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Calvin Tan's Basic Guide To Figure Painting Review

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As I was sitting at my desk doing work Dave peaked over his monitor and asked me, “You used to paint figures didn't you?”

I responded that he knew I did but had stopped a while ago because I was frustrated at my lack of progress and skill with acrylic paints. Then Dave handed me the Calvin Tan's Basic Guide to Figure Painting DVD and asked me to try it and see if would be of any help.

The DVD is a 2 disc set packaged in a plastic DVD case. On the front side there is a mixture of Japanese and English text explaining that Calvin will be painting a 1/35th scale Tamiya Tanker and welcoming us to his DVD. Now anyone who knows anything about Tamiya 1/35th scale figures know they are not the best. I think Calvin purposely picked a Tamiya figure to illustrate how well his technique can work. On the back side of the package there is a table of contents including 11 chapters and 2 special sections.

In this blog I am going to give you my impressions of Disc 1.

As soon as the disc loads it asks you where in the world you are to establish the proper video protocol. Once your area (North America for me) is selected the disc loads a Title page with the chapters included on this disc.

The Chapters on Disc 1 are: 1. Making a Wet Palette, 2. Basic Brush Painting Technique, 3. Priming the Figure, 4. Painting the Face, 5. Painting the Hands, and 6. Painting the Uniform – Part 1 The Front.

Chapter 1 is a detailed explanation on how to create a wet palette using a Tupperware container, water, sponges, a napkin and baking paper (I believe he is using parchment baking paper), . This is a very handy painting accessory which will allow the acrylic paint to remain wet up to a week when the palette is closed between sessions.

Chapter 2 & 3 is about basic brush painting techniques and priming. The emphasis here is teaching us how to apply paint smoothly and uniformly with a specific brush stroke. This stoke starts with landing the bristles of the brush lightly, pulling through the stroke with an upward motion.. First Calvin primes the figure in black and then lightly mists the figure from above, where the light will come from, with light gray primer. This will easily help determine where the light affects the figure.

Chapter 4 is a key chapter for me and many others. How to Paint the Face, With a palette of Light Flesh, Tan Yellow,Bright Orange, Warlord Purple, and Black (all Vallejo colors) Calvin mixes up some very nice flesh tones. Unusual palette, but it sure works. After mixing a base color, Calvin proceeds to apply the paint in very light applications over the primed figure. The base color lightens the black base and darkens the gray giving the face the basic concept of light and shadow. Through repeated applications of highlight and shadow tones of the base color the face. The key seems to be using very thin layers and a smooth and consistent finish using the stroke Calvin taught in Chapter 2 & 3. Slow and gentle is also important to this technique. This is a lengthy chapter and is worth the price of admission alone!

Chapter 5 explains Calvin's approach to painting hands. This is similar to the chapter on painting the face and reinforces the techniques used there. The paint mixes and brushes used are pointed out very well.

Chapter 6 is the first of 2 chapters describing the painting of the uniform. This chapter explains the painting of the front part of the uniform. Here he suggests using Tamiya Flat Finish (X-21 - Dave uses AK Interactive Ultra Matte Varnish) as an additive to all the paints to insure a dead flat finish. A base of Deep Sky Blue, Olive Drab and White is used as a base for both the overalls and jacket. From there a well detailed demonstration of using different tones and colors to complete the front part of the uniform. Again the color mixes and brushes used are very nicely described.

I think this DVD is a must have for all modeler's who are painting 1/35th scale figures and a great addition for figure painters in general. This DVD is extremely easy to follow and understand and I recommend it highly. I know I have learned from it.

The second disc has the following Chapters: 7. Painting of the Uniform – Part 2: The Back, 8. Painting of the Boots, 9. Painting the Headgear, 10. Rendering Basic Light and Shadow, 11. Painting the Final Details, Special Chapter 1 – Painting the Shoulder Patch, and Special Chapter 2 – Painting the Helmet. And I hope to review the second disc in the near future. Meanwhile get your copy now. It is worth every penny.

Order one here: http://shop.lastcavalry.com/calvin-tan-basic-guide-to-figure-painting-2-dvd-set/