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Lifecolor flesh paints on Modelu figures



I love Modelu figures - he says boldly, based on one small batch of them!  Truly brilliant (in my humble and beginner opinion).  As such, I want to do them justice with the paint job.  I got nice results using Humbrol paints for the first batch I got, these were ok in terms of my paint job. 


Specifically regarding the skin... I used Humbrol flesh colour but adjusted with white or light grey or leather brown for variation.  I don't often go around staring at people intently, so it was my best judgement as to whether the flesh colour was ok... but I think it was fine.  I did notice that for the boy of the Tony and Tommy pairing, it looked like a splodge of paint across his face.  I think this was probably a combination of the very fine contouring of the face, and me using too thick paint.  I did it on a hot day so I think the paint was probably drying on the palatte before I got it onto the face, and I hadn't adjusted by adding water to make it more of a wash.  But the other figures seemed fine, as per the night time shots on my profile page. 


I then treated myself to a Lifecolor flesh paint set. If nothing else, it gave me confidence that I was using sensible flesh tones.  I used plenty of water to thin them down.  I couldn't get the Lifecolor thinner as there seems to be a shortage of this product.  I applied one thinned coat for the base coat. All of them now have this.   I then started to build up layers (thinking washed and dry brushing) and that's where I started to run into problems.  The boy in the cap seemed fine, although he does seem to be wearing some rather goth-like eye makeup.  The chap in the chinos and blazer seems ok.  But the guy in the grey demob suit with the suitcase... oh my word!!  If I need a back story for him... well he is an unfortunate warrior who got bad facial burns in battle.  Either that or he is the layout's Freddy Kruger.  So why the difference?  How can the blazer guy look fine, and Freddy looks a nightmare?  Well, it may be a function of using water rather then Lifecolor thinner, but it seemed ok for other figures I've got around to.  So I think it's possibly a case of too many layers, applied too soon before the previous layer dried, and possibly using paint on a palate that had started to dry up and therefore go a bit gooey.  


If you are going to use this paint/figure combo... please do bear in mind that the paint seems to need thinning, and don't allow yourself to use paints which have started to congeal on the palette, and do let the layers dry before applying more.  I may be talking guff, or be wrong in my estimation of my error, but these points must surely be worth considering for the newbies among us,  


Photos attached for illustration... not necessarily complete yet, and other figures have barely been started apart from undercoat. 

Also, these guys look fine from 3' away... the camera is cruel in picking up detail.  But ideally, I'd love to produce something that can fool the eye even in close-up shots.  

If anyone has any further insight before I embark on facial painting for the other figures, please do pipe up... these products deserve a decent paint job, and if you can help a beginner, that would be great! 





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  • RMweb Gold

Very nice. I recognise the problem of too much paint building up in the face (on figures I mean!). Especially happens to me when I try to highlight with lighter colours etc. Very thin layers - almost washes as you say, does seem to help.

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I cheat on flesh tones, I paint them white then put a flesh toning wash on, job done. Vary the thinning of the wash or it’s tone for skin variation. 

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I like the idea of white base and then washes, Devondynosoar118.  This layers seems the way to go, indeed Mikkel.    

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I did have another bash at the remaining figures I got from Modelu.  The guard seems to have the same issue... quite a bit of texture at extreme close-up.  I think this was trying to apply too many coats again.  I did try to blow the paint away if it looked ropey, but some remains even then... it all builds up. 

I've come to the conclusion that possible areas for improvement are: 

1. Once the paint pot has been shaken, leave it a while to settle... I think the aeration from shaking can lead to micro-textures forming from the tiny bubbles... this has happened on clothes as well as faces. It also seemed to happen if I mixed shades or with water too quickly.  

2. Use a proper brush.  I've been using a really old '1' brush I had from painting as a kid, plus the sole bristle on another old brush for 'detail'.  I think my efforts to compensate for the lack of precision from the '1' brush have led to unusual application of the paint. I've ordered some new brushes including an '0' and a '5/0' (assuming that's a tiny brush head but I'll find out when it arrives).  

3. Perhaps too watered down is as bad as too thick.    


Most interesting... as far as I'm thinking... the chino chap and the train crew seem to have come out best.  All of these figures had a coat of base flesh colour, not too thin, not too thick.  It was then left to dry.  I then applied, I think, a single wash of a lighter shade, and left it there.  So not too much paint on, and not too much of the 'applying more before the previous lot dried'.  Also, because I was content with these guys after just that basic application, I didn't go chasing the details like on the other faces.  Maybe that's it... allow yourself 2 coats with drying time, and accept what it turns up.  If it's a but ropey, be prepared for an iffy paint finish if you do more, maybe these are the ones to consign to a carriage or building interior.  


I have to say though... I do like them from a distance, even at just a foot away.  They'll be going on the layout.  I'd just love to be able to take close up shots and it look 'real' rather than a dodgily painted model.


Hopefully these thoughts might come in useful for someone else in future.  


Right, I need to get more Modelu people to do...  







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Hi, just to followup on this thread, in case anyone is wondering about lifecolor flesh paints on figures... I tried with another batch of Modelu figures, plus some figures from Hardys Hobbies, and PMMStudio on ebay.  It seems that increasing the chance of success is improved by watered down paint, and allowing it to dry a bit between new coats.  But a real key seems to be not applying too many coats, and not getting tempted to apply new washes/layers over wet coats that haven't dried yet.  It as bit like when you find yourself in a Balkan casino and you keep chasing that lucky 17 and then next thing you know - boom - you've lost your Euros and you are left wondering how you are going to afford a kebab before meandering back to your little apartment.  So don't do it.  Make a brew and think about what's next!  BUT - if you have a bit of self-discipline, nice results are apparently possible.  And that goes for any brand that I've tried.  Some have more or less facial feature distinction, but I think Modelu and PMMStudio are great for allowing build of washes and highlights.  There does unfortunately, with all figures, seem to be a bit of luck involved... probably for me due to a lack of experience... and some figures just happen nicely, and some turn out like the elephant man.  So I reckon there are class A figures for the platform, and then Class B, the kind of people you see in a Colchester nightclub who can stay in the dimly lit coaches. 


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One other thing... I decided that the Humbrol matt acrylic spray varnish is probably useful for making the figures a bit more robust (given that mine are likely to be moved around a bit).  But the spray does leave a bit of a haze when you then take a close-up photo.  So I decided to give the figure a brush with a make-up brush.  That actually works...  it turns out a better figure.  HOWEVER...  don't use the same brushes that you've used to add dust and soot and roof dirt.  The lady in the red dress with plunging neckline was due to be my next unhealthy obsession after Anchovy relish and Death In Paradise.  The paint job was, I felt, seductive.  Then with one fell brush swoop, she looked like those makeup adverts when the mascara runs, but all over her, like a coal mining nymph.  Dirty, but in the wrong way.  So I ended up applying more paint and the definition and features were lost, and now she is a shadowless waif of her former self.  I didn't want to apply more and more paint though in case she morphed into an elephant woman.  Which would be bad.  From a distance, she'll do.  Platform, not coach.  


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  • RMweb Gold

Thanks for the update. Nice painting, especially in that latter photo where the colours are so nicely subdued. It's also a rather magical line-up of passengers!


I have very much the same experiences. Those prototypically fine facial features of the Model U figures actually makes them a bit harder to paint, in my opinion. You don't get the free gift of facial shadows that come with the traditional ranges. It's worth the struggle though!


7 hours ago, MoonMonkey said:

It as bit like when you find yourself in a Balkan casino


Sounds like that happens often to you? :D

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The Balkan casino scenario happened a few times, quite a few years ago now.  It left a lasting impression on me though, I really wanted that kekab! 

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3 hours ago, Mikkel said:

Thanks for the update. Nice painting, especially in that latter photo where the colours are so nicely subdued. It's also a rather magical line-up of passengers!


The image is just on an iphone, although I did play with the 'edit image' settings a little to try to get it to have more of an 'aged' look.  

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I started this blog thread about lifecolor paints on Modelu figures.  I thought it might be useful to add a few images of other figures I got, from Hardys Models and PMMStudio (on ebay).  Before I add pics, it's interesting to compare the size of the people.  Within each range, there is a degree of consistency of height, but there does seem to be some variation in body size/height within the Modelu and PMMStudio ranges.  I would say that the Hardys people are generally shorter on average.  And I would say that the PMMStudio people are taller on average.  These comments are compared to the Modelu figures, and I have to admit I haven't done an actual line-up to compare properly, it's just my impression at the moment.  That said, the PMMStudio ones are modern folk, and the Modelu ones I have are all 1940s/50s era when people were apparently somewhat shorted on average.  

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The issue with the wrong brush to take the spray- varnish off is shown here... the sooty deposits on the figure don't quite show up as much as they appeared in 'real life'. 

Before the incident: 



IMG_8290 red-dress-b4-brush.JPG

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An400213917_IMG_8320red-dress-after-brush.JPG.e5dec3e4d5998b6a8fb51655064faa9b.JPGd after using the wrong brush to try and take off some of the varnish-induced haze  (which had been used for weathering)

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And then after a bit of a repaint, but not wishing to chase the effect for fear of overdoing the paint and it just going to a splodge! 

IMG_8328 red-dress-repainted.JPG

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And here are some of the Hardys Hobbies people...

These arrive with the sprue attached to the heads, so I ended up cutting them off the sprue and using blutac to stick them feet-down while I painted them...




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The face definition of the ATS lady is a bit unfair on the quality of the product.  There was a tiny bit of flash which I was trying to shave off, and I ended up cutting through her head!  Interestingly, liquid poly didn't work, so I ended up using a tiny dab of 'Loctite 60 seconds'.  

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PMMStudio do dogs as well which came out nicely, they can be seen in the long platform shot.  Here they are unpainted...

IMG_8173 unpainted dogs.JPG

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7 minutes ago, Andy 17 said:

Those figures really look great, your painting has done them great justice. :)

Many thanks, very kind!

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4 minutes ago, Gordon A said:

Have you thought of adding the smallest touch of pink to pale faces?

Hi, thanks for the hint.  I ended up using the various shades of 'flesh colour' in the Lifecolor set, some of which are definitely pale pink.  The results are really a pretty experimental effort.  I did have a go at trying to do highlights of lighter pink on noses/cheeks/foreheads, as I've read about online/in books, but in some cases they looked like really obvious brush work rather than an actual person, so I tried to reach a compromise finish.  I now have some more figures to do, to help with improving and learning further.  I also now have a 'OOOOO' brush for the detail, rather than the O and OO brushes I was limited to before.  Hopefully the finer brush will work well.  PMMStudio also do some figures 'in the buff' or close to a birthday suit, so I got a few of those to practice the flesh tones on a wider surface area.  I might hide these in a coach compartment or something as a comedy interlude.  When I get around to them (currently working on a platform though) I'll post images up here too.  

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Also, I was going for a more 'summer tan' look as the layout is loosely set in summer, so I think I was probably going for a browner rather than a winter pale face.  Still a good point though, thanks, I'll have a go with the next lot :D

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I forgot about this Modelu chap, the guard (with Tommy and Tony in the background)...

The guard was about the first one I tried to do a face.  

And the boy figure is a classic 'fugly' character.  They also were about  the first I tried.  Too much paint (which was a mix of Humbrol acrylic paints, not actually lifecolor), too thick, and not letting layers dry. 


Edited by MoonMonkey
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Just in case anyone stumbles across this blog item looking for thoughts on Lifecolor paint and/or Modelu figures, I've posted a few things on the following thread, so just to close the loop and for the sake of completion (etc, etc) here is the link, I think I started posting around page 25:  


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