Airbrushing and other Patterning

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For some costumes a plain color will work fairly well, but in nature an animal is rarely one color and thus neither is Marc.
I looked at many pictures of wolves to see how their markings were, and then tried to duplicate them on Marc. Marc was designed to look real - as opposed to a cartoon or anime character. As such a lot of work and experimentation went into getting him looking right.
The end results are worth it as there is nothing exposed that looks HUMAN!!!,
and people can really relate to the big wolf.. rather than a person in a funny suit. I used several techniques that I will describe below, and what area's I used them on.

The Before Picture

Here is Marc before I started to paint him.
As you can see he has no patterns other that what has been sewn onto him.

I decided to put a black strip up his muzzle, over his head and down his back. Those would also go down his tail and branch down each leg.

Black shoulders and stripes were also applied down each arm. Additional black was used to highlight body features like the shoulder blades

White was used carefully to highlight and lighten certain features. Like around the eyes, muzzle sides, Chest, and under the tail. There was also small sections applies to the arms to give a better effect, and also on the front of the legs.

So.. on with the painting.
Unpainted Marc


Paints and Equipment

I use Acrylic Fabric Paint for my work. Its is water soluble which means that you can wash it off if you make a mistake. It is extremely durable and does not require much touching up.
You can either let it set naturally in the sun or a warm room, or use a hair dryer. I found that very handy when applying small features.

The two colors that I used was White and Black.
I contemplated using other colors but found with careful application they were all I needed.

To apply it I used an airbrush, toothbrush, small artists brush, and finally a hair brush.

Its is important when doing this work to find a way to keep the individual painted hairs separate, otherwise they will gum together and look very un-natural.

The best technique I found was to use the hair brush and the hair dryer.
Paints, Airbrusg, etc


Airbrushing

I used the small airbrush by watering down the black paint. Luckily I have a small compressor but many airbrushes can be powered with an aerosol can of compressed air.

Do test on some paper beforehand to ensure that your airbrush is giving an even spray.
It will also enable you to get an idea of how wide the jet is and thus adjust your distance to suit.

Don't to huge patches at once.. It is far better to do smaller area's and then blend them in.

Many natural patterns do have a blending effect rather than a straight edge.
Spraying Black Marking
Immediately after spraying an area I use the hair brush to brush the paint through the fur.

This has two effects. Its puts the color along the hole of the hair, and also stops the hairs from gumming together.

A hair dryer can also be used to help dry and set the paint.

Although I did not use stencils I have experimented with them for a friend and found that they work very well. Again Less is Best when applying the paint as too much will definitely make a mess!!
Brushing throught the Color


Flecking

These is one of two techniques I use to add highlights to various areas.

Example of their use are around the eyes, along the muzzle, and down thigh, and under the tail.
The tail tip was airbrushed to add depth.

For small area's of highlight the small artist brush can be used to put a tiny dab of white paint on an area.
You only need a tiny amount as it will go a long way.
The object here it to coat the individual hairs with a light amount of the paint - thus lightening the color.
Flecking the Muzzle with White Paint
Then use the toothbrush to blend the white into the fur.
Let this dry using the hair dryer, and then re-apply.
It takes time but the effect is a gradual lightening of an area.

Blending in the Color


Streaking

This is for larger area's like his thighs.
Dipping the whole brush into the paint you can get an even layer along the handle.
Then gently touching it on the fur in a down ward motion you can put horizontal highlights
Applying thr Streak
Vigorous brush the fur using the hair brush and this will cause the paint to be transferred onto the brush and thus distributed over a wider area.

As you can see it gives a highlight over quiet an area.
Brushing through the Patterns


The Finish

Well - you can look at many other of the pictures of me wearing him to see the effects.. but here are a couple of quick ones

With the back note the shoulder blades and back ruff, as well as the markings down the legs.

The thighs are lightened, as are the front of the arms.

The tail tip adds to the effect.
Face - Close Up
Side View Back View Front View
These were taken with a flash - which tend to bring up the white much more than normal.

But it gives a good idea of where I applied the highlights.

A wolf's natural markings do highlight the eyes. And in these shots the LED' for his pupils are very evident.

Oh - and these are with his old ears. I changed them in recently to look taller and more wolf like.
Face Closeup Muzzle Closeup