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Paradoxical Mouse

Mouse's First Bust (Advice and Comments Appreciated)

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Starting hair shadows. Blocking them in first. I know they need to be more opaque, but wanted them to be in first.

 

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Having done those pictures, I may have to fix the face blends...looks like my fight with the eyes may have messed with the blending.

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So I haven't worked on her any more...as much as I love painting faces, I apparently severely dislike blending and working on hair. She's been waiting for some hair blending for a while now. 

 

Anyone have advice to make the blending process more enjoyable?

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There are several ways to approach blending and usually one stands out as more intuitive.

 

1. start with the two colors you want to blend and separate them far apart on your palette. Then in between, mix yourself gradations of shades.

 

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Mix as many shades as you want. The more you mix, the easier the steps can be.  Once you have the gradations, start by laying down your middle one.  The gradually add the others highlighting up or shading down. Each of the layers should slightly overlap and the farther you go from the center, they should take up a smaller amount of space.

 

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In order to make an area appear to be one color, it must take up at least 50% if not more of the "real estate."  This process is called layering, and it's a good start to blending. It can be a very smooth blend, especially if the colors are similar and the more "layers" you use. This can be done with a wet palette like above, or in a welled palette, where you are mixing thinned paint. Wren often uses a welled palette when doing her smooth blends. I've seen her mix 12-15 shades, all designed to hide the transitions from us.

 

2. Another way of blending is wet blending.  This usually requires some humidity to work well, though if you move quickly it isn't necessary. I lay down one color, then what I usually do is not even clean my brush but grab the next color and slap it down close. Then I sort of feather between the two to muddle them together.  Feathering is a perpendicular stroke to the areas of color.

 

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To blend the red and tan, I'd run my strokes of paint following the arrow.  If using the lighter color, I move my stroke towards the jaw.  If using the red, I move opposite the arrow.  Shade down and highlight up if that makes sense. Doing a perpendicular stroke fools our eyes and we are less likely to notice the blending.

 

3. Glazing. I think this approach has been stressing for you, so when you come to reaper, sit down with me at my table (or I can come to yours, or ask Rhonda "Wren" Bender as she has about the smoothest blends of anyone) and we'll practice glazing and finding the right consistency and brush for you. Some do well with smaller or larger brushes.  It varies, until we figure out how much paint and water to keep in our brush at any given time.

 

The way this usually works is laying down the midtone. Then thinning the paint of your shade or highlight color, and gradually working them up or down in the shadows in very thin layers.  Let each one dry before you put more paint down.  A way to fight the urge to put another down is to work on either multiple minis or different areas of the mini while one dries.  When I glaze, I put down the shading color, then clean my brush quickly and pull the color outwards towards my midtone using the residual water on the brush.  What this means is most of my paint is left behind, but I blur it outwards so we are less likely to notice the blending.

 

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This is a blown up blend on skin. You can still see the lines between the blends, but only if you look close up. That is the illusion we try to create with glazing. It is designed to make such tiny divisions between gradations of color that we don't notice the transition. It is by far the fussiest of the techniques and has an irritating learning curve. I think it is why people get frustrated when they blend non metallic metal, because the blend looks wrong up until the end.  We keep seeing the transitions until we've managed to smooth them away and this takes layers and layers and layers.

 

A good way to learn glazing is to play with watercolor techniques.  What you want to learn to do is something called a graded wash- if you google it,  there are a lot of videos and pictures on it.  What you do is get a semi wet brush and have some cheap watercolor paper or thick drawing paper available. Pick up a bit of your color and start by laying down a back and forth stroke and gradually working down the paper.  You can re-wet the brush when it dries and keep going. This will gradually make the paint layer more transparent as there is less and less of the pigment available.

 

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This is similar to the glaze technique in that it tends to be how we blend the edges of our glazes in to other colors.  On paper, we're using the white background to show change,  On the mini, we're just putting it on top of another color.

 

Does that make sense?

I use all of these methods.  I often slap paint down and wet blend to start with and mix as I go.  I was joking with Wren this weekend that I call it going "Banshee" on the mini, in that I only worry about where I want colors and not the blends at all.  (Banshee the painter is known for not caring about smooth blends) Then I go back with some layers to smooth up any stark transitions. Last I glaze the heck out of it to finish the blending process. So one isn't better than the other, just different.

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