Scale Aviator International Magazine Issue 3 | Page 55
MASTER CLASS in PILOT PAINTING
Scale model aircraft are a great way, and sometimes the only way, to see a historical
aircraft y. Invariably at a Fly-In, the aircraft that gets the most attention is the aircraft
with the top notch weathering, rivet detail, and fully instrumented cockpit. The ultimate
compliment from spectators is “It looks like the real thing!”. Unfortunately, I nd that pilot
gure usually doesn t look like the real thing. I think if the model looks real, so should
the pilot! I absolutely CRINGE when I see a Snoopy (or other) plush toy in the cockpit of
a scale aircraft!!
With that philosophy, I created my own pilot gure company called Best Pilots. I sculpt,
make molds, cast and paint the pilot gures so that they look as realistic as possible.
Since I have a degree in illustration and paint quite a few pilots a year, I thought I could
share some of my knowledge gathered over years with my fellow RC pilots.
A most important rst step:
Clean the gure! Before painting the gure, you really have to insure it is free from any
mold release agents. If you don t clean it, the paint won t adhere to the surface. Also at
this time, remove all ashing and traces of the seams from the molding process. To
clean the gure, I use rubbing alcohol and an old toothbrush and give him a good
scrubbin . I ve also used soap and water and even carburetor cleaner all to good effect
on resin gures.
You should probably plan for about a weekend to paint your pilot. Not much of a time
investment when you consider all the time, effort and money in your scale warbird.
We are going to use my latest pilot gure from Best Pilots, RAF Ace, Sailor Malan as
our subject. I will from time to time show other Best Pilot gures as well not only to
illustrate different techniques but also take advantage of this wonderful marketing
First we are going to use an airbrush. Airbrushes
sometimes make me madder than a stripped servo gear,
but this step is pretty painless. We are aiming for a light
esh color, somewhere around Charlie Brown and one of
those vampires from Twilight. Don t worry if the skin color
is too light at this stage because the next steps will make
it look right.
I almost exclusively use Model Masters Acrylic (MMA)
model paints by Testors. I like that they are water soluble
and my local hobby shop has a great selection of colors to
choose from. My mix for the base coat of Caucasian skin
(the word esh creeps me out for some reason), is: 1 part MMA Flesh (eck, that word), 3
parts MMA Flat White and 1 part MMA Wood (yes, Wood. We are just worried about the
actual color here not the name. I nd this is a good ochre color and it won t make your
pilot look like he is made of wood!) Pour part of the Skin color in the airbrush cup and ll