Starting Out — Noob Questions

Ask your How to Questions here. Wanna know what paints to use? Wanna know what's better: Super Sculpey or Apoxie? Wanna know about Super Glue vs Elmers? Have a WIP that you are working on? Then post here.
User avatar
TheSameIdiot
No...really...EXACTLY the same
Contact:
TheFwoosh.com rules: Yes
Location: Seattle
Posts: 20343
Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2005 4:48 am

Starting Out — Noob Questions

Tue Oct 04, 2022 6:57 pm

I scoured every page of this subforum looking for something similar, but I couldn't find anything. Hopefully this thread can serve as a catchall for other newbies, too.

I've been mulling a second foray into customizing since I started collecting again in 2014. My first attempt was so catastrophic that I've been avoiding it ever since. My first attempt came as an inpatient 12-year-old who used store-bought enamel paint, so the results weren't all that surprising.

The GI Joe Classified series finally talked me into it. They're coming out with three base bodies that will work perfectly for figures I've wanted forever. Best of all, none of them should require more than a coat of paint. That said, I don't know what I'm doing. Here's what I need to know:

- Which paints should I use? I've heard good things about Vallejo and Citadel. I'll need black, white, primary blue, a dark denim color, brown, and a few different skin colors.

- Which brushes do I need?

- After watching Robo's excellent drybrushing tutorial, I'd like to add some drybrushing and washes to factory figures. Are there any particular colors or brushes that work well for this?

- Do I need to prime? If so, which primer should I buy? One of the figures I'm painting is blue and the base body is, too. Do different rules apply?

- Which sealant do you recommend?

I know there are a ton of guides online, so please point me to any of those that are still applicable. Several are more than a decade old, so I'm not sure which advice still applies.

Thank you!
User avatar
pulpy fiction
Avengers Assemble
Contact:
TheFwoosh.com rules: Yes
Location: http://www.pulpyfiction.carbonmade.com
Posts: 463
Joined: Wed Jun 23, 2010 5:19 pm

Re: Starting Out — Noob Questions

Fri Oct 07, 2022 6:15 am

Wow that's some big questions you have there. That's why i think you have so many views on this thread with zero answers. I'm finding my G.I. Joe classified collection/customs/kitbashes are my primary collecting focus as well, so I hear you on that. I figure it sucks to want to do a project, but maybe feel a bit overwhelmed at the beginning of a new hobby/foray, but are anxious to get to work on your ideas. I respect you for reaching out, but you are asking for a full tutorial/walkthrough here with these questions, and that can be a bit overwhelming for the veterans around here to take time to break down. I appreciate you sticking your neck out though, and felt bad that it's been a few since you posted, and nobody answered. I'm no legendary pro, but I've done a lot of projects and commissions, so I hope I can throw some help your way.
So here's how I'm going to approach your essay here :wink: , and I'm going to go through each question one by one, and give you what i can.

- Which paints should I use? I've heard good things about Vallejo and Citadel. I'll need black, white, primary blue, a dark denim color, brown, and a few different skin colors.
* I'm outside of the box here, most like Vallejo and Citadel, and they are easier to find. I use a brand called Jo Sonja, and most folks don't use them, but i love them and swear by them. I also am close to my local supplier so it helps me HUGE on saving if I had to but those other 2 brands. However many of the people that we look up to in the custom spheres are using these two brands, so you know you can go with either and be in good hands.

- Which brushes do I need?
*A decent set. No Dollarstore sale specials, go to somewhere like michael's and invest in a good set, and they should last you if you clean them properly when you are done using them. There are good tutorials on cleaning your brushes, and even saving brushes after paint has dried to them on youtube.

- After watching Robo's excellent drybrushing tutorial, I'd like to add some drybrushing and washes to factory figures. Are there any particular colors or brushes that work well for this?
*Not really, but when drybrushing you want to get the paint on the brush to the point where it's barely on there, and the textures of the materials being painted scrape the brush to take the paint without bleeding into the deeper recess of the texture. I think Robo also said to use a beat up brush for drybrushing, because if you use a new brush, it will be beaten up by the time you are done. If you are starting off with a new set, and drybrush with a new brush, it will be your drybrysh specialist after that, but unfortunately they don't last too long after that because they get rattier an rattier after each use.
When doing washes you are looking for that right balance of paint to water, where the paint rushes to the deeper recesses of the textures of what you are painting, but not stay on the top surfaces. Also that crucial water to paint constancy matters if you are doing the type of wash that needs the surface to be dabbed with a cloth or etc.

- Do I need to prime? If so, which primer should I buy? One of the figures I'm painting is blue and the base body is, too. Do different rules apply?
*This is a something of an "it depends" kind of question. If you are just trying to enhance the paints that are already there with say the previous 2 techniques you brought up IE: dry brushing and washes. Then no, but if you have multiple parts that have to say, need to be blue, and there is only one factory part that is blue, you may want to prime all the parts. Priming is like getting an equal playing field for all the parts, so the factory paints don't change the hues of your paints, sometimes leading to parts that are suppose the same colour having different shades between them. For example say you are painting an arm. Let's say on this arm it has a green painted sleeve on the upper half. The lower half is black because it has a long sleeve on to the cuff. For whatever reason we want this arm all one colour, say blue, but without priming the blue could look darker on the black side than the green, even after multiple coats. If we prime it, the blue isn't affected by the 2 different colours and has the same hue because they started on the same base tone underneath. There are other good reasons to prime, but This answer is getting lengthy, and this is the main reason I noticed a difference in when i prep my parts right, and take the time to do things proper, and not quick and easy/dirty.

- Which sealant do you recommend?
*Most folks use the brand their choice of paint makes.

I know there are a ton of guides online, so please point me to any of those that are still applicable. Several are more than a decade old, so I'm not sure which advice still applies.
*Most of them still apply, for the most part the plastics are still the same, and the joints are the same, or similar enough to still apply. My favourites are here: https://www.figurerealm.com/customtutorial where it ranges from the beginning steps to more technical questions are answered.

Holy heck, sorry to go on, but I think I gave you some basic answers, so I hope this helps you and makes sense. Hopefully a few others might chime in to give you a few thoughts as well.
User avatar
TheSameIdiot
No...really...EXACTLY the same
Contact:
TheFwoosh.com rules: Yes
Location: Seattle
Posts: 20343
Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2005 4:48 am

Re: Starting Out — Noob Questions

Fri Oct 07, 2022 11:35 pm

Thanks for taking the time, Pulpy! All of that is really helpful.

I'm trying to keep things simple for now (no sculpting, etc.) so your guide should be enough to get me going.
User avatar
causelessdemon
Fwoosh!!!!!!!!
TheFwoosh.com rules: Yes
Posts: 1299
Joined: Thu Mar 09, 2006 2:02 am

Re: Starting Out — Noob Questions

Sat Oct 08, 2022 12:03 am

I have a ridiculous amount of paintbrushes of varying quality. I tend to mix and match depending on what I'm doing. If I am dry brushing I'll use the lesser quality brushes. I also use fine tipped artist brushes for small details. But I also do canvas paintings and stuff. So really, it's all about making whatever tools you have work for you. Find what you like, basically.

I've been using Vallejo paints the most for customizing now. They cover really well without having to do multiple coats most the time. And really, prepping your customs is the most important thing. Also choose the base body wisely. I don't love having to pop apart and sand the life out of the joints to avoid joint rub. If I can swap around parts from similar base bodies to avoid it I'll do it in a heartbeat. I don't tend to prime much. But a lot of that comes from using the base body in a color I want, or close to.

I have brushes and tools I've used since high school, which is nearly 20 years ago. My sculpting tool is nearly done. But I find something I like and stick with it until I wear it out.

Sent from my SM-G715U1 using Tapatalk

User avatar
pulpy fiction
Avengers Assemble
Contact:
TheFwoosh.com rules: Yes
Location: http://www.pulpyfiction.carbonmade.com
Posts: 463
Joined: Wed Jun 23, 2010 5:19 pm

Re: Starting Out — Noob Questions

Sat Oct 08, 2022 12:04 am

Nice! I guess the most important thing is to just try. Work in stages, and don't rush it. It's a process. Best of luck with your projects, I'll keep an eye out for some posts from you in the customs section. Don't forget, if it is work on some classified figures, there is a custom section in the Joe section of the forums in the pit, so don't forget to show them off there too! If you have any bumps in the road, feel free to send me a p.m. If I can't help, I'll try to point you into the direction of somebody in the community who might be able to help.
User avatar
CTVampSlayer
X-23 gots a boyfriend
TheFwoosh.com rules: Yes
Location: Manhattan
Posts: 5609
Joined: Sun Aug 01, 2004 4:20 am

Re: Starting Out — Noob Questions

Tue Oct 11, 2022 11:29 pm

TheSameIdiot wrote:
Tue Oct 04, 2022 6:57 pm
Stuff

I've been doing light customizing work for years, still very much novice level (I can't sculpt or anything like that) so can probably help with some basic/beginner-level questions.

For paints, I use Vallejo, Citadel, and Testors Model Masters acrylic paints. I'm not sure if Testors has been discontinued but I can't find their gray primer anymore, which always worked really well. For Rachel's skintone, I mixed Vallejo colors: Brown Rose, Light Flesh, and Basic Skin Tone.

For brushes, I've picked up a bunch over the years from different sets, but for the Rachel Summers head I painted today (casted by metaverse customs) I used a Rosmax ArtWork for Artist Round brush, number 0. It came in a set.

For primer, I like to prime depending on what it is I have to paint: light color painted over dark plastic = primer, black paint over any color plastic = no primer. I use Testors Spray Lacquer, but if you spray it too close to a figure it'll end up shiny.

Here's pics of the Rachel I did today, step by step if you want to practice painting faces. I could go back and straight up the lines on the lips but I don't know that I will since I'm relatively happy with how this has turned out.

Image
User avatar
TheSameIdiot
No...really...EXACTLY the same
Contact:
TheFwoosh.com rules: Yes
Location: Seattle
Posts: 20343
Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2005 4:48 am

Re: Starting Out — Noob Questions

Wed Oct 12, 2022 4:25 am

I appreciate it, guys. I'm taking notes.

Painting faces (and more specifically eyes) is probably my biggest fear, CTV. Kudos to you for taking the plunge and succeeding. I'm going to try to avoid it entirely, but one of the characters I want is Southeast Asian, so I will almost definitely need to find a suitable head and paint the skin and eyes.
User avatar
CTVampSlayer
X-23 gots a boyfriend
TheFwoosh.com rules: Yes
Location: Manhattan
Posts: 5609
Joined: Sun Aug 01, 2004 4:20 am

Re: Starting Out — Noob Questions

Wed Oct 12, 2022 12:36 pm

If you're anything like me, the first few eyes/eyebrows you paint will be terrible. You get better the more you do it, remember to use thinned out coats of paint (paint + water) to do a lot of little coats vs. a few big ones so you can fix any errors. I could've tried a little harder to make Rachel's eyes more uniform but they're good enough for her to stand on the shelf with...you also have to learn how to say "enough is enough" or you'll end up ruining decent work by trying too hard to perfect it.

I can do little things like heads and part swaps but if it's a custom that requires any sculpting or major paint work I'll just commission it.
User avatar
AdrienVeidt
A Smaller Man of a Smaller Scale
TheFwoosh.com rules: Yes
Posts: 9985
Joined: Sun Aug 10, 2008 9:50 pm

Re: Starting Out — Noob Questions

Wed Oct 12, 2022 1:17 pm

Agreeing with everything above, but adding that I like this Americana DuraClear UltraMatte sealant for my stuff. This shit is invisible concrete, in my experience. I've found that multiple layers drybrushed on skin (changing up your angle of attack from every direction instead of just side/side) helps replicate the reflective depth of both flesh and flesh-cast plastic. The Gloss and Satin versions are equally tough but I don't have even half the use for those I do the UltraMatte.

I pick mine up at Michael's for about half what Amazon lists it for:
https://www.amazon.com/DecoArt-American ... B00JOT3SYI
User avatar
Discogod
prefers hot chicks to Fwooshers
TheFwoosh.com rules: Yes
Location: Two steps ahead
Posts: 10128
Joined: Mon Feb 13, 2006 9:06 pm

Re: Starting Out — Noob Questions

Fri Oct 14, 2022 5:03 pm

For painting eyes, lips and other small details, a magnifying lamp is a must. I struggled to use it at first, but once I got used to it it's made a HUGE difference.

For eyes themselves, I'll usually first paint the shape with a dark reddish-pink mixed with a little of the skintone I'm using. Then I'll use black or brown to line the upper eyelid, then I paint the sclera with a slightly off-white shade. Then I just use a few toothpicks cut to size for the irises and pupils. Finally I'll give them a coat of gloss varnish, this makes an enormous difference compared to leaving them matt.
User avatar
Mister Skeezler
Fwoosh!!!!!!!!
Contact:
TheFwoosh.com rules: Yes
Location: Greater Boston Area
Posts: 3271
Joined: Thu Jun 05, 2003 4:20 pm

Re: Starting Out — Noob Questions

Sat Oct 15, 2022 12:48 am

AdrienVeidt wrote:Agreeing with everything above, but adding that I like this Americana DuraClear UltraMatte sealant for my stuff. This shit is invisible concrete, in my experience. I've found that multiple layers drybrushed on skin (changing up your angle of attack from every direction instead of just side/side) helps replicate the reflective depth of both flesh and flesh-cast plastic. The Gloss and Satin versions are equally tough but I don't have even half the use for those I do the UltraMatte.

I pick mine up at Michael's for about half what Amazon lists it for:
https://www.amazon.com/DecoArt-American ... B00JOT3SYI
Interesting. Do you recommend this over a spray like Testors dullcote?

Sent from my Pixel 5 using Tapatalk

User avatar
Mister Skeezler
Fwoosh!!!!!!!!
Contact:
TheFwoosh.com rules: Yes
Location: Greater Boston Area
Posts: 3271
Joined: Thu Jun 05, 2003 4:20 pm

Re: Starting Out — Noob Questions

Sat Oct 15, 2022 12:49 am

Discogod wrote:For painting eyes, lips and other small details, a magnifying lamp is a must. I struggled to use it at first, but once I got used to it it's made a HUGE difference.

For eyes themselves, I'll usually first paint the shape with a dark reddish-pink mixed with a little of the skintone I'm using. Then I'll use black or brown to line the upper eyelid, then I paint the sclera with a slightly off-white shade. Then I just use a few toothpicks cut to size for the irises and pupils. Finally I'll give them a coat of gloss varnish, this makes an enormous difference compared to leaving them matt.
I second this. A magnifying lamp is an absolute must for so much of this stuff.

Sent from my Pixel 5 using Tapatalk

User avatar
AdrienVeidt
A Smaller Man of a Smaller Scale
TheFwoosh.com rules: Yes
Posts: 9985
Joined: Sun Aug 10, 2008 9:50 pm

Re: Starting Out — Noob Questions

Sat Oct 15, 2022 6:14 pm

Mister Skeezler wrote:
Sat Oct 15, 2022 12:48 am
AdrienVeidt wrote:Agreeing with everything above, but adding that I like this Americana DuraClear UltraMatte sealant for my stuff. This shit is invisible concrete, in my experience. I've found that multiple layers drybrushed on skin (changing up your angle of attack from every direction instead of just side/side) helps replicate the reflective depth of both flesh and flesh-cast plastic. The Gloss and Satin versions are equally tough but I don't have even half the use for those I do the UltraMatte.

I pick mine up at Michael's for about half what Amazon lists it for:
https://www.amazon.com/DecoArt-American ... B00JOT3SYI
Interesting. Do you recommend this over a spray like Testors dullcote?

Sent from my Pixel 5 using Tapatalk
I avoid spraypaints on figures like the plague as I'm never 100% confident any possible 'melter' compound in the spray won't come in contact with the figure's raw plastic due to incomplete coverage. Add in the 'drybrushing depth of flesh' feature I mentioned and I've never got a good reason to try it.

I *do* use some Krylon Matte sealants on vehicles, tho. The amount of coverage area I'd need to hand-paint overwhelms any fears I have in those cases.
User avatar
Mister Skeezler
Fwoosh!!!!!!!!
Contact:
TheFwoosh.com rules: Yes
Location: Greater Boston Area
Posts: 3271
Joined: Thu Jun 05, 2003 4:20 pm

Re: Starting Out — Noob Questions

Sat Oct 15, 2022 7:52 pm

AdrienVeidt wrote:
Mister Skeezler wrote:
Sat Oct 15, 2022 12:48 am
AdrienVeidt wrote:Agreeing with everything above, but adding that I like this Americana DuraClear UltraMatte sealant for my stuff. This shit is invisible concrete, in my experience. I've found that multiple layers drybrushed on skin (changing up your angle of attack from every direction instead of just side/side) helps replicate the reflective depth of both flesh and flesh-cast plastic. The Gloss and Satin versions are equally tough but I don't have even half the use for those I do the UltraMatte.

I pick mine up at Michael's for about half what Amazon lists it for:
https://www.amazon.com/DecoArt-American ... B00JOT3SYI
Interesting. Do you recommend this over a spray like Testors dullcote?

Sent from my Pixel 5 using Tapatalk
I avoid spraypaints on figures like the plague as I'm never 100% confident any possible 'melter' compound in the spray won't come in contact with the figure's raw plastic due to incomplete coverage. Add in the 'drybrushing depth of flesh' feature I mentioned and I've never got a good reason to try it.

I *do* use some Krylon Matte sealants on vehicles, tho. The amount of coverage area I'd need to hand-paint overwhelms any fears I have in those cases.
Thanks! I took your suggestion and ordered a bottle to try out.


Sent from my Pixel 5 using Tapatalk

User avatar
pulpy fiction
Avengers Assemble
Contact:
TheFwoosh.com rules: Yes
Location: http://www.pulpyfiction.carbonmade.com
Posts: 463
Joined: Wed Jun 23, 2010 5:19 pm

Re: Starting Out — Noob Questions

Fri Oct 28, 2022 5:08 am

AdrienVeidt wrote:
Wed Oct 12, 2022 1:17 pm
Agreeing with everything above, but adding that I like this Americana DuraClear UltraMatte sealant for my stuff. This shit is invisible concrete, in my experience. I've found that multiple layers drybrushed on skin (changing up your angle of attack from every direction instead of just side/side) helps replicate the reflective depth of both flesh and flesh-cast plastic. The Gloss and Satin versions are equally tough but I don't have even half the use for those I do the UltraMatte.

I pick mine up at Michael's for about half what Amazon lists it for:
https://www.amazon.com/DecoArt-American ... B00JOT3SYI
Thanks AdrienVeidt! I bought a gloss and ultra matte and I'm loving them so far. I find them quite durable after some tests I'm loving what I'm seeing. I tried some paint rub test with untreated primer and paint on some joints with only sealer, and was impressed with the results. When allowed to properly dry, the sealant did a good job holding up on some joint rub hot spots. It wasn't perfect across the board, but it did much better than what i was using.
I usually test my paints on a joint before I prep them to get an idea of what it needs most, like prep sanding and super glue protective coats and sometimes a little something extra like a little grease to keep it sliding and not scratching.
When i did eventually take preventative measures with my paints, i found in conjunction with these new sealants, I'm seeing much better results right off the bat with less fiddling to get it right.
Not to mention I had a coupon and got both bottles for 40% off and they were under $3 each after taxes. To be honest I was getting my sealant for free from my paints distributor, but with results, and prices like this, I will gladly go for these going forward.
Thanks again for the tip!

Return to “Custom Shop Talk”