STEP ONE: First off, you’ve got to glue the thing together. But not all of it, just groups of parts that make sense. After all, you're gonna have to paint the thing, so don't pre-build more than you can get a brush around without difficulty. Think ahead, as my dear ol' Daddy is fond of saying: "plan your work, and then work your plan". Ah, Dad's, what would we do without 'em! Once you have this accomplished, you can look for seams that need to be puttied. Believe it or not, some of these kits don't fit together perfect. Go figure. I have been using Testor's Contour Putty, but I'll be honest with you, it's not so good. Putty up your seams, sand them down and then prime the major sections that you have glued, and let them sit for at least 24 hours.

STEP TWO: Next, I usually start with some incidental parts. Bases, scenery, extra character pieces, stuff like that. Why? Because it gives me that all important “warm up” time. Especially if some time has elapsed since my last build up, starting with these peripheral parts gives me a gradual ramp up back into the building and painting mindset. Practice at dry brushing and detail prior to hitting the main object of the kit. So here I have painted the sand base for our Surfer Girl, and her trusty pet sea gull. Notice, I took some time to add detail and techniques to the bird and the sand base. Again, this is practice for the skilled painting I want to do on the main character, AND it gives visual interest to the kit as a whole once it is all put together. Ya’ Dig?

STEP THREE: Now, all the little things are done and lookin’ good. Notice the detail on the radio, the dry brushing on the base, the feather outlines on the bird, etc. Unnecessary? Yes, but don’t they make the final kit look great? We’ll see. Now on to the main figure!!

STEP FOUR: Okay, so we base coat the main figure with a nice Caucasian tan (made from Mr. Fisher’s recommended blend of Raw Sienna & Burnt Sienna & White). Now don’t be impatient here, acrylics don’t always cover that well with the first coat. Just paint the entire surface, in my case I started with her feet and worked up, and once you get to the end, start over again with another light coat. This method will minimize brush strokes and give you a great, deep, coverage of the color. We can let that set and get ready for some details! (dry brush and pastels!) Notice the surfboard has a piece of her arm attached to it. So I masked off the arm portion with blue latex masking enabling me to spray paint the surfboard and get a nice, high gloss, smooth painted surface. Brush painting large areas like surfboards and car bodies, etc., is a drag and doesn’t end up looking that authentic.

STEP FIVE: Now some details to the face and head of our model. The hair is a build up of burnt sienna as a base, and then I drew in some hairline details on the kit with a brown Le Plume marker. From there, I simply dry brushed layers of progressively lighter shades of yellow. (Remember our color mix for the sand base? Came in handy here as the first layer of dry brush hair color.) Also our marker is good for the eye brow, the lash line at the eye and the beauty mark that I added. The gums are a simple pink mix of red and white, and I highlight the teeth separations with a black gel pen.

STEP SIX: Oh, yeah. Remember the masked off hand on the surfboard? Check out how clean the lines are when we remove the mask and paint the arm. Ain’t technique a wonderful thing?!

STEP SEVEN: Move on now to the body of the figure and lets give her a hootin’ red polka dot bikini. First, layer up your acrylic white on the suit shooting for a smooth solid finish. Then, get your red Le Plume marker (I tend to by the dual tipped kind, one tip is extra fine, and the other is like a medium thick paint brush) and polka dot to your hearts content.

STEP EIGHT: Alrighty then! Let’s get to those pastels. I have a set of Alpha Color Soft Pastels in 24 colors. For us laymen, pastels are…….chalk, duh!! Some modelers will take the chalk and grind it with some fine sand paper to form a pile of chalk dust, and then dip the brush into it. I tend to cut out the middleman and just get a firm, sharp tipped brush, a 3 size works well, and literally rub the brush tip along the chalk stick several times to absorb the dust into the brush, then I proceed to “paint”. Remember, we are using the pastels for a detail effect, or a soft color wash or highlight. It can, when done right, closely approximate the work of an airbrush. On this kit I highlighted the eyelid with a soft blue pastel; put a light dusting of red onto the nose and lower lip. Then with brown pastel, I highlighted the natural muscles of the stomach and the belly button. It takes a few passes to begin to see the pastel build up on the kit, BUT DON’T BE FOOLED! You are going to seal the pastel work with a spray on clear matte sealer or Testor’s Spray Dull-Cote. This will darken the pastels substantially, so be careful. I have found on two kits so far, that when you can just begin to detect the pastel work on the kit, that’s the time to stop applying it and seal it. But experiment on your own and you’ll be amazed and delighted at the subtle effect that using pastels gives to your model.

STEP NINE: Here’s a pretty good shot of what pastels can add to your build up.

STEP TEN: And Voila!! The finished product. So now we can sit, delirious and a tad out of touch with reality, and reflect on another job well done in the wonderful world of figure modeling.

Anybody try this stuff out? Got any better ideas? Email me and let me know!