Thursday, 26 March 2009

Paint Job

As alluded to in the previous post, I did actually slap a load of flesh-coloured paint onto the sculpture but it just didn't look right. So I tried mixing my own, using artists' acrylics - big mistake, it ended up looking lobster pink and shiny, as if poor old Stephen Fry had been baking in the sun too long!

So I ended up re-priming it and having another go, by lightening Revell's modelmakers' flesh-tone acrylic paint with their matt white, and adding just a tiny tincture of yellow. Simply painting a uniform colour onto something gives a dull and lifeless look, even on a three-dimensional object like a sculpture, as can be seen below left.

Consequently, it is necessary to add other tones and highlights, somewhat as an artist would do with a two-dimensional painting. Most modelmakers, and the puppetmakers on Spitting Image, use fancy (read expensive) airbrushes, something I don't possess and, being a completely tight bastard, have no intention of possessing any time soon. Thus, to achieve the skin tones you can see below right, I had to experiment, eventually using a form of dry-brushing using sponge. One thing you have to remember is that modelmakers' acrylics dry damn fast, which is great for painting multiple coats in an evening but a bugger to dry-brush using brushes, hence the use of sponge.

The sponge I use is in the form of little blocks, around the size of a school pencil eraser, cut from sheets of furniture foam (of which I have a stock for making stop-motion animation puppets). Dip a corner of the sponge into the pot of acrylic paint so you have just a tiny little blob on the sponge. Smear this around and around onto a surface (I use disposable paper plates) until it appears that it won't make any more marks. You then rub this fairly firmly onto the surface of the model. The almost-dry traces of paint still in the sponge transfer quite nicely. You can also lightly dab the sponge to get even more subtle effects.

Stephen Fry's nose and cheeks were done using this method, with red paint. His lips were brush-painted with a darker shade of the skin-tone paint, but were too shiny and even in tone, so I dulled them by lightly dry-sponging with another shade of skin-tone and a little dry-sponged red on top to break the colour up even more. Dry-brush grey was sponged onto the chin and jowls, for that not-quite-five-o'clock-shadow look, and then some red was dry-sponged lightly onto that.

The 'hair' is simply the primer coat, touched up with some more grey. I'll likely re-paint it in better colours, but it'll do for now. The irises are the paper irises described in my companion blog, cut out and carefully placed - they aren't glued in and are only temporary to avoid the dead zombie-eyes look seen below left.

This is my first ever piece of figure painting (apart from the occasional tiny 1/35 scale model soldier decades ago), and I'm rather pleased with the results...

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