Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Tip

Epoxy gets old and difficult to work with after its container has been open for a few months. Do yourself a favor, and don't try to sculpt anything requiring detail with it. It will probably need to be dremeled back off anyway! But don't fret, there is a use for stiff old epoxy. It still cures just fine, so use it as a filler! This is a great way to make some headway on major resculpting projects a bit at a time, filling in gaps from removed body parts, or those niggling little things like holes in a neck from sanding off a mane. Be sure to work it in your hands quite a while (a good indication is when it is relatively soft) to make sure the two parts are evenly mixed, as the older the epoxy is, the harder it is to mix properly.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Tip

Painting in oils is a waiting game. Sometimes time is of the essence or you might just really be itching to finish a piece off pronto. Fortunately, there is a quick solution! Airbrushing a basecoat in acrylics (or hand painting, though airbrushing is faster) lays on the color you need and allows you to get right to work on a finished coat.

Do as much shading (and dappling if you need it) as you can - I pretty much suck with an airbrush, so my shading is pretty rudimentary. When the horse is dry (which you can help along with a hair dryer or heat gun if you're desperate), give it a light spray of DullCote or Workable Fixatif. Painting oils on an unprotected airbrushed coat has a high risk of peeling paint off, and then you will be left with much more work. Sometimes you can get away with only one coat of oils on top of a well shaded basecoat, but plan for at least two on lighter colors. Still, a considerable time savings!

A caveat: keep in mind that when you use this technique, the final product won't have quite the same deep look as a paint job done completely in oils. This can be good or bad depending on your desired look. An airbrushed basecoat works best on dapple greys and colors where the oil paint is fairly opaque, like dark bays. Unless you're already a great airbrush artist and can paint a lively coat, lighter colors like palomino depend on having multiple layers of oils for depth and good shading.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday Tip

For today's Friday Tip, we'll cover some basic lighting for photo tents. You don't need fancy lights - mine are clamp lamps from the hardware store with 60 watt daylight bulbs in some, and everyday 100 watt bulbs in others. By pointing the bulbs through the white photo tent material, the light is softened and bounces around the inside of the box, creating a pleasing light without harsh shadows.

You can see in the diagram above how I have mine set up. The overhead lights are aimed to go down right at the horse or just in front of it. The lower lamps (approximately level with the horse) are situated a little farther forward (closer to the camera) and shine back, still through the tent material, towards the horse and back of the box. I never have them all turned on; two or three are plenty to light the horse without overwhelming it. Sometimes to further soften the lower light, I adjust down it so that just half shines through the tent, with the other half getting cut off under the table. Experiment with this setup to see how the photo changes with different lighting configurations!

This photo was taken with lights coming from different angles on both sides, and a little stronger on the right side. It is very soft with no strong shadows. This sort of setup is ideal for getting photos that are illustrative of what the horse actually looks like.

Or you can go arty and get a picture with a lot of drama by only lighting from one side. Experiment with closing drapes or turning the lights in the room off to reduce uncontrolled light, or changing the distance of your lights from the tent. There isn't a wrong way to do it when you are going for a more interesting lighting look, so just go for it, and see what happens!