Mk41 Mechanic – An Equal Opportunity Paint Job

Welcome to another installment of "Trying to Not Screw Up a Project". This week, we’ll be looking at the elusive skill of figure painting. And for this, I’ll be using the female mechanic from the Hasegawa 1/20 Maschinen Krieger figure set (as seen here).
She comes molded in six crisp pieces: boots, arms, and torso/leg/head halves. Glued the halves together, puttied, and sanded. Then attached the feet. The only trick was gluing the feet on so that they looked natural and were "even" so that she stood balanced and unaided. Surprisingly, the CA glue dries a bit slow to try to get all that together. Thus, there was some trial and error. Because of the closeness of the arms to the body, I decided to leave those off until at least the initial paint was on. This made things a lot easier later on.
As usual, all of the paints used were Tamiya acrylics. I’ll go over the details of what I’ve done. Most of the boots were painted in Semi-Gloss Black, but I used Flat Black for the soles. The ratchet in her left hand was Flat Aluminum. The gloves were Dark Yellow. The legs were initially painted in NATO Brown, then painted over in Khaki. The sweater was first painted in Dark Gray, and then gone over in Neutral Gray. The shoulder pads were just NATO Brown again. For the hair, I used Sea Blue. Still love it because it’s crazy-close to black, but not quite there. And since you rarely/never see instances of pure black in nature, Sea Blue is a great alternative. For her skin, I lightened up some Flat Flesh with a little bit of Flat White, to give her a slightly more pale tone. Lips were made pink by just mixing red and white–both flat, as she’s not really the type to be wearing glossy lipstick. For the eyes, I used NATO Green–not as dark as olive drab, and not as light as plain green.
Since it worked so well on the Mk41 (and the Snowball SAFS before it), I decided to try the "dirty thinner" technique on the as-yet unnamed mechanic. To recap, I have bottle of alcohol that I’ve been using as a brush cleaner. It’s long overdue to be changed out, but I hate wasting it. And I discovered that brushing that alcohol with all those random paint pigments in it really creates a fantastic effect over hand-painted surfaces. So that’s what I did here–I used a broader (1/0?) brush over the legs to bring some of the brown from underneath. And on the sweater, I used a much finer brush (10/0) and brushed the thinner on vertically. This, as I had hoped, pooled the thinner in the vertical lines of her sweater and brought out hints of that darker gray underneath.
After that, it was time for some washes. And I’ve only gotten as far as the first wash. For that, I (again) utilized NATO Brown. I thinned it with alcohol to the tune of about 15:1. Using the 10/0 brush, I washed around details such as her pants pockets, zipper, and the points where the boots meet the pants, the gloves meet the arms, etc. I also carefully used this color to bring out some detail on her face. I then brought out the broader brush to go over the creases in her pants and her gloves. The key to a good wash (for me, anyways) is to have enough alcohol, but not too much. If you have too much, it’s just going to run across the surface of the model, with little regard for how you wanted it to work. If you have just the right amount, you’ll touch the tip of the brush to a spot (like the area around her eye), and the wash will flow there. I’m not sure if I’m explaining that right, but once you’ve seen it both ways, you’ll understand the difference. The moral of the story is to try to get most of the excess wash out of your brush before you hit the model with it.
Now, even though I added a lot of alcohol to the paint, the NATO Brown still stood out as just ugly brown lines on her face and on a couple spots on her pants. To fix that, I get pure alcohol and the 10/0 brush back out. With a little bit of alcohol on the brush, I just gently rub the tip of the brush over the line, and the alcohol thins and moves the brown underneath–mixing it with the surrounding flesh (or khaki) tone and greatly softening the appearance.
And that’s about as far as I’ve gone up to now. I’d like to bring out some more of the sweater detail, but I think a darker wash would be overkill. I also need to work on the face a bit. Not entirely thrilled with it. Flat lacquer probably comes next.
She needs a name, too. If you’ve got a suggestion, send me an "@" reply on twitter:
Thanks for reading!

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