Multimedia Review
Painting a 1/35 Scale Figure
Painting a 1/35 Scale Figure with Acrylic Colours
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by: Matt Flegal [ NINJRK ]

By and large it seems that few modelers have the skills needed to paint a figure to the same level of quality as their vehicles, and I am certainly no exception. Bug-eyes, muddy blending, cracked paint, etc; I've managed them all! I've bought numerous books and, while helpful, they often struck me as trying to learn martial arts from a series of pictures. So much is missed from what happens between those instants when the pictures were taken. I had settled on laboriously doing the occasional figure in oils when they were a critical focal point, and far more often doing a bastardized wash technique that gave barely adequate but quick results. So when I saw an actual DVD on figure painting that wasn't geared towards large scale figures, I snapped it up.

The DVD is broken up into 12 sections, described below.

A) Introduction
Kind of an odd way to begin the DVD: we get a voice over about why you would want to paint figures while Mr. Kovacs mugs and makes faces at the camera. It does add personality but left me wondering what was to come!

B) Preparation
There are a few minutes devoted to cleaning and priming the figure along with a brief overview of pinning. Useful if you've had no exposure to these basic concepts but nothing new if you have.

C) Theory
Again, fairly basic concept of applying highlights and shadow using Mr Shep Paine's classic stop-sign analogy.

D) Color Mixing
Here's where it gets interesting. The concept of the wet palette is introduced, which I had never tried. I now have, and can say it's a marvelous idea for acrylics. Here is also where we see the great strength of the video for the first time; they show you the whole process of making the shades for the face, although they edit a little bit on the shadows. Drawing paint from the previous shade, mixing it on the palette, testing it for consistency and so forth is shown in crystal clear video.

E) Face
Here we have over 50 minutes of clear, well staged and shot video. The voice-over is minimal but doesn't miss much and you literally see every brushstroke clearly. Eyes, base painting, nine(!) highlight and seven shadow layers, lips, Five O' Clock Shadow from start to finish are covered. I found this portion tremendously useful. It's one thing to be told to apply these nine highlight layers to the bridge of the nose in progressively smaller areas. It's quite another to see exactly where each bit of paint actually goes, what direction the stroke proceeds in, how the brush is angled, and so on. I remember desperately squinting at a Shep Paine figure-painting clinic a couple of decades ago trying to make out what he was doing so effortlessly. Being able to see it on my monitor where the face is 8" tall on the screen is enlightening. I also gained a new appreciation for brush stroke direction and how it assists in properly laying down the color layer.

F) Cap
G) Shirt
H) Binoculars
I) Trousers
J) Leather

Grouped together this takes the same approach to the painting of the clothing, including 3-color camouflage trousers. It is a bit more edited than the face painting section, but still over an hour long. The same points made previously apply here as well.

K) Finishing
This actually covers painting one of the arms separately that will be attached to the figure later to more easily paint the medial portion.

L) Presentation
This portion covers a brief description of setting the figure on a small base with an oil drum. However, nothing is actually described or shown on how the base was made so you'll need another resource for that!

This is a very good instructional DVD. I'd say it's the best figure painting video I've found for 1/35 figures, but that's damning with faint praise. The video is top-notch in quality and camera-work, the narration is helpful and adequate, and the skill on display is of very high quality. I have been trying these techniques myself since I bought it and while I have a long way to go, my results have already improved noticeably. When I've hit a stumbling block the ability to watch that portion being performed in real time has been very helpful.

The DVD is only available in PAL format and will not play on a standalone US DVD player, XBox 360, or in Windows Media Player without altering the region settings. However, it plays perfectly well on my PC using VLC Media Player.
Highs: Covers the whole painting process with few edits. Clear and easy to follow. Instructor is quite skilled and the technique is excellent.
Lows: PAL format limits avenues for non-European modelers to view. Long stretches of no dialog with repetitive and somewhat cheesy music.
Verdict: This is an excellent instructional DVD, and while it focuses exclusively on acrylics it's also pretty much the only game in town for video instruction on 1/35 scale figure painting.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: MXP-DVD-02
  PUBLISHED: Feb 09, 2012

About Matt Flegal (ninjrk)

Copyright 2021 text by Matt Flegal [ NINJRK ]. All rights reserved.


While I echo what the others have said regarding the regrettably limiting DVD format, I really feel that misses the point. From his crisp introduction through the step-by-step review of the presentation --- both its high points and its limitations --- Matt has written what I regard as the single best review I've yet seen on Armorama, confronting a challenge which all 1/35-scale modelers face. Thanks Matt --- and please do more reviews!
FEB 10, 2012 - 02:22 AM
Hi, Fred, you make a good point, and it IS a very good review. But the strength of the review also makes it that much more frustrating that we on this side of the Pond can't take more advantage of the product. Lest there be any mistake, however, we do hope Matt will write more reviews for us.
FEB 10, 2012 - 03:09 AM
I would be interseted also,it could be played in my laptop while at the bench,which is helpful.I mean i really don't need to watch it on TV anyway
FEB 10, 2012 - 04:46 AM
Any TV made in the last decade can easily be connected to a computer. I don't see the problem. If folks can use the internet well enough to be active on forums, and shop online overseas, I think they can handle watching videos on their computers, or connecting their TV's to their computers.
FEB 10, 2012 - 05:04 AM
I appreciate the feedback and not to worry, I'm merrily trying to figure out how to get good photos of brass PE so I can start knocking out some other reviews. As to the format, it is a bit more of a pain in the behind because it won't play on a normal region-locked DVD drive unless you download a third party viewer (i.e., Windows media player won't play it) so you have to jump through some hoops downloading software. That's why I noted the VLC Player software since it worked, I tried several 3rd party players that didn't work because my computer was a region 1. Matt
FEB 10, 2012 - 07:35 AM
Matt what a great reveiw. How much dos the CD cost in the UK ? I'm no techo geek will it only play on my computer/laptop or will it play on a UK DVD player too? Cheers Geraint
FEB 10, 2012 - 09:44 AM
I think it will play on a standard UK region DVD player, although I'm not 100% familiar with the vagaries of non-US region coding. The on-line price that I've seen is 12,50 . Matt
FEB 10, 2012 - 02:07 PM
i was sure my figure painting was too bare and simple,the faces looking like ET.This video is a must,all my previous work is now obsolete thanks to this video.Shading highlighting etc, you dont have to do what he does, you can reduce or increase the numbers and like he says,work to your taste.I'm glad i joined this site for armour.
MAR 05, 2012 - 04:38 PM
Matt - thanks for this review - when i read it - I ordered straight away! It is simply one of the best DVD`s i have ever seen on figure painting - it removes the black art !! excellent cheers Mark
MAR 09, 2012 - 02:00 AM

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