by Denis Bohm
o you have your kit primed and ready for painting?
OK, lets go! There are three basic steps in painting your kit: base coating, shading,
and detailing. The basic supplies that you will need are: acrylic paints, wide
flat brush, stiff wide flat brush, fine tip brush, paint palette, plastic cup, bottles,
gloves, cloth. You may also want to try airbrushing. For airbrushing you will need:
airbrush, compressor, and masking compound.
The first step in painting is to apply a base coat to fill in the basic colors.
The base coat is a flat coat of the "average" color that you want an area to have.
Later you will use some combination of drybrushing, washing, and airbrushing to
add dimension to the base coated areas. Make sure that you have an ample supply
of your base coat color. You want to have some left over after base coating so
that you can tint the color and use it for drybrushing, washing, and airbrushing.
Take the time to achieve an opaque coat so that you won't be trying to cover things
up later during detailing.
The base coat can be applied with a wide flat brush. Make sure that the paint is
fairly thin, if it is to thick then you will see brush strokes. Let the paint dry
thoroughly before drybrushing or washing so that the paint will not smear.
When airbrushing use a large needle size with a reasonable flow rate. Thin your
paint until it is the consistency of milk.
Use many light coats and let the paint dry briefly between coats. You can use a blow
dryer to reduce the drying time between coats to a matter seconds. If you see
blotching then your flow rate is too high, your paint is too thin, or your coats
are too heavy. If you see splattering then your paint is too thick.
You can use a masking compound to protect areas that you have already painted.
Make sure the paint is dry before masking. Latex mold making material can be
used for masking. Paint it on the areas that you want to protect in a fairly
thin layer then wait for it to dry completely. After painting use a sharp point
to lift up one corner of the mask. The rest of the mask should pull right off.
Shading is used to add dimension to the base coat. If done properly the details
of your kit will really pop out and make the kit look much more realistic. The
idea of shading is to hightlight the base coat in raised areas with a lighter
color and deepen the recessed areas with a darker color. When doing this you
want to pick the positions for imaginary light sources and shade more lightly
near the light sources and more darkly away from them.
While you are shading make sure to step back from the kit and reduce the lighting
so that you can see the kit in it's final viewing environment. This will help
you judge how much contrast to achieve.
The basic methods of shading are drybrushing, washing, and airbrushing.
Drybrushing is used to lighten raised areas. Take some of that extra base coat
color and lighten it with some white paint. Don't thin the paint, thicker paint
will work better. Now get a stiff wide flat brush and
moisten it with the lightened paint. Then wipe paint off the brush by stroking it
back and forth on a piece of paper (yes, that's right, wipe off the brush) until
it is almost dry (well this is drybrushing, right?). Then wipe the brush lightly
back and forth over the raised areas. You should see the raised areas start to
stand out. You can repeat this process with a lighter shade each time to get a
nice smooth transition from the base coat color to the lightest color.
Drybrushing can also be used for that used and abused metal effect. For silver
metal use a black base coat. For gold or copper use a dark brown base coat.
The more you drybrush the newer the metal will look. There are other variations
as well. For example, to create a leather effect try drybrushing brown over a black
Washing is used to deepen recessed areas. Get some more of that extra base coat
color and darken it. This gets a little tricky because most black paint isn't
really black so when you try to use it to darken certain colors (like yellow)
you will end up with a pretty disgusting green color. To darken yellow you can
use orange or brown. Thin this paint with airbrush thinner or a 50/50 water/alcohol
mixture. You might want to add a touch of dish soap to the water/alcohol mixture
to make it flow better.
You want to have a very thin mixture that will flow off the raised areas of your
kit and into the recessed areas. Use a fine tip brush to push the paint around
and make it stay in the lightly recessed areas. You can follow washing with
drybrushing to improve any hard edges that appear.
An airbrush can be use with a fine needle and color cup to create dark and light
shades. Thin your base coat paint and put a small amount in the color cup. Then
you can tint the paint directly in the cup. Use many light coats over the areas
to be shaded to create very subtle transitions. Airbrushing can give you a very
natural organic look that can't be beat!
There are a lot of different aspects of a kit that can be detailed. I'll cover
some of the really common ones: eyes, gums, and teeth. People naturally look
into the face first, so the face can make or break a kit. You may want to start
out with a larger kit or a bust to get the techniques down.
First you want to create an off white color and paint the whole eye area. You
don't what to use pure white because it won't look natural. Depending on what
character you are painting you may want to make a very light charmel, yellow,
or red off white color. Next create a red wash and dab it all around the
edges. Now you can place the black circles for the pupils. Make sure you
center these exactly the same in each eye. If you don't then your model will
look pretty goofy. Now if you have fairly large eyes you should choose an
eye color and paint a circle inside the pupil that almost touches the edge.
Then lighten the eye color with white and get your brush moist, not wet.
Touch the side of the brush from the colored edge to the center, repeat
this over and over at all rotations. This should create very light streaks
that radiate out from the center of the eye. Then a final black dot in
the center will finish things up. Cover the eye with a clear gloss so it
will look shiny wet.
You can start out with a pink base coat on the gums. Then follow this up
with a red/brown wash around the edges. Next you want to drybrush a very
light pink color onto the raised areas. Cover the gums with a clear gloss
Like eyes, teeth aren't really white either, so you want to use a very light
charmel brown on the teeth. Then mix a darker brown wash and let it
seep into the cracks and around the base of the teeth. You might
want to follow this up with a even ligher charmel on the fronts and
tips of the teeth. A clear gloss coat can also be used on teeth to make them
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