Terry Popham’s Detailing Guide for EF Artist

Terry Popham describes himself as being a detailer of electric football figures. In the Electric Football Community, when there are discussions about who the best painters are, his name is  frequently at the top or near the top of of the list.

” I have always called myself a detailer, at least since Reginald Rutledge and Oscar Robertson took me under their wings and initially showed me how to use a computer to make my own decals using photo paper over 20 years ago.  George Diamond introduced the first brass face masks and vinyl chinstraps about the same time.  This was back at the turn of the 21st century and it was so exciting to be able to accurately finish a figure of your favorite player to look just like what you saw in person on TV every Saturday or Sunday (or other days).  Shortly thereafter Michael Beal introduced his first decals which eliminated the need to tediously peel photo paper from backing to glue on.  His decals were water slide and revolutionized the game.” 

Below is a guide written by Terry describing his method of detailing and panting figures.

1.         I spray prime all figures using white primer.  I know there are several schools of thought about priming figures, one says use black as the base primer, another says use grey.  These methods are mostly used in painting highly detailed figures such as those used in Wargaming, and while we are now approaching highly detailed figures from folks like ITZ and Electric Gridiron, most of the figures I paint are from Next Level, 808 and Undefeated.  These figures have mostly smooth surfaces and do not need the depth of underlayment required for doing more highly detailed figures. 

2.         I always do skin tones as the second step.  This allows you to do your touch ups around the neck and sleeve lines as well as pants as you do those colors.  It can, if none are white, allow you to skip a touch up step later as you actually do the touch up as you paint those colors in.  

3.         I start at the top and work my way down, helmet, jersey, pants, socks and shoes.  In many cases the socks and shoes may be white so it can speed things up.   I also determine glove colors and do those as I go down the figure as well.  I know there are some very good glove decals out there so make sure and match what you plan to apply in color on these.

4.         One thing I do, when that is the case, is I paint the socks with a less white paint than the shoes so there is a little contrast there. Last is the platform.  I make sure the paint on the platform is clean and covers well as I like to use turf grass as a finish to that.  I apply it with a thin coat of Mod-Podge as a base over the paint and while still wet dredge the platform in the turf.  I then let that dry.

5.         Now that our figures are painted, we get down to detailing them. I start again at the top with helmet decals, then go down the figure as needed, finishing with the shoes.  Now that the decals are all applied, it’s time to seal them to protect them from harm.  I personally don’t trust spray on sealer for this, although I do use it as a finish coat.  I use Liquitex but others will work as well.  The next to the last step is to apply chinstraps and facemasks.  I do use a trick that helps me get the chinstraps to “stick’ better, I gloss coat the facial area and let dry before applying the chinstraps, they stick much better that way.  If you use gloss to seal the decals then you can just do the face at the same time to save a step.  I then apply the facemasks as needed. 

6.         The last step is actually two steps in one.  I love dull coat finishes on EF figures.  I know some like gloss, but I prefer dull and then gloss on the helmets and shoes.  I do this using spray and I currently am using Rustoleum Matte to spray the figures.  This step is the most critical of all to getting a smooth professional looking finish to your figures.  Once this is dry I use a high gloss brush on finish on the shoes and helmet to finish off the figure. 

This is what has worked for me over the years.  I hope it helps someone.

To view a photo gallery featuring a  sampling of Terry’s EF Creations please visit the NEFGM Art Gallery  

Author: nefgm6

Founder and Curator - The National ELECTRIC FOOTBALL Game Museum

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