Hands and Faces

The Humbrol colours used in this section were:
H61: Flesh
H34: Matt White
H133: Brown
H100: Red Brown
H33: Matt Black

Step 2, when painting the Hinton Spieler way, is always to paint the flesh tones. There are two main reasons for this: it is a general principle that one should paint figures "from the inside out"; and because it immediately lends a bit of personality to the figures. What were dull and lifeless lumps of metal suddenly start to look like little men. The effect is almost magical and is made all the more pleasing by the fact that it's very quick and easy to do.

My method is a follows:

Step 2.1: apply H61 Flesh on the hands and faces, and allow to dry. I'm deliberately messy when doing this. The aim is to make sure that every nook and cranny is covered and  that no little areas of white are left behind in the areas where skin, helmets, equipment and uniforms will eventually meet.

Fig 4: the basic H61 application

Drying times can vary a bit, but I usually find that after I've painted the last of the dozen figures I normally paint as a batch, the first figure is ready for the next step.

Step 2.2: wash with a thinned mixture of H133 Brown and H100 Red Brown. I tend to favour Red Brown more than Brown in this mixture. The mixture is thinned with turps with the aim of getting something that will flow into all of the creases and crevices and remain there. If it's too thin the colour won't have enough contrast with the original skin tone; and if its too thick it'll cover over the flesh tone completely, which defeats the purpose. Leave to dry.

Fig.5: after applying a wash of H133/H100

Step 2.3: dry brush with H61 Flesh.

Step 2.4: dry brush with a mixture of H61 Flesh and H34 Matt White.

For dry brushing I generally use the same old and thoroughly knackered brush, if the matted clump of old paint and brush hairs that it is can be described as a brush that is. The technique here is simply to dip the dry brush into the paint and then scrape as much of the pigment as possible off it again. A piece of soft cotton T-shirt material is perfect for this purpose.

For Step 2.4 I add as much white to the flesh colour as I dare, and then a bit more for good measure, in order to get the highest possible contrast with the flesh and flesh-wash tones that have gone before it. As a general rule, if the colour mixture you end up with on the palette looks much, much too bright, you've probably got it about right. The dry brushing itself takes just a few seconds per figure.

Fig 6: after dry brushing with H61 and then again with H61/H34
Step 2.5: paint every area where the skin tones meet the rest of the figure, black.

I didn't use this technique when I started out on this project, which is a shame because it's a good way of achieving a really sharp contrast and a suggestion of shadow between the skin tones and the rest of the figure. Another advantage is that where the skin stops and the clothing begins becomes a lot clearer during the later painting steps.

Fig 7: after applying H33 to the areas where skin tones meet the rest of the figure,

Figure 7 shows the final effect. The main aim was to paint his hair, moustache, chin strap, throat, the top part of his neck and the dividing line between his face and his headdress. The point of painting the neck and throat, of course, is so that it will look as if he's wearing a neck stock and/or has a bit of shadow under his collar once I've painted the rest of his uniform. I painted his cuffs and his musket black for similar reasons.

The really important thing at this point is to achieve black edges which are as sharp and even as possible. I do this by:
  • using my sharpest and pointiest brush; and
  • spending a little time on mixing and, if necessary, thinning my H33 Matt Black so that the paint flows smoothly. Humbrols being Humbrols, however, it's often necessary to do this quite frequently - i.e., after every two or three figures.


  1. It looks even scarier in close up. I'm impressed by the number of steps you go through; three just to do the flesh. Now awaiting the white belts with interest as I can never get my humbrol white to cover black with one coat so curious to find out how many you use.

    1. It's not nearly as involved as it looks, Rob. What takes all the time is waiting for everything to dry. The only way to get round this is to have several things on the go at once so that there's always something to work on.

      The secret of the white belts will follow as soon as I can find the time to write up the next couple of sections!

    2. The rough casting does really look piratical. Those are the bubbles that you tend to get with drop-casting, whereas rotary casting pushes the air out of the mould. However, before our very eyes you are transforming the miniature man into a masterpiece. It does highlight your patience and artistic vision.

    3. You're far too kind, LG!

      There's no doubt whatsoever about his piratical origins - you should've seen the weird, bubbly lumps I had to cut off him! Once this was done, however, he was really no worse than many of the DKs I've painted. My approach is to paint them in exactly the same way as I'd paint a top-notch, vintage Hinton Hunt. There really only has to be the faintest trace of relief detail for drybrushing to work, and even on HHs its not unusual to have to paint in the missing stuff.

    4. I have always started with the flesh myself, however I have not tried the black outlining of the flesh. I may have to give that a go next time (on a white primed figure).

    5. It's a little time-consuming, but worth the effort I think CN!

    6. Finding where the face ends and the hair begins is a little tricky at times.