This review has been written to help those of you that have a prized aircraft and want to have a realistic looking pilot at the stick.


So before you start there are a few things to understand about figurine painting-


1. Always paint the figure how you want the end product to look. Don't choose colours that are on a box as they are normally too dark for scale figures.


2. Decide on how detailed you want it to look (close-up inspection or stand off scale).


3. Use paints that give you the best results (this can sometimes be a mixture of enamel paint and acrylics)


Preparing your figure


First of all, wash the figure off with warm water and detergent to get rid of any mould release agent.  The figure below is a pilot that is it two halves and requires gluing together.  Once glued, clean off any plastic flash marks and fill or sand any seams flush.  The reason for doing this is that any pilot looks really stupid with a seam line running up his arms and over his head.




 Ok, for my P-47 thunderbolt I chose a WW2 pilot and looked on the internet to see what uniform American pilots wore whilst flying.  From this I the selected slightly lighter colours than required e.g Humbrol M166 Brown for a leather jacket (will explain later).


With the pilot prepped, it was sprayed with undercoat.  For figures it is best to use white or grey primer as this will keep the colours you are applying light and bright looking.  Never use black primer.






Applying the base colours


Now we have our pilot ready for painting, apply the basic colour to the figure as shown in the next photos.  I decided to do my figure as stand off scale as nobody really gets down on their hands and knees to look at a pilot.


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Applying a wash

As I mentioned before, when you paint small figures you should choose colours about two shades lighter than the end result.  The reasons for this are;


1. We will apply a wash  (very watered down colour) over the figure.


2. Small objects reflect less light so they appear to be darker.


The reason for applying a wash is to add shadow and shading to all the nooks and crannies on the figure.   As I was using enamel paints and I wanted deep shadows, I mixed a drop of matt black with white spirit until it was a watery dark grey puddle.  With a large brush, quickly wash the figure all over to deposit the black pigment and let the white spirit drain away.




You may notice that the black wash was only used on parts that I wanted dark shadow. eg: Leather, head gear and straps.

Allow the wash to completely dry before progressing further.  You will now notice the colours of your figure have darkened down.




The next step is to bring back brightness of the base colour. To do this we will use a method called "Dry Brushing".  For the best results, use an old broad brush and piece of kitchen roll.  Dip your brush in the base colour and then dab it onto the kitchen roll.  What we want to happen is the paint to dry to a tacky state on the brush and tissue.


With the paint tacky, make broad flat strokes across the figure until the tacky paint starts to rub off onto the figure.  Always brush across crevices NOT along them.  What dry brush does is it highlights the raised areas and leaves the crevices darker.  This gives us an appearance of greater depth.




Repeat the dry brushing on all the base colours where there are crevices.

On areas that are flat and smooth, we will use a technique called "Lining".  This involves applying the base colour or a lighter shade of the base colour to the edges of the object to give the effect that light is reflecting off the raised edge.



On these photos, you can see the the earphones, goggles, goggle straps and main straps have been lined.




Painting the face

 Some people find painting faces quite difficult, but it is the same as painting clothing.  Using the same techniques we have used before, we apply a base coat first (Matt Flesh).





For the wash, we use a darker fleshy colour.  I used Red Brown as gives a very bold deep flesh colour.




Once the wash has dried, carefully dry brush the face and take care not to get paint on the head gear.  I also mix a very light flesh colour and line down the bridge of the nose and on the cheek bones.



On the above photo I jumped ahead a bit but will explain what I did with the face detail.


1. Eyebrows are done with a deep brown.


2. Lips are done with red brown.


3. Eyes are first painted in with a black elliptical eye shape.  Then put two dots of white slightly in from the corners.  This gives the impression of eye lashes and an eagle eyed stare.


If you need further tips on painting eyes, just Google it as there are several ways but I find this the easiest way which gives the best effects.

Now you have completed the painting on the figure, we need to protect it and add that final touch.

To protect the figure I use Humbrol Clear-cote gloss varnish first as it gives the figure a hard protective skin.  After this has dried, I then use Clear-cote matt varnish as it gives the leather jacket a nice satin sheen and also makes the colours more realistic.


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Hope this review has inspired some of you to have a bash at painting your own figures.  There are many websites out there that will go into greater detail but at the end of the day, there are no hard and fast rules, just technique and practice.


Oh and one last tip when highlighting and doing the face.  Do a bit of painting then put the figure down, go out of the room for 5-10 min and then come back an look at it again.  You will notice improvements and detail that you have not seen before because you have been staring at the figure for too long.