Friday, May 19, 2017

Painting a dapple grey with pastels and pencils

NaMoPaiMo is over, at least for this year, and I haven't touched a paintbrush in more than a month. Still, I'm always interested in learning more about finishwork, so I am absolutely delighted to share this guest blogger post from Zane Lahdentranta of Frosty Birch Studios. Zane's dapple greys are outstanding, and I really appreciate this peek into her creative process. Thank you so much, Zane!

Painting a Dapple Grey with Pastels and Pencils

by Zane Lahdenranta

Every paint job starts with reference pictures. It is important to study real dapples, to get inspiration and also a feel for how the pattern works.  Dapples are somehow very organized chaos. I spend a lot of time just looking at pictures.
Before starting the dapples, I applied a base coat with pastels. I used many different grey tones to do this. In this photo, I have just started dappling Benicio's neck.
Now let me tell you a little bit about my tools. This brush has lost most of its bristles. It is now very hard, sharp and precise. I use it to apply pastels in small crossed lines.
Here you can see result. I blow off the extra pastel dust before proceeding to the next step.
This is a micro applicator. I use it to tap pastels in many small continuous dots.
These applicators come in three sizes. I saw them on the NaMoPaiMo page and had to order some right away! Before I used cotton swabs, but these are much smaller and more precise.
Here are the dapples after being tapped with the micro applicator. Dapples, especially star dapples, are not really stars. They are more like snowflakes. Tapping many dots next to each creates the snowflake effect. 
After I blow off the extra pastel dust, I brush over the dapples with this very harsh brush in the direction of hair growth. Sometimes I take darker pastels and apply them on top of the dapples. That creates the small dark hairs inside the dapples.
Here is a closer look at the first layer of dapples done with brush and micro applicator. Sometimes brushing over the dapples makes the background too light. When that happens, I have to go back and add darker pastels between the dapples.
Here is the first layer of dapples before... and after sealing. The dapples are almost gone!
When the sealer is dry, I repeat all the steps from the beginning. I should mention that I use white pigment mixed with little bit yellow and grey pastels for the dapples.
Here is the second layer after sealer.
Next I use pencils to add more detail. On this model, I used Koh-i-noor grey pencils, Prismacolor white and yellow tones plus color blender and white coal. Unfortunately, the white coal disappeared too much after sealer, so most of the white is Prismacolor.
Benicio's back dapples were done with pencils. I used blender to smooth them out. Otherwise, the dapples looked grainy.
Here you can see the upper dapples done with pencils and the lower with pastels. I didn't like how pencil dapples looked, so in the next layer I went over them with pastels.
Here are some more pastel dapples.
These dapples were done with pencils.
For comparison, Benicio's right side is done with pastels and blended with harsh brush. The left side is not blended yet.
Here is Benicio after blending, but before sealer.
I refine the dapples until I am satisfied with how they look close up. In these last two photos, the dapples are done.
I still have to paint the white markings, mane and tail and other details.
Thanks again, Zane. You make this look positively do-able. Maybe next year's NaMoPaiMo horse will be grey!

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