Equipment > Customization >
Painting your own team is one of the joys of the game. You can either copy the uniform of your favorite real life team, or make up your own! MiSTFA founder Mike Ewer has painted a number of different teams and provides the following info:
You can buy blank figures and bases from any number of online sources. I recommend the Stefan Corda 2K4 figures, which, although they are smaller and more difficult to paint, offer a lower center of gravity and improved playing. Stefan Corda also has an "African" player with different physique to the standard figure. If you are painting up a retro team from the 50s or earlier, you can also use their Vintage figure, which they affectionately call "Albert". I used that figure for my Walthamstow Avenue team pictured here:
If you are short on time, one solution is to buy a "21". The reference number 21 in the old Subbuteo range was Leeds, Real Madrid, etc. - before the days of flashes and swooshes and manufacturers' "template" kits. In other words, all white. This way you get white shirts, shorts and socks. Any color you wish to add simply paints right over it, but at least you get the flesh tones, hair and any other detail like boots painted already for you.
Back in the day I used enamel model paints, the same type used for model aircraft. These days though we have acrylic paints, which dry much faster and handle so much easier than enamel. You do need to work fairly quickly though. If your figures need a bit of work, you may need to swap brushes and shake the paint pot again halfway through. You'll find the paint starts to get a bit stodgy. Painting ten or eleven figures of a team (remember your eleventh guy is your "roaming goalie" so paint him the same as your stick keeper), by the time you have painted the last one, the first one is dry already. I use gloss for everything but the flesh tones. Or you can use all matt if you prefer. I like the Tamiya paints, which although more expensive and in larger pots, seem to coat easier than Testors. Plus, as they are larger, you can pretty much get away with shaking them to mix them, rather than stirring, which can be a messy task.
At the pace described above, I recommend having two brushes of the same size so you can wash one and let it dry naturally while using the other one to paint the next color. For most work, I use a Round 0 brush. Don't use one with the cheap plastic "hairs", invest a couple more bucks in a decent natural hair brush. The Round 0 has a thick enough body to paint large areas quickly, but comes down to a nice point to add finer detail like sleeve and collar stripes.
Prepare and Plan
Draw out a plan of your color scheme on paper or pull up a good image or two on your laptop. This will avoid making mistakes like painting the wrong half of a Blackburn or Monaco kit for example.
Next you will want to find somewhere comfortable to paint. I never hold my figures in a modeling vice, but hold the peg in my hand with it comfortably supported on a table or arm of a chair, with good lighting. By holding it, you can rotate it around to aid some of the brush strokes. Natural lighting is best, so a three season room would be better than a den. One of my most comfortable painting positions is on the edge of an armchair or sofa with everything on a tray table. Lay down plenty of old newspaper or phone book pages to protect your table surface. Use old popsicle sticks to stir the paints before each use.
Start with Flesh
Starting from scratch, I recommend doing the flesh first. Don't forget to consider different ethnicities of your squad. You can use a darker flesh tone with a touch of red for many South American players, and browns for those of African descent. For a flesh tone that is different to the hair color, you can blotch the flesh on the face nice and liberally, making sure to cover each ear, then swoop down to the neck and then turn the figure round to get the back of the neck. If the player is bald or has a shaved head, don't forget to paint the whole head.
If you want a slightly darker tone of a color, drop a fairly large blob on a clean small plastic tray (I'm going to start using the lids off my son's baby food for this or you could use small food lids like sour cream pots) or a thick layer of paper, then use the stirring stick from the darker color to dab a little bit next to it. Blend the two together in the middle taking in as much as you need to get the desired color. This is a good technique for small amounts of custom tones, for a custom color for your kit, unless it's just for a piece of trim, I will detail that below.
Painting the hands (and forearms if your players wear short sleeves) is quite simple, you can usually get away with a dash on each side, front and back. Then for the legs, run the brush across the knees at a right angle for a nice even stroke at the right width, rotating the figure on the peg to get to the other sides. Most figures have a curl to them, allowing you to rest them on their back to dry without getting any paint stuck to the paper (face, knees and hands).
Add the Hair
Clean the brush when you're done, and then add the hair. Use the same technique as described above to get different shades of hair color between blond and brown, using small blobs of yellow, brown and white to get the right shades. I paint the hair on in clear strokes: From the top of the forehead down the sideburn, from the top of the ear around to the back of the neck, repeat on the other side, then fill in any gap. Rest the figures on their fronts when doing the hair, and any subsequent stages as the only points that rest on the paper are flesh tones that have already dried.
Making Custom Colors for Kits
To make a custom color for painting large portions of a kit (an entire shirt rather than just the sleeve stripe), I recommend buying an entire pot of the closest color you can find, even if you already own that color, and then adjusting the entire batch in the way a paint store rep takes a base paint and adds color tints. If it is anything on the lighter 3/4 of the spectrum, use white or whatever the lighter shade is and add a tint to that. For example to make amber, take a yellow and add tints of red. Don't try to make a dark color lighter unless it is just by a small amount, then add tints of white or another appropriate light shade. If you are not sure, use the smaller batch method described above to get the blend right, then work it on the larger scale. Paint a small piece of color on the label over where the color is printed to avoid confusion, and/or on the lid if appropriate. This way you also have a properly mixed batch ready to paint replacement figures if you need them.
Adding Colors to the Kit
Add lighter colors first. As most figures have a bit of a matt finish, if you are doing gloss, paint any white areas with a white coat first. To paint vertical stripes, try not to get the stripe too wide, use a very delicate touch with the tip of your brush and be careful of bulges in the figure that can cause your brush to open up. Go over the stripe a second time just to the side if you want a wider stripe. For horizontal hoops, you can roll the figure around while painting the stripe on. Hoops tend to go on easier and more evenly than stripes for this reason.
Collars and Cuffs
To add a contrast collar, paint it on in quarters, whether it is a V-neck or a crew neck. It's a more natural movement to just paint a quarter arc than to try a semicircle, at least on the front. For the back of the neck you can usually just put one line across the back if your front quarters came around far enough. The cuffs are simply a stripe across the front and back of each wrist, making sure they meet in the middle. For hoops on socks, paint them in pieces as you rotate the figure. Stripes along the arms and shorts are fairly simple to get right.
In these days of multicolored footwear, it is my personal preference just to leave the feet unpainted. For older style paint jobs, use black or even brown for the footwear, depending on the era depicted.