August 23, 2017

TRENCH RUNNER REVIEW: Flesh & Skin Techniques To Paint All Types Of Flesh In Miniatures from AK Interactive

All the way from San Paolo Brazil, Trench Runner Julian Conde takes a look at the latest book in the AK Interactive Learning Series- Flesh & Skin Techniques To Paint All Types Of Flesh In Miniatures (ref. AKI-241)

I am a lover of books and reference material. I have a lot of free time on flights when I'm working at my real job and love to read modeling related books. I think we in the model building business (or hobby) are 90% of the time recreating a actual piece of history. Be that in a figure, car, plane or tank. We are trying to replicate reality in scale. For that we need to know what color a uniform was, a car, a plane, a seat belt, a bullet! If we are not making 1946’s Panzers or fantasy subjects, we need to research the subject. And to learn we also need reference. I love learning new techniques, but to do it we need good reference. This new AK Learning Series Book about Flesh & Skin painting is a promising reference for us, the figure guys (i.e. the weirdos…)

First thing we notice, and talking about the book itself, is that is quite small in size, but it’s the same size as others in the series, except it has more pages and content. This is a good thing so we can have it on our bench all the time without taking too much space. The printing of the cover is extremely well done and catches the eye right away...


Let’s compare to the other AK Learning Series books...

Here you can see it’s a bigger book inside...

To make a good book comparison, I will place it next to 2 books I really love and go to all the time for reference on figure painting. The “Color Mixing Recipes for Portraits” by William Powell and the “Paint Guide For Figures of World War II” by Joaquín Garcia Gázquez. The first one is a book from by an portrait artist and it gives you a deep insight on painting faces, be it on sculptures or actual canvas. It gives us a good look into the particulars of skin tones, eyes and effects. The second one is focused on military WW2 figures, mainly 1/35th scale, in my opinion the hardest scale to make a convincing skin, eyes and flesh tones, so this book focus on the small guys...

Still looking at the size of the books and not actual contents, I see the Flesh & Skin book has almost the same number of pages as the Paint Guide For Figures and this book is about painting the whole figure, uniform, assembly, accessories, etc. So this AK book appears quite extensive on just the subject we want, Flesh & Skin!...

To go off on a side track...One feature I love about the Color Mixing Recipes book is that was made to use on a workbench or easel. It’s assembled with a spiral hinge, like school books so it lays flat on the table. The AK series and many others take another way of printing the book, so we must make some adaptations to secure the pages open, many times forcing the pages to stay put. This is a great addition to any book that is going to be used as as reference while we are working on our models. here in Brazil many instruction books for mechanics are spiral bound so it can be easy to turn a page on one hand, like us modelers... we are always with a figure in hand, or brush, etc. This is some great addition for any book and I can only dream that  publishers of modeling reference adapt this style to make a perfect bench book.

Let me illustrate the difference. I am holding a page of the AK book open...

Now, after pressing the page flat and releasing, it stays like this but begins to close by itself...

Now, the Color Mixing book...this affects the structure and manufacturing of the book, I know, but since it’s made for modelers and we are always on the bench working with our miniatures, it would be great to have ease of handling with a serial bound book...


So, with all this being said, let’s look the contents...The book is beautifully printed. The pages have a satin finish overall and it does not reflect too much, so it’s easy to see it under our nuclear powered bench lights. The introduction image is awesome!

As shown in the index, the book goes from tones, basic color rendition to techniques, shadows & light, materials used and details. Then we have a gallery of amazing works that almost makes me want to give up modeling figures...

One thing I noticed right away is that color rendition is spot on. You almost never can get a accurate color rendition on a computer screen. Unless you are a pro with Calibration Machines and a Silicon Graphics or Ikegami monitor. That’s why these books are so great...

It gives you a insight on how light affects the subject, something we need to take into account. We always like to paint on a saturated light source to see the errors and details, but once in a while you have to get away from the bench and take your painting in outside into natural daylight to see how are things going. I do this all the time and can correct many mistakes in tone, shadows and details...

Here you can see the great level of printing quality from close up...

Now we get to something I really wanted to see…EYES ! The hardest part of figure painting, for me at least…

It gives you in great detail, a step by step to paint eyes, done by amazing artists. One cool thing is that they always explain the photo in great detail, saying the color and brand of paint used. They also render a sample of the color on the side of the photo. This is simply a great reference. Below you can see how detailed they are on the colors used...

Now on to my figure painting ballpark, oils...

You see, I have developed  my own oil face painting technique over the years, and I am happy with the results, of course I'm always trying to improve. I think oil paints offer a safe painting method, in the way that you have time to correct things. They blend like no other out of the tube and in my opinion, they dry to a natural silk satin finish. It gives you a natural look and I am a guy that does not go a long way in contrast painting.

To show you my point of view, here is my rendition of a Pegaso bust, using oils. I think it looks natural, the very subtle recent shaved skin. This is my work with oils...

 Like I said I’ve never tried acrylics, but I know the results are extremely eye catching, especially in small scales, like the example below. These figures are 1/35th scale from Alpine Miniatures, painted by the master Man-Jin Kim. You see, there’s so much going on in such small space (scale). This is visually striking. There's a balance between reality and artistic touch. I use one (oils) , but love the look of the other (acrylics). Every page in this  book makes me want to buy and try out some acrylics and higher contrast painting ASAP...

The next few pages are about them, the 1/35th guys. Lets see some more of the mentioned artistic approach...

Now a great thing about this book is that explains everything in OUR language, this means we get color names, brand codes, barcode and date of birth of the paint used. This is a must so we can try out the examples exactly as in the book...  

This is how it’s done. Show me the step by step. And since AK Interactive have a whole series of colors to match the book, it's easy. They do it here with honors. Another great thing, for me is that I never know the exact dilution rate of a acrylic paint to try out on flesh tones and blending. The photos are so HQ that we can see the dilution they use for the example...This is a simple reference I have never found on the Internet nor in other books. We can say it’s a 25% example dilution, but we must see it to know where the sweet spot. We know when a paint is a good mix to airbrush, to make wash and such, that’s because we see it in examples and learn from them. Of course we can keep using trial and error, but it can be frustrating without some directions...


The book also covers some accessories painting...

Now we get to a big surprise for me at least. Artificial light on figures. You see, this is a true artistic approach 100% and it looks BEAUTIFUL…

I find this technique to be pure art. See as example the vignette that won the Crystal Brush a couple years back...This piece (forgot the artist, please forgive me) is one of the most amazing figures and model piece I’ve ever saw online. The whole painting is based on light and shadow technique and the result is jaw dropping. 

And we get that in this book...

AND...they saved best for last…Sang Eon Lee. The man. The legend. He does Life Miniatures busts and figures, from sculpting to painting. Life miniatures are some of the most amazing sculptures we have on the market, and he gives his brand name a true meaning as his figures come to LIFE. It is so great to see the step by step of such great artists. This is by far another ballgame for me at least, but I don’t get intimidated by such examples, having the right tools, the right figure and good reference, we can improve beyond anything we ever imagined...

Lets see some more of Mr. Lee’s work from the book...

Here you can see the hard to understand 'hard contrasts' of the acrylic painting method. Here we see the whole process...

The end result is awesome...

This fantastic book is everything it claims to be in the title... Flesh & Skin Techniques To Paint All Types Of Flesh In Miniatures. It is one that will teach me new techniques to painting in oils, inspire me to at long last try painting flesh in acrylics and hopefully take my skills to another level. What more can you ask from a book of this type!


You can order Flesh & Skin from MTSC HERE
Releated Article: MTSC PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT UPDATE: AK Interactive Acrylic Paint Sets: Figure Series HERE

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. BUT.......... No mention of different 'races' skin colour's ! i.e. Negro - mixed race {various degree's & mixes} Asian, again various races; Indian / Chinese.
    How much is of use to 54mm figure painter's ?
    I'm interested but would want to 'look through' the book before making a purchase.....
    Thank's for the detailed review....

    ReplyDelete