Rommel Review, PART II
by Rick Brownlee
Hopefully, most of you were able to read part I of the Tamiya figure, Rommel Review. In it, I talked of the early stages of construction and painting of the figure, plus some text about the thinking that went into the base, platform, section of the damaged building, etc.
Picture #1: This picture shows the finished project. However, before gluing down the platform and wooden boxes, I added very fine sand mixed with water and white glue to the ground layer and on the piles of rocks under the platform and around the back and side masonry walls. Then I used white bond paper painted a dull greenish color (the undersides of the plant life were painted a duller and darker greenish color) with tube acrylics. Paper is easy to glue in and easy to bend. The boxes were made of bass wood strips and given two coats of flat varnish to seal the wood. Then I used tube oil paints to paint the boxes to show a weathered looking surface area. The rolled up map in Rommel's right hand was made from white bond paper, also. I painted it with tube acrylics and put in topographical elevation lines with very sharply pointed Prismacolor pencils. Prismacolor pencils are expensive. But for me, they last a very long time and are the best made. I have some of them, rather short little guys now, that are over 35 years old.
The lens areas of the binoculars were drilled out, the holes were painted black and later filled with five minute epoxy glue. When dry the epoxy glue looks like a shiny glass lens. I tried it once to make a watering hole in a scene. It was great as to being clear and looking like a pond. Several months later it showed a yellow tint to it. So use liquid resin for that. We learn by doing. Right?
I then sprayed the lower part of the scene with a light dusting of Model Master light gray. I did the same for the lower part of the masonry walls. I'll discuss the Pour Le Merite, the Union Jack and the brushes I use after explaining how I painted the figure.
I use a flat white enamel in a spray can to cover the figure before I start painting with either tube acrylics or tube oil paints. I'm not sure this is necessary. But the white surface helps me to mix the colors more correctly as to shade and tone I want. I use a rectangle piece of auto safety glass for a palette. I tape a piece of white paper to the back of it. I squeeze amounts of the colors I will need on to the palette and mix the colors with a palette knife artists use or sometimes I mix colors with the brush itself. Then I apply the paint to the figure making all the strokes go in the same direction. This laying in the base coat with tube acrylic doesn't have to be perfect in what shade or color you apply. Because you're going to paint over the acrylics with the tube oil paints later. I just put in the colors with no regard to shadows or highlight area. I'll do that with the oils.
A word here about flesh tones. Tricky subject. Modelers all have their own ideas about what flesh should look like. We'll leave a 5 day growth of whiskers or the effects of sun on the face out of the equation in this review. I make flesh tone with a dab of red, a dab of yellow, a dab of burnt sienna and a lot of white. I usually paint the face first. When I get that right, everything else seems to go better. A word about eyeballs. In the larger 120mm busts for example, the eyes are bigger than just a dot, of course. So the figure painter has to draw in the eyeball in a circular shape. Go look in a mirror at your eyes. Do you notice that only the lower half of the iris sticks out below the eyelid? So if we think of the iris as a circle we're only painting a little more that half of a circle on to the eyeball.
Picture #2: This shows the completed figure after I've applied the tube acrylics and the tube oil paints. Until about one and a half years ago I didn't use oils on top of the acrylics although I know that Bill Horan, the famous figure painter does it that way. Horan has wonderful books on painting and scratch-building figures. A real master of painting and composition. How he sets up the elements in relation to one another, is masterful.
Oil paints are expensive but you can start with just five tubes; the primary colors, black and white. So with red, blue and yellow (the primary colors) you can make every color you would want using the principles of the color wheel; i.e. blue and yellow make green, red and blue make violet, etc. I started with these five colors and added other colors over a period of time so the initial cost wasn't so much.
Picture #3: shows a close up and you can see the ripped and torn Union Jack hanging in the arch. My idea was to indicate the area had been British held territory. Also, the red in the flag compliments the red in Erwin's rank on his epaulettes and lapels, as I said in Part I.
Some time back, when I used tube acrylics only it was so much harder to blend colors such as from a darker green in the shadow areas/folds of Rommel's pants to the lighter green areas at the top of the fold next to the shadow areas. It was very hard to blend the two tones, from the dark green to the light green. For one reason, the acrylics dry very fast. That acrylics dry fast can be a good thing. But with blending, the fast drying paint makes blending more difficult. Once I started painting over the acrylic base coat with tube oil paints the blending part became so much easier because the oil paints dry so much slower. On the figure the oil colors mix together so much better. You'll notice that with oils, generally, the darker the color the faster it dries, The lighter the color the slower it dries. Light flesh tones can take several days to dry, for example. I should mention here that I do not use turpenoid or turpentine as a thinner or as a clean up agent with my oil paints. I use mineral spirits. In college we used turpentine but now I know that mineral spirits works just as well and you don't have that pungent odor associated with turpentine.
Picture # 4: This picture show the finished project from a slightly different angle. You can also see several close images in the first part of this review. In part one I said I didn't consider myself a good figure painter, and I mean that. But I believe if I keep doing them I will improve. Plus I intend to go to competitions and see the really fine figure painters work. I put the chain of Rommel's Pour Le Merite just to his left slightly to be a little more candid. The chain was stretched sprue painted in bands of the blue used in the blue of the medal and silver; just for a little more color in a very subtle way.
Now to the Union Jack. I have an atlas w/ all the flags of the world in it. I looked at it and drew the Union Jack in my Macromedia Freehand drawing program. (I freelance for history magazines using a Macintosh) I used a 30 percent black (light gray, in other words) to draw the lines. I printed two of the finished flags on white laser paper. Then I coated each one with Hyplar gloss medium. It dries clear and gives some thickness to the paper. After that dried, I glued the two sides together with rubber cement. I now had the same design on both sides.
Using a ruler and a brush I drew in the correct colors of red and deep blue to make the flag. The white of the paper was the white of the flag. I won't explain how an artist uses a ruler held in their opposite hand at an angle with the top edges of the ruler supporting the movement of the brush in your drawing hand along the top edge of the ruler while the bottom edge of the ruler is resting on the paper. I do this to make very straight lines with the brush. That is a whole article in itself.
After the flag was painted I sprayed a mixture of 3 part mineral spirits and 2 part flat varnish over the flag to seal the colors. Then I used oil washes to weather it and give it a look of being burnt. I cut the edges and rips with scissors. The flag was hung using thin brass rods curved into loops to poke through the holes drilled in the flag. The holes were reinforced with plastic tubing pieces.
If any of you remember the 1/48th Hobbycraft Polikarpov I-16 Rata review I wrote in two parts, you may remember that I spoke about Windsor Newton Series 7 pure red sable brushes. These are the finest brushes made in the world. The series 7 top of the line for W-N has a black handle. None of W-N's other lines of brushes have black handles. These brushes are very expensive. A double or triple zero brush will last a few years if you use it a lot and keep it clean, washing the brush in hand soap each evening to get the paint and thinner out. A number 3, 4, 5 or bigger will last for 30 or 40 years. Until you have bit the bullet and tried one of these brushes you won't realize how necessary this Windsor Newton brand is to a figure painter or any type of modeler, for that matter. Oh, by the way, I have no connection with the line of Windsor Newton art supplies; a British company.
I hope you'll try this very nice
figure. Quite inexpensive for the quality of the sculpting. By price comparison,
sculpted resin figures start at $50 and go up to several hundreds. Hopefully,
you'll find that figures are fun. Good luck.
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