Most models have a good handle- their tail sticks out, or they have a base, or something else easy to hold while priming, fixativing, or painting. But sometimes you have to get creative.
When my main projects are drying or otherwise on hold, I’ve been working on some of Maggie Bennett‘s awesome micro mini resins. They are super fun and I enjoy painting them in acrylics.
My current project is Maggie’s sleeping resin, Kahlua.
Because of her size and her pose, Kahlua doesn’t have a great handle. I needed to spray her initial layers with fixative, so I decided to get creative. The advantage to her pose is that she has a large area that won’t be seen- her belly and bottom.
So I grabbed my trusty dremel, picked just the right bit, and caaaarefully made a hole in her belly.
The drill bit I used was chosen to match the size of a toothpick. And thus…
Micro on a stick!
I made sure she was firmly on there…
…and then took her outside for an all-over spray of Dull Cote. Then I simply planted her stick in a glob of playdoh.
Easy peasy! She’s drying safely on the shelf next to her buddy Hazel, who also got a layer of fixative.
Hurrah! This will make the rest of my work on Kahlua much easier.
I’ve always struggled with priming horses, and I thought it was just me. But now I’ve seen the light.
It turns out I was just using the wrong primer. Primer with crappy coverage. Krylon Primer. I told Tracy of my primer woes and she recommended Rustoleum Primer. I picked some up yesterday and today my life was changed for ever. *Cue choir of angels*
I can’t believe how long I’ve muddled along with Krylon. This Rustoleum Primer is amazing. It’s night and day. The horse actually turns white when you prime it! And as a giant bonus, this primer doesn’t smell nearly as much.
My beautiful new primer with my beautiful primed horses!
I am so excited! I shall prime everything and everyone in my path! Thank you Tracy!
My early customs had base-coats of painted-on gesso, but as soon as I discovered the joys of spray primer I abandoned my gesso for this fast, smooth, easy alternative. Recently I’ve only dug out the gesso for use in making messo to use for wrinkles and veining.
For most models, you can’t beat spray primer for smoothness and ease.
There is one situation in which I prefer gesso as my primer, and that is when the model in question has a textured coat (such as many Schleich and Safari horses or the Breyer Stablemate Donkey). Unless you want to spend hours sanding, customization of these models requires embracing all of their fuzzy glory.
The main reason I quickly moved away from gesso is because the application left the model with brushstrokes and showed plainly under pastels. But when you’re starting with a textured horse, brush strokes in gesso can enhance the existing texture and add further hair detail while still providing a nice base coat. Plus, you avoid the smelly spray primer, which is always nice.
For this textured Schliech Shetland Pony, brush strokes only add to his cute fuzzy look.
It’s lovely to not have to worry about brush strokes as you work. The only thing you really need to remember is to reflect the hair patterns- you want most of your brush strokes to go vertically down the horse, not horizontally, always following the hair growth around areas like the flank and belly. The muzzle should be smoother to reflect the shorter, softer hairs, and of course the hooves should be as smooth as possible.
Like spray primer, gesso is sandable when dry, so don’t be afraid to redo an area if it looks wonky. Gesso texture will show under pastels, so make sure you like what you see before you start adding colors.
Fuzzy ponies in various stages of priming with gesso
During all this work and moving shenanigans, I am really missing my pony studio time! We move the weekend of June 3-5 and then hopefully I’ll be in my new apartment and mobile studio (aka the dining room table). All of my model stuff is packed away but I am still haunting various sites to get my fix partially satisfied.
Hopefully you are already familiar with Jaime Baker, whether through her amazing customizing, her awesome yahoo group, or her online video tutorials. And if not, you’re in for a real treat.
I recently discovered this great page on her site with nice, simple, and helpful tutorials on applying pastels and applying primer or fixative. You can learn a lot from trial and error and reading about technique, but it’s great to see a hobby rockstar demonstrate on video how she does it. Check these out!