Painting Mediterranean flesh

When painting a miniature I almost always start with the flesh. Not only is it usually the lowest layer of a model, it can also be quite messy. Plus I find it’s the trickiest to get right – if you get the wrong hue or tone it can really throw off the whole piece.

I’m currently painting a Macedonian army for DBMM. I’ve never done an olive skin tone before so I did some extensive research (i.e., the whole first page of Google results) and while there were some people claiming that ancient Macedonians were much closer to northern Europeans than Greeks, the general consensus was that you wouldn’t go far wrong looking at modern Greeks.

I wanted to make my army look the part of olive-skinned peasants that has been trekking through the plains of Asia for the last few years, instead of the traditional Osprey look of generic white fella. So I took a few miniatures and started experimenting with some skin tones. All up I did six tests before I found one that I was happy with.

Step one

First off, paint all the flesh in a mix of ¾ Citadel Cadian Fleshtone and ¼ Vallejo Model Color Medium Fleshtone.

Step two

Into the mix of Cadian Fleshtone and Medium Fleshtone, add the same amount of Vallejo Model Color Flat Flesh. With this colour do a broad highlight, leaving the base coat showing through in most recesses especially on the underside of the limbs, most of the neck, under the knees and the crevice above the calf muscle. Also don’t worry about painting the fingers and toes, these will be painted with a much higher highlight later on.

To be honest this step could probably be skipped and I’m going to try this next batch I do.

step three

Next is straight Flat Flesh. This will look very ugly, but don’t worry, the next step is a back-highlight to smooth it in. Really I should two-brush blend this layer in and save some time, I’ll have to set some time aside to practise the technique.

This layer is just building on top of the previous one, but covering a smaller area. Focus is especially paid to the top of the calves and shins, knee caps, upwards-facing sides of limbs and the extremities of the face. Also pick out the fingers and toes.

Flesh layer 3

step four

This is the back-highlight step, to fade the extreme highlight back into the base tone. I use Flat Flesh mixed with some of the base coat (Cadian Fleshtone with some Medium Fleshtone). I keep adjusting the mix and testing the colour on a miniature, it’s ready when it’s half-way between the  previous step and the one before.

Use this to blend out the harsh jump between the two previous steps. Try not to cover up too much of either step!

You could easily swap step three and four. I choose to do it this way because sometimes by the time I get to the top highlight I find that I haven’t left enough room for it. This way I get to make sure that the top highlight is the right size.

Step five

This is a quick wash with watered-down Citadel Shade Seraphim Sepia, about two parts water to one part shade. This is over the whole area, so use an old brush as it’s not very important.

Step SiX

Nearly finished! Some careful shading with Citadel Shade Reikland Fleshshade. I water this down about 50%.

This is put around all the edges of clothing, into the recesses of the face, under the head, the underside of the arms, between the fingers and knuckles, just under the knee caps, just at the top of the calves, around the ankles, and between the toes.

Final touches

From here I do a final tip highlight of ½ Vallejo Model Color Flat Flesh and ½ Vallejo Model Color Basic Skintone. This I apply in very small areas to highest points of the model especially the nose, chin, fingers, knuckles and toes.

This is what the first eight look like with their flesh finished:

Overall I’m very happy with it. It’s pretty quick and I think I can speed it up some more, quite important when you’ve got about 300 figures to paint. It’s got that warm rich tone that I was hoping to get too.



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