This is Part 2 of my tutorial on customizing and painting a “Battle Damaged” toy, model or collectible. I am using a Voyager Class Optimus Prime (Hunt for the Decepticons series) as an example for this tutorial.
Assuming you have read my previous tutorial here, your figure should be ready for painting. The first thing you need to do is paint your base colours first before painting in the “battle damage”. Remember, “battle damage” is the last layer since it is sustained over the finished figure.
For my Voyager Class Optimus Prime, I use a custom mix of gun metal and chrome silver (dry brushed over a black base) for the exo-skeleton for Prime, as well as other metal parts. That means, I painted all the silver parts flat black and then, using a technique known as dry brushing, I applied the silver-mix paint over it.
My paint work is applied with brushes and not an airbrush. Use small brushes and for a small figure such as the Voyager Class Prime, you need really tiny brushes for the detail work.
Depending on the size of your figure, you need a variety of brushes. Generally the smaller the better so you do not accidentally paint over areas not meant to paint over. You will likely needed to buy brushes from a hobby model store and not just a stationary shop as a stationary shop is unlikely to have such small brushes and with the right brush hairs.
Some pre-paint notes:
- You should prep your figure by washing it and drying in with a towel, then a hair dryer.
- Protect important areas with aluminum foil crushed over the parts.
- It is useful to have paper kitchen towels ready.
- Aluminum foil is also great as a surface to place painted pieces down to dry.
- Wear disposal latex gloves when painting so you don’t have to scrub your hands later.
Paint several thin layers of flat black over the metal areas you want to look silver metallic later. I use acrylics so each layer takes just about 15min to dry and another coat can go on.
Once all the areas are painted with 2 – 3 coats of flat black, take a small brush and dry brush the gun metal paint over all the black areas.
To give a tinge of brighter silver, I also give a light dry brush ‘coat’ of chrome silver paint. The key to dry brushing is patience. It will take multiple light “dustings” to see results. Do not rush it otherwise you will not get the worn metallic look.
To make the red & blue colours more movie accurate, I use a solid red paint as well as solid blue Tamiya acrylics for the two primary colours for Prime. Make sure you give multiple thin coats of the red especially as the red plastic in its original form is semi-translucent which makes it look plastic and toy-like.
Paint over the battle damage that has already been applied and do not worry about it now.
As with all customs, there are two things that make a good paint job. 1) Neat, clean work 2) Details.
Add in as much detail as you can. Use stills from the movie or use images of other customs or the highly movie accurate statuettes available online. If you are customizing another figure besides Prime, look for similar images of that particular figure.
Here are some of the details I added to this Prime:
- Painted over parts that are supposed to be silver
- Added flames to the front chest piece
- Added blue arm bands with red flames
- Added red shoulder guards
- Added blue trimming to forearms
- Added gold and copper detail
- Added in chrome trimmings and coloured in lights. I paint over the lights with chrome silver first, followed by a coat of clear orange or clear blue to create the illusion of a coloured light cover.
- Changing the colours of the windscreens from tinted blue to tinted black with a “Smoke”-coloured paint.
- Details for head
- Metal-tone finish for the “Matrix”
Once the base colours and details of the figure is done, it is time to paint in the “battle damage”.
For deep laser slashes and bullet holes, I use a small brush with “dried out” flat black paint (ala dry brushing technique) and put speckles of black in and around the slashes and holes. This is to simulate charred edges caused by the heat of the weapons used to inflict the damage.
I use two colours to bring out the detail of the battle damage. For deep slashes and bullet holes, I first use titanium silver as a base with a flat aluminum highlight. This gives texture to the damage as the lighter flat aluminum represents fresher damages and the titanium silver looks like an underlayer of metal as it is a different colour from any other metal on the figure.
For smaller dings and dents and other lighter scratches, switch between the two shades of silver paint to highlight the damage.
Use very small brushes to add in the battle damage detail.
For the finishing touches, I use Tamiya’s Diorama Texture Paint to create grass and mud effects on the wheels and parts of Prime that would logically get dirty in vehicle mode.
The swords are dry brushed gun metal over flat black. The searing laser portions were painted with chrome silver with a several coats of clear orange paint.
I’ve also added a Big Fat Gun from a Terminator figure. That’s it!
Total customization time: 18 – 20 hours.
(The original unpainted figure)
If you do a clean & detailed job, you would have taken a toy and transformed it (pun intended) into a high value collectible.
You can use my exact approach for a Leader Class Optimus Prime or change the colours for other Transformers figures, Marvel figures, Gundum or almost any other figures.
15 Mar 2012 Update: You can now bid on the custom Dual Model Kit Optimus Prime on Ebay HERE.