A Guide to Painting Faces

Wood, metal, cloth, skin, facial hair and fancy shield designs are the main things you will need to paint in your Dark Age army.

Today I'm going to share with you how I paint the skin. The face is one of the most important parts of a figure so I'm going to be focused there.

Before we start, there are two important things that are going to help us to get a nice result:

  • A good modelled and cast figure (and Footsore makes superb ones).
  • And thinning down the paint and applying thin layers.

All the paints used here are from Vallejo. Let´s start. 

1.- I like to prime my figures in a light grey (I use Vallejo surface primer grey), and then apply a wash with Umber Wash (73.203), this brings out all the details of the figure.

2.- Start applying the base coat with Flat Flesh (70.955). We can let the previous wash be seen to create some shadows.

3.- Apply a wash to the whole surface with Fleshtone Shade (73.204).

4.- Make a wash with Flat Earth (70.983) mixing one drop of paint with three of water. Apply it to the deeper areas (both sides of the nose, under the lip, the gap with the helmet, the neck...). Then apply a wash with Umber Wash (73.203) to the eyes and mouth.

5.- Paint with Ivory (70.918) the eyes and the teeth leaving a thin outline.

To paint the left eye (or the right if we are lefties) it will be easier to turn the figure upside down. 

6.- Paint the pupils with black. We can paint it in different positions to change gaze direction, but we have to paint the pupil in the same place in both eyes.

7.- Apply the highlights Flat Flesh (70.955). And them another highlights a mixture of two parts of Flat Flesh (70.955) and one part of Ivory (70.918).

8.- Paint two thin lines with Chocolate Brown (70.872) for the eyebrows.

9.- Prepare a glaze mixing a drop of water or medium with a little (very little) of Cavalry Brown (70.982) on the tip of the brush.

Here you can see the difference between a wash and a glaze.

Draw some of the glaze in a tissue and apply it on the cheeks. The first layer will not be appreciable, but with the next layers a nice tone will come out. It´s important to let dry completely each layer before applying the next (we can use a hair dryer to speed up the process) . I usually apply four or five layers.

10.- Now prepare another glaze with a mixture with one part of Flat Flesh (70.955) and one part of Basalt Grey (70.869). Apply it to the zone where the beard is supposed to be in the same way.

11.- Finally outline the face with a mixture of two parts of black and one part of Chocolate Brown (70.872).

Here are some examples of faces painted by using this method.


Author: Pedro Guerra Cernadas
I'm from Galicia, Spain, and I'm a military history and modelling enthusiast. I started painting miniatures when I was 9 years old and since I couldn't stop.
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