The figures go through a very specific process to make them look as I want to. For the course of the How page I’ll be showing you a commission I did of a Savage Dragon figure for Thom Hotka over at 515 Comics. Just click the image to see the larger version!

Step 1 Posing the Figure
Figure The first thing that must be done is that the figure is posed based on specification by the client. I generally ask for as many photos as possible when someone is sending me a figure because I need it to look exactly like they’ve asked for. Also all of the joints are sealed with a glue before painting so if it doesn’t look right it can be near impossible to fix before the figure is completed and utterly impossible afterward.
Step 2 The Base Coat
Figure After the figure is posed and the joints are sealed, I cover the entire figure in a white base coat. This ensures that the colors blend correctly and that the original colors of the figure itself don’t influence the color’s end result. Depending on the consistency of the paint and the material being applied to, this can sometimes take 1-3 coats.
Step 3 Starting the Base Colors
Figure The first parts of the figure I paint are the largest areas and the hardest to reach. For example, with Dragon here having a coat with a large collar I had to leave his neck seal unglued so I could rotate the head while painting and get everything. I also put in a base for areas with depth like the mouth where the inside is one color and then there are parts to color on the front of the area that would make reaching the back very difficult.
Step 4 More Base Colors
Figure The next step is to start to fill in the smaller areas, like the belt and shoes here. I also take this time to go around the edges of some of the larger areas so the colors don’t spill over. In some figures this can be an especially monotonous step when they have a lot of details. Dragon here was relatively easy but the Scarecrow figure in the gallery is wrapped in barbed wire and that took a lot of time (and patience) to work around.
Step 5 Finishing the Base Colors
Figure At this point I will go through and finish all the base colors and do the edging around them again so there’s no color spillover into the areas there shouldn’t be. I also get the facial features ready to start painting.
Step 6 The Fine Details
Figure With most of the other stuff done I do all the small detail work; pupils, eyebrows, teeth and gums, fingernails, belt buckles et cetera. All the really small details get saved for this step because the brush used is really small and depending on how many details there are can take me a bit of time.
Step 7 Adding Accessories
Figure Not all figures come with accessories of course so this step doesn’t always apply, but this is where I get the accessories back on and in place. In this case Dragon had 3 accessories; his gun, the baton, and the tails of his coat (which had to be removed so the back area could be reached). The accessories are painted using the same above steps with the base coat, base colors, and touch up work. The accessories are also glued in place.
Step 8 Shading
Figure This step is another optional step depending on how the figure is supposed to look. In this case I use a shading style called antiquing which gives it more of a dirty, gritty look than using an airbrush which is the common action figure shading technique these days. In figures that have a lot of grooves (like the Scarecrow figure from Batman in the gallery) this process really works well to accentuate details.
Step 9 Mounting
Figure The figures, now more like statues, are mounted to a base to ensure that they stay standing. In this case Thom requested a custom base that looked like a road which I made out of a flour clay and painted also using the same above techniques. Normally I just use a small wooden base that come with the figures but custom bases are available and can add a lot to the feel of the figure.
Step 10 – Seal Coating
After mounting the final (and also optional) step is to add a seal coating for those that request it. The coat helps to greatly protect the otherwise potentially scratchable paint job but even with a matte finish coat it still comes off with a bit of a shine and can take away from some of the realism. You can see examples of with and without the seal coat in the gallery.