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How? Just How? Realistic Face on Bust

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This is painted by Chris Clayton from Modelworks.

It's a Bust.

If anyone has a clue how to achieve this ( with a brush) this is the Holy Grail of painting a mini.

Just WOW!


I will now commit seppuku by falling on my brush after I drank all of my paintwater..






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The thing about looking at the real thing is that it encompasses so much more than just that statement. Being able to really _see_ something is at the heart of what sets apart the great artists. We al

even in the darkest shadows, its ok to have a few highlights- such as painting an edge on the jaw- this actually is generally a reflection from clothing, but if you look at photos, you'll often see pe

This is painted by Chris Clayton from Modelworks. It's a Bust. If anyone has a clue how to achieve this ( with a brush) this is the Holy Grail of painting a mini. Just WOW!  

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I’m sorry, this probably won’t be helpful.


It looks like the artist looked closely at real faces (not particularly Photoshopped or made up) and paid close attention to the way skin and light on skin looks.


The makeup is laid on top of that, but not in such a way as to obliterate the original texture of the skin (which is done too frequently in real makeup).


I can’t give better advice than look at real things and try to reproduce them visually.

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It's the one figure I'd give a leg to have painted:




Called "Hush" and in 1/6 scale. It won "Best in show" at Euromilitaire a few years back. Only a very limited number made, so its almost impossible to get hold of. Kiril Kanaev has also painted a very different version.

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I have seen Kiril Kanaev's version.

Also awesome.



Thank you both.


I do look at the real thing, especially when painting animals, I get reasonable results.

But this face is so lifelike.

Indeed lighting will help to create an even better illusion, but still.

The freckles, the skintone.

It's amazing.


I really hope that I can one day paint a bust with a face that looks realistic like this.


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I was about to post that link.  Its an excellent step-by-step.  you could easily do this same technique with a brush and very thin paint, it is done here with an airbrush no doubt because it is easier to get an even thin coat but also because that is what the artist is used to.  Note that the artist uses a lot of very transparent colors to build up the skin color, this is identical in approach to using successive glazes (very thin paint applied in very thin layers to slowly build up smooth blends), this is an effective though time consuming approach that many of the best miniature painters at the 28mm scale use.  If you can find it, Ben Komets uses this technique in the Painting Buddha dvds and Marike Reimer demonstrates it in some of her darksword DVDs.  If this is your goal, it is very achievable but will require a great deal of focused practice.


Also note that the scale makes some of this realism technically possible, this would not be possible at 28mm, in some ways large scale pieces are easier but they do require a greater attention to detail, more time and the larger scale magnifies your mistakes.

Edited by Dontfear
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31 minutes ago, Dontfear said:


Also note that the scale makes some of this realism technically possible, this would not be possible at 28mm, in some ways large scale pieces are easier but they do require a greater attention to detail, more time and the larger scale magnifies your mistakes.


 This right here is the big thing (pardon the pun) - a 1/6 bust is a huge canvas compared to a 28mm miniature, which means you can do a lot more with it. Stuff that wouldn't be visible on a regular 28-32mm figure.

Beyond that, it just comes down to studying enough reference pics to understand anatomy and how light reflects off skin, and long hours of very subtle work and blending.


I learned a lot about painting photo-realism from my digital image manipulation work - long before I got used to all the little bells and whistles and shortcuts of a computer program, I started out by "hand"-drawing elf ears on photographs of supermodels and art nudes, changing one pixel at a time.

Studying videos of digital artists who do photo-realistic work can be very helpful in understanding how to paint photo-realism by hand, since the underlying principles are identical and the techniques very similar even though the tools are different.



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Corporea teaches an amazing class on painting faces at ReaperCon.  This does not help those who can't go, but her approach can be summed up as this:  the underlying colors to the human face influence the color on the surface of the skin.  So fleshy areas will have more red from the blood coursing through and bony areas will have more yellow.  It's a very medical approach (as is appropriate from a medical professional) but it helped me think differently about how to paint faces.  


I also have a reference photo of my little girl at the pool that I find super helpful.  Her hair is under a bathing cap and it was a warm environment, so there are no visual distractions and her skin is naturally flushed.  It also helps that her eyelashes are super dark, so I know how far I can push red on the cheeks and lining eyes with it still looking natural.  Study people you know well and it will help create that picture in your mind when you're painting. 

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@Gadgetman! Thx, yes I have seen that and his other work, superb!


@CreganTur Thank you for this link!


@Dontfear @Mad Jack @LittleBluberry thank you, I love painting busts and large scale, I will never try this on a 28/32mm though.

I agree with your points and I love the suggestions and tips and hints.


I'm currently painting my 7th bust and will soon start my 8th.

4 busts are animals and anthros ( one is painted as my Brutus) 1 is a Vampire and the first one was a human ( female Barbarian with warpaint).

nr 7 is a Pirate Queen and after that I will paint a Dia de Muertos figure.


I do want this kind of realism some day.

There are some busts I have waiting where I would love to be able to do this.

I will practice and try.


Part of the fun, right?

But any hints and tips are welcome.

I'm grateful for what you people shared so far!


Thank you!

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@Wren thank you very much!


I just love to paint and have fun, but I would definitely want to paint something very lifelike one day.

My animals are coming pretty close, I painted a Boxer Dog Bust in the colours of our Pet Brutus, and everybody who knows him tells me it's a great likeness.


Human faces however are more difficult at larger scale, I'm enjoying each bust/large scale I paint.

I try new stuff every time.

This forum has helped me a lot already, when painting my Vampire Countess Karnstein Bust, I had people giving advice about hair, eyes and make up, it is still one of my favorite busts.


So I'm grateful for all the advice that is given here.



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