Concept of Painting Application

by Alex Castro

The basic rule in applying paint is like the rule for building a structure—the foundation or base is the heaviest and is always applied first. If this rule is violated, the paint will not adhere properly and will crack or flake. Keep in mind the paint has its own elasticity of expanding and contracting as it dries. For example, if you apply water color first to a figure and then apply enamel, this may destabilize the paint and cause a chemical reaction. Once again, the rule is the heavier pigment first then the lighter one follows. This also must be taken into consideration when priming the piece, or applying finishes.

Oil painting rules:
• Fat over lean. When painting in layers, each successive layer must be more flexible than the one underneath. Add more medium (e.g. Liquin) to each successive layer.
• Thick over thin.Thick layers of oil colour are best applied over thin underlayers.
• Due to differences in flexibility, be conscious of drying and contracting times, particularly when you are using paints from different companies. The paints vary in make-up which cause them to have different drying times and adverse chemical reactions. I strongly suggest that when using paints from different manufacturers that you test a small section before you apply it on a figure that you have spent time on.

A word for spray can. For me this is the least efficient way of painting Use the can only as a last resort. With a spray can there is no control of the paint. Sometimes this is the only option you have like applying dull cote or silver. For areas that I have to use a spray can, other than dull cote or silver, spray the paint on paper then brush it on, or spray the paint into the airbrush and then spray the paint using the airbrush to obtain control.

Applying Base Color:

The base color is the primary color that all the washes, counter washes, line work, etc, will be based on. After priming the piece (see section on Priming), the first thing you is cover the areas with the various base colors i.e. if you are painting a shirt and pants, paint each with its own base color. There is a certain order to base color on figures and it’s usually applied in the manner a person gets dressed: first skin, then underclothing, shirt, pants, etc.

Then you apply the washes.

A wash is when you add water or some other liquid diluting the pigment. That is when the ratio of water is more than the pigment. The paint is in the consistency of water. Proportions depend on the particular relieve area and scale that you are painting. The goal of the wash is to run and go to places not easily accessible to the traditional brush giving you a different tone value by going into the nook and crannies. One downside to this is that some of the washes are unpredictable and some may have a chemical reaction, loosening up the color underneath. This is why it is important do dull cote the figure at certain times to protect the underlying color and to make sure that the underlying surface is dry and will accept a wash. Test in a small section. Washes should be applied gradually and rapidly for uniformity. Avoid puddles. The wash provides a subtle tint or change in the tone value of the base color without completely changing the base color. Once gain, this has to be done gradually.

Counter wash:
It is the same things as a wash, as but with more of the base color than a different tone. For example, if the wash was too dark, or you want to liven up the base color then you would apply the counter wash that would contain more of the base color.

Wet Stroke: This is similar to a wash, but is more localized in nature. Rather than applying the wash all over the place, you apply the wash in a certain area. This wash has more pigment than water. For example, if I have a crease in a shirt that the wash does not bring out, I use the wet wash to bring it out.
Capillary Effect: Be mindful of the capillary effect where the wash runs on its own up and around the seams. It’s a reaction to the amount of paint you have, which can be manipulated to your advantage. Let the paint run to get a capillary effect. The paint in essence travels both ways, up and down. When you paint you want a certain viscosity to allow you a capillary effect, at the same time having the viscosity to cover the area without creating any ridges. This is preparing you to use the airbrush so that you don’t have to over accumulate in these relief areas or fill up crevices.

Dry Stroke:
Is an approach to painting that involves applying paint to the high points of an already painted surface to achieve some of the highlights or tone value lighter than the underlying color. I use bristle brushes most of the time for dry stroking. To do this I must have a feel of how much paint is on the brush. Dip the brush and mash it into the paint to make sure that the paint is imbedded in all the fibers of the brush at all the sides. Then take a paper towel or cloth and brush it with the brush removing the excess paint. Before applying the dry brush to the surface of the figure, I rub it on the top of my hand between the thumb and the index finger and stroke it. What I’m looking for is a tug of the fibers on my skin. When I feel the tug, I know that the brush is ready. Take the brush and dry stroke going across the high areas. This should be a gradual process and can be complimented with an airbrush as well to soften as well, depending on the relieve area. Traditional dry brushing has its limitations. The dry stroke alone produces harsher lines. There I soften the lines with an airbrush. I also use flat sables to achieve a softer affect; and 00 flats to dry stroke around tiny areas such as eyelids.

Ghost Stroke:
Is similar to the wet stroke except that you are using more water than paint. It is more of a tint, where the end result is a light transparent film rather than a solid pigment or tone. It has an effect of a glaze and gives it a translucent quality.

Back Stroke:
The best line is made by moving the brush backwards, not forward, and using the sides of the brush, not the point. When you use the point you are basically detailing things and you are in the writing mode. A good technique for the back stroke is pulling backwards on the brush at the same time using the side of the brush to get the straight line as you are painting.

Line Work:
Is basically the use of accumulated techniques that we have just discussed to separate one area from another area either in a sharp define line or soft blended line. The old way of doing this was basically the sharp line technique. With this technique I work the line so that it is not abrupt. This must be a conscious effort. It requires stroking, counter washes, over and over until you get the desired results.
To do this effectively I use here an accentor or a separator.

The integrator:
In this system of working the integrator is the gray tones.

This works well in the development of character lines and in tuning and tweaking the face. I take Flat Gray and mix it with Gum #3 in equal proportions. This mixture appears greenish but when applied it turns into a subtle gray. This is excellent to use for the 5’0clock beard, preparing the beard, accenting the bags under the eyes, the spider webs around the eye. It also blends well when you airbrush, again leaving a hint of the gray.

I use a combination of flat black and red brown in equal proportions. I call this mixture soot. Soot blends in well and I use it to separate flesh from clothing and armor, or a hand holding an item or separating the fingers in a closed fist, etc. This color blends in nicely yet provides a subtle separating.

Written by Alex Castro

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