A friend of mine is the owner of a website called Worlds Greatest Superheroes which is a website for Mego action figure collectors. There are custom figures and parts to customize your figures for sale. There is also an ebay store! Mego, is a brand of large action figures that were especially popular in the 70's and 80's. There is a pretty big community for Mego collectors and there is a great artistic side of it as well. There are people who really get into it by painting extra details on the faces, repaint the faces, create and sew costumes to make them more accurate to certain stories, or even just to make a character into Mego figure form. It is really amazing and I actually think that the hobby community and Mego community can learn a lot from each other.
Recently, I have had the pleasure of working on a few custom cast Mego heads of the Marvel Comics character, Red Skull. They were really a lot of fun to paint and very relaxing. Be sure to check out the Twitch streams from Metal Mornings from when I worked on them while they are still up for view. I have also been getting a lot of Mego related commissions since then.
At the request of World's Greatest Superheroes, I was asked to write a tutorial about how I went about painting these heads step by step. I hope that you enjoy this tutorial.
To start, I was sent 3 resin cast heads that were customized scale and cast out of resin. The extra vinyl Mego head, was sent as reference because he wanted the comic lining in the same places and wanted the eyes to look a little more realistic like the Red Skull in the Marvel movies. When the casts came to me in the mail, I noticed that they had some pitting (air bubbles that snuck in during the casting process). After cleaning the heads, I knew that I would have to fill those air bubble impressions to fix the surfaces.
Be sure to check our video on how to properly clean models here:
It Is very important to clean any model whether it is made of resin, plastic, or metal before painting as it helps remove any residue from the casting process. It also helps remove dirt and sweat from fingers. Residue and dirt can hinder primer and paint from adhering properly to your surface.
I use Vallejo Plastic Putty with a rubber tipped clay shaper in order to fill in the air bubbled areas. I usually let the putty dry overnight so that the putty dries solid enough to be cleaned up around the edges with a hobby knife and filed if needed. I always fill the holes with a little more than what I think I will need because there might be a little bit of shrinkage also when the putty dries.
Once I have finished cleaning the Mego heads, I proceeded to base coat the heads. Games Workshop Citadel spray in Memphiston Red was a good match to give a nice and even red color to the Red Skull heads. The heads were sprayed in a large, well ventilated garage area. The can was shaken well for 60 seconds and then was used in short sprays about 8-10 inches away from the heads until fully coated. The heads dried to a matte finish as shown in the photos.
Once the heads have dried, I used Secret Weapon Wash in Red Black. This added some definition and helped the details on the head to stand out a little more. The wash was not thinned in the process.
After the wash has dried, I apply Reaper Master Series paint in Pure White. To add a more realistic shadowing to the teeth and a lining to the eyes, I added Games Workshop's Citadel shade in Agrax Earthshade. Mind you, the shade does not come in those bottles. I buy the shades in bulk for the shop and condense them into larger bottles. You can read more about that here: https://www.metalheadminis.com/single-post/2017/07/24/How-I-Scored-On-A-Bunch-of-Games-Workshop-Citadel-Shades
Now I get ready to start painting the eyes. Since the eyes are so deep set in the head, I figured it would be best to do them first before the comic lining. I start by creating the shape of the iris of the eye using Reaper Master Series in Black.
Next, I add in the eye color. On the left, is the reference head which shows the red eyes with black lining around the eye. That is one of the reasons that I paint in the black first aside from using it as a guide to make the eye painting faster. You want there to be some lining around the eye color to help it stand out more. The photo on the left, also makes it easier to see and get an idea of where the eye color is going. I used Games Workshop's Citadel paint in Memphiston Red which also comes in a paint pot, not just the spray can. I fill in the black circle until I am almost at the edges.
After painting in the red, I go in with a fine detail brush and paint in the pupils (black center) using Reaper Master series in black. Sometimes, there is a little back and forth in this step because you do not want the pupils to be too big or too small (unless the project calls for it). You might go in and keep adjusting until you get to the right size that you want. Make sure that you have your red still available on the pallet for the adjustments. Also, if you do make mistakes, wait until it dries before fixing it, other wise you will just mix the paints together and create more work for yourself. I re line around the eyes using a fine detail brush and the black paint.
After you have the color set up, since he wants the eyes to look a little more realistic, there are 2 more steps that must be done: Add the small white dots (shining glint in the eyeball a.k.a. "the boop" on our Twitch live stream) and seal the eyes with gloss varnish to add that wet shine.
Here are some photos to show the placement on the black comic lining to match the vinyl reference head. Reaper Master Series in pure black was added the tops of the eye area, in the nose, around the teeth of the mouth, under the cheek bones, bottom jaw/ joint area, and in between both rows of teeth.
Once the painting has been completed, I sealed the paint job using Vallejo Matte varnish.
The client loved the paint job and used them to customize some Red Skull figures.
Be sure to check out Worlds Greatest Superheroes on the web and we hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. Until next time...
Stay crispy in milk and happy painting!