Checking back on my figures

I was so inspired by Barack Obama’s speech last night… I went and worked on a model! Actually, it’s a 1:72 figure, but it qualifies as a model, since it has two parts. The figure is the same guy seen standing in the cockpit of Roger Fabriconi’s model seen here (although, I gotta say, Mort Magoffin never would have allowed his plane to look so beat up, nor would he have looked so casual at any time! The sleeves rolled up are NOT a Magoffin look!). The figure’s more a of a Pacific Theatre twin-engine kind of guy – Mae West, garrison hat, duffle bag – he’s going somewhere over water, he’s holding some maps, but he doesn’t have a helmet on. I’m not sure how I’ll use him, but he’ll come in handy somewhere.

Figures are fun – you get to mix your own paints, and the heads and faces are real tests of your perception. In 1:72, some of the hardest things to do are ears and hair – often, you have not much to work with and careful painting can achieve a “tromp l’oeil” effect and make the viewer think the figure has ears when really it has little humps or spur-like nodules on the head. What works well for this is to give the figure small sideburns; that defines the ear area and your brain fills in the details. On this guy, I also experimented with a couple of small dots of black from a rapidograph pen, followed by a light coat of skin tone, right in the ear to suggest the folds inside.

Rapidograph pens are great. I have .005 pens in black and red that help me cheat in small areas – a little red in a hollow below the nose or lips, a little black for pupils and eyebrows – and they are hugely useful. This figure has sunglasses, which I drew in with a black rapidograph. I’ll do the same for the gear on his Mae West now that the yellow is largely done (although I still need to hit some high spots). I use the black to draw “placards” in 1:72 cockpits and other minute details that would be too difficult to paint with a brush. I just wish they made a .005 silver pen – that would really come in handy.


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