Monday, October 22, 2012


 Here's my first attempt at a black and white figure; the 200mm Bolshevik by Yury Serebryakov of Castle Miniatures. While this was my first try at replicating a black and white photo, it was my third attempt at painting this bust. The first two attempts yielded disappointing results, and I was too ashamed and frustrated to bother taking any pictures. It was really bothering me that this fantastic figure was sitting on the shelf looking half-baked, so I decided to strip the paint off a final time and try something totally different.

I used four different Vallejo paints to represent the tonal base colors for each item: #70991 for the flesh, #70992 for the crimson hat star and button flaps, #70994 for the greatcoat and budenovka hat, and #70869 for the khaki gymnostroika shirt. I used simple mixes of white and black for the metal buttons and the early Hammer & Plow hat badge.

I stuck to my trusted oil paints for the remainder of the project. I mixed a variety of shades for highlights and shadows by adding small quantities of Winsor-Newton Burnt Umber and Davy's Gray to Titanium White and Lamp Black. I added a little Liquin blending medium to the oil paint which really helps me feather the edges of colors. Unfortunately it also makes the paint dry even more slowly and gives off a glossy finish. To help counter this, I thin out the paint with mineral spirits, which makes the paint flow off the brush more like an acrylic paint. Like I usually do, I paint a thin layer of mid-tone oil paint over the entire area of color, and then block in highlights and shadows where they belong and stipple the border between to blend the edges. I refrained from using pure black or pure white to keep the bust from looking  contrast-heavy and overexposed.

Painting the irises
I also had the presence of mind to take a few more in-progress shots than usual. I never take enough, but this time I had enough to show how I paint the iris of an eye in large scale. The leftmost picture shows the  critical step of blocking in the location of the iris. This is a painstakingly slow process, but it is also one of the most important. I begin by painting the iris at about 2/3 of its final size and slowly adding to the diameter until it looks natural. This method gives me space for plenty of micro-adjustments in any direction which prevent our young revolutionary from going cross-eyed. This involves lots of back and forth between light and dark paint, and lots of breaks to rest my eyes. Experience and the suggestions of fellow modellers taught me to nail the eyes first, because it is easier to make corrections if and when mistakes happen.
Once I'm happy with the position of the irises, I begin building up a gradient of light coming from the bottom left transitioning to black in the upper right. This helps make the eyes stand out, especially in a black and white figure. Once the contrast was sharp enough, I carefully painted in the pupils.
Anyways, I hope you like it. Feedback is always appreciated!


  1. awesome, Kyle. I think you got the trend now ;)

  2. This is really a nice piece Kyle. The uniqueness of the black and white and that young man's face make him seem like a real person. The facial skin and the eyes make him so human, you feel for the young man who is doing his military duty. I really like this, the face is haunting.

  3. Very impressive work, Kyle! Black and white gives such a dramatic look to this work as it would on a photograph! I like the eyes a lot and your choice of paints is great just like the final result! Congratulations!
    Your blog will definitely remain on mine and I'll be following your work with the greatest attention!


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