My favourite Wolverine costume is the brown costume, so this kit was essential for me. Sculptor Alejandro Pereira is an expert Wolverine artist, and did a masterful job with this one. Excellent anatomy (the back and shoulders are especially impressive), portraits (the kit comes with three: two masked and one unmasked), and mask shape (I am picky about this). With the rest of the costume, I love that it is essentially pulled straight from the pages of the comics, without the artist putting to much of his own spin on it. It’s also clean…no rips, tears, blood stains, protruding arrows or other battle damage. Battle damage is fine at times, but when I am looking for a definitive version of a character for my collection, I don’t want to see any.
The overall design is very simple. It’s Wolverine standing in a snowy wilderness, claws out and looking bad ass, which is pretty much exactly what I am looking for. No dead ninjas or severed body parts to be found.
In terms of size, the statue falls somewhere between 1:3 and 1:3.5 scale…he’s a big boy, and will not fit well with your 1:4 collection. The overall dimensions are approximately 18″ tall x 13″ wide x 13″ deep. If you can get past the larger scale (which I can), I feel this to be the definitive brown costume Wolverine available at this time. The kit has an edition size of 50, so grab one if you can find one! I believe this kit was produced by Hot Creative Toys…but, as with most custom kits, it was “long sold out”. I grabbed mine on the secondary market for a decent price.
The kit itself was relatively hassle-free – no ugly seams to fill, and magnets were already installed in the boots, gloves, and portraits. Using some Aves Apoxie Sculpt, I built up the rocks on the base in front of his right foot in order to hide the metal peg that connects the foot to the base. I also built up a bit under his left foot to prevent a slight wiggle of the figure. There was also one minor chip to fill in on one of the arms, and a small repair to smooth out his left ear (involved some scraping with an x-acto, then resurfacing with some Mr. Surfacer 1000). Otherwise, the kit was pretty much ready to paint right out of the box.
Speaking of the box, it comes with its own custom box and foam packaging that will allow for the fully assembled statue to still be properly boxed up, if needed. Metal claws were included, although I ended up using some spare claws from the XM Brown Wolverine because I preferred the shape.
I do not have a ton of experience with kits, but I have seen bad ones. I think this one is pretty good, considering the minimal prep work that was required. It generally broke down nicely for painting, except that my only complaint is the arms are cast in one piece with the torso, making for some pretty hard to paint places in the armpits.
First off, I am a beginner when it comes to painting kits, so take my advice for what it’s worth. The biggest reason I am writing this article is so that I can remember what the heck I did for next time! Everything I know is from watching YouTube tutorials and asking questions of much better painters than me. I appreciate the time it takes those people to share their experience, so if this article helps someone else, I am happy to do it.
I like painting Wolverine kits (this is my second) because I think it is a pretty good all-around challenge for someone of my skill level – you have to do eyes, teeth, open mouths, arm hair, exposed skin, hair, 5 o’ clock shadow, veins, and lots of muscle to shade – a little bit of everything.
All of products I used for this project are listed below. These paints were mostly chosen based on local availability. If you cannot find these exact products, then similar colours/brands should work fine.
I use an Iwata Eclipse CS airbrush with a 0.35mm nozzle, with a Smart Jet Pro compressor. Why? Well, it’s just what the local store recommended because it has a fairly high versatility. I have found it to meet my needs so far. The Wicked brand paints are a bit thick for this airbrush, so I thin them almost 1:1 with the 4011 reducer. This airbrush does have a 0.5mm needle option, which I do own, but I can’t seem to get that to work very well (usually get spattering)…I prefer the 0.35mm needle, and over-thinning the paint. I typically use a low pressure setting of around 15 psi.
First piece of advice: do not ever skip sealing your work after each step. I’ve been caught thinking, “oh, I’ll just do one more thing…”…famous last words. You never know when you will need to fix mistakes, and having the previous layer sealed will help you to be able to do that. I use Mr. Super Clear for sealing (usually matt, but I used semi-gloss for the leather on this piece). It is not the cheapest product out there, but it works well and dries fast.
• Autoborne Sealer (White) used for everything except belt
• Mr. Super Clear Matt and Mr. Super Clear Semi-Gloss (for leather areas)
• Createx 4011 Reducer
• Americana Duraclear Varnish, Gloss
BLACK LEATHER ACCENTS
• Wicked Detail Black
Nothing fancy here. Just make sure you mask well and paint with straight Wicked Detail Black. Black covers over everything (so don’t worry too much about over spray from the other colours), so it’s always the final step. For the zippers on the back of the boots, I used Vallejo Metal Color Dull Aluminum (you can add a black wash to dull this down, as I noted in the belt section below).
• Base: 10 parts Wicked Golden Yellow to 1 part Wicked Detail Orange
• Shade: Yellow Base (above) with 2 added parts of Wicked Detail Burnt Umber
For my taste, the “yellow” parts of costume should lean pretty heavily to the orange side of the spectrum. The mix of golden yellow and a bit of orange produced pretty much exactly what I wanted. When you mix up the shading colour, it will look pretty gross in the pot (sort of like vomit), but it layers over the base colour to create a nice deep orange. Lastly, I used some straight golden yellow to do a bit of blending and hit the highlights…it is a pretty subtle result, but worthwhile, I think.
• Highlights: Wicked Detail Burnt Sienna
• Base: Wicked Detail Burnt Umber
• Shade: 4:1 mix of Wicked Detail Burnt Umber to Wicked Detail Black
I wanted a bit of an orange undertone to the brown leather, so I pre-highlighted the raised areas of the muscles with Wicked Burnt Sienna. I then coated the entire area with Wicked Burnt Umber. Final step is some shading with a darkened mix of burnt umber. I am quite pleased with the final look.
• Citadel Abaddon Black Base
Surprisingly, the striping on the gloves and torso was the most time consuming thing about this paint job for me. I am improving, but fine detail work like this usually involves a few touch-ups (who am I kidding, a lot of touch-ups!). I have no real tips to offer here, other than to do this when you are in a good mood and when you don’t have anywhere to be, as you may need the time and patience!
• Primer: Stynylrez Grey
• Base: Wicked Opaque Pyrrole Red
• Wash: Vallejo Model Wash Black
• Shade: Wicked Opaque Pyrrole Red and Wicked Detail Black mix to taste
• Silver Accents: Vallejo Metal Color Dull Aluminum on Vallejo Metal Color Gloss Black Primer
I find that applying red over a white base looks too pinkish for my taste, so I used a grey primer for the belt. Then simply painted it red, followed by shading along the top and bottom edges, around the buckle edges, and along the belt loop. For the silver accents, I brush applied a gloss black, followed by the dull aluminum. Despite the name, the result is still fairly shiny, so I used a black wash to knock that down (I applied the wash on the entire belt as well). Make sure to get the wash around and inside of all of the silver circles to make them stand out.
• Alclad II Gloss Black Base with Alclad II Chrome
• Vallejo Model Wash Black
The toughest part about this step was the masking…took a long time for about 10 minutes worth of painting. I love the Alclad II metallics, they are almost like magic to me. I used the chrome for this task, but there are many finishes available. All it takes is a quick mist coat over a glossy black base, and voila! Last step was to carefully apply a black wash to the panel lines to make them stand out better (the photo below is before this wash was applied).
Note that Alcad is a lacquer based paint. So, be sure to let the acrylics cure for a day or so, and well seal and mask your work before applying the Alclad to avoid any accidents.
• Base: Stynylrez Light Flesh
• Blending: Createx Illustration Lifeline Deep Natural
• Shade: 10:2:1 ratio of Lifeline Deep Natural/Vallejo Rose Brown/Wicked Detail Burnt Sienna (Burnt Sienna is optional)
• Pastel Shading on Portraits: PanPastel Skin Tone Set (Burnt Sienna Shade)
• Washes: Wicked Detail Yellow Ochre, Wicked Opaque Pyrrole Red, Citadel Druchii Violet, Citadel Reikland Fleshshade
• Blush Detailing (nose/cheeks etc.): Citadel Volupus Pink Contrast (heavily diluted)
• Veins: Prismacolor chalk pastel mix of green and blue
• 5 o’ clock shadow: Prismacolor pastel mix of green, blue, grey, and black
• Small touch-ups: Citadel Kislev Flesh Base
• Arm Hair: Wicked Detail Black and Wicked Detail Burnt Umber mix for drybrushing, Golden High Flow Acrylic Transparent Shading Grey
Skin tones are definitely the most frustrating and difficult part for me. I find that I usually hate the look until the very last step. So, my advice is to trust the process. Finish what you started before you decide to take any drastic action, like starting over.
For this statue, I used the Stynylrez light flesh for a base coat, then applied light speckling (I used the Citadel Reikland Fleshshade for this step). I don’t know how much value the speckling added, so this step could probably be skipped. I used a stiff-bristled brush to flick the speckles on. You can use your finger to dab off any larger ones you don’t want. I have seen people turn the pressure way down on their airbrush for this step, but I can’t seem to ever get that to work!
On the arms, I used the transparent shading grey (heavily thinned) to lightly shade the areas with arm hair. Then I moved on to do my muscle shading and then blending with the Deep Natural.
Now, time for the washes – I do yellow ochre first, then red, then purple. I use the “Sideshow Method”(as seen in this video), which uses various washes to tint the skin. The only difference is I use purple instead of blue, as I think it gives a better look (a tip I picked up from one of Matt Mrozek’s videos). When mixing your skin washes, make sure to really dilute them a lot, especially the red. You can always apply multiple coats if you feel it is not strong enough. When applying the washes to the arms, I use a makeup sponge to apply them, then sponge them off with a separate clean sponge. I find when slathering the washes on with a brush, there is inevitably a trail of wash that escapes off somewhere and dries/pools before I notice it…NOT the look you are trying to achieve. Sponging the washes on gives me more control, and has the same overall effect of tinting the skin. I will only use a brush to get into those deep crevices. Make sure you have a clean brush handy to wick up any excess wash in those tight areas that you can’t get off with a sponge.
I then lightly mist on the Deep Natural, and if needed, you can do a light wash of the Reikland Fleshshade for a bit of a bronzed tan look. Next do the veins with Prismacolor chalk pastels (use an x-acto to scrape off a powder, and lightly apply with a small brush – see my note below about blowing, not wiping, any excess powder off). The blue/green tint of the veins does not show up well in my photos, but in person, it adds that bit of realism I was looking for.
For the arm hair, just lightly dry brush on some black/brown mix. This model doesn’t have really aggressive sculpted arm hair, so I went pretty light with this step. The dry brushing combined with the light grey shading I did before produced the effect I was looking for. As noted above, make sure you are sealing between all of these steps so you can make any quick fixes as needed.
On the portraits, you can use the Pan Pastel skin tone set to apply some localized shading. I used the Burnt Sienna Shade. Just put some on with a brush, then use another brush to lightly blend (watch the Matt Mrozek video I linked above for the proper technique). These pastels work very well, but make sure you blow off any excess BEFORE you blend. Do NOT try to wipe of excess powder with your finger – it will just smear all over the place. If you want to do a 5 o’ clock shadow, now is the time. Same process as the veins, but with the Prismacolor chalk pastel mix noted above. You can also do inside the nostrils with this same mix.
One important thing to note about the Createx Illustration Lifeline paints is they need some time to dry before sealing and painting over (give it at least 15-20 minutes), otherwise they will reactivate and potentially smear. I am not the most patient painter, so this was hard advice for me to follow! Despite that, I find these are really nice skin tones right out of the bottle (not too peachy like so many other off-the-shelf skin tones). I only used the Deep Natural tone for this statue, but there is a set of several tones that should cover a lot of bases for other models. I have tried mixing my own skin tones before (using white, yellow ochre, burnt sienna and a bit of violet – I found this video really helpful if you want to try), but these Lifeline paints are better than what I came up with.
The final step is to do some spot washes. You can add some more purple below the eyes, and add some blush/redness effects. The Citadel contrast paints are pretty strong, so make sure to heavily dilute these before using them. Again, you can always do multiple passes until you get the look you want. I use Volupus Pink to do the blush areas on the face, like the slight redness on the end of the nose or in the cheeks. A little goes a long way!
TEETH, MOUTH, & LIPS
• Teeth: mix of Citadel Wraithbone Base and Citadel Morghast Bone Base to taste
• Gums/Inner Mouth/Tongue: mix of Vallejo Basic Flesh Tone, AK Interactive Dark Shadow Flesh, Wicked Detail Burnt Sienna, and Wicked Detail Yellow Ochre to taste, wash of Citadel Blood Angels Red Contrast (heavily diluted)
• Lips: Citadel Volupus Pink Contrast (heavily diluted)
The teeth and gums are hard due to their small size. Just use the smallest brush you have and be prepared for some f@%k-ups…err, I mean touch-ups. For the teeth, I mix the Morghast Bone and Wraithbone until I get a buttery colour, and if you want, you can use a grey-green wash (but, mostly grey) in between the teeth to give some separation (I got this tip from the great painter, Ed Bradley). This kit did not have a ton of definition between the teeth and gums, so the wash was not super effective and ended up all over the place. I ended up repainting the teeth afterwards, but leaving the grey contrast areas between the teeth unpainted. It was an extra step, but achieved the goal. The final look is acceptable considering the normal viewing experience, but I definitely have some work to do here to achieve that “hyper-real” look that the pro painters can get.
When doing the gums and inside of the mouth, print off a lip colour pallete (like this one, or any other one with colours you like) and mix the colours I list above until you get close to what you want. I used a diluted wash of Blood Angel’s Red inside the mouth to give it a little more pop. Once you are finished, apply a gloss varnish to the teeth and inside of the mouth for a more realistic look. For the lips, I used a diluted solution of Volupus pink…again, go light, and apply more passes until you get the look you want.
EYES & HAIR
• Sclera: Mix of Citadel Grey Seer Base and White
• Top Liner/Eyelashes: Wicked Detail Burnt Umber and Wicked Detail Black mix
• Bottom Liner: same mix as gums above
• Archer Fine Transfer Photo-realistic Eye Decals
• Hair Base: mix of Wicked Detail Black and Burnt Umber
• Hair Highlights: Citadel Rhinox Hide, Citadel Gorthor Brown
Eyes are not as hard to do as I was anticipating. The most important tool you need here is a steady hand. I use a light grey colour for the eyeballs (I used the same mix for the eyes on the masked portraits), and line the top of the eyelid with a dark brown and the bottom of the eyelid with a fleshy pink (same colour I use for the gums and mouth). I tried adding little eyelashes along the bottom eyelid, but I found it looked too feminine for Logan…you can experiment with this effect, but I chose not to use it for this piece. I used a diluted solution of the Blood Angel’s Red to add some redness to the corners of the eyes…it’s a small detail, but I was happy with the result.
For the irises, I use Archer fine transfers (the photo-realistic human eye set A). I think these produce a fantastic result, but they are very fragile…I definitely wrecked a few before I got it right. Remember to put a gloss varnish on the eyes after the decals have set. Watch this tutorial by VinceVellCustoms before you try it. The Solvaset solution mentioned in the video does make a difference, so I recommend using it. I only had one minor meltdown after slightly tearing one decal after it was already on. I was able to reset it into the proper place, and then used some paint and a small brush to slightly touch it up…so, keep this in mind if you ever do the same. The unmasked portrait had slightly raised bumps on the eyeballs showing where the irises were to go, so that was really helpful…no googly eyes!
Note that Archer fine transfers has closed its website, so you may have to do some sleuthing to find these decals. Eventually I will learn to paint the eyes myself, but these decals look great, and I will use them until I run out.
Hair is easy. Block it all in with the base coat (make sure to get into all the tiny crevices), then dry brush some lighter brown highlights. I used Rhinox Hide, then Gorthor Brown, then I added a bit of Burnt Sienna to some Burnt Umber for the final highlights.
• Rocks: AK Interactive Rock Grey, Vallejo Model Wash Dark Brown, Vallejo Model Wash Dark Grey, AK Interactive Neutral Grey, AK Interactive Medium Grey, AK Interactive Pale Grey, AK Interactive Sky Grey
• Snow: AK Interactive Dark Sea Grey, AK Interactive White Grey, Golden Acrylic Titanium White, AK Terrains Snow, AK Snow Microballoons
The base was surprisingly easy and quick to paint. I used the rock grey as a base coat for the rocks, followed by a dark brown wash, then a dark grey wash, and finally some dry brushing with a series of grey shades (starting with the darker shades). For the snow, I primed in white, then did some shading with the dark sea grey, then some blending with the white grey, then some dry brushing with white. I actually really like the look this produced, like an older, icy snow.
I used the AK Terrains Snow on portions of the base, and dusted over it with the Microballoons while it was still wet. You can use a wet brush to smooth out the Terrains snow paste. I am not certain I love the look of this product – it’s ok, but not sure I would use it again. I originally planned to put snow on the boots, too, but after using it on the base, I decided not to. I recommend testing this stuff on something else first (I should have taken my own advice!).
I had a lot of fun with this kit. As my wife can attest, there were very few moments of outrage and despair…my experience from my first repaint really helped, and I think I improved in every conceivable way. I am looking forward to more in the future.
Lastly, I have had lots of comments from people saying they have always wanted to try painting kits. My advice? Do it. Worst case scenario is it sucks and you start again, or you end up sending it to a pro like you were probably going to do anyway. But, in the time it will likely take that pro to complete your project, you can learn to do a reasonable job yourself. Hey, if I can do it, you can do it!
Next up will be this awesome Captain Britain kit from the excellent sculptor, Dario Martin! I can already clearly envision myself struggling with the fine white striping on the masks!