Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mini Nahar Coming Right Along

At long last, an update on mini Nahar! At the time of the last post I was unsure if I would do any more pencil work. I stared and stared at his body for the longest time, and ultimately did wind up doing some work to pick out and form the dapples more in pastel pencil. That was then sealed and I continued with oils, this time in a slightly different manner than the other oil coats.

Before, I had applied thin basecoats of the area's primary color and then worked dapples in on top of that. This time, I kept colors to their own "zones" - in other words, no putting color on top of dapples or other whiter areas. I also didn't put too much pigment on because of the roaning effect I was planning to do on top. Too much paint would have caused a muddy mess, and there were a couple of areas that had to be wiped off and restarted despite my efforts to prevent a paint buildup. It's a tricky process for sure!

Working with very small frayed (for uneven application of the rosy grey pigments) and fine tipped brushes (for precision on the dapples), I followed the map laid out in the previous sessions. I carefully blended the edges of the dapples in slightly and intensified the white on some of them. This part was easy but time consuming and eye straining. The next part went faster, but was considerably more difficult!

Using stiff small rounds very sparingly loaded with paint, I stippled over the top of everything with white and then all of the different shades of grey in the appropriate places. This emphasized the roaning effect that was started with the unevenly applied paint, pencil work and short painting strokes. In this step I also carefully went over many of the dapples with the rose grey colors to introduce some more randomness and roaning throughout the coat. This process is very unpredictable, but that unpredictability is helpful when used sparingly and with a light touch.

Next, I went back over some of the dapples to re-emphasize the white or shape them out as needed. I finished up with some more back and forth work in any areas that needed it. I did not do any leg work in this session - it had all been done previously, and still needs finishing. For the next steps, I expect I'll be finishing the legs in the same way as the body and picking out details everywhere before I get to the mane and tail. 'Till next time, happy experimenting!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Studio Updates

Well, things have been galloping along at a dizzying pace in the studio for the past several weeks and I finally have updated pictures to share! I'm also very pleased that my new line, "Simply CMs" has done very well so far. In essence, Simply CMs are just that; simple customs on good, showable plastic bodies. These offerings may be painted only, or very moderately customized. The first two - a bay tobiano sabino Cleveland Bay and a bay old mold SM ASB - are sold, and I hope to have several more in the coming months. (Click the pictures for their galleries.)

It is my hope that these horses will help to fill some of those big holes in quality in the simple custom divisions, and provide collectors a more budget conscious choice at the same time. I'll be offering these customs on a flat price first come, first served basis and will continue to offer the more time intensive paint jobs on both resins and customized plastics via eBay or Auction Barn as usual.

If you'd like to see all of the current front and center projects, including the upcoming Vixen, Imp and Taboo family click here! I have made some headway on the Nahar grey experiment as well and I think he's turning out just smashing. Here is what he looks like as this point. More work is needed on his head, legs, mane and tail, as well as some minor fiddling on his body. For those following along, I will have an in depth post about the most recent layer soon!

And last but certainly not least, the painstaking process of roaning Deseoso is continuing. This photo shows the next stage of his basecoat. It is still all acrylic, and is now ready for pencil work. (Click for a large version.)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Tip

With your photos and magazine clippings organized, you are all set and ready to flip to whatever page you need! There are several ways to display references, and depending on your painting area some will work better than others. I have a desk that is large enough to accommodate an entire binder, so I simply open the notebook up to the page I want and get to work. Marking a page to come back to later makes this system very simple! If you can find them there are also notebooks that open up like an easel. These are even more sturdy, but not completely necessary.

If you lack the space or just don't like that behemoth on your desk, you can take notebook pages out to display some other way. I strongly recommend you keep the paper inside of the protective sleeve; good references are worth their weight in gold! Make sure to somehow mark where the sheet was taken from so that it can be put back in the right place. Options for displaying sheets are pinning to a cork board (I used to do this when my space was situated for it, and it worked very well), propping them up on a typing easel or whatever is handy, or simply laying them on your desk.

For projects that are going to take a long time, like sculptures, it is helpful to take the needed references and put them into a small binder dedicated to that horse. Remember last week, I recommended using two sheets of paper (one for each side) in each plastic cover, and this is why. In cases like this, I always take out the one sheet of paper I need, and put it in a new sleeve in the small notebook. This keeps valuable references that might otherwise be removed in their place, and it also allows for a good bookmarking solution. When a page is removed, leave a note in its place - the notebook it was moved to and possibly a description of what was on the sheet should suffice. In the new notebook it is also a good idea to insert notes so that it is easy to put the pages back in the right places when the project is done.

Your references are valuable - keep them safe and organized and they will serve you well! Next week we'll talk about some cool high tech ways to display your references!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Tip

References are a key element in getting realistic results whether you are sculpting or painting. You can make the most of your clippings and articles by sorting them in organized binders. The photo above shows my core go-to set of binders that I keep right in the studio, but I have oodles more. The categories shown are a great starting point and you can always add as you see fit! The binders not shown are mostly breed and performance specific.

Some tips for setting up your binders:
  • Get good quality plastic sheets. Poor quality sheets tear easily and ultimately are more costly. The sheets I use now are heavy weight diamond clear produced by Avery and something similar by Xerox.
  • Be liberal with your use of dividers! You can also use templates to set up and print labels. The dividers won't be visible unless you put them in sheet protectors. Cut the sheet protector down the outside edge as far as necessary for the tab. Then tape the edges back up to secure it in place.
  • Set up a structure within each tab that is consistent and easy to follow. I start off each color section with foals, then adults. Within each section, I progress from light to dark and as much as possible put similar shades on each page.
  • Though you could tape pictures to each side of a piece of paper, use two sheets in each divider. It may seem wasteful at first, but you'll see why this is important in next week's installment.

Large pictures, like ones that come from calendars or coffee table books can be kept in binders with a little extra work. (Yes, I cut up many of my books! Nice as the books are, going through a library of unorganized photos became too much of a pain for my purposes.) These photos typically show great details and are often very interesting for a variety of reasons. First, if the photo itself comes out of the book in pieces, tape it up on the back or in places where the tape won't interfere with the horse. Then, cut a slit in the sheet protector just big enough to slip the photo in. Tape the photo down on the inside, and fold so that it fits in the binder. It is best if the slit is to the outside of the page so that the picture can be opened outside of the book, but it is always better to arrange the fold so that it interferes the least. In this case, the page opens to the inside of the binder.

Next week, tips on how to display your references!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Tip

Another quick tip for today since it has been so busy over here! I will have much to share in a little while. Have you ever started on your second coat, and realized too late that your brushes are taking more paint OFF than they are putting on? If brushes are still a bit wet from cleaning, there is a very good chance they will strip paint off. Do yourself a favor and get in the practice of setting aside your brushes after cleaning. Leave them alone for a day, even if you aren't planning on doing any more painting; you just never know when the mood will strike to do something extra. If your drying brushes are separated from those that are ready to go, you don't have anything to worry about!