Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Tip

A real quick, but very handy tip for today. Get a pen cap - one of those long cylindrical ones, not the little BIC caps - and use it to cover your x-acto knife! Now it can be safely stored, or if you're like me left out for easy use without any worries.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Tip

First things first for today's Friday Tip. I used Carol Williams' tutorial on hairing - it has great info and pictures. So if you want to give it a try, get the document and print it out to take with you to your work area. Follow the guide, but once you get to the thinning and trimming part of the process try using an xacto knife instead of scissors! This is an old real horse trick that grooms use on horses who do not like having their manes pulled for shortening. You can pull a mohair mane to thin it, but you must be careful to not pull out so much that you wind up ripping an entire segment out. While I did do some pulling to thin Anthem's hair, I mostly thinned it using this technique with a fresh, sharp xacto blade.

To start, grab a section of combed mohair and hold it at the tips. Use your xacto knife to lightly (and carefully!!) "brush" the hair from root to tip. If the mane or tail is already thin enough, you can concentrate your strokes closer to the desired end of the hair. It will start thinning and shortening the hair wherever you brush. The final effect is more realistic (for me) and much less time consuming than cutting the hairs a few at a time. Be careful to not press too hard on the knife or you'll wind up with harsh unrealistic ends! If the hair is meant to lie on one side of the neck, you may want to do the thinning from the underside by flipping the mane over. Similarly for the tail, you can work from the underside. It's a simple process that doesn't even take very much practice to get the hang of. Just remember it's better to go easy and do more strokes than be aggressive and wind up with a problem!

That Case...

A user on eBay asked where I got my foam case, and sadly I couldn't just send on the link to Amazon without getting the auction yanked. But I sure can show it here, and I realized that probably a lot of you would like to know where and what to get! The awesome bonus is that I get a little sumthin' sumthin' from Amazon if you buy from this link. It won't cost you any more, and the pennies add up for me! :-D

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I made it!

*Whew!* I finally got Anthem's auction up and running (here) and only a few hours later than I wanted. :-D You can also see her finished gallery here and there will be a new Friday Tip tomorrow about a trick I experimented with on hairing.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Anthem Finished!

She's done! I'm really happy with the way her hair turned out - whew! I am editing her photos now and I'm going to try to put her auction up on Thursday this week. Stay tuned for an official announcement though - chestnuts (and pintos, double whammy!) can take a while to get properly adjusted so I don't want to get firmly stuck on a date just yet. Here's hoping the editing comes together nicely!

And just for kicks, here's what she looked like after hairing and before pulling, trimming and styling. Scary!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Tip

For this week's Friday Tip, I have another "but that's so EASY!" trick to show you. Blending the pink thin skinned areas on legs can be pretty frustrating and finally when it looks just right you look closer and see bits of slightly uneven shading or little streaks of paint. Don't try to fix the streaks by swiping more paint on - scrub instead! Grab a frayed and fairly firm (but not scratchy) brush and lightly dip the tips in paint. Scrub the excess paint off. (As you can see, I find my arm works best... no lint and it's handy!) Then scrub fairly hard all over the markings - really work that paint in there. In the end, you'll wind up with lighter shading naturally on the high spots and a lovely soft finish.

Now unfortunately this technique isn't a cure-all. It must be done after the markings are fully shaded, and you can't just do it over poor shading or the streaks and unevenness will still show through. This trick is more of a finishing touch that lends more believability to the paint job. It's well worth taking an extra 2 minutes to do!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Here We Go!

Ok! I've finished painting Anthem, so now comes the moment of truth... I'm either about to finish her off, or mess her up. Cross your fingers for a good hairing job! I did some practice, so I think it will go fine, but I am nervous. Finished photos to come hopefully tomorrow.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Friday Tip

For today's tip, I'm going to cover one more way you can do mapping. You can click on the picture for a large version to really see the details. I like using this technique on ermine spots for a few reasons:
  1. The shading on the legs can be finished (it's hard to shade pink in around a spot!)
  2. It's easier to blend the mapping into the pink thin skinned spots this way around
  3. The ermine spots can be added later as desired in easily fixable acrylic
Step 1: Mix up a suitable color for the spots. This is crazy easy on a horse with black points, but even other colors are simple to match reasonably well. The color does not need to be precise because it is separated by so much white and a little difference won't be noticeable. Using thin coats to prevent brush strokes or lumps paint on spots until they are fairly opaque. Step 2: When the spots are completely dry, lightly paint white back over the whole spot. This is one of those instances where I did use a special effects brush (I used the rake here), but you don't need to. Anything frayed will give very good results. Brush in the direction of hair flow and let the brush make streaks across the dark spots. Use as many coats as you need to get the lightness you want. Going over ermine spots in this way makes it very easy to blend the new white paint into the already shaded pink areas.

Step 3: When the mapping is dry, paint the dark spots back in, avoiding the border for an instant mapped effect.

Step 4: Optional - Since there is a hard edge between the mapping and the spot, I like to blend the two by using a small round and stroking some of the dark color back up into the mapping.

Step 5 (not shown): Optional - I felt my mapping got too dark after step 4, so I went back over the mapping in little strokes with a small round as shown last week.

And that's it! You can use this technique on the body as well if you find it works better for you. So try both techniques, and decide which you prefer - or use both like me!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Eye See You!

Here's a quick sneak peek at Anthem! She's getting close now... I still have her feetsies, some more mapping, and her hairing job to do. I hope to be able to put her auction up sometime next week.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Friday Tip

And we're back on schedule! :-D Today I have some tips on eliminating - or at least minimizing - pattern creep. Let's get right to it, shall we?
  • First and foremost, use the right tool for the job! For filling in, you can use larger brushes and stay away from the edges. For detailing and getting right up to the edges of your markings you need a very small brush that can create sharp points. The brush's tip should be pointed without any stray hairs. If it gets too wet from prolonged painting sessions the hairs will expand and no longer hold their point. Give the brush (and yourself) a rest at that point.
  • Apply paint near the edge of the marking, and then push it closer. This eliminates excess paint right at the edge of the marking that either causes raised lines or tempts painters to smooth it out "outside of the lines."
  • Color in the lines! I know that sounds silly to say, but really, take your time and stay inside the markings. It's harder than it sounds, but it's the only surefire way to prevent the dreaded creep.
  • Fix mistakes ASAP. If you get even just a smidgen of paint where it doesn't belong, wipe it clean before it dries. If you don't fix it when it's wet, you either have to deal with the pattern creep, or fix it when it's dry, and that causes a lot of problems.
  • Fill in the large white areas first, then detail. Get as close to the edge of the markings as you can with a larger brush, but leave room for precise detailing. That way when you go back to finish the edges, you know just how far out you have to paint. This saves time and extends the life of your good paint brushes.
  • And lastly, a trap that is hard to avoid - pattern modification. If you are having major problems with pattern creep, try to do a few paint jobs where you do NOT modify the pattern at all after you have placed it on the horse. Try a portrait and don't let your whims extend the pattern as you are painting. A little restraint can go a long way. Then, when you have learned how to hold back, try tweaking a pattern on the fly again. As you can see from the photos above, I started out with a slightly different pattern, and decided I wanted to fill in a bit more on the barrel. A little intentional pattern creep is ok, but notice how most of the pattern is exactly the same. The photos also demonstrate why I made the cat track marks large on the basecoat - you can see how tiny they get once the mapping is done! Keep this in mind if you are planning on mapping your pattern since it causes pattern creep too!