Vampira Tutorial - Full Color.pdf <--- Downloadable PDF

Vampira - Full color tutorial: by Saul Alvarez

Actress Maila Nurmi started her career as the first horror host as the character 'Vampira" in 1954, hosting her own series known as "The Vampira show." Maila also starred in the Ed Wood cult classic "Plan 9 from Outer Space", but was not credited by the name Vampira, but rather only as Vampire Girl. 

Many tributes have been erected to both her and her character from paintings to art works, statues, and model kits.  Recently one more tribute to Ms. Nurmi was created by talented sculptor Jim Maddox, and produced by Jesse Garcia of Garage Kits.US.  The tribute model kit bust is sized at 1/3 scale, standing roughly 13 inches tall, and comes in three pieces (i.e., Head, Hand and Base), with a beautiful likeness and great detail. The casting was flawless with only a minimal amount of prep work needed that took just a couple of minutes time to complete.

With the sculpting, casting, and production on this piece, it's a no brainer for any fan of Vampira or the Gothic/Horror genre to pick this up. Painting her was a breeze; this bust is a dream come true for any painter from beginner to advanced.  For this tutorial, we'll be painting Vampira in Full Color.

Now on with the painting part of the article.

The first step in any kit is to wash it thoroughly with soap and water, to remove any mold release or other chemicals left over from the molding process from the surface of the kit.  This can be donebeofre or after the sanding of any mold lines or flashing left over from molding.  For me, I've found it more practical to wash the kit after the first round of cleaning and sanding is done, but there's no wrong or right way, it's simply personal preference.
After drying, I started by priming the entire kit in a light gray primer.  Priming will allow any remaining imperfections done during prep work, such as sanding or seam work to become very noticeable. 


Once primed, the first step was to base coating the flesh area in Garage Kits.US Colors (GKC) Pale Flesh.  I made sure to cover the face, chest and hand completely. (Pic 1)

Next, I began to shade with GKC Transparent Mars Red around the upper and lower eyelids, nose, cheeks, forehead, neck area and hand.  I made sure to lightly spray to keep it subtle and leave room for other transparents, which would be applied in later steps.  (Pic 2)
(On a side note, after each application I lightly sprayed with a sealer to protect the paint on each step. GKC has a great selection of airbrush Top Coat Sealers that vary from dull, to satin, to gloss, all of which I have used in the past.  However, having used Testors dull coat throughout the years and having an ample supply on hand, I elected to use it instead for this paint up of Vampira.)

For the next step, I used GKC Transparent Rich Brown, enhancing the areas where shadows hit, and lightly shaded around the same areas as the previous step. (Pic 3)

Then I went in with GKC Transparent Bright Flesh and lightly shaded around the nose and nostrils, cheeks, forehead, eye areas and the area between the eyebrow and upper eyelid, which I believe is the orbital. (Pic 4)

I then used GKC Blue Enhancer to lightly shade around the upper eyelid for emphasis, and go a little heavier in the eyelid crevice. (Pic 5)

(To clarify, GKC Enhancers are thinned down versions of their standard color lines, which are used to shade and highlight over standard opaque paints.   They a few shades off, are great for painting shadows, tattoos, veins and make up effects where you do not want to cover up all your fleshtones or other underlying colors.)

After looking the last application over, I decided to tone down and blend the last step.  For this I used the original base coat of GKC Pale Flesh and lightly misted over the whole face.  The eyes were also colored with GKC Pure White. (Pic 6)

I went back with GKC Transparent Bright Flesh and lightly misted around the cheeks, nose, neck, eye areas, and lips.  This was done very subtly to bring out the color around these areas.  Notice up to now that the colors that I used make up the coloring formula I normally use for lips on a normal human portrait. (Pic 7)

Then I start painting in the eyes. Using GKC Tongue, which has a nice pink fleshy color, I painted the lower inside lids.  (Pic 8)

I gave her blue eyes by mixing GKC Denim Blue and a small drop of GKC Jet Black to darken. After this, I painted in the iris with this color. Next, I used GKC Ultra Marine Blue and painted striations from the center out leaving the dark color rim around the iris.  (Pic 9)

I then mixed the same GKC Ultra Marine Blue with a drop of GKC Pure White and drew in the light blue with a small detail brush, creating striations over the other blue in layers.   To finish the eyes off, I used the detail brush, drawing in small striations from the center out using GKC Yellow Ochre, adding a black dot in the center for the pupil, and two tiny white dots to represent glare. (Pics 10)

Then I started applying Maila's signature make-up, which really brings the character to life (so to speak).  Using GKC Jet Black, I paint in the sculpted eyebrows and her luscious eye lashes. (Pic 11)

(Before moving forward: With the rest of her makeup oil washes will come into play.    For flesh shading with oils, I use and recommend either Gamblin or Winsor & Newton brands.   My favorite colors for this are Burnt Umber and Indian Red.   In two separate small jars, I add a small amount of oil paint straight from the tube and add turpenoid for each color until I have the consistency of a wash that will be translucent to my liking.  I always follow the rule of painting the wash on a newspaper; if I can still see the letters under the wash, I have hit the mark.  Remember to properly seal coat your work at this stage before working the oils over the acrylic paints.  I would recommend applying several coats of sealer, and allowing an ample amount of time to properly dry/cure.)

Once I have mixed the wash well, I use detail brushes that I have on the side just for oil paints as to not mix with the acrylic paints.

I start brushing on the burnt umber wash around the eyes and lids going into the crevices around the upper eye, nostrils, hairline, facial features and lips.  I repeat the same with the Indian Red wash. At some point I will mix both colors on a palette which gives off a nice natural organic color.   I use Q-tips to spread and blend the wash around the face. Another handy tool I use to speed up the oil wash drying process is my blow dryer; I can't be without it. (Pic 12)

Now to add a little more depth around the eyes with chalk pastels and color to those gorgeous lips.  I decided to add a deeper and darker shade to the upper eyelid area using a mix of blue, red and black chalk pastels, for this I recommend Faber-Castell Chalk Pastels.

I scrape the pastel sticks on a piece of fine gritsand paper, making them into a powder. Using a small brush I dipped the tip of the brush into the powder and mix all three colors. With the tip of the brush I softly brush into the crevice darkening up the area. With another small brush I used some of the red pastel and lightly apply a subtle amount under the eyes.   As with the oil washes, I use a Q-tip to blend and soften up the area. When I am finished with the pastels, I lightly mist dull coat from a distance so I won't wash away the pastel work, repeating this a couple of times until I feel the piece is suitably sealed. 

For the lips, I turned to Liquitex Basics Acrylic Cadmium Red Medium Hue.  For base coating the lips I mixed the red with a drop of black, which gives off a nice dark Burgundy color, and brush this on with a small brush making sure I cover the entire lip area. (Pic 13)

To finish off the lips, I thinned down the Liquitex Cadmium Red with water and paint striations from the inside of the lips to the outer part. I repeat that a few times lightening up the red a little with GKC Tongue. (Pic 14-15)

For the final applications, I use GKC Jet Black to paint her hair and clothing.  

For the last step, I highlight her hair with Americana Chocolate Brown lightly dry brushing the raised areas of the hair. The only thing left is glossing the eyes and lips, which I do at the very end.

The same techniques, which was used on her face, was used to paint her hand. Her nails were base coated with the same color which was used on the lips, followed by a light spray of GKC Tongue over the top of the nails to highlight, after which I applied a light mist of GKC Transparent Bright Flesh to tint the tongue color on her nails.

After sealing the bust to protect the work, I moved on to the base, which was as much fun to paint (if not more so) than the bust.  (Jim Maddox designed the base to have elements of Vampira's couch from her show, made of wood with fabric cushion and the well-known skulls carved into the couch.)

I primed the base using GKC Black Surface Primer with my Airbrush. (Pic 20)

Next, I used Americana Acrylic Brown and lightly dry brushed the whole base, making sure to leave some of the black surface showing though. (Pic 21)

Using the same brown, I added a small amount of the Liquitex Red to give off a reddish brown color and dry brushed that over the last step. (Pic 22 base)

Adding a bit of Light Brown to the mix, I once again dry brushed another layer on to the high points of the base to further bring out the details. (Pic 23)

A base coat of the Liquitex Red Cadmium Medium Hue was painted with a brush over the sections that represented the cushion. (Pic 24 base)

To age the cushion and webbing, I applied GKC Transparent Jet Black along the crevices and indentations making sure to leave a halo of the red around the center. (Pic 25 base) 

Next, I painted the oval gems and buttons with GKC Jet Black. (Pic 26 base)

For the final step on the base, I used GKC Neutral Grey and hand painted a marble/feathering effect over the black oval gems, and airbrushed the grey lightly over the black buttons for depth. 
After sealing the whole base, I glossed the oval gems and buttons with Tamiya Clear X-22 and placed Vampira on the base. (Pic 27 base)

Well, there you have it, an easy and effective way to brighten up Vampira from her ghoulish ways.

I hope you have enjoyed the article, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to pop by either mine or Jesse booth at WonderFest, or contact either of us by email, Facebook or other forms of Social Media.