Monday, 29 January 2018

Suicide Squad Katana [WIP - Soft Black Hair] aka 70 mm Nocturna Models Soum 13 Moons

Black hair is so ubiquitous among East Asians (K-Pop stars excluded) that I find it a somewhat uninteresting hue to paint. Familiarity breeds contempt as they are wont to say. Suicide Squad's Katana is, however, one character that requires black hair so I tried to make the painting of her hair as interesting as possible which meant setting a softer tone for her tresses versus jet black hair.

Suicide Squad Katana (aka Soum 13 Moons) work-in-progress: Soft black hair

To recreate the soft black hair that I wanted for Katana, I actually used every other colour except black ... well almost. The final step did involve the use of a black wash. But prior to that I used a triad of acrylic paints namely Vallejo Model Color German Camouflage Black Brown (70.822), Burnt Umber (70.941) and US Field Drab (70.873). Apart from the black brown for weathering purposes, these are colours I rarely find use for. But for soft black hair, they served their purpose well enough.

Stages of Katana's soft black hair from basecoat (far left) to end result (far right)
Acrylic paints and washes used to recreate soft black hair with the only true black hue being the wash

Initially, Katana's hair looks more light brown than black especially after the first three layers of paint (see above). It all starts with a black brown basecoat followed by increasing highlights of first burnt umber followed by Vallejo's US Field Drab. At the very last step, all the hues were toned-down using a black wash - just enough so that some of the highlights still showed through the wash.

Long lustrous soft black hair against an almost milky white fair skin
Well sculpted hair always makes the painting of it that much easier
Missing, for the moment, from Katana's hair is a ponytail secured by a delicate hairpin

The strongest temptation I had to fight while painting Katana's black hair was to add some highlights back onto her hair after the wash had been applied. Even now as I look at the photos I've the urge to do just that. Maybe right in the end after almost all her colours have been painted in, then only then will I take a second look at her hair to see if it needs additional highlights.

Temptation to add more highlights to Katana's hair is ever present but resisted
Katana's hair was put against a pure black backdrop to see if it had enough contrast within
Katana's facial features isn't finished yet; there's still her eyes, lips as well as various warm /cool hues to add
It's likely Katana will sport a diaphanous white tank top to fully realize details of the sculpture

As a measure of the contrast in Katana's black hair, I took photos of it against a black background. Her hair showed sufficient contrast, at least enough for me to move on with the painting process. The only likely thing I might change on Katana's hair is to add brighter highlights to areas which would naturally catch more light. That isn't as easy as it sounds. It's a balancing act that when tilted the wrong way would essentially change her hair color from soft black to brown.

Viridian green hues on her lower eyelid is one possibility I'm looking at to increase realism
Colour scheme for Katana is a simple one, which makes it difficult to pull off

Other than the dilemma of how much brighter her hair highlights should be, the second thing bugging me is the tips of her hair. Against her fair skin the tips of her look unnaturally thick. It is here more than anywhere else that additional highlights would be most justified. Again, that's something I'll have to relook only after most of her paint job has been completed. Not now. 

Contrast between the tips of Katana's hair and her fair skin seem a tad too dark and may need to be softened
Back view of Katana's soft black hair against a black backdrop
A reddish-brown hue for the leather armour on Katana's right arm seems the most likely choice

As a comparison I also took shots of Katana's hair against a whitish backdrop. In essence, her hair will take on a slightly different hue depending on the background colour as well as lighting. This is an optical illusion which I explained in a blog post two-and-a-half years ago. So as it stands without any further changes, Katana's hair tends to fluctuate between shades of soft black and brown black.   

As expected, Katana's soft black hair looks different against a white background
Japanese-themed motifs are being explored as possible free-hand paintings on her left leg stocking
Once the rest of Katana's paint job is complete, I'll revisit her hair to see if it needs additional highlights

Still missing from Katana's hair is an extremely long ponytail secured by an intricate hairpin. I plan to paint the ponytail/hairpin separately and possibly give both brighter hues for a juxtaposition between them and the rest of Katana's soft black (or is it black brown) hair.

If possible, a Hi no maru (circle of the sun) symbol will adorn the clothing around Katana's left upper arm
Fair as Katana's skin tone may be, it still manages to stand out against a whitish background
As to what colour Katana's Japanese tabi socks will be ... I've no idea for now
Semi-gloss clear coat from a previous work-in-progress has put a healthy shine on her skin
Back view of Katana's soft black hair against a whitish backdrop
Next up for painting is the white clothing on Katana

My apologies if you feel inundated with boring photos of black hair. These blog post picture uploads are as much a form of personal online record keeping as they are a way of sharing my experience in this hobby. Due to Blogger's inherent indexing system, it's easier (and much faster) for me to refer to what I had done in the past via my blog posts than to rummage through tons of saved data in a hard drive. Meanwhile, a lot of experimenting lies ahead as I try my hand at airbrushing as well as hand-brushing lacquer paints. In the meantime, I hope to continue posting project updates and get back into the groove of blogging after a long two week hiatus! With that, I wish you a great week ahead.


  1. O! What a fantastic sexy lady!
    Great work at now :)

  2. Looks great dude. Problem with black is if you take it to far it either loses the realistic look or ends up looking like they are beginning to go grey.

    1. Thanks Simon :) Black is a pain to paint, as is white!

  3. Very nice, what a sensual model!

    1. Nocturna Models have some excellent resin miniatures in their collection!

  4. Looking great so far Kuan !
    I'm looking forward to see her finished !

  5. Wonderful work so far! Can‘t wait to see the finished piece.

  6. Dammmn that must be nerve wracking - add the highlights at the end like you said and you can always glaze them back if need be :)

    1. I'm currently in two minds as to whether to increase the highlights or make her hair darker. Knowing the inner perfectionist in me, either way I'm never going to be satisfied with the final result ;)

  7. Such a devotion to detail is what makes the difference. I'm impressed (again!)

    1. Thank you so much Suber for your kind words as always! :)

  8. A very nice starting paintjob indeed my Dear FeM ^^

    I wait for the next steps ^^


    1. Thank you for following the progress of my project Mori-kun :)


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