Figure Painting
Figure painting is something I will always be ‘working on’. It is a skill that you continually improve on. This is just the way I decided to paint this project. My main theme was to use oils over acrylics to give depth and texture.
The first step was to base coat the figures. I use simple hobby paints applied with a brush. I used colors that would complement the end oil colors as base coats. My main key was to get a uniform layer of base.

Oil Paint Jig
I have talked about the oil paint jig I use before, and I feel it bears repeating. I have fashioned a small piece of sytrofoam in to a holder with groove in the bottom so my plastic cup doesn’t slip off. I found a great plastic ‘dish’ from the tops of a yogurt container. This yogurt has candies in a small container at the top of the yogurt. This container is great for all kinds of things. I cut one side off it and place it in my Styrofoam. Then I squeeze out various necessary colors of oils on the top lip. I add a bit of turpentine in the bottom. I mix color in between and by default you get various thicknesses of oil paints and colors. The bottom, close to the terp, will give you a wash, the top will give you straight pigment. It is quick and easy to get the consistency you are looking for. You can play with this jig and make a number of cup holders as you see fit. You can use it to hold a toothpick with a touch of a color you wont use much of too.
So, the jig is my trick to mixing oils.

I mixed the colors using Raw Sienna, Burnt Umber, Cadmium Red, with White on the vested figure, I used Cadmium White, Cadmium Blue, Black, for the bearded figure. On the vested figure you can see I applied a fairly thick coat of oils (Raw Sienna & White) and then used a fan brush to smooth out the brush marks and get a smoother blend between colors. I added a bit of red to the basic color and added a second layer and then a third darker coat along the edges. I did this on his pants too, with white as the accent blending color instead of red.

On the bearded figured I used a base coat of Cadmium White. On top of that I added a very light gray wash. Then over that I added a white wash to tone down the gray a bit and blend it better. Then I used a bit of blue as his shadow color. Black or gray is to harsh to use alone as shadows for white.

Details were painted with a variety of oils and acrylics. The metal elements were a base of black acrylics and some aluminum dry-brushed on.

The method I used for flesh was similar to the clothing method. I applied a base coat of terra cotta acrylics and then mixed a batch of oils. I use red, yellow, sienna, and a bit of blue and maybe some white. I mix a basic color and apply it. I let it set up a bit till it gets a bit firm. I don’t have a set time frame. I paint by feel. There are a number of factors that play into how long paint take to ‘set up’. The amount of thinner you use, the temperature, the brand of paint, even the base coat of paint. When you can very lightly brush over the paint and blend it vs. remove it, or ‘push it around’. If you wait to long you can always brush a bit of turpentine on it and soften it again if necessary. I then mix a bit of burnt umber into the color to darken it for shadow/recessed areas. I thin this color down a bit more and apply it to the recesses. I let it sit for a minute or two them wipe of the excess. I let what’s left set up a bit and blend it. To blend the remaining paint in I use a soft square brush and gently pull the edges together till they blend nicely. I then mix a bit of sienna or white or both into the base flesh color to get a bit lighter highlight color. I leave this a bit thick so it doesn’t run. I apply this to the high areas: cheeks, chin, and nose. I let it sit and then I blend it down into the recesses.

Arms and feet are the same basic operation only the high places are the knuckles, elbow, and tops of toes.
With the figures painted I set them aside to cure for at least two days before handling them.
  • 6_1_oiljigflesh
  • 6_2_figureprepforoil1
  • 6_3_figurebasecoat
  • 6_4_figureoilfirst
  • 6_5_figurefanbrush
  • 6_7_figurebaseoilbear
  • 6_8_figurebaseoilvest
  • 6_9_figuresdone
  • 6_10_figuresdonebeard
  • 6_11_figuresdoneclosevest
  • 6_12_figuresdonevest
  • 6_13_figuresclosefleshbeard
  • 6_14_figuresdonecloseebeard

About the Author

About Scott Lodder (slodder)

I modeled when I was a teenager. College, family and work stopped me for a while. Then I picked it back up after about 12 years off. My main focus is dioramas. I like the complete artistic method of story telling. Dioramas involve so many aspects of modeling and I enjoy getting involved in the ...


Excellent article Scott.
OCT 07, 2006 - 08:09 PM
GREAT article Scott!! And great subject/model too! well, 14 pages is a lot for my english skills and i will have to start all over again but you prove that dioramas is the king of modelism genres because here you can really DARE, you are only limited by your imagination!
OCT 07, 2006 - 08:21 PM
Arrrrr!!! Nice work matey! It's got a great sense of action/motion. Excellent job documenting the build too! Cheers, Jim PS: About those links... try putting them back in. I need to see them in action to figure out why they are failing.
OCT 07, 2006 - 11:55 PM
Thanks for the complements It was a blast to build and I hope some people can learn a tip or trick. PS - the links are on page 14
OCT 08, 2006 - 12:46 AM
Hi scott, As somebody who has an interest in the subject of the time of the Pirates and often enjoy playing a variety of games, I have really enjoyed both the review and the pictures that accompany the text. I have often looked at the Pirates series by Verlinden and may well look again with an intention to buy as I feel a little inspired by the work that you have done. Many thanks, and this is my first visit to Model Geek, so I may now visit again. John
OCT 08, 2006 - 02:13 AM
Great article Scott, well written ,easy to follow with and great photography. I always wanted to do something with water and waves and I had read many others on how to achieve such, but your has a bit more since to it. You put in a ton of time and effort into this article feature, you deserve a round of applause. Joe
OCT 08, 2006 - 09:28 AM
Thanks Joe - the encouragement makes the work worth it Hopefully you jump in and try some water - just ask any questions, I'd be happy to help. John - pirates are Great, a bit of color, a bit of 'fantasy', total creativity, and you keep a bit of military base too. Hope to see you around MG more often - it's a fun place
OCT 08, 2006 - 04:12 PM
Great article and well executed dio. It's well worth reading and learning a few new tricks and also getting a reminder of a lot of features already showed on Modelgeek. Well done Scott Cheers Claude
OCT 08, 2006 - 06:03 PM