Tutorial - Working with 1:72 Figures, Samurais

by Roman aka jar


the decision which tutorial will be up is done.
You voted for tiny Samurais instead of Zombies and here we go.
Don't worry, there will be Zombies too in the future!

The "year of the painter" on MV is rolling on and as it looks there won't be as much posts about other blabla all the time from my side. The posts that will appear from me will be more focused on sharing experiences, ideas and offering help. From painters to fellow painters. Still looking forward to find back to the roots of the jungle. Already feels awesome having tons of articles in the pipeline for our readers out there, but this already becomes some blabla again, let's get it on then. Musica.


In the end of 2013 I had some weeks were I really was into painting 1:72 figures.
I fell in love with those new ones from Zvezda, a russian company who produces a large amount of figures in that scale with focus on many eras of the past. I also had some Samurais and Ninjas under my brush, maybe you remember them:

What I liked during painting these was the high amount of quality I found in these sculpts. They felt like a 54 mm figure from their quality and so it was a lot of fun painting them. I also started a bigger group of Samurais and Ashigaru, who protect their Damyio in the face of death:

Well, those are the models I am talking about, just for you to have them on your screen. This tutorial will not show you a step by step guide with colour recipes, rather it will show you my progress and thoughts I have made during the work on the "Samurai on horseback" and the "Ninja".

During these weeks I worked on several 1:72 projects at once, so there was a constant flow of projects turning to be finished and new ones who were prepared and painted. I told you about the quality I found in those sprues of small figues and I want to share it with you. First of all, Zvezda is offering a game with those Samurais, so it is very interesting what you can find in those boxes:

Tiny Miniatures, tiny boxes ...
 ... even with gaming bases!!
... Unit cards. I love the slashed Samurai icon :D

Ok this is very small and has to be prepared like every other plastic figure.

 Oh yesssssss ...
 This is madness ... no, this is Samurai!!

Ok, then. After preparing the plastic figures, removing all mould lines with a sharp scalpell it was time to build them up and find some proper plinths for them. They also had to be very small, I really enjoyed this vacation from the usual scale I paint miniatures in.

Time for basing. 
I decided to do simple but nice bases. For the Samurai on horse I used a cool wood piece that I destroyed and glued in place, while for the Ninja some tiny stones were glued to tiny dice-sized plinth.

Back ...

to ...



Back to the roots with obviously too much superglue, but I cared more about the mouldlines who still caught my eye on the photo. Tiny mouldlines are harder to remove than bigger ones. 1:72 Scale is a challenge on its own, so it was time to get out the knife again. A little glance on the Shogun while basing shows that I was basing mainly with cork here:

After the bases were prepared also with some soil/earth to make it all one natural piece the figures have been primed black. After this was dry I used the Airbrush and some bright greenish grey colour (I think it even was VMC Green Grey) to apply on the figures and get a better overview on what is happening there.

After this step I gently started to apply basic colours to both of the models. Basic colour means, I place an opaque colour. I want this colour to be the colour of the area in the end, still I have to paint shadows and lights to it later on.

During this process I usually stick to my plan to paint every basic tone to all areas to have a good start to work from, but in the case of the rider I somehow got stuck by the horse's glittering stuff - don't ask me why, but I just decided to let it flow ...

It doesn't matter in my eyes if such a little distraction happens as I know that there will be a base tone on every colour in the end. The base was painted by putting a wet basic tone of something brownish to the base and painting a sketch of light and shadow to it by mixing in colours from the pot to the wet area.
Samurai needs more colours!
 Pow! Pow!

At this point I do paint my plinths black. 
It was time to start what I have done to the blue parts on the horse to other areas. Working my way to highlights and shadows. Also to the Ninja.

This takes a little while and is really not easy on this scale. That is what I have learned. If you got a proper feeling of zenithal light painting you will be safe though. It helps you to know where your shadows and lights will appear and it all makes sense in the end. Using many glazes brought me this far:

Working on the highlights and shadows will help your eye to read the figure better as it will not only be a simple plain area of colour. It comes alive, even in 1:72.

For the Ninjas base I decided to go for a little river with stones here so I added some gloss varnish to the greenish/grey stone area to make it look wet.

For the Samurai on horseback I went for an autumn base and used some natural leaves. I did use them as even there are other brands who offer great products most of them do not fit in this scale. By grinding them by myself I am able to decide how big they will be in the end. The leaves have been placed with matte varnish.

More painting time was spent on increasing the contrast range from dark to bright (shadows to light). On the Ninja and the Samurai. The Samurai also recieved a freehand of his clan on his banner. I added some gloss varnish to the base of the Samurai too but mostly in the lower area. I think I messed up his red armour parts too by using a little (or was it too much) gloss varnish on it. I know that the Samurai Armour was polished and very shiny, so I tried to achieve that here too, but I think it was too much for that Scale:

Painting Ninja's black is different topic and you
might find another tutorial with some good
thoughts on it in the near future.

What I can say in retroperspective is that this Scale is not really different than others. You can work with the same techniques, same theory and can achieve cool results if you put proper time to your goals. What I really enjoyed during my 1:72 weeks was that I became better and better in working with those ultrasmall details. It trained me to paint smaller dots and to do smaller glazing strokes with just the side of the tip of the brush. It was good to see how it improved by just painting it and I know that this will also help me on future projects, whatever scale they might have.

The only downside I got from it was that your eyes are really going completly to another dimension when you focus on such ultrasmall parts for a longer while. It's fun but don't forget to take proper break during your painting sessions. Let your eyes relax by looking in a far sunset for example:

Well, that was my little journey through both of these models.
I hope you enjoyed it?

If there are any questions regarding the article's content let me know via comment and I'll be back at you as soon as possible :)

Some more 1:72 journeys I have completed:

Keep on happy painting!
Best Wishes


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