The Newsbox interviews Sideshow painter Kat Sapene

Our friendly neighborhood Jesse ‘Jman’ Gormley from The Newsbox caught up with Sideshow master painter Kat Sapene to ask a few of questions about her work and the amount of effort that goes into painting a Sideshow sculpture. Here are a few takeaways, be sure to check out the full interview at!

1. The ultimate goal of the painter is to highlight the sculpture

“I feel like paint is the silent contributor to a finished sculpture. If the paint is done right, it’s the least seen part of a statue. Everything looks as it should, and a collector can focus on the sculpture not the paint job on top of it. But if it painted poorly, it’s all you will see.”

2. The process requires a lot of prep work

“I wash the resin castings, either with soap and water or denatured alcohol, to make sure there are no residual oils on the pieces. If I don’t do this, I run the risk of having the paint peel off when I go to remove any masking. Not fun. Once everything is clean, I will prime all the pieces with a primer used mainly for gaming miniatures. I like to use this kind of primer since it’s very thin and won’t fill in any of the sculpt details.

Now the fun begins! I immerse myself in reference; looking for images of colors, materials, and textures that I want to use in certain areas. This also helps me learn more about characters that I may be less familiar with. With a plan and general idea of what I want, I’ll start to mix the colors I’ll need to achieve this. Usually starting with skin tone and then moving on to the next largest element. This way I know my colors will work together and I can make color adjustments before I actually start to paint.”

3. Her method for working smart

“Direction is a bit more general; here’s the mood we’re going for, we’d like this kind of lighting, and here is some color reference. It’s up to me to make decisions that work within those parameters. And then there are changes. I try to avoid revisions by asking lots of questions on the front end, but sometimes changes just happens and it’s by no fault of your own.

The first things to get painted are the flesh and then the face. A character’s face is the first thing everyone sees and it sets the tone for the rest of the statue. Then I paint the next largest elements, usually the clothing, and so on until the figure is finished. The last thing to get painted is usually the base.

It sounds very methodical, but having a general guideline like this helps provide me with a structure in a process that can get overwhelming if I let it. It’s my own sort of safety net that keeps things moving along even if I’m uncertain of what to do in some parts. I can be busy cleaning parts or priming, all the while thinking about how to tackle the paint.”

4. Choosing the right tool for the right job

“Mostly it’s just experience with different tools that informs what to use where and when. But as a general guideline, I’ll use an airbrush to base coat parts and sometimes for highlighting and shading; any time I need to paint a large area or I need a soft edge. Painting by brush is more for details and small areas.”

5. From start to finish…

“Ideally, it’s about 2 weeks. But if I’m honest with myself, it’s closer to 3. I know that seems like a long time, but keep in mind that we paint 2 copies of everything; a Paint Master and a Prototype. They have to look as close to exactly the same as possible. For me, I’ve found that the easiest way to do this is to paint them at the same time, working back and forth on one figure and then the next. That way I’m matching the pieces at every step.”