“How on earth do you paint your sculptures?”

I got the above question today, and I’ve gotten it a few times before about my painted critters. So I figured, hey, what’s a blog for, anyway? 🙂 My latest finished piece being the Dragon Snail Kinoko, my answer is specifically in reference to him.

OOAK polymer clay sculpture, Dragon Snail Kinoko, by Erin 'Eirewolf' Metcalf.

OOAK polymer clay sculpture, Dragon Snail Kinoko, by Erin 'Eirewolf' Metcalf.

I think the difference in the way I paint is that I do it in several layers. I don’t try to get all the color on in one or two layers. When I look at my own skin, I see that it’s made up of several colors, with some translucence between. I can see blue-green veins in my hand, for instance, because my skin is translucent. It isn’t just one solid color, even besides the veins. The palm of my hand has some pink, some yellow, some almost-brown, some nearly white, and then some blue-green where the veins are.

In the case of my critters, I usually lay down a base color first. For Kinoko, that was the salmony-orange color. Then I’ll do a few translucent layers over that, usually with similar but slightly different colors. Often I will not do a solid layer, but I’ll do sort of a dry-brush technique with small amounts of paint, not in long strokes but almost like stippling or dabbing randomly with the brush. That gives the sort of mottled look that creates believable flesh tones (for my critters).

The yellow spots were painted in a more solid color, to mimic the spots on the shell. Not much translucence there. I added translucence to that color for the brow region.

As for the midnight blue on his “foot,” that color is opaque up until it blends into the orange. Translucence was added for the blending, the throat, the beak, the horns, the crown, and around the eyes. I wanted a softer look there.

By the way, this piece was painted with Genesis Heat Set “oils.” These paints remain workable until you heat them. The technique would (in practice) be slightly different with acrylics, but functionally it’s very similar. For some examples, Mightier Than the Sword, Stormdancer, and Candy is Dandy were all painted with acrylics. The Wizard’s Foundling was painted with Genesis.

I hope I’ve explained it clearly enough. If not, please do ask specific questions and I will try to clarify! 🙂


~ by eirewolf on January 15, 2009.

5 Responses to ““How on earth do you paint your sculptures?””

  1. Someone asked how I achieve transparency with the Genesis paints. I use the Glazing Gel for transparency, and the Thinning Medium helps with the consistency too.

  2. Wow your works are amazing!!!

    I came across your site when I was searching for a “fox mask”
    And I found the one that you made and was amazed by it!
    Can you please tell me if you are selling a wearable version of it? Thanks!!!!

    • Hi Kenny; thank you so much! I am not yet selling a wearable version of it. It will probably be several months before I get back to the maskmaking; I’m working on several sculpture commissions right now. When I do, though, I’ll surely post it here! You can follow the RSS feed, or I can put you on my mailing list if you like. Let me know! 🙂

  3. Please put me on the mailing list! I just love that mask so much! I’ll wait for it patiently.


    • Thank YOU! 🙂 I’ve put you on my mailing list. Like I said, it will be quite a while before I do another mask, but in the meantime you can see some of my other sculptures. Mailings go out pretty infrequently, usually not even once a month. They’ll come from “updates at eirewolfcreations dot com,” if you’d like to add that to your email white list.

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