Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Tip

I'm not quite to a place where I can do more filming on the dapple grey Salinero, so this week we have a couple before and after pictures for closer inspection. Both are clickable to see large versions. The above photo is his current state (though a bit unsharp so some of the detail is lost), and the photo below is a before picture of the first dappling layer. Let's compare the two!

1) Notice that the dapples on the left side are smaller than those on the right. Fortunately, this problem can be fixed as the dapples are worked on in the next stage. It's always nice when the initial roadmap of dapples is perfect, but that seldom happens. ;-)
2) The before picture also shows some sloppy dapples (especially on the hindquarters when I started getting really tired) and roany "hairs" that are too large. More layers like those shown in the latest video will tone those down and improve the dapple shape and placement.
3) The before stage is too even and many of the dapples allow paint underneath to show through. Allowing paint to show through layers is a good blending technique in some instances, but more of the dapples need to be filled in.

In the after picture, things are moving more in the direction of randomness and subtlety. But it doesn't end there! Things that still need touching up in the after photo: toning some of the dapples back down, making the dark to light transitions better, and adding more hair texture.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Tip

Welcome back! This week we are covering the second major stage in dappling. This process also takes quite a while, but not nearly as long as the first dappling layer. Instead of doing quarters, I usually do one half of the horse one day, and the other side in another session. Let's get on to the video recap:
  • Start with the medium grey shade and a small brush with a decent point. Do not use a brand new brush, since scrubbing the excess paint out of the bristles will quickly ruin it.
  • Where the dappling becomes very faint in the white areas, begin adding in some "frame dappling". This is basically sketching lines in between dapples. Do not just draw circles; use short strokes in the direction of hair flow. Do this in a way that looks random, not evenly everywhere.
  • Fill in some of the existing lighter grey dapple networking to emphasize certain areas. Again, do not fill in everything; just select areas to make the pattern less uniform.
  • It may be easier to start with filling in some of the grey areas first to get a feel for how the frame dapples should be painted before moving on to the whiter areas.
  • Moving on to the chest, begin painting the hair whorls in with medium grey. The hairs will look a little too dark and big probably, but that is ok. Going back over them with white will make them appear smaller and the whole area will blend in better. Go back over the chest in as many sessions as necessary to get the desired amount of hair patterning.
  • Work some more on shading the face, using roaning techniques with stiff brushes in some places (like the cheeks and nasal bones) and using softer blending techniques in other areas (like around the eye and muzzle). Start putting in some basic details here like light and dark shading around the eye and be more precise than in the basecoat stages.
  • Using black and another small brush, pick out the darkest areas of networking around the dapples. In larger expanses of black, a small stiff brush can be used to brush over the entire area. It is ok to go over some dapples lightly, but try to keep the black as contained as possible.
  • Next, using white paint and yet another small brush with a decent tip, go back over the coat and work on the dapples. Many will not be opaque enough from the first session so they need to be filled in. Pick some out to be very white, and leave some to fade into the coat.
  • When the dapples are all picked out, get another stiff roaning brush with a bit of white and blend in the dapples in the whiter areas. Add more roaning and grainyness to the darker areas (you can go back over this with the darker colors if it is overdone) and generally make the coat more cohesive.

The important thing to keep in mind with this whole process is that randomness in color intensity lends credibility to the paint job. Do as much as you can in this session, and go back to touch up and pick more things out as needed later. None of the steps in this video need to be done in exactly this order, except for the white dappling and roaning last. Skip around and fiddle with whatever catches your eye. I'm not exactly sure where I'll be with this horse by the time the next Friday Tip rolls around, but we'll probably be covering other details in the head and legs. See you then!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Friday Tip

I'm not quite far enough along to show the next stage in dappling, so be looking for that next week. This week I'm going to share some of my favorite horse photography books to help build your reference collection! There are lots of coffee table type books out now so in addition to this list, visit your favorite bookstore and browse through what they have. Lots look more promising than they are, so it is wise to preview before you buy. Don't forget used book stores - sometimes they get the overstock of new books, and they may have older books that have unique photographs you won't see reproduced today. If you're in the market to buy now, using these links gives me a couple bucks and doesn't cost you any more! And now, on to the list:

"Arabians: The Classic Arabian Horse", by Rik van Lent, Sr. and Jr.
(I have the hardcover; I don't know if it differs from this paperback.)

"Arabians From the Camera of Johnny Johnston", by Johnny Johnston

"Conquerors", by Deb Bennett
(Black and white photos, but still a valuable reference.)

"Equine Color Genetics", by D. Phillip Sponenberg

"Fascination Horse", by Gabriele Boiselle

"Horses", by Valeria Manferto De Fabianis

"Horses", by Gabriele Boiselle

"Horses", by Yann Arthus-Bertrand

"Horses of the Camargue", by Hans Silvester

"If I Had a Horse: How Different Life Would Be" by Melissa Sovey-Nelson
(Comes with a DVD which has some good moments for watching movement.)

"Man and Horse: An Enduring Bond", by Fulvio Cinquini

"Marwari", by Francesca Kelly
(Sorry it's so expensive, but it is a real visual treat if you are interested in this breed.)

Edit: This book is listed on Frencesca Kelly's website for $77! (Thanks Beatha!)

"The Western Horse: A Photographic Anthology", by David R. Stoecklein
(The color reference is great, but ignore all the Ben Green quotes. Check out Sponenberg for more accurate and current color information.)

Also check out magazines, especially those from the breed registries you have a particular interest in. Two excellent magazines for general reference are:

Horse Illustrated
(The information provided in this magazine is quite basic, but the photography is excellent and covers many breeds, colors and disciplines.)

(Not as much variety and imagery as Horse Illustrated, but often has great detail pictures.)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday Tip

This week's tip is the beginning of the long awaited dappling tutorial! If you haven't watched the previous dapple grey videos, I suggest you do so before watching this one as many of the earlier techniques are still used, but are glossed over here. Let's get started!
  • Work in sections. This process takes a looooong time, and the paint will start to dry on you before you can get a whole lot of dappling done. This is not necessarily a bad thing, since tacky paint is more resistant to blending and accepts roaning/grainy effects better - great for a dapple grey. I like to do the forehand on one side one day, then the hind the next day, the same thing for the other side, and then the belly and what I can of the legs last. So in all, 5 days for just the dappling basecoat.
  • Begin as before by blocking out color areas. Scrub the paint on so that it is so thin if you were to touch it, it would only stain your finger. This thin layer is there to help blend the dapples in later.
  • Next, grab a small round brush to begin sketching in the dapples. One that holds its point well, but is not new and super sharp will work the best. (For smaller scales, you do want to use a more precise new brush.) Only use a little bit of paint at once. Using too much paint causes spread out indistinct dapples and the extra paint is hard to get rid of. You can always add more!
  • Lightly dot and stroke the paint on, paying close attention to dapple grey references. Note what size and shape the dapples are in each specific area of the horse. Blend as you go, but be careful not to overdo it, since dapples should "pop" a little rather than fuzz out in the darker areas.
  • Start in areas that have notable dapples and get their shapes and spacing worked out before moving on to filling in the rest of the coat. Doing the hair whorls at first helps to prevent crowding too.
  • Move around to different sections and take frequent short breaks to prevent getting into the trap of painting organized dappling.
  • When all of the dappling is done (it took about 4 hours for the hind section in this video), go over the coat with a the stiff roaning brush and a little bit of white paint. This will set the dapples in and add some irregularity to the coat and build on the previous grainy, hairy look.
  • Finish off with the same technique and a bit of black paint in the darkest areas. Use a smaller brush where necessary to get around the dapples.
  • The dapples look pretty nice in this first coat, but come back next week to see how to finish them off and really make them look great!