Painting Resin Heads

There is a version of this tutorial on SAG, OSW and OSS, the 1/6th Forums.

1) Preparation:

Start by carefully scraping off any mould lines. To fit the head to the body , see the other tips section.

Wash carefully with a toothbrush and washing-up liquid, and leave to dry. This is to degrease the surface : you can use surgical spirit instead. Mount the head on something suitable to hold while painting it. I use a three- inch length of ½” dowel mounted in a block of wood, with a blob of office tack, but anything that holds the head secure will do. 

Paints: I use Acrylics, but oils and enamels are also suitable if you prefer them. Liquitex is very suitable : Taupe, Portrait Pink, Burnt Siena, and Raw Siena are the most useful colours for a European skin tone. These latter two are very strong pigments, so add very sparingly to the Taupe, which is the basis of the tone. Here are some useful paints: 

You will need a large brush for applying the skin tone, a medium brush for the hair, and a very fine brush for the eyes.

The basis of my recommended technique is to apply very thin washes of skin tone, which is thickened by using the

Matt Medium you see above. This allows the base colour of the head to show through , creating a realistic waxwork effect.

If you just dilute the paint with water, it runs off the face causing streaks. If you use the Medium , it thickens the wash

whilst containing very little colour.

Start by filling in the whites of the eyes with matt white :

Then choose the hair colour, paint the hair carefully, and then using the medium , make a very faint mix to fill in the beard.

The resin heads have the beard carefully stippled into the casting , and should fill neatly with the colour. Less is more, don't

overdo it:~

Then I apply the first wash of skin tone , with Taupe as the main colour ( it's a neutral colour, neither too red not too yellow ),

with a touch of Burnt Siena and Raw Siena in the Medium , applied with the large brush:~

Move it around freely to avoid streaks , and keep brushing to create an even tone. This should dry in about ten minutes.

 Now you can strengthen it with a second wash :~

At this point you can add the shape of the iris in black. The positioning of this is crucial to the finished expression.

For a calm expression , the upper lid should cover the top quarter of the iris .

These sketches show the different effect of the positioning of the iris and pupil :

This is a subtle business, but bear it in mind , since it strongly affects the end result. Many people find it helpful to sketch in the pupil position using a very sharp pencil before adding paint.

To finish the skin tone , I use some subtle accenting with carmine , for which I use the Vallejo Tansparent red, muted with a little raw Siena. Add to the lips, the height of the cheekbones , and very finely around the edges of the eyelids:~

Now the difficult bit, the irises and pupils : for this there is no escaping the point that you need a brush with a very fine, controllable  point , and a steady hand. Add the chosen eye colour forming a circle just within the black you have already painted. You can lighten the centre a little , and if you can see to do it  add the little radiating veins:~

Finally , using gloss black , add the pupils. Refer to the eye sketches above to get the position right : for Normal expression , the black of the pupil should just touch the upper lid:~

Apply the gloss black several times to build it into a little raised dome in the centre of the eye.

When you are happy, gloss the whole eye surface with a layer or two of clear gloss varnish.

There are many other techniques for painting heads : oils, pastels etc. It's up to you, but this is the procedure I use.

There is no substitute for practice when it comes to painting : I highly recommend that , if you are a beginner, you practice on some unwanted vinyl heads before launching yourself on an expensive head. I can show you the procedure and what materials I recommend, but the skill you have to acquire yourself.