How to Paint a Model's Face

Written by sean kotz
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How to Paint a Model's Face
Painting the face on a model figure like this one is not too difficult if you are patient. (miniature model army image by Jon Barnes from

When dealing with figure kits in any scale, one of the most intimidating aspects is painting the face, since it will be the first place the eye is drawn. In smaller scales, like 1/48, the details are hard to paint. In larger scales like 1/6 the details are very visible, which means imperfections are more noticeable. However, painting in any scale, employ the same basic techniques and get good results.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Warm water
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Light grey spray primer
  • Acrylic paints in light, medium and medium-dark skin tones
  • Acrylic white, black, brown, red
  • Burnt umber or burnt sienna oil paints
  • White spirit
  • Assortment of flat and detailing brushes
  • Clean rags
  • Flat acrylic spray sealant
  • Acrylic floor wax

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  1. 1

    Wash the figure with warm water and liquid dish soap to remove impurities and allow it to dry.

  2. 2

    Prime the kit with a light grey primer spraying at a distance of approximately 8 inches. Use two coats if necessary and allow it to fully dry.

  3. 3

    Paint your darkest skin tone first over the entire face and allow to dry.

  4. 4

    Apply a small amount of medium skin tone on the tip of a flat brush, about a quarter of the way up the bristles, and pull the excess off with a rag until none can be seen in the bristles.

  5. 5

    Pull the flat brush over the features of the face like the nose, brow, cheekbones and eyes in short, quick, light strokes. This is called "dry brushing."

  6. 6

    Reload the paint brush as necessary and continue to dry brush until all raised features are distinct.

  7. 7

    Clean the brush and apply the lightest skin tone in the same way and dry brush only the most raised features.

  8. 8

    Mix a small amount of dark red, white and medium skin tone together and dry brush this around the lips.

  9. 9

    Spray sealant on the model and allow to dry.

  1. 1

    Mix a dime-sized tab of oil paint with approximately one cup of white spirit until you have a watery mixture called a "wash."

  2. 2

    Dip a rounded brush into the solution and apply the wash to the face, allowing it to settle into the cracks.

  3. 3

    Gently dab off excess with a rag and allow it to dry.

  1. 1

    Paint the eyeball white and allow it to dry.

  2. 2

    Paint in a black circle to fill most of the space, followed by a white circle inside it and finally a dot for the pupil.

  3. 3

    Fill in the white circle with an eye colour such as brown or blue.

  4. 4

    Coat the eyeball with acrylic floor wax for a glossy shine.

Tips and warnings

  • Transparent gloss paints can be very useful for eyes.
  • Use a separate set of brushes for oil paints. Oil and acrylics don't mix and can ruin the brushes.

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