Advice Needed - Painting Faces

I've always had a bit of a problem painting faces - they always turn out very blotchy, with the lines too definite and unrealistic.  A Google revealed a couple of tutorials, but before I go for one I thought I'd open it up to you guys!

This is usually what I do:
  • Tallharn Flesh
  • Elf Flesh
  • A light brown wash
Which results in the face you see to the right.  Okay, for 28mm from a distance, but just wondered if you chaps had any suggestions since I'd seen some very nice examples on all your blogs.

In other general update news, I've got some Renegade Miniatures German Stormtroopers on the way and my First World War rules are taking shape.  I'm away for a week, so no modelling, but I'll hopefully get a game or two in!

Thanks in advance for all your help - until next time...



  1. Mate I can't claim to be any sort of expert but I like what I end up with. I put on Cadian Fleshtone(Tallarn)all over the face including covering all recesses. Then a wash of ogryn flesh. Then a watered down wash of devlan mud. I then paint very carefully with a very tiny brush (00) thin kislev over all the non recesses. Sometimes a highlight of kislev mixed with white on to edges but on smaller models don't think it's needed.

    I really like what it looks like:

    So in my opinion you're using the right colours, no need to be more complicated, but the recesses on that face look way too dark and there should not be as much showing through.

    1. Buffer, seen some of the stuff you put out (including that link) and it all looks a massive improvement to what I can do so I'm going to take anything you say pretty seriously! You've identified my main issue with the faces here and I always have that problem, so thanks for those tips, I shall try them out forthwith.

  2. Yeah - never call myself a 'painter' either, but my approach for 'white' faces works well (for me at least) in 28mm.

    It's very very simple:

    Tallarn Flesh all over;
    Eyes: to taste (just white then pupils touching top and bottom edges);
    Bottom lip ONLY - if needed: Tallarn Flesh darkened a little with red;
    Wash: Griffon Sepia.

    ...and that's it.

    It gives me faces like this:
    and this: .

    ...which I find is perfect for the tabletop. Hope that helps...

    1. That does Drax, thankyou kindly. These are all great suggestions, I might do my next batch of Fallshirmjaeger with a few spares, and dedicate them to testing these all out. This method looks good, a bit more 'targeted' in the details than mine.

  3. Again, not an expert either, but my recipe goes like this (vallejo colors):

    1) Leather Brown basecoat
    2) Ghost Grey in the eye sockets (don't have to be too careful, as it'll get cleaned up later, I find the really pale grey ends up looking a bit less harsh than pure white too)
    3) Micron Pen to add pupils (as a vertical line touching top and bottom lids as per Drax)
    4) Bronzed Flesh over all but the deepest recesses and eyes (here's where I clean up any overzealous white from the eyes that may have spilled out onto cheekbones and eyebrow ridges)
    5) Elf Flesh on the nose, cheekbones and forehead, tops of ears, etc.

    I've dabbled with flesh washes between steps 4 and 5, but I usually end up screwing up the eyes if I do that.


    1. Micron pen, Ghost grey ... these in particular are things I've never tried and I'll have to give them a go. Any particular brand of pen you use? Also not used leather brown as a basecoat. Thanks for your help!

    2. I use the Sakura brand pens, (found here: ) looks like you can get 'em off Amazon pretty easily. Effortless pupils with the 05 pen, since I started using 'em I've never brush painted one again! :)

      The ghost grey is just barely a tone darker than white, ever so slightly blue-ish which ends up looking less stark against the skin tones I find. It's a subtle thing, wouldn't say it makes a HUGE difference overall - just goes along with my "avoid painting with pure white whenever possible" mantra. In fact ghost grey is what I use in lieu of white whenever needed. Only the sharpest of edge highlights or specular/reflective dots on glass actually get the full-bore white paint.

      Cheers mate!

    3. No idea what brand it is but I often use a fineliner for detail work. When I do, I always leave it at least overnight to go off. If I think I'll be applying watery paint to it, I sometimes will give it a very slight varnish too - just in case.

      Oh, and when I mentioned the Sepia wash, above, it may in fact be Devlan Mud. I honestly have no idea and I can't get to my paints right now.

    4. Hell bells, using Micron pens sounds FAR easier than my fumbling about with a tiny brush trying to stick black pupils into my coloured irises. >_<

    5. I remember reading one of the lads post about micro pens in the past and never actually got around to trying it - the number of blank white eyed ministures I have around the place - it might be worth investing the few $ and pick one up.

    6. And I've just ordered a pack... thanks again, will post up results soon!

    7. Nice! I swear by 'em - be sure you let whatever paint you're going to draw on dry thoroughly, and then let the ink dry thoroughly as well before doing any sealing (some folks have expressed concerns with bleeding ink after sealing, but I personally haven't had any issues).

      I also use 'em for doing tiny fake writing on scrolls and parchment and the like, as well as blacklining the creases in armor plates and such (I used 'em between the yellow panels on the Eldar grav tanks, for example). Super useful addition to the painting arsenal!

      Looking forward to seeing how they work out for ya!

  4. My white boys get PP Ryn Flesh, followed by a wash of GW Ogryn Flesh.
    Then a watered down wash of GW Agrax Earthshade.
    Next highlight the brow, cheekbones, chin, bridge of nose and upper lip with PP Ryn Flesh in stages adding white to the mix to taste.

    Then it's eyebrows and eyes and so forth as you like.

    Not great, but my faces look okay I guess.

    1. I'm starting to see where I might be going wrong, not being as 'targeted' as you guys with the Elf Flesh stage, and also possibly requiring a bit more of a wash. That really accentuates the light, and makes it seem more natural. Looking at my picture I think the problem is it looks too flat.

  5. I've never painted more than one colour on faces of 28mm figures. They are too small; one coat of some flesh shade and call it done. I can't see any detail on the table when I'm stood up so who cares ?

    Possibly not exactly what you were seeking...

    1. Hmm... think I lost this comment in the warp. Was just going to add that there's always a place for rapid fire painting like this and you're right, the majority of the time you can't tell the difference from a distance.

  6. I'm with most of the lads - Not Zzzzzz though, his approach is a bit too minimalist for me ;-)

    I usually go with a Tallarn or other like colour flesh base, wash with Ogryn or Devlan (watered down in most cases and applied more than once if needed) in the recesses for definition and then rehighlight with the base colour, then highlight noses, chins, raised areas with base + bleached bone, and if I am really feeling it, more base + more bone - and then maybe another watered down wash to tie it back - if I washed with Ogryn originally then the final is devlan, and vice versa. The trick is knowing when not to wash.

    I find this method works well with most faces, though I had some horrible results with some Empire State Troopers whose faces were quite flat and it all ended up looking a bit crap - the above method is better where the face is quite detailed - Guardsman with lots of creases - ie the scowling Cadians - most Marines etc - so the wash/highlight approach adds value - flatter faces end up looking a tad meh.

    Looking at your picture, I think it is the elf flesh stage that may be tripping you over. It may have been applied too far over the original Tallarn base - try mixing Elf into Tallarn as a first highlight then edges with straight Elf - work towards three defined layers - Straight Elf tends towards that yellow brown tone after a wash in my experience.

    1. I've not tried watered-down, multiple-layered approach. I think you're right with the Elf Flesh stage, and about the 'flat face' thing, these Musketeer Miniatures are quite flat-faced which accentuates the flatness of my painting.

      @Everyone: Thankyou for all your tips guys, I think I have plenty to mish them all together and try something a bit new. As an overview I think the main things for me are more washes, more selective Elf-fleshing, and possibly some extra bitz like the Micron pen for eyes... sounds like a lot less time consuming! I might try painting something new and showing it, see what you all think of my newfound skillz.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts