Eye and Flesh tone Painting Guide

Welcome to another one of my custom action figure tutorials! This one is how to paint your basic set of eyes and skin tone. Weíre making a Hitman action figure from the video game and using a DC Superheroes Lex Luthor head. I kinda went out of order doing this head because I didn't want too many photos of the steps. Usually you'll paint the skin tone first and then detail the eyes. Here I mixed both steps in to keep the guide shorter. Keep in mind this is only a guide and just outlines the steps and techniques I use. Your results may be different depending on the paints/tools you use and your level of skill. Remember tho, practice is the key! Study these steps and practice over and over until you achieve the result youíre looking for.

Hereís a quick rundown of the paints/brushes used:

Your best bet are soft, natural bristles. There's an amazing set of Detail Brushes on Amazon that I've purchased and love. Stay away from the shiny black plastic bristle with white handle brushes sold in the model aisle. Testors makes some nice paint brush sets but look at them and make sure they're quality. The brands I use are Artist's Touch, Artist's Loft, and Expresso that can be found at Hobby Lobby, Michael's Crafts, and sometimes JoAnn's.

Do NOT use enamel paints. They will leave your figure tacky as the chemical reaction dissolves the soft plastic over time releasing toxic fumes. You can use enamels in hard plastic (transformers in most cases) but they take a very long time to dry. Krylon Fusion takes seven days to cure to full hardness and Testors Enamels at least five. Never use them on Marvel Legends or anything with soft plastic parts. I use Testors Model Master Acryl, Tamiya spray Lacquers, and Formula P3 by Privateer press. These are probably the best paints for customizing figures out there and you can snag them online using the links below.

Buy Testors Model Master acrylic paints

Buy Formula P3 paints by Privateer Press

Buy Tamiya Spray Lacquers

Other paints you can use are Citadel/Games Workshop, Vallejo Model Color, and War Games paints. These need a primer coat or basecoat of Testors/P3 for them to stick properly to bare plastic however. You will also need to topcoat Games Workshop to keep it from wearing off. The Vallejo Acrylic Varnishes are excellent brush-on, clear topcoat sealers and come in gloss, semigloss, and matte. Thin these down with just a little bit of water and they can topcoat seal any acrylic paints/

Games Workshop paints

Vallejo Model Color

Ok, we ready to start? First basecoat the head in Light flesh. Weíll be using multiple thin coats so make sure your paint is properly diluted with water, no thick paint here. After about three coats youíre ready to lay down the white of the eye and the thin black strip above it that serves as the eyelash.

Now itís time to paint the first step of the Iris. The common iris has a darker outer ring of the same color, or black if you prefer. Instead of trying to paint a tiny ring, paint a large iris with the top partially hidden to replicate the eyelid covering it. Since Agent 47ís eye color is blue (or at least from what I can tell of the movie poster) weíre using a base of Magical Blue for this.

Now paint a smaller iris of the lighter Morning Blue inside the dark section leaving a little ring of the darker color showing. This step takes practice and it can be very difficult to get one iris the same size as the other. Some people use the end of a toothpick but really nothing beats a good detail brush. Iím using the Dynasty Eye of the Tiger 0/5 Round for this. But for real tiny detail like on GI Joes, snag a Reaper 30-0 or even 20-0 detail brush.

Next weíll paint in the detail such as the pupil and the reflective dots. A small dot of flat black is added to the very center and a small white dot is placed half on the pupil and half on the iris. Keep in mind that every figure face is different and youíll have to adjust these methods for characters with wide open eyes or other differences. Also you can make a character look in different directions with iris placement.

Here weíll start the skin tone. Youíve already basecoated it in Light Flesh, now mix up a wash of Warm Flesh by diluting some with water. (refer to my previous Marvel legends painting guide for the wash technique) Youíre aiming for the consistency of milk, not too thick and not too thin. Cover the entire skin surface with the wash and then DONíT TOUCH IT. Let the wash dry naturally, donít use a hairdryer to speed it up or try to Ďtouch upí areas that look odd. The wash will look totally different when it dries and youíll just have to wait to see how it settles in.

Ah, the skin has darkened and the wash has properly settles in the crevices of the face, giving Hitman a more realistic tone. If the wash isnít dark enough in some areas feel free to use your detail brush and line-in brow wrinkles, nostrils, etc. Sometimes youíll have blotches of wash where it was too much or didnít settle right on a flat surface. Thatís ok, take a larger brush and drybrush the surface using your original base color, light flesh. This will highlight the right areas and blend the wash in where it was too noticeable.

Now weíre ready for the final detail step, doing the eyebrows, hair, and lips. For lip color mix some Warm Flesh with a little leather or brown, just enough to tint it. You can also use red or burnt sienna for a pinker lip color. Paint the full bottom lip and just a little on the top lip. Paint the mouth line leather. You can use black for this but I find thatís just a bit too strong for light flesh colors. Since Hitman is bald we donít have to paint hair, just the eyebrows, so a bit of Leather works there. Youíre done! You can also use clear gloss over the eyes and lips to accent too if you choose.

Tah-dah, he's done!

Advanced Techniques/Tips

A lot of people ask me how to mix skin tones and thereís various ways of doing this. My trick so you donít have to mix them every time is to buy 2 jars of Light Flesh and 2 empy paint jars from somewhere. Empty half of the paint into the spare jars so you now have 4 jars to mix your flesh tones. Also Testors and Games Workshop have a lot of different skin tone colors premixed. Snag some different ones from their lines and experiment with those too.

For a darker flesh tone like the SOTA Ryu Street-fighter figure, mix some olive green in with some light flesh and a drop or two of brown.

For a tanned look pick up some Games Workshop Bronzed Flesh and mix some of that in. You can also add a bit of orange and brown to get this.

Remember youíll need to do a wash of darker skin tone at some point so you may want to buy two jars of Warm Flesh and make the darker variations of these shades. All this skin tone mixing takes practice and I still havenít mastered it. Just experiment often and youíll find out what works best for you. Always let skin tones dry completely on a figure before judging them. Often whatís in the jar isnít the same shade that ends up on the figure once dried. Thatís especially true with washes, so practice.

When detailing female faces thereís a few extra steps that you need to do. Remember the first step where we painted a black line above the white of the eye? For a female youíll need one on the bottom too and usually you want a bit of extra length coming off from the corners of the eyes for the long eyelash effect. Youíll need to shade above the eye as well, usually mixing your warm skin color with some purple, blue, or whatever eye shadow color the character wears. Lips are also fuller and usually mixed with just red and not brown. Lipstick is just whatever color you choose over the plain lips. I often paint a femaleís eye larger than a males and put the iris right in the center instead of covering part of it up with the eyelid. As always, choose whatís right for you!

Painting the inner eye detail can be as simple or complex as you want. (or have the brush size for!) You can add a half-circle of white at the bottom of the iris and a dot of white mixed with the iris color against the black pupil for a more complex look. Google some characters and youíll see tons of different ways to paint eyes.

You can make a more sinister look by picking up some testors Skin Tone Shadow and mixing that with your warm skin tone, then painting that around the eye itself. Then use some diluted red to line in underneath the eye for the Ďlate night mischiefí look. Sigma 6 Strike Duke has a good example of that look.

Beard stubble can be done a few different ways. One way is to mix Skin Tone Shadow with your warm tint the same way as described above and paint that on solid for the beard. Another is to do a wash(s) of light gray over the facial area until it looks dark enough. Another is to mix your hair color with some gray and do lots of vertcle, individual line with your brush.

Well, that's the end of the guide. Hope you enjoyed reading!

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Email: jin@jincustom.com