Lady in a Bathtub

In an episode I’ve written, I needed a lady in a bathtub to add interest to the miniatures I’ve assembled for the photos. A woman bathing has been a popular subject in art for hundreds if not thousands of years. There are several 28mm miniatures to choose from in varying degrees of nudity. I chose Helen Highwater from Knickleduster’s Scarlet Ladies pack, partly because her nakedness is covered by strategically placed bubbles & because the pack also contained figures of two real-life madams, Fannie Porter & Squirrel Tooth Alice.

A month ago, I fell & broke my arm in two places where the arm attaches to the shoulder. I’ve just received clearance from the doctor to be able to begin painting again. A lady in a bathtub would be an ideal model to start with. In addition, I have some new paints I’m dying to try out, but more about them later.

Knuckleduster Miniatures – Helen Highwater with MDF base

Preparation & Priming

The first step is to clean the model & remove any flash & mold lines. On this model there was only a small amount of flash on the bottom of the tub and the mold lines were practically invisible.

I primed the model using black gesso. I use gesso to prime all of my figures. I like the coverage much better than anything I’ve ever gotten out of a spray can. I then gave the model a zenithal highlight using Warcolours White, but any white or off-white will work.

Figure primed with black gesso & given a white zenithal highlight

Base Colors & Color Selection

Right before my fall, many of the miniature painting YouTube channels began posting episodes on the new Army Painter SpeedPaint paint sets (which still are not available to purchase as I write this). Before this, many of the painters were touting the paints from Kimera and Pro Acryl – paints rich in pigment and strong colors. These videos were having an impact because I’m beginning to run out of my Reaper and Vallejo paints. Then right after my fall, Ninjon posted a video on how the best miniature paints aren’t miniature paints – artist acrylic paint. Jon isn’t the only one to propose this, my favorite Italian artist living in Ireland, Marco Frisoni, not only uses artist’s acrylic but also oil paint.

So, I took the plunge and bought a set of Golden High Flow acrylic paints. These paints are formulated to work in airbrushes, pens and markers. They are almost like inks in thickness. The only downside, if it is a downside, is that you have to mix paints to achieve different colors, in other words, I have to learn to use the color wheel and color theory and not rely so heavily on manufacturers to provide the colors for me.

Kujo Painting has just released a timely video on selecting colors for a miniature using a simple concept – choose a single cool color and a single warm color as the focus. In the case of the lady in a bathtub, I’ve chosen Phthalo Green (a cool color) for the tub and Reaper’s Rosy Skin as the main warm color. In addition, I will also be using a pink for the washcloth and a warm ivory for the inside of the tub.

Basecoats complete, left side
Basecoats complete, right side

Shadows & Highlights

The first step in the process of adding shadows and highlights is to apply a wash in areas with a lot of detail. The wash helps to not only define areas to be highlighted, but it also ties the piece together.

The first color to highlight is the tub itself by mixing a small amount of Snowdrift White with the Phthalo Green.

Next is to highlight the skin. You could easily add a little of the Ivory or any off white to the Rosy Skin to get highlight colors, but I have a bottle of the Rosy Highlight, so I used it. Might as well use it rather than letting it dry in the bottle!

I then mixed a small amount of Rosy Highlight with the Punk Rock Pink and highlighted the edge of the washcloth and painted her lips. I decided not to paint the eyes. I’ve come to the point in my painting that if the eyes aren’t sculpted wide open, then it’s not worth the effort to paint them unless the model is an important character.

The last highlight is a small amount of Vallejo Sand Yellow to the hair.

Once the highlights are done, it is time to tidy up any messes or mistakes and then set the model aside to thoroughly dry.

Final Touches

The final touch is to attach the miniature to its base and then seal it with a coat of matte varnish.

This was a fun little miniature to paint after a month of not being able to hold a brush. I like the Golden High Flow Acrylics. The Phthalo Green took a little longer to dry than the other colors, but I really liked the coverage and how easy it was to mix with other paint and how easy it was to make a glaze.

Paints Used

  • Liquitex Professional Black Colored Gesso (primer)
  • Warcolours White (zenithal highlight)
  • Golden High Flow Acrylics Transparent Phthalo Green (bathtub)
  • Reaper Master Series Rosy Skin (lady’s bare skin)
  • Vallejo Model Color Ivory (inside & rim of bathtub)
  • Army Painter Warpaints Necrotic Flesh (bath water)
  • Golden High Flow Acrylics Transparent Yellow Iron Oxide (blonde hair)
  • Reaper Master Series Snowdrift White (soap bubbles)
  • Reaper Master Series Punk Rock Pink (washcloth)
  • Vallejo Game Color Umber Wash (applied to lady & inside of tub)
  • Reaper Master Series Rosy Highlight (highlight skin)
  • Vallejo Model Color Sand Yellow


I don’t have full range of motion in my left arm, yet. I have several weeks of physical therapy ahead of me. I’m not to lift anything with my left hand heavier than my smart phone, but it’s so satisfying to be able to write and paint.

Here’s a quick poll for you – who should I paint next? Fannie Porter who ran a San Antonio brothel frequented by outlaws and lawmen alike, or Squirrel Tooth Alice who operated brothels from El Paso to Dodge City? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time, watch your step and don’t fall!

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Painting a Lady in a Bathtub

A post on how to paint a lady in a bathtub from the Knuckleduster Miniature’s Scarlet Ladies pack.


5 thoughts on “Lady in a Bathtub

  1. Squirrel Tooth Alice. Initially, I was going to go with Fannie Porter, because it would give you some time to get something resembling a prairie dog from Bad Squiddo and you couldn’t do Alice without a prairie dog. However, I see the Knuckleduster figure of Alice shows her holding a prairie dog. Rationale: Alice was itinerantShe was still alive when I was born. I think that is one of the more fascinating things about the American West: Greece and the United States both have this legendary, heroic age, but in the case of Greece, it was 3100 years ago, while for us it was 125 (Wild Bunch) to 200 (Davy Crockett) years ago. I used to live down the street from a lady from Del Rio, who told me her grandfather knew Judge Roy Bean. Didn’t like him, but he knew him.

    1. Do you happen to know what was Alice’s hair color? I have good descriptions of Fannie Porter as to hair color, complexion, style of dress, etc.

      The website says she’s holding a poodle, but it doesn’t look like a poodle. The ears are wrong to be a prairie dog, but if I paint it as a prairie dog, it will certainly look like one on the tabletop!

  2. I was starting to explain that Alice was itinerant and could show up in games in Kansas, Colorado, or Texas, while Fannie pretty much hung out in the San Antonio area. However, I have this cat that decided this was an appropriate time to walk on my keybard and stand in front of my screen . . .

  3. I couldn’t find any description of Alice.
    You are right about the ears being long, floppy dog ears. I suppose after reading about her walking her pet prairie dogs on a leash, I just thought it looked like a prairie dog, rather than a small dog. In any case, she isn’t dressed for taking her prairie dog on a walk.

  4. It struck me that the local library has a nice collection of Western Americana, so I paid them a visit. There were three or four books with the same stories I’d seen on the Internet, and the same photo I’d seen (like this gal had only one photo taken in her entire life!). The last book had the same photo, crediting it to the Kansas Historical Society in Topeka, and it was a much clearer photo. The others had looked like she had dark brown or black hair. In this one, she looked like a dishwater blonde. It also looked like she had rosy cheeks, or maybe had used rouge on her cheeks.

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