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"15mm Faces - Worth It?" Topic

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14 Jul 2018 9:13 a.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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Current Poll

3,074 hits since 22 Dec 2017
©1994-2023 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian22 Dec 2017 10:55 p.m. PST

Do you bother to paint faces on 15mm figures?

RittervonBek23 Dec 2017 1:20 a.m. PST

Some basic attempt to distinguish the nose chin and cheekbones, especially if the sculpt helps it.

cosmicbank23 Dec 2017 1:47 a.m. PST

I can't not that good with a rattle can.

Personal logo Flashman14 Supporting Member of TMP23 Dec 2017 1:57 a.m. PST

I follow the sculpt and honor whatever detail is there. Essex are more demanding than other ranges:


Peter Pig have hollow eyes so I paint them accordingly:


DisasterWargamer Supporting Member of TMP23 Dec 2017 3:19 a.m. PST

Only leaders

Otherwise beards, hair and flesh

Durban Gamer23 Dec 2017 3:25 a.m. PST

Two mid brown ovals to represent eye sockets and a red stripe to show a mouth work fine on most 15mm figs.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP23 Dec 2017 4:06 a.m. PST

Yes. Faces are evocative.

redbanner414523 Dec 2017 4:18 a.m. PST

If I can't see it at 3 feet I try not to paint it.

rustymusket23 Dec 2017 4:42 a.m. PST

I seldom paint faces on a 28mm. (I know. I feel ashamed.) I don't remember even painting a beard on a 15.

T Corret Supporting Member of TMP23 Dec 2017 5:29 a.m. PST

I'm satisfied with a good dry brush on standard wargames figures, and a mustache on the grenadiers.

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP23 Dec 2017 5:36 a.m. PST

After painting hair and facial hair, I do a light wash with Agrax Earthshade let down 60% with Lahmian medium, then add black spots for eyes and mouth.

Tin hat23 Dec 2017 5:47 a.m. PST

Base colour, highlight , wash + beard or mustache if required and that'll do

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP23 Dec 2017 8:13 a.m. PST

Yes, I paint them with a flesh color.

steamingdave4723 Dec 2017 9:04 a.m. PST

For 15mm I usually paint European type faces with a base cost of a reddish brown and then give a quick highlight of nose, cheekbones, chin (if no beard) and forehead with Vallejo medium flesh and light flesh. Coat of satin varnish, then Magic Wash and that usually does the job. I did have a very short-lived phase of trying to paint eyes on 15 mm figures, but decided life is too short, especially when I actually looked to see what features were really noticeable on people twenty or thirty feet away.
For smaller scale, I just use the Wash stage and may highlight noses etc afterwards, if the face is particularly well sculpted.

Ragbones23 Dec 2017 1:40 p.m. PST


Jason O Mahony23 Dec 2017 5:15 p.m. PST


khanscom23 Dec 2017 5:22 p.m. PST

Yes-- bare metal faces would detract from the game.

Seriously, though, I use 3- tone layer painting for 15mm; no eyeballs.

Dave Crowell23 Dec 2017 6:18 p.m. PST

Hell, I've done faces on 6mm figures.

USAFpilot23 Dec 2017 8:03 p.m. PST

The eyes on miniatures never look right to me. Something is off balance and gives it a cartoonish look. Even the ones painted by professionals on St. Petersburg Collection 54mm figures. I prefer figures wearing full helmet and visor when historically suitable.

platypus01au23 Dec 2017 10:19 p.m. PST


Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP24 Dec 2017 8:11 a.m. PST

I paint faces my 6mm … these are some of my 3-4mm Rat Snipers for my 6mm IG … evil grinť


Faces on 6mm are easy … wink Some of my 6mm CinC SEM with my 6mm IG …


Wulfgar24 Dec 2017 8:16 a.m. PST

Three layers of paint, from dark to light, with highlighted nose, cheekbones, and chin.

Vallerotonda Supporting Member of TMP24 Dec 2017 12:42 p.m. PST

Hair ( including sideburns ) on most europeans post 1700 and moustaches on grenadiers . Ancients from dak ages up to medieval just moré hair and beards .

Personal logo DWilliams Supporting Member of TMP28 Dec 2017 10:02 a.m. PST

Highlighting facial features adds a great deal in 15mm, and also makes the miniatures more enjoyable to paint. Here's an example of some Chasseurs a Cheval from OldGlory15s that I painted:link

Albus Malum19 Sep 2019 7:57 p.m. PST

I try, not always successful. Usually basecoat, wash, maybe rehighlight cheekbone with original color. I usually eyes eyebrows, teeth if showing. some sculpts are so terrible at 15mm that you cant recognize much to paint on them. Other are quite nice and very paintable faces. I use 6x reading glasses when painting. Mostly do fantasy, some medieval.

von Schwartz22 Sep 2019 4:06 p.m. PST

Paint hair and moustache, and then black wash the whole mess. If the sculptor put it on there the wash usually brings it out such as mouths, eyes, and noses, that's good enough for me, I'm not looking for museum quality anymore.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP23 Sep 2019 8:27 a.m. PST

Last year, I was playing a 15mm fantasy game, using a friend's figures (mine are all 25mm-28mm). I could not, standing next to the edge of the table, see what race the figures were, in front of me, resting atop a green mat -- I have 20/20 vision with my glasses…

I picked up a single figure, and held it 3-inches from my eye: it was a green Orc figure… And the eyes were painted to a very high standard, with pupils! The paint quality and detail was very impressive! Unfortunately, at 3-4 feet distance, normal viewing distance, that is, I could not even discern their race, let alone the magnificent detail they had. Unless I held the figures 3-inches from my orbit, it was impossible to see. Wasted effort, IMO.

I don't bother painting eyes on my 28mm figures, unless they're a large monster, where the eyes are visible at 3+ feet! I paint to a lower standard due to the lack of visibility of details, in the figures, en masse, at normal viewing distances, during a game: 3-4 feet, or more. I just don't see the value in it. But, I am also into painting large numbers of different armies, and so I want to paint as quickly as possible. I ain't getting any younger, and I want to play with as many armies as I can paint, in the time I have left to live (likely 15-20 years). Cheers!

von Schwartz25 Sep 2019 6:02 p.m. PST

Sgt Slag like I said, no effort, just give em all a black, or dark anyway, wash before you dull coat or whatever you lacquer with, it brings out the details the sculptor put in them and its no work!! Win Win Win!!!

Henry Martini25 Sep 2019 6:24 p.m. PST

If a human/creature was standing at such a distance from you that he/she/it appeared to be the same height as a 28mm figure at standard tabletop viewing distance you wouldn't be able to make out the eyes (unless they glowed a startling ruby red, I suppose), so why waste time and effort unrealistically painting them. Obviously the same goes double for 15mm figures.

15mm figures are intended to be viewed en masse, so for them I use a black undercoat (dampbrushed white to provide a brighter painting surface), then a semi-dampbrush style for the actual painting. This is sufficient to make the faces 'pop' at tabletop viewing distances.

I suppose a relatively simple refinement would be to paint all the flesh an appropriate dark shade of brown before painting the flesh colour on (although with Africans and other dark-skinned types the black is adequate), but I've never bothered. After all, troops in the field should look a bit dull and powder-blackened (or just sickly/grimy for pre-gunpowder periods).

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP27 Sep 2019 6:21 a.m. PST

von Schwartz, you are preaching to the Choir, Brother! I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Dip'er! Back in the 90's, I paid a friend to professionally paint my mini's for me. After spending $800 USD+, I decided that I could fill my car's trunk with expensive hobby paints and brushes, for that $800 USD I had already spent!

I bought some craft paints, and some brushes. I also learned of black washes, and The Dip Technique. I showed my work to the same professional painter friend…

I paid for "tabletop standard," his lowest rate. My newbie work was equal to his "tabletop standard"! He asked me how much time I spent painting each figure: "About 10 minutes, per figure, assembly-line style." He was shocked, I think.

Had another friend who was touching up MK figures. He showed me a figure he had spent 12 hours painting. I smiled, and I pulled out one of mine, with 10 minutes of painting. He stomped off, fuming mad! His 12 hours of work were equal to my 10 minutes. I bit my tongue to avoid laughing out loud, insulting him. He was a newb, but it was still telling. Cheers!

von Schwartz27 Sep 2019 5:25 p.m. PST

What exactly is "dipping"? I've heard it referenced several times.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP01 Oct 2019 10:32 a.m. PST

The technique was created back in the 1980's to the 1990's. It involves applying a simple, block painting to miniatures. Once that is dried, you literally dip the figure into a can of Minwax Polyshades Urethane Stain, pull it out, let the excess run off of the figure, then set it aside to let it dry. It is called, "The Dip Technique."

Most people use Tudor (black), but I prefer Royal Walnut (dark, dirty brown color). Most people also brush it on, as opposed to actually dunking the figure into it. Brushing it on allows great control over the thickness. It accumulates in the recesses, and folds, of the miniature, darkening it. It also darkens the figure, overall, so use colors around two shades lighter than what you want, when it is finished.

Army Painter Quick Shade is basically the same product, for a higher price. Their product works the same.

Your miniature is washed, and sealed with urethane. The finish is very durable, but even the Satin finish, is too shiny for most gamers, so a matte clear coat is recommended. Here is a ‌Youtube video demonstrating it.

It is particularly useful for gamers interested in mass painting, very quickly. Employing assembly-line painting techniques, using simple block painting, followed by The Dip, I can average 10 minutes of painting time, per figure! Priming is extra time, typically. The resulting miniature is decent at arm's length, only, but good enough for massed troops on the table, at 3+ feet viewing distances, standard, "Tabletop" quality. Cheers!

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