Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday Tip

Sorry about the silence last week! Things are really busy in the studio right now, and that doesn't leave much time for the internet unfortunately. This week's tip is going to be quick, but it will help tremendously if you are having problems with wire getting in the way in your armatures. When making a bend in wire, do not grasp it with the pliers and turn as shown first in the video. This creates a very loose bend, more like an arc. This is bulky and not very good to use as a base for a nice crisp joint! And it's also not very helpful when it comes to evaluating your measurements. Instead, grasp the wire and use your fingers to flatten the wire against the pliers as shown in the second bend in the video. Ta-da! A nice crisp bend that won't poke out of the clay, and an easy landmark to measure!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Tip

Today's Friday Tip is less a "tip" than an explanation of my painting process thus far on this guy. Hopefully you can take some new painting techniques back to your table!

First, as I mentioned in his intro post I began with a new color formula for rose grey by mixing a bay and then altering it a bit. At the time I had hoped that it would turn out less pink with more layers than the first couple basecoats showed, and that is in fact what happened. Trust your paint mixes! Or at least give them a chance... The worst that can happen is you have to strip it off.

So, after two basecoat color blocking layers, I used some charcoal pencil. (That update in this post.) This layer ultimately got completely obliterated by the oils that went on next, but it did help me with mapping in the details so it was not a waste of time. I would either use my white Derwent pencil or some other sort of white pencil next time however, just to try to preserve some of that work as it would make the next layer a bit easier to paint.

After the pencil stage I worked on a very detailed oil coat, which is what you see here. It still needs a second coat using this same technique, but I'm going to work on the legs and head a bit more before I get to that. This part took quite a while - probably a 4 hour sitting, and I was only able to do this one side. (The second side is now caught up, painted in its own session.) Here's an outline of the process I used for this coat:
  1. Scrub a small amount of white on over the head and top portion of the neck. This makes the rest of the paint blend in more easily.
  2. Using a frayed old brush, dab a tiny bit of dark rose mix on the cheek and poll. A little goes a very long way! Best to add too little and put on some more later.
  3. Using a fresh dry brush (I used one of the stiffer frayed Monarch rounds in my collection) lightly stipple blend and stoke the color into a hair-like direction.
  4. Add a touch of grey around the appropriate areas of the face and blend. This part doesn't have to be perfect; just looking for a quality basecoat to go back and detail later. I did do a bit of detailing on the eyelids and nostrils in this step, but you don't have to.
  5. Using a springy, small round and starting at the head, begin brushing white in short strokes in the direction of the hair flow. Make sure there isn't so much paint that it leaves ridges. We're looking for a visual texture, not an actual texture. The brush you select for this is very important. Too soft and with little spring, it will just mush the paint around. (I made that mistake on side two and have some fixing up to do over there...)
  6. Keep going with the little white brush adding roany areas where the white and "grey" is mixing, and adding in dapples where appropriate.
  7. Once the top section of the neck is finished, repeat the whole process for the lower section of the neck, then the shoulder, belly, barrel, and hindquarter, working in sections that are most comfortable for you size-wise. The sections are important for 2 reasons: 1) It takes a long time so if the whole horse is covered, by the time you start painting the last section, the paint will be a little too tacky to work with effectively and 2) It keeps your fingers out of the paint... :-P
In each section, use a base of the dark rose grey mix, and then add in one of the lighter mixes or some black, depending on what the reference photo(s) calls for. In the larger sections of white and color I went back and forth with white and the colored mixes using a clean stiff round brush to get a variegated color with some hair-like roughness. (Again, the horse itself is smooth, it just looks hair-like because of the way the colors are intermixing.) I think I am going to go ahead and pick some of the dappling and roany areas out with pencil before continuing with the next oil coat. More photos to come! Anyway, that's the process so far. Good luck in your painting endeavors! Oh, and I remembered to put up a photo for the tip on prepping a few weeks ago. :-D

Friday, August 8, 2008

Friday Tip

Carol says:
Hey, I have another idea for a tip: maybe you can write a little bit about how you get the white color on your pieces to not be a bright white. They always have a very natural look, and I know I've found it difficult to paint a natural white (like on a blanket appy or pinto) color without it looking too yellow. For instance, do you add a tiny bit of body color into the white to tone it down?

Getting white right can be tricky. Not only does it have to be painted on carefully, but there's also the shade to worry about! Depending on the project, I'll use one (or more) of about 4 shades of white (not including whatever I'm using for pinking and shading). Two of the four (unbleached titanium and soft white) I don't typically use straight, but they are excellent for whipping up custom white shades on the fly.

For sparkling clean show whites, I use a mixture of equal parts titanium white, pearlescent white and gesso. The gesso helps with coverage and gives a tiny bit of leeway for careful sanding if needed. (Of course, it's best to just stick with thin paint and avoid lumpies to begin with, but sometimes things happen...)

For more natural whites, my base formula is a little more complicated. I don't actually have the amounts written down anywhere, but instead add colors a little at a time until it looks right. The main parts are the white mix above and unbleached titanium. To that I add soft white and then a little bit of burnt umber and iridescent gold.

These formulas will get you well on your way to a variety of realistic whites. Don't stop here though! Use them as a good starting point, and then modify to suit the needs of each particular horse when needed.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

More Mini Nahar

Here's the next stage of the process, this time a new coat in oils. You can click on this pic for a much larger version. There's a dramatic difference now! I still need to do this to the other side, and then he'll need another coat plus legs, head and hair. I'm not sure yet if I'm going to work any more pencil in; only time will tell!

More Experimenting

At the time I posted this fellow last, I thought I might do another coat of oils before doing some pencil work. I decided instead to just jump into the pencil detailing, as it would help with mapping out the color better. So, here he is with some charcoal pencil dappling and roaning around the softer areas. I'm not so sure I like the charcoal pencil, but it got the job done ok. I'll have to see if I can find some that work better and give it another shot before I give them up for my (still favorite) Derwent drawing pencils or try something else. Today I will definitely be doing another layer of oils though, and with the help of the more precisely mapped in colors, it should really start coming together. (I hope!)

And here's another project that is doing a time-share with the mini Nahar. He only has a (really weird looking) basecoat of acrylic on right now, but ultimately he will be a varnish appaloosa. You can't see it in these pictures, but it is roany in kind of a loose way which will help when it comes to adding more precise "hairing" in pencil later. For some reason I always wanted to paint this horse as an appy, but I was afraid to because I just wasn't sure how well that would go over. I was incredibly happy when he was submitted to my painting lottery with this color choice! I'll be using a technique similar to what I did with American Graffiti and will take lots of pictures along the way!