Wednesday, February 19, 2020

How I assembled and painted some whitemetal Perfect People figures

Over the years, I have acquired and deployed around a dozen whitemetal figures on my railway. Most Perfect People, which are now distributed by Trenarren Models.
of them are

I like the Perfect People range. The figures are mostly in keeping with the period in which my railway is set - ie early 1930s and the poses and quality of the figures is good. The only disadvantage is that some of the figures require a small amount of assembly - usually arms, legs and occasionally heads.

Having recently painted a batch of figures (see Progress Report 78), I discovered I had three Perfect People railway personnel tucked away which were in need of attention.

Previously, I have attached limbs to whitemetal figures with two-part epoxy adhesive, but have found it difficult to get a reliable bond. I decided that these figures would be soldered.

I acquired some 70 degree low melt solder from Eileen's Emporium .......

..... having already bought some flux paste from my local DIY store.

The first job was to clean up the mouldings to remove mould ridges and any other unwanted blemishes. This was achieved with a couple of needle files. The surfaces which needed to be joined were also cleaned up to remove any oxidised coating and also to help ensure they were flat or flush.

I then selected the first limb to be attached and drilled a 2mm diameter hole through it, at right angles to the surface which was going to be joined.

After positioning the limb where it was intended to be on the figure's torso, I then drilled through the existing hole and into the torso - to ensure the new hole was in the right place and at the right angle

A short length of 2mm brass or copper rod was then put into the hole in the torso.

The two surfaces requiring to be joined were then smeared with flux paste.

I use a fairly cheap heat-adjustable soldering station which I purchased on eBay for less than 20UKP.

There is no  temperature readout on my iron so I set it to about 1/3 of its full heat - hot enough to melt the solder but not hot enough to melt the whitemetal.

The limb was threaded on to the brass peg  ......

...... and then a piece of solder and the iron were applied to the joint until the solder melted and flowed into the joint (difficult to photo as two hands are needed for the job).

This process was repeated at other points around the joint until all the gaps had been filled.

It is probably possible to do this more precisely, but I prefer a belt and braces approach figuring that any excess solder can be filed away. Once any excess solder had been filed away, the figures were given a couple of coats of Citadel Chaos Black base coat.

 A Wargaming friend of mine taught me how to paint figures. Although I cannot profess to possess anywhere near his expertise, the principles which he outlined seem to me to be logical and seem to produce good results. The main principle which he instilled in me was to start from dark and work towards light with a series of dry-brush layers.

Dry-brushing involves taking a minimum of paint on to a brush and wiping the brush lightly over the surface of the figure to deposit paint only on the raised details. The amount of paint decreases as more layers are applied.

It's sensible to start with the lowest layers of clothing first. Some Wargamers advocate starting with the flesh colour first as this is clearly the lowest layer. However, arms and hands sometimes lay on top of clothing and so I tend to start with the lowest layer of clothing first, which in the case of these figures is the shirt and/or waistcoat.

The prancing ticket collector was given a light blue shirt his waistcoat was left black and his trousers and hat were painted dark blue.

The guard was similarly painted - his jacket was also painted dark blue.

Very little of the mechanic's shirt was visible but what could be seen was painted light grey and his overalls a mid-blue.

Note that the creases and crevices of the clothing retain the Chaos Black base coat so give the impression of shading.

NOTE: Some acrylic paints are translucent when applied, particularly blues and reds and white so, no matter how many coats you apply, the black base-coat shows through. Adding some white makes them a little more opaque but, of course, that lightens the colour. I have discovered the Pebeo Studio range of acrylics are designed to be opaque when applied and so use their Prussian Blue and Ultramarine, darkened with some black, to get a navy blue for uniforms.

The next stage in the process was to paint the base coat for the areas of flesh. I darkened some basic flesh colour slightly using a small amount of orange and an even smaller amount of blue.

Whilst this was drying off, I next applied the final dry-brush coat of colour for the clothing. This was a much lighter shade of the underlying colour which was applied very lightly so that only the most prominent areas of the clothing were touched with the colour.

 Thus is particularly effective at highlighting (quite literally) the raised areas of clothing to make them stand out.

Quite often, with a flat coat of colour, a lot of finer detailing such as pockets and collars are lost.

I find, the lighter dry-brushed coat brings them out.

At this point, some of the more prominent facial features were painted a lighter shade to bring them to the fore, and then the lips were painted. Unless lipstick has been applied, lips are generally a slightly darker shade of flesh colour. I usually add a very small fleck of blue and a tiny speck of dark red.

Eyes are tricky to get right. I'm not sure I have mastered them yet, but my technique is it paint a tiny dot of black or dark blue with an even smaller dot of white either side.

Finally, other features were painted, such as hair, shoes, buttons, ties, scarves, etc.

 The figures were left for a couple of days for the paints to fully harden off. They were then given a couple of light coats of matt varnish to tone down the brightness of the colours and help to prevent the paint from becoming chipped through handling.

NOTE I now use Windsor and Newton Galeria Matt varnish which is specifically made for acrylic paints

In the past, I have tried various other matt varnishes and found, to my cost, that some react badly with acrylics. The varnish on one set of figures, for example, continuously remained tacky after being sprayed. Eventually, I had to sprinkle them with talcum powder and then apply a coat of Galeria. Not ideal, but easier than repainting the figures.

I cannot profess to having completely mastered the figure painting process. Certainly, when I compare my outcomes to those achieved by my Wargaming mate and his friends, then mine pale into insignificance. However, the quality of the mouldings provided in the Perfect People range of figures does, in my mind, merit a little bit more attention being paid to ensuring those features are brought out.

I am constantly searching for good quality figures. There does not seem to be as many carefully crafted figures available for 1/19 or 1/20.3 scale as there are for Wargamers whose figures tend to be smaller and yet bursting with detail. I have bought some 3D printed figures which are based on scans of actual people and, whilst the quality of the clothing is generally good with beautifully accurate folds and creases, the technology does not yet appear to be sufficiently advanced to produce finer details such as faces and hands. However, technology is developing at such a pace that who knows what might be achievable within the next couple of years!
A 3D printed figure from DesignScanPrint3D

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