Thursday, January 31, 2013

Adventures in Repainting, Take 2

This is a lengthy post, but bear with me.  If you have any interest in repainting with ink I hope that you can utilize this post as a reference for materials you can use and as usual, I'll show you my attempts so you can see what works and what doesn't.  If this subject isn't your cup of tea, you can just stroll halfway down and look at the repainting photos, lol.

After Jay got me playing around with ink again I decided to give repainting a serious effort.  My first step was to find some white ink pens because I wanted my medium to be strictly ink and no paint.  I have nothing against paint.  I just prefer the consistency of ink and I can maneuver a pen better than I can a paint filled brush.

I was going to order the ivory pens I linked to last time from Dick Blick. However, their shipping is ridiculous and I'm not paying $8.95 in shipping when my order of 2 pens was only $3.86.  Man, get outta here with that nonsense.  So, armed with a 50% off coupon I went to Joanns and got these:

The full price of the white ink Gelly Roll pens were $4.99 and the black ink LePen was $1.99.  After putting them to the test, I'm going to recommend adding both of these to your art bin if you want to repaint with ink.

The LePen has the smallest point of any ink pen I have ever found and is perfect for creating delicate strokes like eye liner and lashes.  Even though I'm a Faber-Castell nerd and have been using them for 30 years, if you could only get one liner pen, I'd get the LePen.  The Gelly pen took some getting used to and because it has a well point instead of a protruding tip I'm going to try out more white pens if I find them.  I still do recommend it though.

Other things you'll need are nail polish remover (at Walmart $2.96), varnish, glue and qtips. I'm using 100% remover because it's faster at removing the paint and you'll actually do less damage to the vinyl as long as you wipe the face with water immediately when done.  You'll need matte varnish for the eyes and satin or glossy varnish if you want shiny lips.  The glue is to seal your blending brush.

I had said before that you don't need the dry brush technique to blend your ink, that you can just stroke different layers over one another to do this.  While that's true, I'm totally recanting that statement.  You DO need to blend with a dry brush if you want smooth shading and shadowing.

Use glue to seal a few brushes so that only a small portion at the top can move.  If you look at the dark blue brushes you can see that the tips are brown.  The bristles below have been sealed.  If you don't have a brush small enough for blending then cut some of the bristles off like I did. The yellow brush with the white bristles has been sealed too, but I only use it to sweep away dust from the face.

I also use blending tortillons (at Joanns $1.99), but more for removing ink than blending it.  You can make these though using plain copy paper if you don't want to buy any.  You'll also need a mechanical pencil because they have the smallest points to draw your faces on, toothpicks dipped in water to scrape away white ink, copy paper to clean your pen tips on and paper towels for wiping your dry brushes on.  Lastly, you'll need colored ink pens!

Again, I'm all about Faber-Castell.  Love them.  I have several themed packs; Basic, Metallic, Sepia, Black, Terra, Landscape and Shades of Grey.  If you are just starting out, I recommend getting the LePen 0.03mm and the Basic Faber-Castell pack.  The pack is $16.99 at Michaels or Joanns, so take a 50% off coupon.

Okay, now that we have all the implements, let's get started!

First, make yourself a test head.  Using my largest face, I ran a strip of white ink across her forehead - you can seal it if you want.  Next, I drew a single stroke of each color I have through the white and 6 strokes immediately above it on the vinyl.  Because ink is much thinner than paint, this will be a big help when choosing which colors to put directly on the vinyl versus those you'll put on the white ink which is quite opaque in comparison.

My attempts:

My first try with the white Gelly and LePen seemed very easy.  If you have a defined sculpted face like the Power Team guys the Gelly will fill the groves of the eye with no problem or spillage.  Even though I was heavy handed with the black ink of the LePen, it too scrolled well and let me make minute lines (the ink in his hair is magic marker).  However, what I did notice is that no ink, either LePen or Faber, is compatible with the opacity of the Gelly.  The thinner ink would eventually bleed through to the white ink if you stroked too often.

Since the colors were soaking through to the white ink, the next time I just inked the whites of the eye and left the iris empty.  This worked fine, but it was annoying breaking up the white ink that way instead of just a strip across the whole thing.  I wiped this face away soon as I finished because the eyes didn't look so slanted when I drew them on but once I over did it with the black again, they looked a mess.

This guy got redone several times.  I was still trying to perfect laying down the white ink without it getting stroked away.  I was working on his last face when it hit me that if I seal the white layer with varnish I can paint over it without affecting it.  I'm slow, but I get there eventually.

Ok, the first head is to show you how much whiter the ink is compared to her original eye.  However, if you seal down your first white layer with matte varnish your eye whites will have a much more natural color and not be so glaring.  Another thing the Gelly is good at is making teeth!  You can either put your white down first and ink color around it or put down an entire layer of color and then stroke the white over it.

Extra photo added for Mrs. Anderson

This dude. Oy vey.  He's kinda creeping me out but I achieved what I was going for.  Because Power Team guys have sculpted eyes I wanted to see if I could go beyond the sculpt and reshape the eye by making it bigger.  So, I covered not only the eye socket, but the lash and crease lines as well with white and sealed it down.  His iris is actually going below his intended lash line and his eyebrows have been painted above their intended placement as well.  Creepy, but doable.

Now that I've figured out how to work with the Gelly, let's talk technique.

When you put down your varnish, whether your first seal of white or the final seal of the full repaint, DO NOT STROKE the varnish onto the ink as you will stroke the ink right off.  You have two choices.  You can put a small dab of varnish on your brush and pat it down so that only the varnish touches the ink, not the bristles.  Do this gently over and over until you've covered the areas.  If you have a steady hand, you can put a large drop of varnish on your brush and let it bead on top of the ink.  Then, pull the bristles through the drop and spread it around - again, making sure not to touch the ink.  You will probably practice either of these more than you will inking.

Dry brushing is your friend and it's easy.  The second face shows you how you can use dry brush shading to define the eyes and give shape to areas that don't exist.  I used one color, raw umber, to shape her sockets, brow bones and eyebrows.  You simply stroke a line and pull your dry brush through it.  Keep adding strokes and brushing through them to deepen or darken areas.  Use a qtip, tortillon or folded paper towel to wipe away from these areas to create highlights.

The third face has been defined using black ink around the lashes, in her creases and brows.  Except for the blue in her irises, this is just white ink in her eyes, with black ink and raw umber everywhere else.  Even her nose bridge was widened using shaded raw umber.


That's all that I can think to share with you now, but if you have any questions and I know the answer, I'll help you out.  Please take my attempts and comments with a grain of salt because I am by no means an expert at painting faces or anything else.  And, while I know that I won't be winning any face painting contests anytime soon, I've gone from my first "paint" repaint that looked like that:

To my latest "ink" repaint that looks like this:

I'll call that progress any day of the week.

Friday, January 25, 2013

2013 Barbie Glam Furniture Sets

As seen at Walmart for a price of $17.97:

You cant see it in the photo, but the table top has a kind of teal mosaic design. I'm feeling rather ambivalent about this set.  I like elements of it, the chairs in particular, but some parts are so garish and over the top.  Maybe if I was a little girl I would think this was the business.

I would rather they bring back the chaise lounges than to see this bedroom set again.  It looks so uncomfortable and kinda Disney-ish (not that there's anything wrong with that).  And why does she have shoes in the bed?  Did elves leave them?

The vanity sink is excellent and I wouldn't even recolor it, but that tub and toilet do nothing for me.

The other Glam sets to be released.

I tell myself that I have to stop viewing these sets as an adult and regard them as a preteen might and then perhaps they would seem more palatable.  However, that doesn't hold true when I see Monster High sets.

Image via Mattel

Image via Mattel

Look how awesome!  How can Mattel produce such cool sets for Monsters but continue to give Barbie the same contrived mess?  The Scaris Cafe was $22.97 at Walmart and rather worth it I'd say.  Not that I'd pay that much, of course.

BigLots usually gets the Barbie furniture sets without a doll which bumps the price down to $12.99 and wait for a 20% off sale you'll get it for $10.39.  Way more reasonable.

And, on an unrelated note, my closest Walmart is no longer open 24 hours! I was shocked when I saw the sign that hours were now 6am to 12 Midnight.  Not all my area Walmarts were open 24/7 as some close at 11pm.  For the last 13 years though I have gone to this particular Walmart at 2am to do my shopping - no more.  That's a whole lot of work hours gone for staff who needed it. :(

Friday, January 11, 2013

Painting Faces With Ink

Jay asked on this [Recoloring With Ink] post how many layers of ink I applied to get a nice coat on the doll's faces.  It's been a long time since I inked a doll and I couldn't remember exactly.  So here are two attempts that I did today:

This is a single layer of ink over an existing screening that took maybe 3 minutes.  I did nothing to her left eye (facing you) and nothing to her top lip.  Her right eye has one stroke of black over the upper eyelash.  Her brow bone has one stroke of sepia that was immediately shaded and smeared downward using a dry paint brush.  Her bottom lip has one stroke of magenta that was shaded upward using a dry brush.

A single layer is very subtle but you can still see a difference.  The more layers you add, of course, the deeper and richer the color.  You can use a dry brush or dry q-tip for shading.  If you don't like it, you can use a wet q-tip to remove the ink, but you have to do it quickly.

Next I'm going to do a complete repaint using my half Bratz face that lost its screening in 100% acetone.  Although you can get [white ink in a bottle] or a ["ivory" ink pen] (scroll downward at the links), I've never purchased or tried any, so I'm just using plain white paint for the eye whites.  You can put this on with a brush or sponge.

Except for the white in her eyes, everything else is strictly ink.  I used black, sepia, green, dark yellow and red.  This took me about an hour to do.  Yes, I know it's very sloppy, but I never said I could paint or draw a straight line, for that matter. 0.o This is multiple layers (3-4) of ink blended with a dry brush.  The dry brush technique isn't a necessity, because you can blend the different inks with each other just by stroking one layer over the other.

From a distance, this repaint ain't half bad, so imagine what you could achieve if you have a steady hand or can actually paint.  The best tip I can give is to create highlights by stroking a light color over a darker one.  It will take away some of the color underneath leaving you with a gradual blended change.  Also, clean off the tips of your pens by stroking over a piece of white paper until the true color shows.  Otherwise, all that blending will leave you with messy tips.

Hope this helps ^_^.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Modifying Power Team Hands

Before I even start this post I'm going to tell you upfront that you can skip everything I'm about to do because you can buy really inexpensive hands at [MonkeyDepot.Com.]  They are even having a sale on some of them today.

I have never purchased these hands or used this company so I have no idea about their product quality or customer service.  The company has been recommended to me by other bloggers though.

With that out of the way, if, like me, you wanna be a little crafty now and again or you are even cheaper than myself (if that's possible) then read further.

These are the variation of hands used by Power Team: full flesh, fingerless gloves and heavy duty work gloves.  Unfortunately, probably 99% of them come ready for heavy duty.  I've attempted three methods of replacement for this, the first of which uses the actual work glove itself.

I used an exacto knife to whittle down the glove and shape it into a hand.  A metal finger nail file sanded away some of the texture.  Because there is a molded strap decoration on the glove, I cut above it which revealed a square portion of the peg that is visible when you insert the hand.  I'm painting it anyway, so I didn't care.  Cut below that strap if you don't want the square peg to show.

I applied three coats of gesso to cover the black (white paint is fine if you've no gesso).  After painting it I thought that might be too much gesso and I only did one coat on the second hand.  Nope - three coats was the right amount.  I'm horrible at mixing paint so I messed around with the colors above to try and get a good match.  I didn't really need the dark brown at all.

All that gesso bulked up the hand and took away a lot of the definition between the fingers.  I should have whittled away more from the hand and shaped the fingers as well.  I did that on my second try and it looked more hand-ish, instead of like a fat meat puppet.

Granted, it's not cute, but at least is not a black glove anymore.  I wouldn't zoom in on it but it's fine from a distance - a distance far far away, lol.

The left hand, with its one coat of gesso, is not as smooth as the right.  I used matte varnish on both hands and it gave them more of a shine than the doll's flesh has.  Eh, neither one is going to win any prize but if you like to sculpt, sand and paint this might be the method for you to try.

I consider this next method a complete failure.  I just wasn't digging it.  The idea had merit but because of the material, it's not going to work well in the long run.  I'm showing you the photos anyway, though. ^__^.

I used a rubber Ken hand for this because it's nicely shaped, the coloring is a decent match and I had a bunch laying around, so what the heck.  What I wanted was to have a single hand/peg combo.  The problem is that Ken's rubber is very soft and at some point the peg is going to twist off and get stuck in the arm hole.  This gave me a another idea though.

Still using a Ken hand, I cut off the exact amount I needed with my easy cutter.  I used small scissors to start a pilot hole and then dremeled into the wrist.  Big Lots sells the perfectly sized bamboo skewers that will fit snuggly into a Power Team arm.  Put a dab of glue in the hand hole if it's a loose fit.  Insert the bamboo between the two, cutting it at the end going into the arm until you get a snug seam.  This works quite well.  Sure, the hand's not articulated at the wrist, but neither was that glove.

If you have something metal or harder, of course it's going to last longer than the bamboo, but for something cheap and easy to cut, it's darn good. It looks way smaller than the Power Team hand and isn't as defined, but it's better than a thick glove.  And, if you don't like the look of the cut...

... give him some watches and junk.  Of all three tries I rather like this one the best.  Even with having to use a drill it was still the fastest and simplest.  I know that Monkey hands would be even simpler, but I enjoyed fiddling around with these so it was worth it to me.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My Little Laboratory

Velcome to my laboratory. *said with a European accent and the proper amount of sinister inflection*

Okay, it's more of a craft station, but I still give it the lofty title of laboratory because I'm fanciful like that. ^__^.  I wasn't using this computer desk for much but it has so many roomy areas that I decided to store doll parts, cardboard and the like within it and underneath it.  When I have to drill, clamp or chop up anything I do it here.  I let things dry here too because it's 3 rooms away from my regular desk so I don't have to smell it.

All my extra spare heads get separated by Liv, Cleo Bratz/Moxie, Jade Bratz, Barbie/Clone and Males.  There's really no reason to keep them in jars as opposed to dumping them all in a box.  I just like the way they look. 0_0.  Don't judge me.

On either side of the desk I have these pull out drawers for bodies.  Boys on the left, girls on the right.  As you can see, the girls far outnumber the boys.  I suppose I could keep the heads on their bodies, but I don't see them as a whole doll.  They were intended for parts so I feel the need to separate them.  *shruggies*

This little bin holds parts that are in the process of being experimented on.  You've seen those heads in my previous post.  I'm going to leave them out of the jars for another month to see if they shrink any more. 

The power team guy is holding up his hand because it's been freshly painted and varnished and I'm waiting for it to dry.  From a comment that Georgia Girl made, my next project is to "get rid of the black gloved hands."  I have two more options I want to try, but what I've managed so far is not looking cute!