Aliens Queen OSL pencil sharpener repaint (warning VERY pic heavy!)


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This is not a prop, or a replica. But I was asked to post the process here as it relates directly to my AvP queen crown repaint project. In short, the idea to extend and blend the ADI crown's blue and green paint schemes across its unfinished middle stemmed directly from my experience painting this dual-color OSL repaint of a cheap Lootcrate Aliens queen pencil sharpener. The crown thread is here, if you missed it:
I will try to be concise, but this thread will be very picture heavy due to the steps involved and the two very different sides' palettes and lighting angles. OSL is a term used mostly by mini painters, and means painting portions of a figure so that it looks like they are illuminated by a Lighting Source within the Object's frame of reference.

Also, I'm not a mini painter. I painted a mini once, a 1/144 scale Dougram:
And I did one simple OSL before this one, a larger (1/12 scale) Leia in carbonite:
And, technically, this pencil sharpener isn't a mini. But it is roughly the same size as larger mini busts and monsters.

Oh, and also I wanted to play up the reflective qualities of the queen's hard carapace so I borrowed (at a very amateur level) Juan Hidalgo's awesome glazing technique for NMM (Non Metallic Metal):

This repaint took place from September to November of 2022. The visual objective was a blend of a comic's graphic contrast with realistic transitional tones. And to try to figure out how to make chunky opaque teeth and tendons appear to be translucent.

The pencil sharpener, acquired via eBay after Lootcrate's release. This pic is after I spent an hour sanding off the mold lines and defects prior to priming.
22,09-27 (2) removed mold lines.jpg


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The next step after a simple black (gray on the teeth) priming was to do a sort of zenithal (but not literally zenithal!) base by spraying blue and red from the directions of my two light sources. I chose below for the red, because uplighting always makes things look dramatic, and 3/4 behind for the blue so it would (hopefully) reveal a lot of the beautiful contours of the queen's design.
22,09-28 (6) OSL preshading.jpg

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22,09-28 (5) OSL preshading.jpg

Fun fact, unscrewing the cap for the pencil shavings gives you a place to stick your finger to become a human parts holder.

The next step was brown pre-shading. To give variation to the head I broke it into sections of harder and softer areas. The former got a brown tone, the latter a more neutral base color so the lights' colors would show stronger there and also diffuse more.
22,09-28 (13) OSL preshading.jpg

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Unlike my full size ADI crown, this figure had to be painted on all sides - much more work!
22,09-28 (19) OSL preshading.jpg

22,09-28 (20) OSL preshading.jpg


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Then it was time to start the orange side, thinking it would be a little less complex than the blue. And all of this was basically a series of sequential experiments, having never attempted NMM before. I laid out where the reflection midtones would go with fairly opaque red.
22,10-03 (11) orange side layer paints.jpg

Then a smaller orange area within each of those red areas.
22,10-03 (16) orange side layer paints.jpg

Then purple within the black for a subtle reflected light warmth. And I had started glazing within the red/orange areas as well as transition from the red into the black.
22,10-04 (5).jpg

But I felt that it read too much like comic and that I wasn't going to be able to get a proper spread of light through the area. So I got the airbrush back out and lightly sprayed orange to enhance the transition aspects.
22,10-04 (12) airbrushed orange.jpg

Then I went back in with the brush and built out the contrast again with lots of glazing. And I added secondary reflections (thin pale lines) inside the core of the darkest areas.
22,10-05 (7).jpg

A close up to show the secondary reflections more clearly.
22,10-05 (12).jpg

The orange side pretty much done. Except the teeth and tendons...more on that later...
22,10-05 (13) orange lighting done.jpg


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Time to start the blue side. Beginning again with a color sketch to define where I want the highlights.
22,10-06 (1) defining blue.jpg

22,10-06 (3) defining blue.jpg

22,10-06 (5) defining blue.jpg

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Building up more blue.
22,10-06 (11) more blue.jpg

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Then I toned the non-highlight areas with Freak Flex brown tint. This gave a really wonderful translucent effect over the previously-applied color dots.
22,10-12 (6).jpg

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I didn't have a clear plan with how to make this angle interesting. Neither lighting source hits it, but I didn't want it to simply disappear. So at this point I decided to paint it as if it were illuminated by a weak, neutral light.
22,10-12 (10).jpg

More tonal range now, after the brown tinting.
22,10-12 (12).jpg


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Back to the orange side, extending the range of its illumination a little farther onto the top of the crown.
22,10-13 (1).jpg

This was to balance the two light sources. Also more detailing in the soft areas.
22,10-13 (3).jpg

22,10-13 (7).jpg

Then I started adding a dark blue glaze to help transition between the blue highlight areas and the brown dark areas. This hue shift was critical in establishing a light effect as perceived by the eye. See the difference below, the head has the blue but the crown does not.
22,10-15 (1).jpg

More glazing of the blue areas, also white fine highlights were added. Getting a better glow effect now.
22,10-15 (9).jpg

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Now time for a new experiment, how do I make the tendons look at least a little bit translucent? After a fair bit of experimentation I came to the conclusion that simply inverting the logical shading process would be a good start. If the highlights were in the crevasses and the darker colors were on top then it "should" read as light passing through the thinner areas of material, right?

Simple color sketches using the blues and white to define the basic idea.
22,10-16 (1) jaw tendon transluscency.jpg

Later, after glazing to add variation to the tendons' color tones and smooth the transitions.
22,10-16 (5) jaw tendon transluscency.jpg

This seemed to work, and I did the orange side too (not pictured, for brevity). Then it was on to the teeth. The queens teeth are not silver, or metal, they are quite clearly a crystalline silicone. So I studied pictures of gem stones to try to understand what exactly it is that our eyes see that make us think "crystal". In short, more light from behind is visible, with the core shadow in the middle and the edges very bright with the backlighting color. Any lighting from the front (like my initial zenithal airbrushing) does impact the color, but to a lesser extent.

This means that my back lighting highlights on the orange side needed to be blue, and the reverse for the blue side. Here is the first round of highlights and core shadows, looking very crayon!
22,10-16 (7) teeth layer paint.jpg

22,10-16 (8) teeth layer paint.jpg

22,10-16 (9) teeth layer paint.jpg

Then a lot of glazing, to blend and tune the colors. In this pic you can see the difference between the upper and lower jaws.
22,10-18 (1) glazing teeth.jpg

Additional contrast was needed. I did the top jaw on each side before doing the lower, to fine tune the process. Afterwards I then had to do the inside of the teeth, reversing the colors yet again.
22,10-18 (3) glazing teeth.jpg

22,10-18 (6) glazing teeth.jpg

The teeth, finished, after a bit more glazing. I will point out that this was a good example of the importance of walking away! As I get older I find it increasingly important to make myself put a project down and walk away...for 10 minutes, a lunch break, whatever. The mind needs to disconnect so that it can see relationships more clearly upon reconnecting. We are creatures of relativity, so it's important to reset.
22,10-21 (1) finishing teeth.jpg

22,10-21 (2) finishing teeth.jpg

22,10-21 (4) finishing teeth.jpg


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Almost done! Time to clear coat...which if you are a mini painter means a matte finish. This is important so that real specular highlights don't distract from the more important highlights that you manually applied. However... Tamiya's excellent matte clear made my queen look like crap. It sucked all the depth out of the dark shadows, flattening the whole thing.
22,10-22 (4) after Tamiya Matte.jpg

I re-cleared it with Liquitex Matte Varnish, which brought back a lot of the depth.
22,10-22 (8) after Liquitex Matte.jpg

I then added secondary highlights to the blue side.
22,10-24 (2) after repairing peeling and toning blue.jpg

22,10-25 (3) blue side secondary highlights.jpg

22,10-25 (4) blue side secondary highlights.jpg

22,10-25 (5) blue side secondary highlights.jpg


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At this point the paint was finished.
22,10-25 (11) paint finished.jpg

22,10-25 (14) paint finished.jpg

22,10-25 (22) paint finished.jpg
22,10-25 (23) paint finished.jpg

However, the queen was not quite finished. Unlike a conventional-size mini, I realized that this queen really needed variety to the sheen of various areas. So I used a semi-gloss on the head's dome and tendons, and gloss on the gums and teeth. These were all applied by brush, so I could control the sheen by back-brushing as needed.
22,10-25 (26) sheen finished.jpg

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22,10-25 (25) sheen finished.jpg
22,10-25 (27) sheen finished.jpg

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And I signed it.
22,10-25 (32) signed.jpg

Here is a pic of her with all the paints used.
22,10-25, materials.jpg


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Several times I've tried to take better pics, and every time I have not liked the way they turned out. Something about this particular figure and its paint, it just doesn't look right in the pictures compared to my eye. These are the best I have so far.
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These I shot under fairly low light, which helped the camera with perceiving more subtle details in the colors. But it also added noise to the pics and reduced focal precision.
23,01-05, photo shoot (1).jpg

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Sr Member
Superb! Thank you for sharing your process in such detail. As someone wanting to learn more about different painting options, I really appreciate it. I will have to look into the glazes you used.


Active Member
Well, I wouldn't call that Queen a "Mini";) Seemed like a good size to experiment with your paint technique.
Great tuto in terms of how you used different steps to achieve the final look:cool::cool:(y)(y)
- Correct, it's much larger than a regular table top mini. But it is about the same size as a bust or the larger boss monsters used in table top gaming. More importantly, the techniques I used are all common in mini painting but not common in model or prop painting.

What I found really interesting in this repaint, but similarly when I painted and cleared the ADI crown, is that the degree of sheen ideal for the figure depends greatly on its physical size (not necessarily scale). With something tiny you generally need a flat sheen so that manually applied highlights and blacklining (to exaggerate shadows and seams) stand out. But as the object size increases that matters less because of the physical depth of the relief texture, and gloss creates darker darks and natural specular highlights that are in scale with the figure.

Superb! Thank you for sharing your process in such detail. As someone wanting to learn more about different painting options, I really appreciate it. I will have to look into the glazes you used.
- Thanks. To be clear, I didn't use any "glazes". I used regular paints, not glazes sold as such, and thinned them to glaze consistency on a homemade wet palette. You can use any acrylic paint, I have a wide range that I've used in different projects from heavy body acrylics to purpose-made mini paint (essentially soft body acrylics). Even Tamiya's hybrid acrylics can be thinned to glaze, if necessary. You can simply use water to thin most [good quality] paints to a glaze consistency, but I find that airbrush thinner (which you can DIY cheaply) works better. You can also add Flow Aid, or an acrylic medium to make it flow/spread differently. You just have to experiment and see what works best for you.

Make sure to watch that Hidalgo vid, I watched it several times. And there are others that are good too, but that's the one that made the whole process click for me.

Also, on the topic of credit where credit is due, BarbatosRex's YouTube channel is awesome. I learned from him that you can thin down heavy body acrylics all the way to airbrush viscosity, which is super easy but it wouldn't have occurred to me to try. That led me to try thinning household latex paint, also with airbrush thinner, and I was able to airbrush a door stop to be paint-matched to the room's wall color. This also means one could thin down cheaper household latex paint for spray guns, and since Behr is now "self priming" it might open up new options for larger figure priming and base coats. Point being, all that (and more) was sparked from watching BarbatosRex.


Active Member
Ahhhhhh... thank you for all the additional details! I will watch the videos for sure.
-You're welcome. If you have any other questions let me know. I'm far less experienced in making than most of the people on this forum, but I do keep good records and try to gain and test ideas from many different and unrelated sources. There's a lot of technique "noise" out there. For my own sake I've try to cut through that to get to the core of what works, makes sense to share things once I'm sure its good advice.
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