How to model this figure

Caption reads, ‘A US soldier with 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, Delta Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, fires an M320 Grenade Launcher during Balikatan 23 in Fort Magsaysay, Philippines, April 20, 2023. US Army photo by Pfc. Mariah Aquilar.’

My question is, how to model that sleeve, or any inked sleeve, on a figure? I’ve Airborne Miniatures US SF in 1/9, and would like to depict something like this.




I’ll be with you in a few hours, I have to finish the design work
for a bridge from San Francisco (CA) to Lele’iwi Point (HI) first.

While waiting you may want to check the works of Willard Wigan:


I would do it just like a tattoo artist. Paint a flesh color. Draw/paint the outline of the images you want to show. Fill in the with necessary colors as needed.

Another option, draw and print a decal.

Either way it will not be a fast process.


Figure painters do similar jobs for fabric like this:

Here you have a tutorial, but I guess it is not easy at all.

A decal would be a quicker option, as Ryan said.


@Newtonk Did you look for graffiti pattern decals? While not an exact match, I think that this is your best option.

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Thanks, gents; @Trisaw, I’ll go with this option as a start.

@Newtonk Try ETSY’s fingernail decals. I bought some fingernail skull decals for a SpaceMarine’s armor and they worked wonderfully and fit to scale.

Sorry, I don’t have the time to find the psychedelic pattern for you, but ETSY sells a lot of fingernail decals. It’s the only form of decal small enough for figures…the rest are for furniture, laptops, smartphones, etc. = just way too large. Just place many decals next to each other to cover the 1/9 figure’s arm…be sure to glosscoat the surface before adding the decal.

Be sure that they are waterslide decals and not stickers when you buy. Some of the 1/35 graffiti and HO scale railroad waterslide decals for modeling are too small for 1/9 figure…and you don’t get a lot of decals compared to fingernail decals.


Try a practice run on cheap (plastic) figure, or two, with lots of exposed skin to see if your willing to give painting it ago. That Marc Mussat how-to is pretty good. Ya never know… It would be pretty cool to nail that technique.

I want to see that guy low crawl through “wait a minutes” and other crappy brush & terrain in that t-shirt… Whiskey Tango Foxtrot happened to train like you’ll fight?


These two old war dogs would have corrected that ASAP

18B, thanks for that, I expect I’ll give it a nudge myself first on some old banger figure in the spares box… there’s a few to choose from.

As for the old war dogs, different generation, different war. Without getting too philosophical about it, one side is fighting to win, the other side is fighting itself.

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Hey, Newtonk, gonna be a good challenge, go for it!

If you’re going to paint the details as you’ve shown, you will definitely want to do a practice run. The link posted by varanusk is an excellent tool to start with. When I made an attempt to paint the flag for the Highlanders, I never did a practice run, and it shows. I consider it a failure, but learn and move on, right?

It’s a tough exercise, but as you can see from the link, if they can do it, so can we, right? IMHO, lots of study and practice and you should do fine. I don’t foresee doing any heavily detailed paints like yours mentioned, but that link is one of many tools for the kit box.

Ruck On, I say, Ruck On! Cheers, Ski.

I have humped a ruck in the PI, and although we stayed at Magsaysay for a time, that’s definitely not where we humped, and no, it was not easy.

Right. But that guy is a straight up 11B from a line rifle company. Not SF, Ranger, or some other SOF where relaxed uniform standards are known to happen. A t shirt only in the field?
I made the mistake of low crawling once with sleeves rolled up and had forearms full of poison ivy as a result.

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@Newtonk Have you tried colored miniature tip markers and drawing the pattern in? The trick would be to get the right colors and not have the ink smear or puddle on the flesh paint.

Unfortunately, there is no dark red in this set…

…but there are others to choose from, depending on how much you’re willing to spend to reproduce that tattoo pattern.

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