Jump to content

Modifying, painting and storing figures

Here’s a summary of my recent 'experiments' (a.k.a. mucking about) with Modelu and other 4mm figures, and how to store them.

 

I have previously modified figures from the Andrew Stadden, Dart Castings and Preiser ranges. So obviously, the Modelu range had to suffer too!  The resin used in these figures cannot be bent (it will break), but clean cuts with a scalpel worked OK. Joins were sanded, fixed with superglue and smoothed out with putty. Not everyone will think it’s worthwhile, but I find it relaxing and you get quick results. 

 

This driver was shortened and had his feet repositioned to fit in the cab of my Dean Goods.

 

46774891634_f34c276cb9_o.jpg.c7870d90fa4ca6b5a52dcea83015bfae.jpg

 

 

Another driver had a head fitted from an Andrew Stadden figure, in order to enhance the Edwardian look.

 

002.jpg.f8f2cb8763ece5850628b85fceca5c05.jpg

 

 

That left a headless Andrew Stadden body, so a head was transposed from a Modelu station master who I felt looked a bit too modern for my Edwardian period.

 

003.jpg.bce1c19ddcc18d3d1792951cbf9557e8.jpg

 

 

I have also been experimenting with painting, especially those difficult eyes. The pro painters do some amazing work in this respect, but as a mere mortal I’m just looking for a simple way to achieve a rough indication of eyes without spending too much time on it. 

 

The approach illustrated below has helped.  First, two black stripes across the eyes. The stripes can then be narrowed and shortened by painting skin colour carefully around them. I find this much easier than trying to paint the eyes directly. The same technique can be used for the eyebrows and mouth.

 

004.jpg.6b49df3f2295c4d2ae1210ffb5497971.jpg

 

 

Eyebrows can be tricky when hats etc get in the way, but do add character. I suppose the next step on the learning curve is to fill in those blank, black eyes. Not sure I'm up for that! 

 

004b.jpg.f1b14a29c6ed16feddf9942455de0c4f.jpg

 


Reading up on brushes led to the purchase of these Windsor & Newton Series 7 brushes (not the “miniature” range). The sizes are 00 for faces (right), and 1 for larger details (left). These are bigger sizes than I have normally used. This is based on online advice from pro painters. The theory is that larger brushes give better control and the paint doesn’t dry as quickly on the way to the face. If you look closely at the lady above, you can see that her face isn’t quite smooth, because I let the paint become too dry on the brush.

 

005.jpg.ca1f4b73f9ba9a7b3a0f4396b692523d.jpg

 

 

A larger magnifying glass has also helped, although I’m still struggling a bit with the weird hand-eye coordination that this requires. The field for extra magnification is useful and tells me that it may be worth investing in an even stronger glass at some point. 

 

006.jpg.cf48d4724b0748081858c817606f83a3.jpg

 

 

Because we now live in a flat I have to pack away the layouts in-between operating sessions. This has led me to consider how to store the figures and other fragile items. If stored too casually the paint easily chips, noses are flattened or accessories break. So, inspired by Chris' storage box for figures,  I had a look around the web and came upon “pick and pluck” foam trays. These are available on ebay, or from military modelling manufacturers like Feldherr.

 

007.jpg.a9795b94827f255057598c93b90254d6.jpg

 

 
After plucking out the foam as desired, a base layer is added, and the tray is ready to use.

 

008.jpg.833091163933450c5f36fad498926cc1.jpg

 

 

 
The foam trays come in different thicknesses, this is 15 mm (0.6 inch) plus a base layer:

 

009.jpg.d3e43be1bdba6085a237bbb81669c641.jpg

 

 

For my horse drawn wagons I used 30 mm (1.2 inches). In retrospect it would have been better to go for something even deeper so the wagons could be placed upright. 

 

010.jpg.a94774ada47ccbb8267838f51bef2dd7.jpg


 

The trays can be stacked…

 

011.jpg.cb3dcc00cc7f40b311cc5a724d8b49d2.jpg

 

 

…and fitted in an appropriate box. This is just a shoebox. I added an extra protective layer of foam on the top.

 

012.jpg.3a679cd10b74607d46a17e697f093826.jpg

 

 

In order to handle the figures, I fitted a bit of felt to a pair of old tweezers.

 

013.jpg.98645209ae0a0e92e0bc3d80ec472853.jpg

 

 

Having made the trays you end up with a lot of foam cubes that are supposed to be discarded. This seemed wasteful so I decided to use the cubes for making additional storage boxes for my “second-tier” stuff. They have a sticky underside so it’s very straightforward. The box is a takeaway food container. Ever since Northroader pointed out the usefulness of takeaway boxes we have been eating a lot of Thai food!

 

014.jpg.587ad2fafb5c27ee58c6715c3caaa736.jpg


   

Some of my figures are fitted with wire in order to fix them on the layout, which takes up a lot of space in the “pick and pluck” boxes. So these are stuck into a bit of good quality dense foamboard...

 

015.jpg.24c20e39b63e5f0489ccb0bcf7f7b7f0.jpg


  

...and fitted in yet another takeaway box (Phat Kee Mao, if I remember correctly!). 

 

016.jpg.5973d5cbd3d54512101f0c58fdf19a72.jpg

 

 

There is room for a lot of figures this way, and the boxes stack up nicely.

 

017.jpg.da24df046ce78cd612d9d6d51cd2fb4d.jpg

 

 

018.jpg.a608acb9d60c558829cf4eb6f51d0b5a.jpg

 

 

That's it for now, I'm off to run some trains :)

 

  • Like 15
  • Agree 1
  • Thanks 1
  • Informative/Useful 4
  • Craftsmanship/clever 22


25 Comments


Recommended Comments

Wonderful, Mikkel; I wanted to click both the Informative/useful and the Craftsmanship/clever buttons! Thanks so much for the heads-up on the pick-and-pluck foam - what a brilliant idea.

Edited by Ian Simpson
  • Like 1
  • Agree 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this comment


Link to comment

A clever solution for storage Mikkel. You are amassing a great collection of figures.

 

Superb figure painting as well. 

  • Agree 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
bcnPete

Posted (edited)

Lovely stuff Mikkel - you are really embracing that modelling in a reduced space concept :D 

 

Good shout for the Thai food containers and foam boxes too.

 

Some great detailed painting there. For the lady, it could be she likes putting on thick mascara...

 

An entertaining and informative blog entry as always from you...:good:

Edited by bcnPete
  • Thanks 1

Share this comment


Link to comment

Truly stunning work, Mikkle you are a master at what you do

  • Agree 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
8 hours ago, Ian Simpson said:

Wonderful, Mikkel; I wanted to click both the Informative/useful and the Craftsmanship/clever buttons! Thanks so much for the heads-up on the pick-and-pluck foam - what a brilliant idea.

 

Many thanks Ian, the foam seems to be working well. I suppose it's not worth the effort for permanent layouts, but maybe exhibition layouts could make use of it too.

 

7 hours ago, Dave John said:

A clever solution for storage Mikkel. You are amassing a great collection of figures.

 

Superb figure painting as well. 

 

Thanks Dave, I think I'm at the point where I have enough figures now, or maybe even a bit too many. Much like some people have too many locos!

 

6 hours ago, bcnPete said:

Lovely stuff Mikkel - you are really embracing that modelling in a reduced space concept :D 

 

Good shout for the Thai food containers and foam boxes too.

 

Some great detailed painting there. For the lady, it could be she likes putting on thick mascara...

 

An entertaining and informative blog entry as always from you...:good:

 

Hi Pete, thanks, and yes you are quite right - modelling in a reduced space is turning out to be very stimulating. Mascara, yes, or tan cream. I remember when I was a teen in the 1980s, Danish girls wore tan cream so thick you could write your name in it  :D Not in the early 1900s though, I suppose!

 

  • Like 3
  • Craftsmanship/clever 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
2 hours ago, paulprice said:

Truly stunning work, Mikkle you are a master at what you do

 

Many thanks Paul, still got a lot to learn on the painting front. Shading for example - although I'm not a big fan of heavy contrast on figures. The military and warhammer modellers do some amazing stuff. It's strange really how little knowledge exchange there seems to be between the hobbies - or maybe that's just my impression. 

  • Like 1

Share this comment


Link to comment

Excellent stuff, Mikkel. Good to see all the horse drawn carts together, they're very impressive, as is all the painting.

 

I have to admit I saw Northroader's post on reusing takeaway containers and I've hoarded a few since. Our local bargain shop sells them as well, 3 or 5 for £1, but you have to cook your own tea if you go down that route!

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
ChrisN

Posted (edited)

Mikkel,

Good to see so many figures all together.  I did not find the storage foam on the web, and I am not sure where I got mine, it was some packaging I think.  The Chinese Take Away boxes are a valuable commodity in my house, of all the plastic containers to store food the only ones we have where we have lids to match bottoms are the Take Away Boxes.  I exaggerate of course but it does mean they are first used in the kitchen although if I think there are enough and we have not given too many away I will take a few.

 

I have to admit I am not a fan of wargammers painting, well not for model railways.  The effect of wargammers painting is to make their figures look ready for Waterloo in 1815, not the !8:15 from Waterloo.  I know commuting can be rough, but not that rough.  There is a painter of figures on RMWeb, but I cannot remember her name although it may be in my thread, who says that highlighting in 4mm is not worth it, and she produces some amazing figures.  I probably do what you do and give my figures a black wash or a darker colour of their main colour to give shadows.  The only problem is dark grey or black figures as they probably need a dry brush with a paler colour.

 

Need to think about the eyes.  I like whay you have done but might do the same with a lighter colour.  Eyebrows, good, never like putting lips in though, just a foible.  (Hate makeup, painted lips can look like lipstick, which is not what I like and also not really the effect I want, especially on a working man.)

 

Glad to see you are still leading the way on model railway figures.

 

(If you want to know, the 18:15 from Waterloo goes to Waterloo.  In a sort of circle, via Twickenham, Teddington, Wimbledon and then Waterloo.  There are lots of other stops as well.)

Edited by ChrisN
  • Thanks 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
Mikkel

Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, Charlie586 said:

Excellent stuff, Mikkel. Good to see all the horse drawn carts together, they're very impressive, as is all the painting.

 

I have to admit I saw Northroader's post on reusing takeaway containers and I've hoarded a few since. Our local bargain shop sells them as well, 3 or 5 for £1, but you have to cook your own tea if you go down that route!

 

Thanks Charlie, the long-term plan is to eventually have enough horse drawn carts to recreate a scene like this: https://www.warwickshirerailways.com/gwr/gwrhd705.htm . It may be a while though! 

 

Maybe we should start a takeaway box enthusiast's society. Northroader can be the chairman :D

 

Edited by Mikkel
  • Like 2

Share this comment


Link to comment

Well, you can't have too many Mikkel since the ones with pins on the foot can easily be swapped on the layout. You could even have the ladies follow fashion and swap them round for a specific Edwardian year. 

  • Like 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
1 hour ago, ChrisN said:

Mikkel,

Good to see so many figures all together.  I did not find the storage foam on the web, and I am not sure where I got mine, it was some packaging I think.  The Chinese Take Away boxes are a valuable commodity in my house, of all the plastic containers to store food the only ones we have where we have lids to match bottoms are the Take Away Boxes.  I exaggerate of course but it does mean they are first used in the kitchen although if I think there are enough and we have not given too many away I will take a few.

 

Thanks Chris, I've just realized that I had forgotten to mention your storage box as the inspiration - sorry about that, now amended in the blog :unsure:.  

 

1 hour ago, ChrisN said:

 

I have to admit I am not a fan of wargammers painting, well not for model railways.  The effect of wargammers painting is to make their figures look ready for Waterloo in 1815, not the !8:15 from Waterloo.  I know commuting can be rough, but not that rough.  There is a painter of figures on RMWeb, but I cannot remember her name although it may be in my thread, who says that highlighting in 4mm is not worth it, and she produces some amazing figures.  I probably do what you do and give my figures a black wash or a darker colour of their main colour to give shadows.  The only problem is dark grey or black figures as they probably need a dry brush with a paler colour.

 

Yes I think I agree, but would like to experiment more. A person seen from a distance does not have sharp contrasts. On the other hand, on my layouts there are figures right at the front so I suppose they shouldn't be too bland. 

 

1 hour ago, ChrisN said:

 

Need to think about the eyes.  I like whay you have done but might do the same with a lighter colour.  Eyebrows, good, never like putting lips in though, just a foible.  (Hate makeup, painted lips can look like lipstick, which is not what I like and also not really the effect I want, especially on a working man.)

 

Glad to see you are still leading the way on model railway figures.

 

(If you want to know, the 18:15 from Waterloo goes to Waterloo.  In a sort of circle, via Twickenham, Teddington, Wimbledon and then Waterloo.  There are lots of other stops as well.)

 

I have tried red lips on working men and you are right it looks too strong - I'm now using skin colour to show the mouth on bearded men (withouth a mouth, the beard can look odd I find). For the lady illustrated here I wanted to portray loveliness - for a particular reason that will become evident later - and so used the oldest trick in the book :lol:

 

The 18:15 from Waterloo sounds intriguing, in a roundabout sort of way! 

  • Like 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
31 minutes ago, Dave John said:

Well, you can't have too many Mikkel since the ones with pins on the foot can easily be swapped on the layout. You could even have the ladies follow fashion and swap them round for a specific Edwardian year. 

 

Now that would be a first. Maybe even a bit over the top! Surplus figures will hopefully come in handy when the mainline platforms at Farthing get built...

 

912207494_farthing1911.jpg.0f8e4ec9dd2ac6912b5ed60d807308b7.jpg

  • Like 3

Share this comment


Link to comment

Mikkel,

Thank you for your mention in despatches.

 

I do make sure that the mouth is painted flesh when they have a beard.  I try and use a thinned paint, which does not always work, on other figures so that the features are highlighted.

 

I am not sure trying to match an exact year would work, as fashions changed slowly and some ladies did not wear the latest fashion.  I could put up pictures to prove it or give you links to websites but that might be a distraction too far.

 

I will not say anything about the lady except my wife appears on my layout, she does not know it, as the fiancé of the Young Englishman who lives in the Big House up the valley.  I did say to her that Modellau where doing scans of people and that he intended having people dress up to be Victorians, that was all I said.   Her reply?  "I am not wearing a corset!"

  • Like 1
  • Funny 1

Share this comment


Link to comment

My daughter and family came on Saturday, so set meal for four from Peking House at tea time. I’ve got too many of the b*** things now, even with the pile of unfinished jobs lying round. 

I ought to put some painted figures in, even if this lot look like they came from Peking House with the meal. Normally to be found trainspotting on the Washbourne overbridge, O scale, natch.F49FDFAE-4487-45B9-9709-08F478F17582.jpeg.6d8c40235fb58c47d74f92ce17a19f6c.jpeg

Edited by Northroader
  • Like 5

Share this comment


Link to comment

The first of your ladies has clearly just robbed a bank and is carrying the swag in her handbag.

 

Many thanks for many useful suggestions on handling figures and small models.  I often use ice-cube trays to separate small parts but your methods are better and I do like the soft tweezers.

 

 

  • Like 2
  • Informative/Useful 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
11 hours ago, ChrisN said:

I will not say anything about the lady except my wife appears on my layout, she does not know it, as the fiancé of the Young Englishman who lives in the Big House up the valley.

 

Aha! A valuable bit of information for those of us who follow Traeth Mawr. I bet I know who the young Englishman is. :D

 

9 hours ago, Northroader said:

My daughter and family came on Saturday, so set meal for four from Peking House at tea time. I’ve got too many of the b*** things now, even with the pile of unfinished jobs lying round. 

I ought to put some painted figures in, even if this lot look like they came from Peking House with the meal. Normally to be found trainspotting on the Washbourne overbridge, O scale, natch.

 

You've got to start more unfinished jobs then... 

 

Nice family, nothing like a boater to set the period.  I am worried about the plants creeping up their feet though, it's Invasion of the body snatchers all over again :)

 

1 hour ago, MikeOxon said:

The first of your ladies has clearly just robbed a bank and is carrying the swag in her handbag.

 

Many thanks for many useful suggestions on handling figures and small models.  I often use ice-cube trays to separate small parts! but your methods are better and I do like the soft tweezers.

 

Ice cube trays, I like that idea - thanks Mike. Brings to mind other possibilities... :dancer:

 

image.png.6e83427fda3487b67c6355964516834a.png

 

 

  • Like 2

Share this comment


Link to comment

I saw the line of males in the 4th pic from the bottom and thought "queue for the gents".

Great ideas Mikkel. Shamelessly filed away for use on my layout.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this comment


Link to comment

Mikkel, I wish I had the eyes to paint figures like that. The faces on my figures progress no further than a whitish blob. There's no doubt that the extra detailing really does make all the difference and you've inspired me to have another go with a magnifying glass to see if I can add eyes and moustaches. What I like about the age that you are modelling is the elegance of the clothes. Not sure whether you've seen them but a few years ago a large amount of cine film dating back to the early 1900's was found in the cellar of a shop in the NW of England. I think it was by someone named Kenyon and after restoration gave a wonderful evocation of life at that time. More recently there was a TV programme where the film had been "colourised" and that really brought it to life. The subjects suddenly became real people, not some remote figure in the distant past.

 

I noticed the gas lamps which are presumably the Dart Castings ones. I nneded three for Westbrook and they are very well detailed but a pig to glaze. Two of the four supporting bars were cast in with two loose ones provided. I made a rough template to cut the Plastiglaze to the correct size and substituted Microstrip for the two bars that had to be attached. I'm still not happy with the appearance as the cyano clouded the Plastiglaze and I'm sure I can't use the excuse that the lamp glass was dirty, not at least on the GWR in the early 1930's.

  • Like 2

Share this comment


Link to comment

Excellent figures Mikkel and your "Horse drawn collection" is coming along beautifully:-)  Those foam storage sheets are a brilliant find, I've never seen them before, very useful stuff!

 

On 01/04/2019 at 00:04, Mikkel said:

For the lady illustrated here I wanted to portray loveliness - for a particular reason that will become evident later - and so used the oldest trick in the book :lol:

I hope this means a Femme fatale will star in a future blog entry:-)

 

Best wishes

 

Dave

 

 

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
On 01/04/2019 at 22:05, Martin S-C said:

I saw the line of males in the 4th pic from the bottom and thought "queue for the gents".

 

Ha ha, yes, or boogie woogie! :D 

 

9 hours ago, wenlock said:

I hope this means a Femme fatale will star in a future blog entry:-)

 

Yes indeed Dave, the good Mr Finkerbury has unearthed some explosive new information... :triniti:

  • Like 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
12 hours ago, JDaniels said:

Mikkel, I wish I had the eyes to paint figures like that. The faces on my figures progress no further than a whitish blob. There's no doubt that the extra detailing really does make all the difference and you've inspired me to have another go with a magnifying glass to see if I can add eyes and moustaches.

 

John, I was pleasantly surprised at the difference the magnifying glass made, I hope it works for you. 

 

12 hours ago, JDaniels said:

Not sure whether you've seen them but a few years ago a large amount of cine film dating back to the early 1900's was found in the cellar of a shop in the NW of England. I think it was by someone named Kenyon and after restoration gave a wonderful evocation of life at that time. More recently there was a TV programme where the film had been "colourised" and that really brought it to life. The subjects suddenly became real people, not some remote figure in the distant past.

 

That sounds fascinating! I have seen various clips from the period on youtube, but not what you mention I think. I'd like to see the colourised version, it really brings things to life as you say. Thanks for the tip, I will see if I can access it somehow.

 

12 hours ago, JDaniels said:

I noticed the gas lamps which are presumably the Dart Castings ones. I nneded three for Westbrook and they are very well detailed but a pig to glaze. Two of the four supporting bars were cast in with two loose ones provided. I made a rough template to cut the Plastiglaze to the correct size and substituted Microstrip for the two bars that had to be attached. I'm still not happy with the appearance as the cyano clouded the Plastiglaze and I'm sure I can't use the excuse that the lamp glass was dirty, not at least on the GWR in the early 1930's.

 

The lamps in the foam trays are of two kinds. The large ones  were scratchbuilt/modified from various parts including Dart castings. The smaller ones are old Mike's Models kits, where I have added my own glazing. I also had the clouding problem but eventually got around it by leaving one section of glazing open until the glue had dried. The last section could then be carefully glued shut. There's a blog post about both types here.

  • Like 1

Share this comment


Link to comment

Hi Mikkel.

Learned again from your excellent blog entry. Will see what I can do with it in both aspects. Painting and storage of my figures and cars. 

  • Like 2

Share this comment


Link to comment

"That sounds fascinating! I have seen various clips from the period on youtube, but not what you mention I think. I'd like to see the colourised version, it really brings things to life as you say. Thanks for the tip, I will see if I can access it somehow."

 

Mikkel,

 

Sorry I couldn't get back to you earlier. There seems to have been issues with the website.

 

The colour film is from Channel 5:

 

https://www.channel5.com/show/edwardian-britain-in-colour/

 

The early black and white film was, as I recall, by Mitchel and Kenyon. What is so good about these films is that they show everyday life, not a coronation or royal wedding.

 

Off now to complete my Siphon C blog.

 

John

 

  • Informative/Useful 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
On 07/04/2019 at 15:52, Job's Modelling said:

Hi Mikkel.

Learned again from your excellent blog entry. Will see what I can do with it in both aspects. Painting and storage of my figures and cars. 

 

Hi Job, thanks, I have just been looking at your latest "Ikea challenge", the Morris looks good - hope we'll see some of your figures on the next challenge.

  • Like 1

Share this comment


Link to comment
Mikkel

Posted (edited)

On 08/04/2019 at 20:20, JDaniels said:

The colour film is from Channel 5:

 

https://www.channel5.com/show/edwardian-britain-in-colour/

 

The early black and white film was, as I recall, by Mitchel and Kenyon. What is so good about these films is that they show everyday life, not a coronation or royal wedding.

 

Many thanks John! It looks like I can't watch it from Denmark, so will have to see about setting up a VPN - been meaning to for some time anyway. I look forward to viewing it.

Edited by Mikkel
  • Like 1

Share this comment


Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.