by: Matt Flegal [ ]
IntroductionBy 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.
ReviewThe DVD is broken up into 12 sections, described below.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
This actually covers painting one of the arms separately that will be attached to the figure later to more easily paint the medial portion.
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!
ConclusionThis 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.
NoteThe 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.