Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Black Duke - the Box (part 3)

Once all the pieces were glues in place, all that was left was to touch up some of the paint on the accent pieces, and to add some paint to help sell the item as being ancient.

I previously posted about using acrylic paint to add "grime" to a prop tome to give it a very used and ancient look. The Black Duke project was the first project in which I used that technique, and I was quite pleased at how it came out. The technique was first envisioned to be used on the Tome, but it seemed to make sense to apply it to the Box as well.

I started by loading up a large artist's brush with flat black acrylic paint. Then I wiped most of it off, as I would if I were dry brushing. Then I applied the brush in a jabbing motion around the edges of the accent pieces. I let it get on the accents just a little, and applied it to the wood for a distance of about an inch around the pieces. I layered it up slowly, getting more near the edges of the accent pieces and less as I strayed away from them. I tried not to be too even with its application (though I think I should have done better), so that it didn't look fake. You don't want the edge of the paint to be the exactly same distance away from the accents all the way along. Too much consistency will not look natural.

In addition to flat black, I also added some green in the same fashion, but much more sparsely. I especially added green to areas of the wood where I had torn chunks out of it. It adds a little organic color to the black, making it look more natural. Also, it kind of makes me think of a little moss or lichen taking hold in some of the recessed of the rotting wood. The green is barely noticeable in normal room lighting, but shows up much more prominently in sunlight and under some flash photography conditions. I hadn't really anticipated this when I was making it. I did all of my work indoors in my workshop, which has barely adequate lighting. Once I got it outside to show some people, the green really popped. I even went back and added a little more black on top of it to tone it down. I hope this does not present a problem during filming. In the future, I will be more conscious of this issue on other projects.

The last thing I did was to add some simulated water stains to the front. I imagined that water, even moisture in the air would react with the rusted metal straps around the box, and leave a trail of discoloration on the wood. I used the rust color from the iron finish, along with some flat black, and dabbed in a line coming straight down from the tips of the metal straps, as if by dripping water. I had never tried this before, but it seemed like the right thing to do. However, I was not terribly happy with how it came out, so I stopped there. If it had come out better, I would have probably done it in other places around the box, where it seemed logical for a water stain to occur. It doesn't look terrible. It didn't ruin the piece. It just did not come out as well as I had hoped, so I thought I would rather not add more of an element that I didn't like.

I think the box turned out well, and over all I am happy with it, but there are some things I would do differently. In hindsight, I wish that I had practiced the watermarks things a little before trying it on the production piece, and also, I wish that I had been a little more conscious of the box's appearance under different lighting conditions. I should have also applied a very light coat of the flat black dry brush all over the piece to take away any remaining gloss from the stain. In harsh light, the difference from the clean stained areas, which has a slight sheen, and the dullness of the painted areas is very clear. A very light dry brushing of black acrylic would have toned that down. The glossy areas aren't very convincing as being ancient. But again, this is only visible in harsh light, like sunlight or under flash. I hope it doesn't show up on camera in the movie.

I told you, I took a lot of pictures.

Stay tuned for the next installment of The Black Duke project, the Tome.

See also:
The Black Duke - the Diary (part 1)
The Black Duke - the Diary (part 2)
The Black Duke - the Box (part 1)
The Black Duke - the Box (part 2)
The Black Duke - the Tome (part 1)
The Black Duke - the Tome (part 2)
The Black Duke - the Set (fini)

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