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.


Daphne said...

K, I have a tip request! It suddenly became pressingly important as I'm about to embark on a portrait paintjob.

How do you go about painting muzzles? I'm studying the photos of my subject, and the one thing I'm observing closely that I've definitely neglected in past horses is those short, fuzzy little hairs that grow down over the mostly-dark-skin areas. It gives the muzzle a soft muted character that's almost "tinted" by the body color (as well as the sometimes white and other colored hairs I can't quite identify). I'm trying to figure out how to replicate this effect softly and realistically. Obviously I don't want to paint the hairs themselves.

I've worked out the blending techniques and blocking pretty well, but I still think my muzzles, eye areas, etc tend to be pretty flat. Yours are always so softly detailed, and have realistic-looking variegation. Techniques and tips greatly appreciated ;)

Mel Miller said...

Hmmm! I will see what I can do about that Daphne! :-)