same technique to the highlights.  adding a little highlight to cheeks or brows can really make the shadow deepen with out adding more shadows. 
I also added a hint of dark orange to his skin tone to give it more depth. 

You can see here in this picture what the shadows look like on the temples and below the apples of his cheeks.  Also don't forget to shade the eyes and crease of the lips.

 I originally painted his beard and stash with paint and decided that I did not like it. I was able to remove it with alcohol and qtips. It took a little work but was worth it.
His eye brows follow his brow ridge which is not symmetrical as you can see I think they tried to add "The Rock's" eye brow lift and failed.

It's hard to see in pictures but in real life he has a furrowed brow and shadow on his forehead and above his eyebrows.  I used a short flat brush for this and actually cut the brush down a bit with a blade to gain more control. It allowed me to push the pigment into the creases which gives a controlled deep shadow

His beard and stash are sculpted on so I just followed the pattern.  Again like the image says if you mess up don't worry you can use that gummy eraser to fix it up.

Now for the eye basics. You may end up painting your eyes many times until you are happy with them. It took me about 3 tries to get it where I liked and I still want to change them.

I also ended up adding more shadow below his eyes and on his eye lids to make his eyes pop a bit more.
The Brushes I use for painting are Raphael Kolinsky Red Sable Pointed Round Brushes Sizes 3/0 , 5/0, & 0.  They are expensive but they are amazing quality, since they are natural sable the tips will not curl like synthetic brushes.
Start with the outter pinks of the eye, then add in the white so you can push the whites out as far as you want with out trying to 'dot' in the pink.
This is where the matte medium and flow release really come in handy for the paints.  Get a pallet and mix your paints on it. simple pallet paper will work and a crap brush for mixing.
put a drop of paint on your pallet and then take a bit of it in your brush and mix some water into it on the pallet, I always add matte medium as it thins it down nicely while keeping the paint from being grainy. Now the flow release helps release the surface tension of the paint so you do not have to press your brush very hard if as all onto the surface to release the paint.  (easy eye balls)
Make sure to let your paint dry between layers.
Now add you color Iris. Put the dark color down first then a light color almost to the edges.  this will make your eyes look awesome.  Now add the black pupil and once that is dry (flow release is awesome here) get some white and give a little reflection glow placed on the iris and pupil.
Then add a shadow outline around the eye, this will give it more depth. If you are painting a girl you can turn it into eye lashes.

Here is what the finished product looks like:

Before and After


  1. followed your link over from HissTank. Awesome tutorial! thanks a million. looks like i have a lot of back reading in your blog. you've got some seriously awesome minis.

  2. I followed your link from A much much better site for G.I. Joe customzing than that waste of space HisStank. Seriously go check it out sometime. Maybe you'd like to join us with your amazing talent!

  3. Awesome way to make friends, by insulting the community someone's already a part of!

    To the OP, your work is fantastic. I'll be trying out some of your tips on my war hammer figures ASAP!

  4. Love your work! I do customs as well but nothing compares to the beautiful detail that you are capable of. I recently bought ROC Cover girl and unfortunatly one of her eyes was unpainted, tried to fix but messed her up more.....:(
    going to try this method and see if I can atleast make her eyes match

  5. Sister Lucy, I am fan of yours from Hisstank. I'm trying to get into customizing but I really struggle with the eyes. I bought some matte medium and the flow release but am still having trouble. How much of the product and water do you add to the paint? How do you mix? With the brush?