Painting miniature historical figures has always been a challenge. Regardless of the subject, a miniature painter is always expected to accurately depict the subject. One such example is the painting of a leopard skin on the saddle of mounted Imperial Guard. In the kit from LeCimier, The Officer Chasseur A. Cheval, Imperial Guard, Mounted, 180 mm, sculptured by the French Grand Master Charles Conrad, bringing out the leopard pattern for the saddle has typically been difficult and frustrating for modelers.
To paint the saddle, first prime the entire piece using the two-part priming process, which consists of silvering the piece with Krylon Bright Silver spray and then airbrushing it (use Iwata HP C) with Tamiya FX2 (flat white). Proceed to paint the leopard skin by mixing Tamiya FX60 (Flat Dark Yellow) and FX2 (Flat white) in a 1:1 ratio but leaning towards a cream color. Using the Iwata HP C airbrush, spray on the cream color. Then using the Iwata HP A or HP B, lightly spray Tamiya FX64 (flat red brown). To do this, start spraying at the middle of the leopard skin, gradually moving towards the sides. The middle should be a darker red-brown and the edges should be a lighter red-brown color. Do not over spray. When you finish spraying, you should be able to see the cream color coming through the red-brown color. Dull cote to protect your work and dry for a couple of minutes.
Painting the spots on the leopard skin is a slow, methodical process. With a small sable hand brush, using Tamiya red-brown, paint the dots, working them in a circular motion. Then to create the clusters, using Tamiya Flat black and flat brown in a 1:1 ratio, paint the dots around; again working them in a circular motion using a hand brush. Note: In studying the leopard skin, I found that there is a clear pattern. Clusters of spots vary in shape and size and can range from two to as many as five dark spots. I also found that the clusters are arranged in rows of twos and these rows vary. On the higher extremity, which is the leopard's head, the spots are small and as you follow them to the middle, they become clusters. As you keep following the spots from the mid-body descending to the paws (lower extremities), you will note that the spots again become small.
The painting of the leopard saddle requires patience and skill, but the outcome is well worth it!
In my opinion, this is one of the best mounted Napoleonic pieces ever cast in resin--a must-have for those of you who collect Napoleonic figures.
The border of the saddle will be painted in red followed by gold, red, and green lines. The composition is balanced using warm and cool tones between the saddle, the rider and the horse to make it visually balanced and attractive to the eye.
Officer Chasseur A. Cheval, Imperial Guard, Mounted, 180 mm, resin and white metal kit from LeCimier, Work-in-progress by Alex Castro.
The Artool Story - Part 1
Reprinted with permission of Airbrush Action Magazine
The Artist as Entrepreneur
Gabe McCubbin's Passion for Airbrushing Sparks The Creation of Artool, One of The Industry's Fastest Growing Companies
By Dave Waite
Many great ideas start on a bar napkin. Gabe McCubbin's starts with a doily.
Made of decorative lace, doilies were intended to be placed under cake or party plates to make food look inviting. But in Gabe's hands, they invited invention.
For a young airbrush artist craving new patterns for his T-shirt canvases in the early 70s, old, handmade doilies acquired at collectible shops, garage sales and thrift stores became his first templates.
"I would scour the thrift stores for them. They made great images with their intricate, textural patterns which were great for textural backgrounds and gradated looks," Gabe said. "They were perfect for outer space or underwater scenes. I used some of the doilies so much they would get stopped up and had to be tossed out."
But the supply of doilies was drying up. Which gave Gabe an idea...
Growing up in his father's workshop in Sacramento, Gabe drew cartoons while honing his tool skills, and watched his dad create and patent carpentry tools for woodworking.
"I became obsessive when I bought anything," Gabe said. "If the product packaging was made to hang on a peg, I would routinely pick out best one, and look for any manufacturing anomalies in the others, noting the slightest differences. I was intrigued by the details of how everything was manufactured and put together."
Academically, he wasn't much of a high school student, but Gabe would always ace his shop classes, where he learned everything he could on metal, wood and automotive projects.
Surf's Up At The Circus
Following a three-year stint in the Navy, Gabe gravitated to the sunny climes of Southern California with only a suitcase and a guitar. He loved the sunny weather and the beach scene. His first job was painting and refurbishing broken-down teletype cabinets for resale.
For Gabe, Southern California indeed became La-La Land for a time, as the singing waiter served celebrities in a famed hip-and-happening Santa Monica restaurant called The Great American Food & Beverage Company. He worked alongside Katy Segal, an exceptional blues singer who went on to star in the TV show Married With Children, and Patti Davis, Ronald Reagan's daughter.
A girlfriend introduced him to a "wild new scene" with an arty crowd situated in Topanga Canyon that was unlike anything he'd seen before. Airbrushing was surging in popularity there, with a Rainbow Family wearing outfits that were airbrushed from head to toe in colorful patterns.
In 1973, Gabe used his first airbrush at Lady Rain Productions, a studio where he would paint anything and everything, creating custom T-shirts, spraying surf boards, experimenting with early body art and decorating custom costumes for rock stars like Elton John.
"It was a circus ride," Gabe said. "It was where Hollywood and the art community came together."
He mixed his own acrylic tube paints that were squeezed in empty juice bottles with various mediums, and strained through a cheesecloth to get out the heavier pigments.
"This was where I learned my skills in airbrushing, and eventually started making and cutting my own templates," said Gabe, who spent nearly eight months working in the studio.
Birth In Venice
Gabe's undeniable passion for airbrushing led him to set up his own shop in sunny Venice, where he spent two years airbrushing tons of tees, custom-painted dolls and women's wear for boutiques. Many of his creations were sold on the beach and local boutiques.
Venice was where he would design his first templates, made out of oiled stencil board. They would last for a while, but then paint would eventually build up and a new template would need to be made.
After perfecting how to make acrylics stay on a shirt, Gabe needed a new challenge.
Back in the 70s, the airlines would retread old tires to save money. Gabe took a job managing a tire service conveniently located in a huge warehouse with full plumbing. Little did the airlines know that Gabe spent his evenings their as well.
"I delivered those recapped tires to the airport, working a few hours a day, and then spent the rest of my day and night painting and playing music. They had no idea I lived there," said Gabe, who was often the only soul still stirring in the industrial area of the city, except when his avant-garde jazz group would jam and rehearse late into the night.
His "art studio" proved to be the ideal location over the next five years for making enormous fine-art canvases that he would stretch himself, and then paint abstracts of random shapes or colors. He was still captivated by the airbrushing medium.
"It was amazing the way you could gradate colors so quickly and seamlessly, one to the next, blending them, covering all this area in a short space of time," Gabe said. "The act of atomizing paint on a surface...there was just something really magical about it."
Gabe also became a serious student, getting a degree in the theater arts, which he used to perform at the Venice Living Theater, and taking nearly every art class he could at Santa Monica College, where the only real costs were art supplies.
The retread tire business eventually went under and suddenly Gabe had to find some place to not only work, but live as well. He would continue to paint on the side, but spent his days now working for Columbia Pictures Distribution, promoting new films to exhibitors in the mid-70s.
"I would have to watch many films, but only a small percentage of these movies was even worth watching," Gabe said. "In the end, I realized that selling films wasn't in the cards for me. I could have stayed and been very successful and secure there, but I didn't have the passion. It was too regimented. I had to create."
Wandering Into Fate
Gabe next managed a music repair store. Still filled with a passion for painting, he wandered into Zora's Art Supply in West Hollywood, one of the only stores that carried airbrush supplies and replacement parts. Zora Pinney was known for traveling the world with her husband to visit paint manufactures so they could find paint no one else had. At that time in LA, many specialty fine art materials were hard to come by.
"Zora, who was legendary in the art supply business, said to me, 'I'm kind of shorthanded, could you help me out?'" Gabe recalls. "I ended up staying in the art supply business for 10 years."
Gabe would manage different stores, including Graphaids, Inc., in the West LA area for eight years, selling supplies to artists and celebrities like Sylvester Stallone and David Hockney.
By this point, Gabe was exceptionally knowledgeable about art supplies, and was well connected within the community. In 1992, entrepreneurial ideas would come to him that had been simmering all along.
Vision Leads To Action
Gabe saw a need. There was still no company making templates. He thought his invention, the Multirail, today known as an Artist's Bridge, would be a tremendous aid to artists for working closely over surfaces with soft and wet mediums without smudging or smearing, but didn't know enough about manufacturing to start his own business.
"I would spend all day and night trying to fine-tune this new product," said Gabe, who didn't realize his efforts were about to become a company called Gabe McCubbin Design, which he quickly changed to Artool Products Company.
He sent his first invention, an 18" Clear Multirail, to Airbrush Action magazine. It garnered a full-page review written by John Thies, and Cliff Steiglitz called to see if he wanted to take out an ad in the magazine, which Gabe didn't need to think about twice.
The product review changed everything. The Multirail was being sold in modest amounts by some Southern California art and airbrush stores, but now requests started pouring in from around the country.
He was helped by good friends Gig Sims in Redondo Beach and Karen Heidrick in Santa Monica, who both worked tirelessly to help turn his ideas into reality. And Gabe's parents both supported and lent advice to get Artool off the ground.
See our next issue for The Artool Story - Part 2. Visit www.artoolproducts.com.
New Products from Iwata-Medea
The Iwata Table-Top Cleaning Station is the perfect complement to your airbrush. When cleaning your airbrush you spray directly into the container, which greatly reduces overspray in your work environment. The container is easy to clean, is convenient and portable, and has an easy to change filter. It is also solvent-proof so that you may use it when cleaning either water- or oil-based paints from the airbrush.
The new Iwata-Medea Pistol-Grip Filter is the final defense to deliver clean, dry air to your airbrush and conveniently attaches directly onto the airbrush. Miniature in size, the super-fine 5-micron filter element performs like a full-size filter separator. The clear filter bowl allows a visual inspection of built-up moisture, which is then evacuated through a spring-loaded release valve-without removing the filter from the airbrush. Comfortable in the hand, the Pistol-Grip Filter acts as a handle on the airbrush and helps to relieve muscle tension.
These airbrush accessories have arrived just in time for the holiday shopping season and make great gifts or stocking stuffers, so see your Iwata-Medea dealer; and visit www.iwata-medea.com to view the best in airbrush equipment/accessories that the industry has to offer!
"Basic Airbrush Complete" with Robert Paschal, MFA
Saturday, February 11, 2006
For information, visit www.arttalk.com/workshop/workshop.htm or call 845.831.1043.
Look for your next issue of AirbrushTalk in January 2006!