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How To Paint Miniature Figure Faces

Article by Paul Nortness

Faces. They're everywhere. Every one you know has a face. Some are round, some are oval, some are chubby and some are skinny. So since everyone has a face that would mean eventually, you are going to have to paint a face on a miniature!

Oh dread, what to do! Don't worry; using some of the same techniques you learned in the miniature figure painting tutorial I will show you how to paint faces.

For this tutorial, I will not be using a miniature but a large 1:4th scale Han Solo vinyl model. The reason for this is with the larger face it is easier to show you the steps. Plus, who doesn't love Han Solo from Star Wars?

miniature figurine face painting

I've already applied primer onto the face. We will not be focused on anything other than the face in this tutorial so I have just primered the head and neck.

First, let's give Han some eyes. You want to use an off white color here. I used "Vanilla". Don't worry about painting inside the lines, just paint until you get good coverage. Let that dry.

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Good, now we need to add the iris. Harrison Ford has blue eyes, so I'm going to go with Cobalt Blue. His eyes are darker so we don't want to go too light. Take a fine tip brush and apply a dot to the top center of the eye. This is a crucial step. If you misplace the dots, Han will turn out looking cross eyed. You want the iris to be up higher, by the upper eyelid so you have a bigger crescent of white beneath. If you do end up with a cross eyed mini, it's OK! Just rinse off the paint with a little water and start again. That's the great thing about acrylic paint!

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With our iris in place, we need to add the pupil. Load up a fine tip brush with a tiny amount of black and touch the iris dead center. Again, you need to make sure you are pin point with your brush because any deviation will have you back at the sink rinsing. One thing of note, while I am taking the steps to show you how to paint the iris and pupil you will typically just be painting a black dot for eyes. However, there are some painters that do add iris and pupil to their minis so I figured this was good information.

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Now, Han Solo has that twinkle in his eye that makes all the princesses from Alderaan swoon. So let's give him a little sparkle. With your fine tip brush, put a tiny drop of white paint in the iris. The dot needs to be in exactly the same spot on each eye. OK, I gotta tell you... that's kinda creeping me out. It's like he is staring at me!

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Han is looking pretty good so far, let's take the next step. Load your pallet up with some light brown. Now, with a lining brush paint along the edges of the whites of the eyes. This will later help define the eye and provide some shadow. Wow, he kinda looks like the Joker. From here, I also mixed up a light caucasian flesh tone with red to get a pinkish color. I added this color to inner corner of the eyeball.

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Now once that has all dried it's time to add our skin color. This will be our base color for his face, so I just used the generic caucasian "Flesh Tone". Cover as much of the light brown around the eyes but enough to leave a thin line between the whites of the eyes and the skin.

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This ugly mess is called a "targeted wash". In previous tutorials, I have discussed washes that cover the entire section. In this case, I only wanted to wash a darker color into certain areas. First, I created the color by starting with caucasian flesh tone and added some autumn brown. Don't ever use pure black to make darker skin tones because pure black will over-power your lighter color. Next I turned this color into a wash by thinning it until it is the consistency of water. To do a targeted wash, simply hold the brush against the surface and allow the paint to flow into the crevices. In this case, the lines in Han's face and wrinkles in his forehead took the wash. Now we need to let that dry.

Once the wash is dry we can resume. Let's go back to our base color, caucasian flesh tone. Dry brush the base color over the entire face. Next up, lighten the base color with some white. You don't need much, just a shade lighter than the base. Now, lightly dry brush that over the base color. This will provide highlights to the skin, making it appear more realistic and natural.

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You can see the lines in the forehead, lips, brow and nose are now a darker color to provide the illusion of shadow.

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Our last step is to add details. Han has dark brown hair, so I used Dark Brown for the eyebrows. I mixed a little AC Flesh with red and added that to the lips to give them some color. Make sure you don't go too pink otherwise you have Han Solo in lipstick. Finally, I added a little dark brown into the color I mixed for the lips and painted on the scar that Harrison Ford has on his chin. I painted in his hair just to give him a more complete look. I will not cover the hair in this tutorial as I have already covered those techniques. Check out Painting Miniatures on this site for more info on painting hair.

Han is ready to smooch the princesses and take on the Galactic Empire now!

I had some fun writing this tutorial for you. The humor is meant to remind you that we are having fun. Take your time and enjoy yourself and if you screw up, that's OK. Just wash the paint off and have another try at it. Practice, practice, practice.

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Have fun and happy modeling!

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