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Discussion Starter #1
Okay, guys, I've been advised on using oils before by some of the best (like Steve Riojas), but I was in a building slump and didn't follow up. Now I'm preparing to do the face on Captain America, and more beyond that.

Anyone who has used oils long enough to know them well, please tell us the rules, the pointers, the tricks...all of it. What do I need to know, what's compatible and not compatible re: base coats with other paints/primers, later drybrushing with acryls, finishing coats (Testor's Dullcote & Glosscote, Future, etc.), decal setting solutions, anything.

I tend to use enamels for fleshtones and base coats, and always use acrylics for drybrushing. I know not to use oils with an airbrush, that's no problem. Most of my stuff is hand brushed anyway.
 

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I always use oils on large figure kits. Something about oils just looks more realistic and life-like than other paints.

One thing to always remember is that time is your friend with oils. There is no need to rush the coats, shading, and highlighting because the color you mixed is about to dry up. Oils take a decent amount of time to dry...but that in mind, make sure you're painting in a clean, dust and hair free environment.

If it's a vinyl kit I'm working on, I'll put a white acrylic base coat over the whole model. If it's plastic or resin, I'll spray it with a white primer (the smoother the finish, the better).

Now, when I begin painting with oils, I choose my base color, which is usually straight from the tube. I dunk my brush in turpentine and work a little of it into my paint. This will slightly speed up the drying time (as you're thinning the oils), but will still give you a few hours to work with it. After the base color is applied and while the paint is still wet, all the shading and highlighting is done. I start with the shading.

Using a darker version of my base color (i find it best to actually use a true darker color as opposed to just adding some black to my base color), work your brush into the folds, creases, deep areas, etc of your kit in a dabbing motion. It's best to use an older and blunt brush for this. Try to alway dab the brush, never actually brush it across the kit. You'll get a much more smoothly blended color. If it's looking too blotchy, moisten the paint with a bit more turpentine. After your shading is done, do the same thing with the highlights. Use a nearly white shade of your base color and dab it onto all your raised areas. Dry brushing doesn't work too well with oils. It' mush too thick a paint. You're essentially painting an image onto a canvas that just happens to be shaped like the object you're painting. :)

Another neat trick: If you're doing a figure kit that requires a five o'clock shadow on its face, dip your brush into a dark forrest green, and wipe as much of it off on a napkin/towel as possible, then dab it on the appropriatte places. For arm hair, use a REALLY worn out tooth brush with Burnt Umber paint and very lightly brush it across the arms.

As for your final sealing coat, I find that a satin finish looks most realistic, but flat can look good in some instances as well. Needless to say, hit the whole thing with gloss or future first if decals need to be applied, then spray it with the satin/flat. And then any areas that should remain glossy (like eyes or the insides of mouths, etc) brush in bottled gloss coat.

Those are the basic tips and tricks I can think of off the top of my head. What project were you thinking of using oils on? Perhaps I can come up with some other ideas.

Summary: Think of oils as clay. You keep shaping clay until you have the shape you want, with oils, work on adjusting the color as you paint until it looks right (if you royaly screw up, you can wipe it off).
 

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Here's what I've learned over the years: I find oil paints very forgiving and flexible medium to use. There's minimal equipment involved: a range of oil paints, boiled linseed oil, paint thinner, and a range of brushes. A plate of glass or white plastic can serve as a palette. You might want a small palette knife to mix paints, but for the small quantities needed for painting models, I find mixing with the brushes easier. Keep a small container of the linseed oil and a small container of thinner for mixing paints and cleaning your brushes and a pile of towels for clean-ups and away you go! You can prime your models with most easily available primers, I like Dupli-Color's sandable auto primer. The oil paints can be somewhat transluscent so the colors will be affected by the primer color. There aren't too many rules per se, except the the fat over lean rule. That is, your initial application of paint should be more thinned than your later applications of paint. More thinner and less oil to start, more oil and less thinner at the end, this is so the paint dries more evenly. If the top layer dries too far ahead of the underlying layers, the top layers may break up. It's just a rule that's general to oil painting. I've found that if I keep the layers thin enough, the fat over thin rule doesn't have much of an effect. To get a matte finish, I'll just use thinner without the linseed oil. The oil helps give the paint a nice transluscency and extends the drying time giving yoyu more room to mess with the paint--blending effects, wiping, etc. but tends to leave a glossy finish. Also, I find you need to give the painted piece a long time to fully set up before applying a top varnish--sometimes as long as a year is recommended. So I try to get the finish as close to what I want with the painting.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks, Cloud and Iggy! I've read about guys using oils used over other paints (oils used for toning and highlighting for their translucency), what do I need to know for that? Which paints are compatible, is a barrier coat of sealer needed?

The only project I have ready to go is just a small little spot, the face on Captain America. There are some others I may have done in the next few months, including the Three Stooges - the Stooges I want to do in black and white. Since they are a larger scale, I was thinking I wanted to try something lke oils for more delicate, smoother blending. I might try doing the snake from the Land of the Giants diorama in oils, or at least the mouth. Mostly, I was just thinking faces to begin with, and any large smooth surfaces that I wouldn't be using drybrushing for. Rat Fink is being done for someone else, oils would be perfect for that but I can't give it that long to completely cure before I give it a finish/sealer!

I've gotten good over the years at drybrushing and sponging, and want to keep using enamels and acryls for that purpose...you know, not leap entirely into oils but add it to the repertoire in spots where they'd be better than other paints.
 

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oil paints

soem other tips about oil paint.
1. They are gonna last you several years if not the rest of yur modeling life so BUY THE BEST.
2. USE very little paint to start with. One of the major mistakes people new to oils is that they smear on a glob of paint. Star on your pallette with something no bigger than pea.
3. Oils need something to 'bite' into on a figure so ALWAYS have an undercoat. it can be primer or acrylic or even enamel. The benefit of acrylic is that many oils are fairly transparent and the preshading that you get with a acrylic undercoat really helps. Dry Acrylics also have NO reaction to the thinner that you use to clean your brush and sometme help blend color with. It also severs as a basic guide when applying shadows and highlights.
4. Its usually a HUGE mistake to try and paint eyes in oils, they blend just to damn easy, do your eyes in acrylic.
5. Yes they do give you a really nice long working time, but if you are DONE, you can hit them with a coat of Testors flat, which will seal them, and the coat will also just ever so slightly blend the edges a little more which is nice, and it will dry really fast especially with a small hairdryer hitting it. You can apply further coats over the top later of you want.
6. Use THE BEST brushes that you can, oil really reacts differently blending wise to bad brushes, so stick with top quality, it's Much less heartache.
7. The blending ability of oils cannot be approached with acrylics on any scale larger than 54mm.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
More good advice, very much appeciated! I've always used enamels for blending, though I've been able get the same look soemtimes more smoothly with light applications of acryls over dry base colors on some kits for highlights and shades...it's not easy, and though it can be done smoothly (the blues on my Spider-Man are the best example), it's easy to leave an unwanted mark or blob, or apply too heavily...and when I do, it can't be cleaned without screwing up the whole job. I prefer actual blending with enamels for the working time but I'm usually not satisfied with the result once it's dried. That's the main reason I want to try oils.
 

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dreamer,

Here's my two cents' worth:

As DEWBERRY 1964 said, buy the best you can, and use them sparingly. You will be amazed at how long a way a little of these paints go. I agree with him that an undercoat is a good first step. However, I have found that even dry acrylics can be affected by oil-based thinners. Just use caution and you should be okay.

I don't use linseed oil like Ignatz does, just mineral spirits to thin the oils if needed, and to clean my brushes. Although he is careful about the fat over lean rule, I have never applied the paints so heavily that it's seemed necessary to observe the rule. His remarks about the tools you'll need to use with the oils are spot-on.

Seems like most everyone who's posted so far are working with a wet-on-wet technique. That is, they brush their various hues while the paints are all wet. That can be done, and yields very smooth transitions, but it also requires a lot of practice to get the best results. When I first started using artists oils I used the wet-on-dry technique.

This involves the application of wet paint to a dry surface. Like Cloudwalker I like to work from dark to light. I spray on a base coat of Testors flat oil-based paint which is close to the overall hue I want the flesh to be. This base coat is allowed to dry throroughly.

Then I mix up my shadow color in oils and lightly brush it into all the crevices and hollows on the skin surfaces. These areas include the inside corners of the eyes, ears, under the jaw, between the knucles of the hands, etc. I apply the paint enough to get the darkness I want but no more - there are no ridges of solid paint anywhere, just a heavy stain effect. I feather the edges out onto the base coat but try to keep the shadows fairly well isolated so that much of the base color still shows through.

Once the shadows have been laid down, I'll add a little red to the shadow color and go over areas like the tip of the nose, ears, cheeks, knuckles, etc. This adds that ruddy appearance that these features commonly have. I've even done it - lightly - with the predominently green Frankenstein's Monster, to make him look 'alive'. I'll add some blue to the mix and pick out any veins on the back of the hands, then add a touch of green and block in a heavy beard growth at the same time (you can get pretty bold with that beard growth - look at Sean Connery in Goldfinger. The surrounding flesh was an orange tone but his beard looked positively blue, even when he was clean-shaven).

Finally I paint in the ear canals, nostrils, and if necessary any cracks between the fingers with straight black. The black paint gives these features the depth they need to give a convincing appearance, especially on a shallowly-cast styrene model. Be careful not to let the black creep into your shadow areas or it will make the skin look dirty. I allow this first application to dry overnight, which it can because it's so thin.

Once the shadows are dry, I'll lighten the leftover color (which I keep from drying out by covering my palette with a piece of Saran wrap), then drybrush it over the flesh. Here's where oil paints really make the difference: you can brush the lighter color onto the shadows just enough to keep them from looking too dark and "painted", yet do so without obliterating the underlying work. That's one of the properties of oils that allows flesh tones to look so real, because real flesh tones are composed of many layers of colors. For this reason I also reiterate the reds, blues, and greens with lightened versions.

One word of caution. On occasion, I'll be drybrushing my heart out, only to see the paint getting lighter where I'm working, not darker. What's happened is, I've abraded the underlying paint so much with my brush that I've worn down to the lighter Testors base color. I've learned to resist the urge to keep slapping on a heavy coat of the darker colors to try and fix the problem. Instead I stop, let the piece dry, then build up the color layer by layer, as I had originally applied it. Sometimes it only takes an hour or two for these smaller applications to set up enought to proceed until I've gotten to problem area fixed. This can be a pain, but it teaches that patience is a virtue.

This second application is allowed to dry, then I lighten whatever was leftover and repeat the process. As I get to the lightest highlights, I cover less area, until I'm only hitting the center of the forehaed, the tips of the cheekbones, etc. When the last layer of paint has dried, I'll give it an overcoat of any clear finish that seems appropriate, from flat to glossy (for an oily or sweaty sheen). Satin is probably best for normal flesh.

That's the quick version. This thread could go on for pages and pages if everybody decides to weigh in with artists oils tips, and there'd probably be little repetition. But just jumping it will be the very best way for you to learn how to use these paints.

Mark McG.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks, Mark! I've just printed out the thread so far. This Fall I'll be doing a Neanderthal Man kit that should be the perfect testing ground for oils - on the figure, anyway, the base will be my usual routine. If all goes well, the Three Stooges after that are perfect for oils in black and white. At their larger scale, I want blends as smooth as possible.
 
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Thinning Oil Paints

Here's a little trick I learned about 30 years ago: use a 50-50 mix of odorless thinner (Mineral spirits, Grumtine or Permtine) and artists' quality linseed oil. Straight mineral spirits (or any thinner, for that matter) causes the oil paint to dry too quickly resulting in a finish that rivals corduroy for smoothness. Straight linseed oil produces a very smooth finish but takes forever and a day to dry. The mixture detailed above gives you the best of both worlds. The finish dries smooth and, with the exception of some light colors (notably white and mixtures of light colors with white) dries rather quickly (usually within a day or two.) Before anyone asks, turpentine is a good thinner for the mix but tends to gum up paint brushes. If you spend a lot of money for brushes, you really don't want to ruin them by using turpentine.

Stan
"When I have some money, I buy plastic models. Anything left goes for food and clothing."
 

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Shepherd Paine's book on building and painting scale figures has a lot of advice on this, and I think has been recently reissued. If it is not easily available, try www.bookfinder.com . I can't overstress how great this book is!
 

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Thanks, Py and Guy! I bought some oils a few weeks ago with some stuff called "Turpenoid" just to practice with, but I do wnat to take my time and use the best stuff when it comes down to actullay applying paint to kit.

Shep Paine, "How to Build Dioramas". Is that the one? I read the other thread about his "inserts", those weren't part of my kit experience in childhood so am unfamiliar with him, but I can see he's a legend. This is good, I'd like to move into doing dioramas beyond the aurora kits.
 

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"Ideally, my dear, the one does not exclude the other". - W. C. Fields

dreamer said:
This is good, I'd like to move into doing dioramas beyond the aurora kits.
Why "move beyond", young-fella-me-lad? Why not use your Aurora figures IN dioramas? I've been chipping away (for way too long) at a "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man" vignette, where I replaced the Monster's head and hands with the Aurora Dracula parts, to render the Lugosi Monster. He's facing the Polar Lights Wolf Man, however.

BTW, "Turpenoid" is reputedly good stuff. I understand it's Grumbacher's answer to turpentine. How to Build Dioramas is the only work by Shep Paine that I know of with a discussion of painting figures. But it's got lots of great information about dios.
 

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No, not his diorama book, his one on building and painting scale figures. Called, "Building and Painting Scale Figures". The ISBN is 0-89024-069-8 . The problem you are having in tracking it down is probably there are so many ways to spell his first name; I'll bet I myself got it wrong. Put the title and "paine" in a google search, I found a copy at lastsquare.com for example.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Roger that. I'll looks for it.

Mark, one thing at a time! I'll get there eventually! :lol: Cool idea, that "Meets" dio.

The sooner you fall behind, the more time you have to catch up.
 

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Great article Mark, very impressive work on the figures.

This is a bit OT but it does regard painting. If you haven't seen this site, http://www.acrylicosvallejo.com/, check it out. Click on the English flag then in the drop down box select Model color. At the bottom of the page are the painting articles. Very good stuff. I have gleened a few useful tips about shading and highlighting from this article.

Model on!!!

RK
 

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I thought I'd bump this to the top. There is really good info that some of the new people might not have seen.

Model on! :roll:

RK
 

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Glad you did Roy, good read for a late Friday night's perusal.
 

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Thanks Roy. This is a great thread. I have always prefered to use oil on canvas vs acrylic on canvas. There is WAY more time to play with the paint and the colors do not dull NEARLY as much with time. My favorite medium turned out to be a combination of 1/3 stand oil, 1/3 turpentine and 1/3 damar varnish. Linseed oil has a tendency to yellow your oil painting over the years. I phased acrylics out all together after doing my first oil painting. I don't even like using it for underpainting. 2 coats of gesso did the trick for me. I never even thought that using oils on plastic was a possibility until seeing this thread this morning. This makes me feel real good about painting some future kits as my oil painting skills far exceed my acrylic/enamel painting skills. Thanks for the revival!
 
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