Friday, December 28, 2007

Friday Tip

*Mindy in progress - more hairs to come!

People have been asking how I do my roaned hairs, so for this week's tip I made a short video using the Mindy I am painting right now. Unfortunately it's still pretty hard to make things out, but perhaps this will help with the general idea.

First of all, I always wear a glove on the hand I hold the horse with. I usually don't on my paintbrush hand just because I go through so many gloves already and it doesn't really seem to matter. I wear a glove for three reasons: 1) To prevent the oils on my skin from rubbing off onto the model, 2) To prevent my hands from rubbing off work I've already done and 3) So that I don't have to put paint on my hands. Number 3 isn't really a big deal with acrylic, but it makes a lot of sense when using oils.

The process is really very simple, but time consuming and requires a steady practiced hand. I start by rolling my brush (in this case the Winsor & Newton Sceptre Gold II size 0000) through the acrylic. This helps to keep a point on the brush, and eliminates the excess paint. You should only have a tiny bit of paint on the brush and there should definitely never be a ball - even a small one - on the end of the brush. A sharp point is essential. With the brush loaded, it's then just a matter of getting the "hairs" onto the horse. On a mini like this, think more in terms of tapping rather than making strokes. There is a slight stroke movement to the tap, but the hair shape mostly comes from holding the brush at a proper angle and simply tapping down lightly. You will be able to get a few hairs before you need to load the brush with paint again.

One more tip: Areas that have hair whorls should be done before the larger masses of "straight" hair are done. By doing the whorls first, you ensure that they are the proper shape and are not cramped. You can blend the rest of the hairs right into the whorls as you come to them.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Trotting Onwards

With the results of the poll that closed on Saturday, I began roughing out the trotting POA mare (gee, I think she needs a name now!). I don't think it was a terribly big surprise for anyone that the votes were overwhelmingly in favor of a multi-performance suitable sculpture, but it was still an interesting and informative poll to run. So taking into account the performance requirements and other requests, this is what she looks like so far! Obviously there is much to do to fix little problems before work on muscling can begin, and I think perhaps she could use a little less pony-ness and a little more stock-ness to really bring her in line with the breed type. Feel free to discuss! The trot is versatile and can reasonably pass for english or western - a little slow for english, and possibly a little "active" for western pleasure, but as a children's pony, this seems quite appropriate! :-D One thing to consider is that this particular pose will require a base or acrylic rod supports. So, what do you think? The new poll is posted on the right!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday Tip

Continuing on from last week's paint brush tip, this week we have detailing and special effect brushes. When shopping for detail brushes, you must be picky. A lot of the brushes you'll find in a store like Michael's are going to be ruined already because people are not careful with them. So, find the sizes you want, but be sure to inspect each one for a fine point and no frayed or stray hairs. When you check out, don't let the clerk just toss your carefully selected brushes in a bag! Your brushes can be safely transported in a bag, but they should be gently laid inside, and the rest of the plastic wrapped around the handles with a lot of no-touch air space around the bristles. Pictured above and below are some of my favorite brushes:

From top to bottom: Leow-Cornell 18/0 round - this brush has a fat and slightly shorter than normal handle. Great for roaning, it holds its point very well in general, and I keep lots around. Leow-Cornell 2 round stroke - a larger brush for filling in areas of white that are too small for large brushes and too big to waste tiny detail brushes on. Leow-Cornell 10/0 spotter - Great for smallish sabino type spots, and can pass for a roaning brush when you're in a pinch. And my favorite, the Winsor & Newton Sceptre Gold II 0000 round. It is a sable/synthetic blend and holds a very fine point. These are a little more expensive, but are well worth the money.

With all tiny detail brushes you have to expect that they are not going to last long. Be as careful as possible with them to avoid early fraying; clean gently and rinse often, don't load a ton of paint on the brush (you don't want that for detail work anyway) and work them in a straight line, not back and forth. Watch the tips on your brushes - after a while they will begin to curve over if you do a lot of hair detail work with them. This can be useful to an extent, but it is the beginning of the end for an otherwise "pointy" brush. When you notice a brush is not performing at its best, it is time to retire it to the "other work" bin. They can have great second careers for other uses! Those that still have fairly good tips can be used to apply and blend paint precisely in small areas. The bad ones are still good for hairy details with practice.

These are all old detailing brushes, most cut down to stumpy little frayed things, and rubbed on a bit of sandpaper. These are great for roaning effects, but you do have to be careful around hair whorls because the larger group of hairs can make for muddy or misunderstood looking hair growth patterns. Try them for anything you can think of, and see what sort of effects you get! Sometimes you will find that your larger brushes are useful to cut down as well:

On the left is a Monarch round that was no longer good for dappling, but it make a nice hair detailer now in its cut down form. The hog's bristle brush on the right is useful for very general roughing in of roany spots, but I rarely use it because the bristles shed so badly. I would not recommend a brush like this, but I have to concede I do still use it from time to time. If you do go with a hog's bristle for some effects, just be absolutely sure to remove all the little fragments of brush that get will inevitably get stuck in the paint. It's also best for use when you are planning a paint job that will be so roany that the slightly rough spots left behind from removed hairs won't be noticeable. In other words, run the other way if you are planning a mostly solid colored horse.

Some brushes are designed for special effects, such as the fan on the left and the rake on the right (below). I should say though that I bought these brushes ages ago, and haven't had to replace them yet because they rarely get any use. It is difficult to be very precise with these so they mostly get used only when I know I will be doing a lot of tiny detailing over the fan/rake basecoats. They are pretty useful for variegated colors on manes and tails, but cleanup with a fine round after is usually necessary.

One last thing... Your experience may vary, but I no longer purchase detailing brushes with long hairs, and this is why:

They look very appealing in the store, and are supposed to be useful for long fine lines. But when it comes to actually using them I cannot for the life of me keep a good consistent point with these, perhaps because the lines I paint are very short. They are also not as easy to control as the smaller rounds and spotters.

I hope these paint brush tips have helped! I am still looking for suggestions for future tips, so drop me a line or post here if you have any requests!

Pumpkin! Be the first to comment with your email address and win two celtic pony medallions!

Monday, December 10, 2007

They all start pretty weird

Here's a little look at what happens in the "ugly stages" behind the scenes. This Lonestar is going to be a portrait of a very light varnish appaloosa. Even though he's light he still has a ton of roaning all over, so this basecoat, done in acrylics, is the starting point. Next up for "Curly" is a lot of pencil work, with layers of powdered pigment in between to soften and even out the coat.

This Mindy resin is slated to be a black sabino, but as you can see, there's not a speck of black on her. This is pthalo blue powdered pigment, and it is an intense deep blue that burnishes with a nice purple shine. Ultimately some black will be used on her, but her "black" coat will mostly be very dark shaded blues and purples.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Chinook's Tricks

Some of Chinook's fans (aka, a group of my friends) convinced me to do a little video to share his cuteness, and I thought I'd show it here too. These are his favorite tricks (especially the very naughty one where he pushes me).

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The votes are in!

And the clear winner is a trotting POA mare! The votes here combined with the polls set up on Blab gave the POA 31 votes. Now it's time to start doing some research. What POA's do you like? Send or post your favorite POA websites, and I will compile the information to come up with some measurements. I can hopefully get a shape roughed out to post photos of next weekend. There is one new poll for this week, so vote on your choices for the type of sculpture this should be!

Friday (well Saturday really) Tip

Carol Huddleston asked, "One thing I would love to know is what type of brushes you use when painting, both for body application and detailing."

Thanks for your question Carol! I don't really have anything set in stone for my brush selection, so over the years I've accumulated quite a hodge podge of brands and styles. There's only one consistent thing I look for; bristles that don't shed. If I can pull firmly on the brush and not pull any hairs out, I consider it fair game. The foundation of the paint job starts with good application brushes.

Pictured here are 3 brights and a filbert, all different brands (from left to right - Winsor & Newton size 14, Loew-Cornell size 10, daVinci size 14, and Daniel Smith size 10). Flats and angle brushes can also be used, but I prefer brights and filberts. Brights because they are shorter than flats and are more controllable, and filberts because they do not have hard edges which can occasionally be a disadvantage. You can never have too many of these brushes and the more broken in they get, the better. I try not to spend too much money on these since I use a pretty vigorous scrubbing style of painting especially in the early stages, and the brushes get trashed pretty quickly. These are not inexpensive craft store brushes, but they're certainly not top of the line either. For these brushes, look for softer bristles (it is helpful to have a range of firmness) that do not shed. Check the ferrule (the silver part) to make sure it is solidly attached. Synthetics are just fine, but if you have a more delicate touch you might look into sable brushes. Synthetics have an advantage in that they can be used for oils one day and acrylics the next, whereas natural brushes cannot handle that stress.

For smaller areas of paint application, keep a large supply of rounds and shaders on hand. All of my old detailing brushes wind up in this pile and they're useful for all sorts of things. For example, they are great for applying grey skin areas or varnish marks. They are marvelous for blending in the early stages, or where the shading does not need to be very precise, like muted dapples. The great thing about these brushes is that after a while you'll have so many, you'll never need to worry about your brushes getting too muddied up with paint again. As soon as one starts piling paint around better than blending, pull a similar fresh one out to continue!

Lastly for this week's tip, keep a supply of dappling brushes on hand. I really appreciate the Winsor & Newton Monarch round for basic dappling. Pictured are sizes 4 and 0; I also have some 2s. They won't help much with minis, but for larger scales they are great for quickly tapping in round shaped bloom dapples. In all scales, rounds, either frayed or with good tips are excellent for different dapple effects. Experiment and find what works for you, and discover how different brushes can change your paintjob's look entirely.

In the next tip, detailing and special effects brushes!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Moving On!

The first round of voting is over for the collaborative sculpture project - thanks to all who voted! Both here and on Blab the breed type vote selected pony type, so that is the clear winner. The scale vote was nose and nose, and it looks like Traditional come out on top with Classic a very close second. This turns out to be quite fortunate, since the sculpture can be a Traditional scale pony, but will actually be closer to Classic size for that nice shelf fit!

The armature has been started, but now I need to know where to take it! So please, vote in the breed, gender and pose option polls to the right. As with the last polls, you may vote for as many choices within each category as you wish, and the winning options will be applied to the sculpture. I tried to present a wide range, but there are of course many other pony breeds than those listed in the poll, so if your favorite option is not represented, please select other and post with your choice. I will keep a tally of write-in votes as well! If you'd like to elaborate on your vote or have a specific reference in mind, please feel free to comment!