Up to the line
Posted by Martin on April 9, 2009
Here’s an update on the study for Saxon paint schemes. Moving on from the head, I’ve been trying some greys and whites on the trousers and been applying the yellows for the piping on the surtout. There’s still some work to do on the rear of the trousers but I mostly wanted to talk about piping tonight.
Talking to others recently, I’ve come to realise that some people are scared of painting piping for one reason or another and I thought that if I shared my approach, it might do a little good. So my first piece of advice is to have a go (yep – and that means you, young Simon). If the figure sculptor has gone to the trouble to put it on a figure, it’s almost rude not to try to paint it! It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t come out well to start with – with practice and patience, you’ll only improve. So here are my top tips:
Don’t paint piping last, paint it first. If you leave it until the last thing, you’ll be worrying about doing neat lines that don’t spoil work you’ve already done. It’s actually much easier to paint up to a line than to paint the line itself. So, while you’re still at the black undecoat stage, paint in your piping. Don’t worry if it’s a bit wobbly or not fine enough at first – you can paint back with black to tidy up. That’s exactly what I did with the yellow turnbacks shown here.
Don’t go straight to the final colour. Most piping is in a light colour like red, yellow or white. To get that opaque enough on black in one layer will mean you have to use thick paint which is very difficult to work with and leaves an unsightly finish. If, on the other hand, you thin your paint to make it workable, it won’t be opaque enough in a single layer. So you know where I’m going here: take a layered approach like you would with any other part of the figure. The Flat Earth and Ochre Brown I used here provide both a good base for the yellows and provide the opportunity for a bit of shading to make the piping more interesting.
You’ll still need a steady hand. So, position yourself so that you can rest your painting hand against something solid like the edge of the table. Also, don’t hold your breath while you apply the paint – instead, breath out gently as you make each stroke. Try to paint is smooth steady strokes rather than jerky jabs.
Be careful what you drink. I never drink tea, coffee or cola before and during painting because the caffeine actually makes my hands shake slightly.
If you’ve got some piping tips of your own, feel free to post them as comments here. In the meantime, I expect I’ll move on to the light blue of the surtout next.