Painting the White Models 90mm Samurai

Ray Farrugia

Without any doubt the White Models 90mm Samurai is one of the most beautiful models ever cast in this scale! It is also one of the most complicated to assemble,

At least from my point of view. But I can assure anyone, that the finished model will make you forget all the hardships encountered during construction and painting!

Anyway let’s have less of the talking and more of the action, as the whole venture is time consuming, due to the multitude of parts. 58 well cast white metal pieces, quite a lot of pieces for a single figure! I spent 87 hours in construction, certainly a lot of time but I could not help it could I?

All pieces were pinned prior to gluing for a secure bond .I assembled as much parts as I could, before painting. The remaining parts all received pins, for easier handling during painting and also for ease of fixing in the end, as they would have corresponding holes wherever they might end up! I’m always stressing this point of ‘pinning’ at our club meetings and you might as well get some dose of it all!

The most challenging aspect of this figure is not the rich embroidery on his silk clothing! It’s the large area of oriental flesh that presented me with the biggest painting headache to date! I conjured up a basic mix on my palette, and it turned out quite satisfactory. All colours are Winsor & Newton Oils and Vallejo acrylics except where noted.

The eyes were painted first. A pale gray acrylic was used for the eyeballs. Irises were painted with Mars Black. Mars Brown was painted over the Mars Black, leaving a dark outer border and the pupils showing. I highlighted the lower half of the irises by adding Tit. White to the Mars Brown. I omitted the catch of light as the face would be pointing slightly downwards and would be quite concealed by the mabizashi (peak) and the fukigaeshi (side flaps) of the kabuto (helmet) Lower eye lashes were outlined with Mars Brown and upper lashes with Blue Black.

Flesh Mix
Base-Mars Orange+Mars Yellow+Tit. White
Shade-Mars Orange
Highlight-Base+Mars Yellow+Tit. White

This initial application was painted in the traditional wet–in–wet method. After all was dry I applied the deepest shadows and highest highlights

Deep Shade-Mars Brown+dab of Brown Madder

High highlights-Highlight+Mars Yellow+Tit. White, in two gradated steps, adding just a little more Tit. White in the last step.

I painted all the remaining flesh after I finished the face. I felt that once I manage to overcome the hazardous task of obtaining a satisfactory overall balance of flesh tone, I would be able to confront the other more intricate and elaborate patterns!

Tourniquet on right arm
This was painted in oils.
Base-Tit. White+dab of Raw Umber
Shade-Base+Raw Umber

The tuft of grass around the supposed wound was painted in Terre Verte oils. Shade was Blue Black+Ivory Black. Highlights were Sap Green+Winsor Green (Yellow Shade). Highest highlights were Chrome Yellow+Tit.White.Blood was smeared on with Mars Red and highlighted with Cad.Red+dab of Cad.Scarlet.

Kabuto (Helmet)
The Kabuto was next .It was painted with Mars Black over a brown acrylic and when it was dry I applied a wash of Ivory Black. When dry again, I picked out the scales’ edges with a mixture of Raw Umber +Tit.White, for a highlight effect. I used this technique on all the other armour parts. The blue lacing on the kabuto and nodawa (throat and upper chest cover) was painted in a Susogoi manner, which means, "Shaded colour lacing growing lighter towards the top"

Cobalt Turquoise was used as a base for this colour. Blue Black was added for the lower row, next came a row with straight Cobalt Turquoise, and then added a dab of Tit.White for each subsequent row. The base colour for the lower red lacing was Cad. Red deep with Cad.Scarlet+Cad. Yellow used for highlights. Shading was done with Ivory. Black. For the Kabuto no o (tying chord of the helmet) and agemaki (helmet back bow and tassels), I added Naples Yellow for the highlights to obtain a slightly different shade .The lacing pattern had to be simulated from the inside by painting it with darker shades of the outer colours as it was not sculpted on.

The floral pattern on the mabizashi, the fukegaeshi, and the nodawa was, 925 Intense Blue over 820 Off White background. Leather edges on the side flaps were, Burnt Umber+Mars Yellow oils as a base with Mars Yellow+Tit.White for highlights and mars Black for lowlights and demarcation around the golden studs. These and all other gold parts were painted with gold printers’ ink+Burnt Umber oils as a base with highlights in Gold and Silver printers’ inks and lowlights in Burnt Umber. Once dry, the kabuto received several thin coats of Vallejo acrylic gloss varnish for a Yoshino Urushi (Glossy finishing lacquer).

Kuwagata (helmet crest)
The helmet crest as supplied in the kit was in two separate parts, and I felt that it would be too heavy to put together as instructed, so I replaced it with another crest made from 5 thou plastic sheet. The crest was painted as described for the gold parts.

Waidate (Right side Armour)

This was painted in acrylics. The background was 858 Ice Yellow. The three-leaf pattern was painted with970 Green, highlighted with 942 Light green and 827 Lime. Lowlights were 950 Black+970 Green.

Kote (Armoured sleeve)
This was my first attempt in acrylics where I had to paint in the shadows and highlights.
Base-960 Violet
Highlight-811 Blue violet+951 White
Shade-Base+950 Black

I chose a pattern of dragonflies and fans, and these were painted in oils and acrylics respectively, for the simple reason that I was scared that, any corrections I would surely have to make, on the sleeve colour, would prove too difficult to achieve with the same mixture of acrylics. So the dragonflies were painted with Gold Ochre, adding Tit White for highlights and straight Burnt Umber for the shade. The fans were more straightforward and I dared myself to paint them with acrylics.

The black and gold armour on the sleeve was treated as described for all black and gold metal parts.

The mail was coated with Lamp Black, and dry brushed with Silver printers’ ink+Mars Black once dry. Random washes with Burnt Umber+Burnt Sienna were applied to the mail to depict rust, and also to add some depth and realism to the mail. Silver Printers’ ink was used to pick up some hot spots of mail.

Chest and back belting+leather edge of Kote
Base-Mars Orange+Mars Brown+Liquin
Highlight-Mars Orange+Tit White
Shade-Mars Brown+brown Madder


Haidate (Divided apron-like thigh Armour)
These were painted prior to assembly, and received locating pins. Corresponding larger holes were drilled on the figure, and filled with Milliput. While the milliput was still soft, I pressed the Haidate in, after I coated the pins with Talcum powder. At this point, some more folds were sculpted on, to the tops of the Haidate, which would make up the waist sash. When I removed the Haidate, I was left with four locating holes in the figures’ upper thighs. The blue portion of cloth was painted as follows, in oils.

Base-French Ultra Marine Blue
Shade-Blue Black
Highlight-Base+Tit White

The embroidery was painted with Gold Ochre as a base, with Tit White added for highlights and Burnt Umber for the shade. The lower dotted pattern was painted in 994 Dark Gray and highlighted by adding 820 Off White over a pale gray background. After all was dry, three very diluted coats of Vallejo satin varnish were painted on the cloth area.

Horizontal lacing
Base-Mars Yellow
Highlight-Base+Tit White
Shade-Burnt Umber

Crossed lacing
Base-Purple Lake
Shade-Brown Madder+Ivory Black

Once dry the scales received the same treatment as described for the armour.

This was also painted entirely with acrylics.

Base-Sand Gray (Lifecolor)
Highlight-986 Deck Tan+Beige (Andrea)+918 Ivory+820 Off White
Shade-Deck Tan+Field Gray (Andrea)+Black 950

Katana and Aikuchi (Sword and dagger)

Tsuka (Grips)
Base-Tit White+Mars.Yellow
Highlights-Tit White
Shade-Base+Mars Yellow+dab of Burnt Umber

Saya (Scabbards)
Base-Cadmium Red
Shade-Brown Madder

When dry, Rotring Red drawing ink was painted on to portray a rich deep effect. Design on both scabbards was kept as simple and effective as possible. It was painted with Naples Yellow+dab of painting medium, in dissimilar strokes parallel to the Tsuba (Sword guards). When dry, they were lacquered.

Yumi (Bow)
As can be viewed in the in-process photos, the bow consisted of two pieces. I tried to fix them together at a very early stage, by inserting a pin right through the clenched fist. Well I succeeded in doing so, but after a couple of days of rotating the figure around, the inevitable happened! I managed to break the bow from near the inserted pin, on the upper portion, due to the fact that the drilled hole left a very thin wall of metal! So now I had to shorten the upper part by one segment to expose some length of pin. Nonetheless I still had some pending brainstorming, as to how should I attach a straight Tsuru (string) to the bow, after it was fixed and painted. I solved this by forming two similar spools out of fuse wire, which were coiled round a piece of piano wire length similar to the one that would serve as the bow string. At the end I formed them in a loop over the bow’s ends and secured them with super glue. These bow string reels, are called Tsurumaki and very conveniently, left me with two hollow coils, in which to insert the string, which in turn was cut to size allowing for some spacing at the inserting ends! This may sound like a lot of wasted time, but I can assure you that it’s not. By spending quite some time in planning this relatively small-scale engineering, you really invest for the closing stages, when all parts just click together, with no messing around with sweaty, sticky fingers, which will smear your paint!

The bow was painted in the same manner as for the sword and dagger. The black bindings were painted with Mars Black, highlighted with Tit White and shaded with Ivory Black. The bowstring was painted to represent hide in a tan acrylic, and toned with Burnt Umber oils.

Suneate (Shin guards)
The same procedure was followed as for all the other armour plating and gold items.

Waraji (Rice straw sandals)
This type of footwear which was initially worn by retainers, was adopted by all Samurai as fighting on foot became more common. And our soldier coming from the Gekokujo period, which means ‘low overcoming the high’ referring to the peasant revolts of the 15thC, has the appropriate footwear along with all the other clothing and armour, all gathered from the battlefield, from dead Samurai. This is the reason why I painted as much variety of colours, patterns and leather bindings as I could, to depict them, as belongings of diverse fallen Samurai! Burnt Umber oil was brushed over a tan acrylic. Excess was removed with a clean brush and Mars Yellow+Tit White was used for the highlights.

Ebira (Open quiver)
The quiver as supplied in the kit is made of cane. Still, I had to make some alterations to the back part, for a more snuggly fit. I also pondered how should I mount the arrows once everything was painted! In reality the arrows would fit in between rows of bamboo or leather strips at the top of the ebira. So I inserted a piece of balsa wood inside the ebira, which was grooved at the top. This in turn received a wash of Burnt Umber oils and dry brushed with Mars Brown+Mars Yellow+Tit White. A strip of lead foil was bound and glued to the back stem, with quite a considerable length left unbound at the spot where, later on it would be turned around the arrows for a secure fit as in reality! Again Burnt Umber oil was brushed over a tan acrylic. Excess was removed. Highlights were picked out with Yellow Ochre+Tit White.

Ya (Arrows), Ya no ne (Narrow arrow heads), Karimata (Forked arrow heads), and fletchings.
I used extra long hypodermic needles for the arrow shafts, and being hollow, allowed me to mount them on jigs to ease off the handling during painting. The same applied for the arrowheads and fletchings, which were pinned and they in turn were also mounted on hollow jigs. To portray a pillaging soldier I used some three-sided flights and narrow arrowheads from Poste Militaire’s bow and arrows 90mm kit, for an assorted full ebira!

These were painted with a tan acrylic and received a wash of Burnt Umber oils. When dry, Mars Black was used to depict the intersecting segments of the bamboo shafts, and Burnt Umber was feathered round the base of these segments. Highlights were Yellow Ochre+Tit White.

Arrowheads’ and fletchings’ bindings were painted with 950 Black and highlights added with Mars Black+Tit White. Arrowheads were burnished and sprayed with PS-31 Tamiya Smoke.

These were painted as follows:

Base-820 Off White
Wash with Mars Brown
Highlights-Tit White+dab of Raw Umber

Base-822 Black Brown
Wash with Ivory Black
Highlights-Mars Black+Tit White

Uwa Obi (Waist Sash)
This was the third and last item painted in acrylics and was painted in one attempt!

Base-Beige (Andrea)+941 Burnt Umber
Highlight-Base+820 Off White in 6 gradated steps
Shade-Base+941 Burnt Umber+822Black Brown

Waist and Ebira belting
Base-Winsor Blue+Liquin, over a pale gray acrylic
Shade-Blue Black
Highlight-Cobalt Blue+Tit White

This was built up with Das Pronto, and textured with a rough stone. Cat litter and natural dirt was sprinkled over a coating of diluted white glue. Two pieces of real logs were embedded in the soft das, and small stones, vegetation, and static grass were added. Various washes with Burnt Umber, Mars Brown, Mars Red, Mars Yellow and Winsor Green were randomly applied. The whole terrain was dry brushed with the same oil earth colours that were used for the washes. Finally, after 417 hours of pain stacking construction and painting, the figure was mounted and stuck on the base. Name plate, was added from a piece of Black Brown lead foil, which started life as the cork covering on a wine bottle! Came in really handy as I could manipulate it to look like a piece of cloth. Lettering was done in Gold Old English dry transfers.


I hope you enjoyed reading this article and hopefully you may find some useful tips. I really enjoyed writing it; at least it was not as demanding as the construction and painting. All in all this was a very rewarding project, where as I stated more than once; a little forethought can go a very long way in the execution of the completed figure!

Keep on painting!

Arms & Armour of the Samurai; by I.Bottomley & A.P.Hopson, published in 1996 by Saturn Books Ltd in Great Britain.

Osprey, Elite Series No23 THE SAMURAI. published in Great Britain in 1989.

Mario Cocker:-Finished Model
Ray Borg:-In-progress-shots