Got'cha Covered

Head & Body
The head of the walking figure was replaced with a VP resin head. I simply drilled out the neck a bit to accommodate for the neck length. The helmet straps are bits of foil with a loop of wire for a buckle.
The guy sitting on the bench was adjusted. I took the torso of one of the figures from the M3A2 and the legs of another. The look and setting position of the new combination looked better and fit the bench better than the ‘designed’ match. I had to sand down parts of the hips to accept the molded gear on the torso.
The last part of the conversions was to hand sculpt an arm for the little boy with the plane. The kit sprue is molded with two left arms. I’ve heard of two left feed, but never two left arms (ha ha joke joke). I rolled a bit of milliput into a snake and squeezed the shoulder. I used a small file and filed in a few seams and folds. Since the hand is so small I molded it separately. I flattened out a small bit of milliput and cut a rough shape with a hobby knife and etched in finger grooves. I then glued the two pieces together.

The painting is very straightforward. I use a combination of Tamiya paints and oils. I use oils for all the flesh and for colorful (non-military) subjects. I won’t go over the normal airbrushing of OD.
When I paint oils I put down a base coat of either hobby paint or Tamiya paint. I usually put down a complementary color as a base. This does two things. The rough paint gives the oils something to stick to and the complementary color acts as an evening agent. If the oil paint gets thin in any area the base coat evens out the affect and hides the underlying plastic color. I put down one coat of oil in the basic color that I want. When that dries a bit I darken the color and thin it with paint thinner. I then blend this color in the low or shadow areas. I use a soft wide brush to smooth the base and shadow colors together as smooth as possible. Depending on the color and depth of the low areas I may add a second layer of dark color in the deepest areas. This really adds depth and texture. Once the low areas are done I lighten the base color with white, sometimes with a color on the opposite side of the ‘color wheel’. I then add just a bit of color to the high spots. I only put a touch on – almost like drybrushing. I then use a soft brush and blend it in.

I airbrush Tamiya flesh on first as a base coat. I mix oils to make the desired flesh tones, red, white, and sienna brown, maybe a very small amount of green or blue. I thin the flesh quite a bit. I work for a nice even smooth texture, not watery or runny, but not blobby and gloppy. I prefer repeated coats of flesh building up color in lots of layers. I apply each previous layer and evaluate if I need to darken or lighten or add reds or browns. Then add the next new layer. I typically put down two or three basic layers.
The shadowing is next. I darken the flesh color and add it to the shadow areas. The color depends on the figure and diorama. The color is lighter for less active scenes and for shallower shadow areas, darker for dirtier scenes or deep molded areas. I let it dry a few minutes then wipe the face with a cotton swab.
I will add a touch of white to the high spots and blend it. This usually is done on the nose, tops of cheekbones, and foreheads. I don’t always do this; it depends on how the figure looks.
I have never picked one way to do eyes. This project was the classic flesh first, then add eyes last. I used a very small brush and added the white part. I have more control with oils paints and that is what I used for the eyes. When I over paint any white I use a toothpick sharpened to a very small point to scrape off the excess. The thickness of the oil helps this process. For the pupils I use a very small brush for well-molded figures, or a sharpened toothpick for smaller poorly molded figures. I dip the tool in black and touch the eye where I want the pupil.
Finish Up
The last stages of this diorama were figure placement and final weathering. During the figure assembly portion I inserted a long wire into each figures foot. This let me hold them during finishing and gives you a great anchor during positioning. To get final positioning I get some old soda tops and drill a hole in each and insert the figure in it. Then place the figures in the first positions. If I don’t like it, I simply move the figures. Once I get them where I like I drill a hole in the base and insert the wire. I use two-part epoxy for the standing figures and white glue for seated figures. A note on figure placement: This diorama was fairly easy, the surface was flat and the figures were in easy positions. If your diorama surface is uneven ground or the figures are in ‘action’ poses you need to take care in final positions. You need to make sure feet fully on the ground or are bent so they would fully support the figures weight. You may have to do the same conversion I did on the wrists to the ankles so that the figures position is natural and believable. You don’t want your figures ‘hovering’ over a diorama.
I glued down all the added gear around the diorama, jerry cans, ammo cans, etc. With everything glued down its time for pastel work. I mixed and matched colors of raw pastels to get a nice rounded color. With the yellow road and red bricks I mixed some yellows and red browns for one layer. I also did a batch of gray and red brown. I mixed these up and applied them with a soft brush. I made sure I had nice uniform coverage. Don’t get upset with pastels if you don’t like the color you can literally blow off the dust and start over.
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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 ...