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A Quick Guide To Painting Faces On Miniatures

If you’re new to painting miniatures, there is no task more intimidating than the detail work. And from the detail work, there is nothing more intimidating than painting the heads and faces. The final touches that bring your miniatures from just a hunk of material on table, to a real character. Well fret not, as I come to you with a relatively quick, easy method that works on a variety of chosen colors for skin tones and helps the detailed recesses pop.

#1—Assemble, prime, and base coat your miniature. It’s important to have your base established for the entirety of the mini.

#2—Thin down a tone of paint to use for your mini’s skin tone (I prefer Army Painters’ Barbarian Flesh). It should be thin enough that it almost looks like colored water.

#3—Light apply a thin layer, and allow to dry.

#4—Repeat step 3 several times until you can no longer see the basecoat underneath. Recessed details should remain visible and not clogged if your paint was thinned properly.

#5—After letting your mini stand for a few hours, it’s time to apply recess shading. For this example I am using The Army Painter’s Flesh Tone wash with a small brush, lightly going over the face and trying to get it into the details such as creases, wrinkles, between lips and where the eyes would be.

There you have it! When it’s dried, it should look something like this. As you can see (even with the slight blur of the picture) the flesh tone wash has not only given the flesh tone paint a more human-like appearance, but has also sunken into the recesses so that direct light the details of the miniature really pop. I left a small bit of flesh tone paint on the character’s beard and left it untouched by the wash so you can see a direct comparison.

Many professional painters will go as far as to paint the eyes as well, but for the moderate and novice painter, the details of the eyes are brought out enough just with the recess shading that you won’t want to risk blotching a good paint job attempting that level of detail.


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  1. Chemical-mix on July 8, 2019 at 7:28 pm said

    Nice tips. In my younger days, painting Warhammer, Blood Bowl and Necromunda figures, i’d always make the mistake ofplastering on the paint then trying to spread it after it was on.
    But once i’d learned to thin it right down and apply multiple very thin coats, my models looked far better. Add a flesh wash and some ink for the eyes and shadowing, and it takes it to the next level.

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