Friday, 11 November 2016

Suicide Squad Katana [WIP - Skin Tone, Phase One] aka 70 mm Nocturna Models Soum, 13 Moons

Painting realistic skin tones is hard. Painting extremely fair skin while maintaining realism and contrast is a whole different level of hard. At least for me. Phase one of the Nocturna Models Soum 13 Moons or Suicide Squad Katana proxy's skin tone involved setting the overall feel of the piece. And in this regard I decided to disregard the skin tone references of Karen Fukuhara (the actress who plays Katana) and go with a segment of Japanese society's fascination with the marketing concept of bihaku which literally means 'beautiful white' and refers to skin whitening cosmetic products.          

Nocturna Models Soum, 13 Moons - work-in-porgress on phase one of her skin tone
Nocturna Models Soum, 13 Moons is being painted as a proxy for Suicide Squad's Katana
Katana aka Soum's skin tone is an approximation of the concept of bihaku (see caption below)

My choice of an extremely fair skin tone partly references an incident in the movie in which Katana's eyes turn white as if she was being possessed by the ghostly souls of her blade. More often than not, pale skin seems to be associated with ghosts is Eastern Asian culture hence the link. That and my intention to create a muted pastel look to the whole piece which incidentally would run contra to Katana's colour scheme of black, red and white as seen in the movie (see final photo).

Bihaku is a Japanese marketing concept of fair skin

Contrast on the figruine's pale/fair skin tone is extremely subtle and to a large extent much more visible to the naked eye. Lower contrast on her skin as seen in the photos of the work-in-progress resin figurine is more a reflection of my own weaknesses as a miniature photographer. 

Nocturna Models Soum, 13 Moons - work-in-porgress, phase one skin tone (back view)
Contrast in her skin tone is actually more visible when viewed with the naked eye
Smoothness of the skin was an important consideration when painting Katana/Soum

Phase Two would likely involve adding some rosiness to Katana/Soum's cheeks and possible deepening some shadows for higher contrast. However, any further changes to her skin tone will be done only after the clothes and hair have been painted. I'm at a crossroads whereby painting her clothes white/off-white will automatically make her skin look darker while laying on darker hues on her clothes would likely make her skin look much lighter. My quandary is to find a dark enough hue that would still fall under the muted pastel category. Moreover, there is the original colour scheme of Katana's costume to consider. Your guess is as good as mine as to what the final colours will be.

Chalkiness is evident here and there, perhaps a sign I should use more Glaze Medium, and less to no water
As to what colour her clothes will be ... I've absolutely no idea at this point

Below is a rough guide on what was involved in Phase One of Katana/Soum's skin tone:

Evolution of Katana/Soum's skin tone (phase one)

Stage 01: A basecoat of Vallejo Iraqi Sand was followed by a midtone mixture of Rose Brown and Light Flesh. A glaze medium was added to the mix to enhance the translucency of the midtone layer. This allows some of the Iraqi Sand to show through the midtones.

Stage 02: Both a darker (more Rose Brown in the mix) and lighter (more Light Flesh) midtone combinations were applied in as smooth a transition as I could achieve. in addition to this, I also started adding the shadows which were varying mixtures of Iraqi Sand and Medium Flesh as well as pure layers of the latter albeit in very small recessed areas of her skin. 

Stage 03: Using Light Flesh, Ivory as well as mixtures of both, highlights were applied to the most prominent areas of the skin e.g. tip of the shoulders, knee, etc. The effect is subtle but as you can see from the center panel of the photo above that without the highlights the skin looks very flat. There are also minute amounts of Oxford Blue added into the mixture of the deepest shadows.

Katana/Soum's skin tone under undiffused direct lighting
Under certain lighting, Fukuhara's skin tone closely resembles the bihaku concept

Meanwhile, under undiffused direct light, Katana aka Soum's skin tone took on a slightly more pinkish hue but displayed an arguably higher contrast in that the highlights were more noticeable. It reminded me of a Katana promotional photo (see immediate photo above) of Karen Fukuhara in which her skin took on a pale pinkish hue. That's what lighting (or even filters) can do to one's skin. So progress-wise it's all good, for now, and coming up will be a freehand paint job that defines this piece as Katana. Until then, stay safe, be well and have a good weekend ahead.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Michael, I just hope that it's not too subtle to be noticed.

  2. Great beginnings ! I'm looking forward to more progress !

  3. Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice!

  4. Wow! This will be another one of your master pieces.

  5. Wow. You are just taking this to another whole new level. :O

    Really looking forward to your progress!

    1. Thank you very much Suber. Always happy to read your comments which encourage me to paint better!

  6. Astonishing! Perfect artwork...! Cheers!


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