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Painting has Plateaued-newbie needs help...

Discussion in 'Just starting...' started by jdun91764, Sep 29, 2008.

  1. jdun91764 New Member

    I am an acclomplished armor builder and painter- can weather everything, know paints and base coats, know all of the fundementals- but cannot pait a decent figure to save my life.

    I have tried oils:

    Burnt sienna, white, golden ochre mix for flesh tones- hi lighting with white and naples yellow and darkening with raw umber

    I have trided acrylics but same problems- never seems to get off of the ground.

    I am stuck- but am not sure what I am asking.

    Perhaps you can tell me what paints/combinations work for you- brand sand mthdos which would allow me to try more varied methods.

    ALso, please give me any oil paint base colors you like for caucasian skin tones I could try- the base colors and what to use for hi lights and shadows.

    THanks for all of your time and it is greatly appreciated.

    Now- how do I post pics on this site?


  2. Guy A Fixture

    Hi James and welcome to the planet. Below is a link to a tutorial Gordy made about posting pictures on the planet. Once you click on the link let go of your mouse and you will see the cursor take over and move thru the steps of posting images. I had to watch this several times before I could get the hang of posting images on this newer updated forum.
  3. Einion Well-Known Member

    Other than the practice on how to paint in oils (which is challenging) that's not a good palette for skintones.

    What paints do you use for armour mostly? If you're more familiar with enamels I'd suggest sticking with them, supplemented with oil paints.

    If you're more familiar with hobby acrylics then use those.

    There are dozens of different formulas for skintones, some good, some not; as a general rule of thumb if there isn't a true red involved I'd recommend you view it with scepticism.

    If you want to get really good I'd suggest looking at books or online guides on portraiture or figure painting instead of using hobby sources.

    A previous thread with a little inspiration and some mixes:

    The simplest way is probably to use an imagehost like Photobucket. Create an account - it's free - upload the pics to there and it automatically generates the code you need for the image to show in forums. And a single click copies it, so no need to even select and Ctrl-C.

  4. dannyk01 New Member

    I'm not sure about painting in oils but if you know how to use acrylics, a few colours for skin tones that are good are:

    Vallejo - Medium skin tone
    Vallejo - Sunny skintone
    Vallejo - Flat brown

    As tonydawe told me a month ago, the smaller the scale the more different in contrast that you need to paint.
    The other thing is that if you do ever use acrylics it's better to used distilled water to paint since there are no added chemicals to it (such a flouride (correct me if im wrong))

  5. Paul Kernan A Fixture

    Hi James:

    Ah another oil painter...praise be to the gods!!!:)

    I generally use Winsor and Newton oils but have a couple of tubes from Grumbacher and Sennelier in the arsenal. Regradless, buy Artist's level paints. And less is always more. Try and keep the thickness of your coats to a minimum, i.e. you are trying to 'stain' the undercoat with your mix. This way you will have a smoother finish, more graduated tones and minimal sheen.

    Palette, I tend to agree with Einion on this one. Your's is a bit weak, especially with Raw Umber. I've avoided this one for a long time as I find it muddies the rest of the palette. I keep it for 'greying' down other colours and use it in only small amounts.

    IMO A good basic start for flesh would be Gold or Yellow Ochre, Burnt Umber and Titanium White. From there you can experiment with others when you become more comfortable and experienced.

    Lately, I've been happy with the following 'recipe'

    Base: Flesh Ochre (Sennelier) + small amount of Burnt Umber
    Shade: Gradual addition of Purple and Brown Madder Alizarin to the base
    Deepest Shade: PMA and BMA
    Highlight: Base + Titanium White and Naples Yellow
    Highs: Highlight + increases of TW

    There are a multitude of mixes but they cannot replace you reading articles, asking questions and practicing. And yes, I still get frustrated at some point in every project:)
  6. jdun91764 New Member

    Thank you for your help- it is apprecited. I also check the link you posted and printed it for further use.

  7. jdun91764 New Member


    Thank you for your reply- and it is good to know there are some oil painters still left. I use oils for the weatherng of my armor models.

    In the past- I would base coat the figure in acrylics using a flesh color.

    I would then apply the base color using my oil mix. I would add shadows and blend using a stippling motion with the brush. I would then add hilights, etc.

    I printed your mix to try tonight- I have to hit the art store and see about Flesh Ochre- I honestly have never heard of this color.

    Thanks again

  8. dannyk01 New Member

    Funny thing is today i went into an art store myself and I was thinkign about buying the flesh ochre. Evern though they aren't windor and newton they are a good quality brand of oil (from a couple other people telling me). I think in the near future i will be trying out some techniques on how to do oils with both acrylics and oils :)

  9. darkeye Member

    a change is as good as a rest ...

    and all i was going to say was that everyone 'plateaus' from time to time mate. i often find the best remedy is to take a break and do some research ie mess about with mixes and do some reading while not seriously trying to finish a piece. i generally pick a test figure, something i have gone off but sort of like enough to paint.
    after my last 'plateau' , i bought an airbrush. what a difference! put the fun right back in and made painting and colour mixing fun while giving me smooth results.

    as for books, may i recommend Danillo's book on Miniature Painting, very inspiring stuff in there and interesting technique too.

    all the best ---- tim :)
  10. chippy Well-Known Member

    One of the simplest mixes is Burnt Sienna + Flesh + Titanium White . If you mix a nice flesh tone with these 3 colours and paint over all then increase the amount of burnt sienna for shadows as needed and finally a small amount of burnt sienna for deepest shadows , and then the revers with the flesh and white finnishing with small amounts of white for the smallest high lights .
    if you try different under coats you'll find you can achive awide variety of flesh tones with this mix .
    these are afew under coats I use/ White for a pale complection , flesh for a normal tone , wood or dark flesh for suntanned or ethnic tone , very pale blue for wintery skin tone ,
    I find an acrylic undercoat works best for me

  11. Paul Kernan A Fixture

    You are welcome, James. A few more thoughts. Burnt Sienna is fine just have to modify the amount to offset the orangeness of the colour (the dreaded pumpkinhead in figure circles)

    Chippy makes a good point on adapting mixes for ethnic groups etc. It all comes back to practice and experimentation. We'll have you using Crimson Alizarin and Magenta for cheeks and lips yet:)

    I too highly recommend Danillo's book as well as Sheps. And if you can find any articles by Phil Kessling...bonus!
  12. KeithP Active Member

  13. jdun91764 New Member

    Thanks everyone-

    I dont know what to say other than you guys have been fantastic.

    Thanks for the emails and all of the private messages too- I am shocked t how awesome everyone has been. I have a ton of info to assimilate now and I think all will be heading on the right track.

    A couple of questions- does this sound correct as far as "order of operations" for painting a flesh oil color?

    1st- prime with acrylic base coat
    let dry (of course)

    2. - cover with base mix
    3 .remove excess paint, etc.
    4. shadow and hi light with appropriate colors - wet on wet and blend
    let dry

    5. add more shadows
    6. add more hilights
    let dry

    I am asking when do I let the figure dry and when do I go for the wet on wet. Also, should I place the oils on a towel or piece of cardboard to remove some of the linseed oil to make blending more pronounced? I have heard of some doing this.

    I need the methodology behind the painting now- I have the mixes I want to try (thanks to all). Please let me know what works for you.

    My sincerest thanks- I dont know how to repay you all-

  14. KeithP Active Member


    I will tell you what works reasonably well (at times :) ) for me...

    Once you have gently removed the excess base flesh oil mix, you can start right away with the wet on wet if you want to. For me, I prefer to paint wet on wet within 24-36 hours of the base coat going down. After that, for me, I have more difficulty blending wet on wet..

    For some colors, like white, I let the titan. white sit on a piece of cardboard for about 10 mins before I remove it and move to my pallet. Generally, I use the paint right out of the tube without thinning or addiing linseed at all. The advantage of pulling a bit of the carrier out is that it will sometimes help the paint dry flatter --- if that is your desire.

    I try to do all of my painting wet on wet. I just find that my wet on dry is not quite as nice.

    I would recommend that you just continue to try a bunch of different stuff. I have read a lot of different techniques from very talented folks. Sometimes it works, and sometimes... not so much... :)
  15. chippy Well-Known Member

    I not to sure about just priming with an acrylic primer in most cases I would give the model a couple of thin coats with a matt enamel grey or white then apply the acrylic , really an undercoat this will help to determine the finnish colour , personaly I find the acrylic undercoat absorbs enough of the gloss from the oil paint without having to place on card board etc. as I like a slight amount of sheen on my flesh . As for painting wet on wet I now find the best way for me is to apply the first flesh colour and the middle shade colour and then come back to it the next day when the gloss has reduced before adding deeper shadows and highligths , it looks like you have some great advice to get you started and you will soon learn what suits you best and what finnish your happy with
  16. tonydawe A Fixture

    Hi James,

    I don't have much to add to what Keith and Chippy have already said, but I would certainly recommend that you squeeze your oils onto a piece of paper towel or scrap paper before you transfer them to your palette.

    From my experience, the biggest problem most painters (and I) have with oils is getting them to dry flat. By allowing the oil to absorb into the paper towel before you paint, you will significantly reduce the amount of glossy shine on your figures.

    Once you've painted it, you can also further reduce the shine by placing your figure into a crock pot or oven at low temperature and allow the heat to "burn off" the extra oil.

    Another method,which I used for many years, was to spray Testors Dullcoat over the entire figure (carefully masking the flesh areas), to create an overall flat finish. The problem with this technique is that you have to then go back and refresh your metallic colours to restore the natural reflective sheen to them with Gloss lacquer.

    Just remember than these techniques (Dullcoat/ cooking) will make the entire figure dead flat, including those areas that should have a bit of natural sheen to them.

    It's important to remember that skin does have a natural sheen to it, caused by oils and sweat in the pores of the skin.

    I think most modellers go through periods where they don't feel as if they're improving much (reached a plateau) but most of us eventually improve through persistence and determination. I get huge inspiration from looking at the work of other modellers here on Planet Figure, and this had had a major impact on the quality of my painting.

    Stick with it mate, and keep asking questions and I'm sure you'll see the results you're looking for in due course.
  17. jdun91764 New Member

    Thanks again everyone-

    You gys are great-

    I primed 11 figures I had built but not the nerve to start last night.

    Also, has anyone tried the Lifecolor flesh set? Mine came in the mail last night. I have used the rust set and it is amazing- the rust looks real! If the flesh set works 1/2 as well as the Rust and Dust one then maybe my worries are over.

    I am an oil painter at heart but will use whatever works!

    THanks again for your help-

    Do you have any books that I might find useful?

    I have:
    Calvin Tan Painting SS Figs
    Bill Horans Book (He used Hmbrol and I have no idea how- they look so awesome!)

    Any others out there?

    THanks again-

  18. thegoodsgt Active Member

    Hi James,

    I might offer another, broader, suggestion that I've tried to apply myself as I hit a plateau. Most painters tend to under-shade and under-highlight their figures. Take a looks a the "masters" in Europe and you'll see some extreme examples of shading and highlighting. The next figure you paint, shade and highlight it far beyond what you normally do. See if the results are effective and tweak your process accordingly. You may discover a new style along the way.
  19. Blind Pew A Fixture

    Hello, late to the party again!
    I don't know where you are in the world, but what I do know is that you won't do better than finding a club of figure modellers.
    You'll pick up more in an hour with somebody that knows what they're on about face-to-face than any other means. Also try a figure show, although there's few this time of year I know.
    As for formulas, yes take the good advice from these pages, practice, take what you like, leave what you don't like and enjoy the whole process. Good luck.....
    let us know how you get on.

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