How to paint lifelike figure faces

how to paint model figure faces and headsIf there’s one element of model making and painting I REALLY struggle with it’s face painting. I can never get the results I wanted. This six minute guide helped me up my game.


It’s a six step technique.

  1. Pick out the eyes, in white with black lines for the pupils.
  2. Paint around the eyes with a flesh colour; narrowing the eyes with repeated strokes. When finished seal with gloss varnish so you wipe away any future mistakes.
  3. Block out the rest of the neck and face with a light flesh mix.
  4. Use a reddish flesh mix for the ears, cheek holes and lips.
  5. Use a dark mix of brown for the deepest shadow areas, under the brow & eyebrows.
  6. Seal with matt varnish.

Watch the video for the exact approach. My faces still have a LONG way to go but they’ve got noticeably better since I’ve started using this technique.

Then there’s also Darren Latham’s excellent walk through video, below.

Again, after watching this a few times my miniatures improved dramatically.

Watch and get painting and then come back and let me know if these techniques improved your figure and miniature heads and faces as much as they did mine.

> A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.
Founder of ModelRailwayEngineer, Andy Leaning

Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.

Afflliate disclosure:The links on this page may take you to carefully selected businesses, such as Hornby, Amazon, eBay and Scale Model Scenery, where you can purchase the product under affiliate programmes. This means I receive a small commission on any orders placed although the price you pay does not change. You can read my full affiliate policy here. I also sell my my own ready to use, pre-made and painted buildings and terrain features. browse the range.

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