HOWTO Paint: Snakes

This is the final results of painting this “giant snake” miniature from  Etsy seller Wondrousminiatures.  The model was printed on a 3D (Resin) printer, which gives a much higher level of detail than I can achieve on my FDM printer. Compare this snake model to the one I printed on my FDM printer previously. It’s about half the size (1/4 of the volume) with better detail.

Follow along for the steps I used when painting this snake.

First, I primed it with a gray auto spray primer. This step may not be strictly necessary, as I figure acrylic paint will probably stick to the resin print, but since I didn’t know, I decided to prime it to be safe.  I’m completely overpainting every part of this primer, so the actual color doesn’t matter.  I went with gray to be able to see the details on the model (black will make them hard to see) but not have to use too many layers of paint to cover it (sometimes white shows through a single layer of acrylic paint).
Snake model, with gray primer

Then I picked a contrasting Olive Green and Apple Tart color scheme for the main two colors on the snake.  Because this figure doesn’t have an integrated base, I didn’t have any easy way to permanently mount it to a painting handle until I was finished with the entire bottom of the snake.

For the mouth, I used the Baby Pink / Cherry Cobbler / vintage white Teeth color scheme outlined in this video:

I did the baby pink coat inside the mouth at this point, before I did more washes on the outside of the snake, and finished up the cherry cobbler wash and fangs in the detailing stage.

To give some shading interest and outline the spaces between scales with a darker shadow, I washed the entire back of the snake with a violet wash. It looks very dark (purple/violet) in this photo because it is still wet, but once I finished the highlights you probably wouldn’t think “violet” if asked to describe the color of the snake.

I then drybrushed yellow over the top of the scales to pull out the texture, highlight them and add a third color into the mix. I did more brushing on the parts of the snake that are on top and “exposed” to light to make them brighter.

I also drybrushed the apple tart belly scales a little with this same yellow. Then I started on some of the detailing work. (As snakes don’t have any limbs, weapons, or clothes, this consisted mostly of the eyes and mouth.) I washed the inside of the pink mouth with a cherry cobbler, and added some black (shadow) under the eye ridge.

Then I hit the fangs with vintage white and colored in the eye with some opaque Liquitex Acrylic Ink (Cerulean Blue Hue). The easy flow of the ink makes it easy to load up a small brush and then just touch the eye and have the ink flow across the entire region. I’m using the surface tension change at the edge of the eyeball to keep from having to accurately brush in such a small area. (The only difficulty is if you load up the brush too much and the ink starts to flow past the boundary of the eyeball, which might require you to do some covering touch-up in olive green….)

The only other detail I add is a small black line inside the eye for the vertical snake pupil.


I also painted the same model using a brown/yellow color scheme:
The belly is Golden Brown (as are the highlights on the back). The back is FolkArt #231 “real brown” with a black wash (instead of violet). The mouth is done exactly the same, but the eye is yellow instead of blue.




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