How to use mr surfacer 1000

Figure painting on a small scale ...


by Christian Jakl, Photos: Wolfram Bradac

First of all - this technique has nothing to do with real figure painting - in order to produce beautifully painted figures as we know them from the exhibitions, other techniques have to be used. Nevertheless, with one or the other trick we also come to a good result. Many aircraft modelers shy away from building a diorama because they are concerned about painting the figures. One thinks he doesn't have a steady hand and the other is convinced that his characters don't look realistic enough. In this post we will show you how figures can be easily painted and still look perfect with relatively little effort.


The posture of course depends on the position of the figure on the diorama. Once it has been assembled, puttied and sanded, you can start painting. On the surface of resin figures there is a slightly greasy film from production, this is painted into the mold in order to get the figure out of the mold better after the casting. To get rid of it, you only need to dip the figure briefly in nitro thinner or acetone. Caution: Do not immerse plastic figures in the liquid, otherwise the material will deform or loosen! In order to hold the figure well during the entire painting process, a small hole is drilled in a suitable place (shoe sole) and a copper wire is glued in. This handle not only makes work easier, but can also be used as a mounting pin for better fixation after the figure has been completed.


Priming is mainly used so that the paint adheres better to the surface, but priming with Gunze Mr. Surfacer 1000 also has a positive side effect: the light gray, matt surface makes the details of the figure more visible and makes painting easier. Various defects can also be discovered more easily, which otherwise often remain hidden on the shiny surface of the resin. The Gunze product is applied with an airbrush (thinning with Gunze thinner) and dries out completely after 15 minutes and can be sanded if there are mistakes.
Skin color:

In order not to lose contours through brushing, the skin color is applied with an airbrush. Unfortunately, all the skin colors of the paint manufacturers are far too clean, they are more like the color of pink pigs. That's why I darkened the Tamiya XF-15 Flesh with a little reddish brown. Here everyone has to determine the color according to their own judgment. In this working phase, only the basic color of the skin is applied, no lights and shadows yet.

Choice of colors:

If you have believed your own characters so far only because it was due to your own incompetence, you are wrong. The colors are the decisive reason or rather the color type. The best brush painting results are achieved with Andrea and Vallejo paints. Both manufacturers have provided perfect acrylic paints with extremely opaque results. Andrea colors dry out absolutely matt no matter how you apply them. If the application is too thick, Vallejo colors become a bit greasy and have a semi-matt sheen, but they have quite a few uniform colors in their range. Both color types can be combined and mixed with one another.

Basic colors:

The first step is to paint the large areas. The colors are neither diluted nor lightened. Areas on the figure that are given a different color are left out. It is important to work precisely and cleanly from the start, but various errors can easily be corrected.


In order to bring life into the textile, one has to work as with dry painting. This is where the advantages of the two color types come into their own. The basic color of the uniform is now mixed with white or light gray and lightened. Many materials are not required, a toothpick and a solid base. The degree of lightening depends on the darkness of the base color, but can be tried out on the figure without any problems.
Dry painting:

With a somewhat stronger, soft brush, paint is picked up and rubbed off the brush on a cloth. Until only a few color pigments remain on the brush. These are rubbed onto the raised structures of the figure with the flat brush. Be careful not to touch with your fingers afterwards, as the paint can still be rubbed off easily. If you have the time, you can let the colors on the figure harden overnight. If there is too much paint on the brush, it is noticeable by not very nice paint stains. However, they can be removed immediately with your finger.


Then all other areas of the figure are painted using the same principle. When it comes to brushes, money shouldn't be saved. High-quality brushes make painting the fine details much easier. Use lighter, pale tones for the color tones. Strong colors make the small figures appear too intrusive on the dioramas, e.g. use anthracite for black, dark yellow for yellow, etc. If you have a magnifying glass, you should not be afraid to use it for this work.

Oil paints:

Once the figure has been painted, the colors are left to harden for a while. Since some colors - especially enamel - are sensitive to thinners for oil colors, it could otherwise happen that the colors already applied are dissolved. In order to highlight the indentations in the figure, heavily diluted black oil paint is dabbed into the indentations and contours with a brush. The oil paint independently seeks its way into the contours. A brown shade (umber, sienna, gold ocher) is used for skin tones. When the process with the oil paint is finished, the figure is not touched for at least 2 hours. During this time, the oil paint will solidify and the figure can then be cleaned of unclean residues with a soft cloth. The oil paint then only remains where you cannot reach with the cloth. Finally, the entire figure is matted.

Finally, only the little things are painted. Buttons, badges, belt buckles, etc. For the face, I choose Andrea's very light skin color. This is used to paint the nose, ears and cheekbones dry in order to highlight the raised areas. Dots for the eyes can then be drawn with a black colored pencil. I wouldn't draw more in the face with this scale, because trying to paint eyes with white and black doesn't look very realistic.


By light and dark painting of individual structures of the figures, a three-dimensional illusion is created for the eye. Facial features can only be guessed at, but no exaggeration hurts the overall picture of the figure. Matting helps to reinforce the effect. The figure is present on the diorama, but merges with the background and does not seem intrusive.
 About the author   

Christian Jakl

  Born in Vienna in 1971, I now live in the middle of the mountains of Tyrol. I work in marketing and I deal with graphic design and layout. About ships, automobiles and jets in my youth I ended up with the aircraft models, with a focus on the German and Soviet air forces. My favorite thing to do is build dioramas in 1:48, because I can make a lot of things myself and let my imagination run wild. Trying out new techniques and ways of combining kits with other products and working on them with different tools is my task - there is always something to learn.

It is not important to me whether one or the other detail is in the right place, the end result has to be right. If someone stands in front of one of my models and is enthusiastic, then I've done the job well. The only problem, and I probably won't be alone, is the time factor. I wish everyone a lot of fun with this site and would be happy to receive all kinds of reviews.
 E-mail: [email protected]   
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was last modified on: 11/27/2005
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