Volume 8, Number 4, November 2006
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Perfect Holiday Packaging
By Janean S. Thompson
|Photo 1: Materials used to create personalized gift wrap.|
Materials you might want to gather in preparation for an afternoon of creative gift wrap and packaging: airbrush (My favorite is my trusty Iwata Revolution CR Airbrush.); air supply (I use the Iwata Studio Series Smart Jet Air Compressor.); acrylic airbrush paints in a blend of colors or in a single color family – your choice; metallic pens for accent; commercial stamps or handmade stamps to add pizzazz to your creations; a variety of plain gift wrap (banner paper is great), boxes and bags to become one-of-a-kind presentations. Optional items include: airbrush cleaning station, stencils, ribbons and bows that coordinate with your projects.
|Photo 2: Cloud-like shapes of color are a great basis upon which to add personal designs.||Photo 3: Stamps, resists and line designs combine with airbrushing to create dynamic packages.|
Gift boxes offer an easy surface to decorate. One of my favorite techniques is to paint soft, cloud-like shapes of color with stenciled designs in appropriate shapes. Add a bit of flash in the form of metallic shimmer and you have a real art item in which to give your gift. You can add simple line shapes and designs to further enhance the stamped shapes or stenciled shapes to create more texture and interest. There is no limit to the type of designs you can add. You might even want to forgo the stamped shapes in favor of individually drawn and enhanced designs.
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Stenciled shapes and holiday designs can easily be added to a softly airbrushed background. You can create your own stencils by cutting simple holiday designs from card stock or you can use any of the available holiday motif sets from your art retailer. You can also use found objects as resists to create interesting patterns. Coordinated gift wrap, gift tags and/or holiday greeting cards can be created with the same stencils. You can also use these stencils to make tree or mantle decorations.
|Photo 4: 3-Dimensional additions to your creations add visual impact.|
Adding collected items such as real or artificial greenery, berries, small imitation fruit and the like add even more interest. Attach them to the bag, box or wrapped gift after your airbrush patterns are dry. (Photo 4) Collections of natural items such as leaves, pine cones, twigs and other found objects can add interest as well.
Very dramatic looks can be achieved by using dark, intense colors of paper with light or bright metallic tones applied. These presents are very beautiful, not only as gifts but also as decorations. Small gifts in rich tones with bright ribbons tied on seem to draw attention and make people notice them.
Whether you want to do something new with your airbrush or want to create packaging that is unique and personal, airbrushing gift wrap, bags and boxes is easy, inexpensive and fun. You will see that even the simplest application of color is very effective and makes your gifts look unusual. Have fun and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
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Starfest is a long-running sci-fi fan convention produced by the Walkers of Starland in Denver. The show draws some big name sci-fi stars and a host of local groups who enjoy science fiction. Among the list of activities at the con are Free Model Make-N-Takes and Airbrush Classes produced by TAG Services of Colorado Springs. Make-N-Take sponsors from the hobby industry provide product at no charge. This year’s list included Revolution airbrushes from Iwata-Medea, glue and Model Master Acryl paints from Testors, tools from Excel Hobby Blades and models from Polar Lights. The model building and airbrush events were placed in the atrium of the hosting hotel, the Denver Tech Center Marriott. The large space allowed for the airbrush events and the first Sci-fi Modeling Store and an area for Model Building Demos.
The Starfest Free Model Make-N-Take program could not exist without the help of community minded modelers that volunteered their time to staff the tables and work with the kids. This program is intended to introduce young con members to the fun of scale modeling. This year, participants were treated to free models from Polar Lights including X-Wing Fighters and Tie Interceptors from Star wars and D-9 Klingon Battle Cruisers from Star Trek. The volunteers help the kids and parents with the construction and paint their models. Model Master Acryl paints are sprayed through an Iwata Revolution CR gravity feed airbrush. The sprue cutters and sanding sticks are provided by Excel Hobby Blades, manufacturer of high quality US made knives and blades. The four-hour event usually has between 30 and 40 participants. It’s a great chance for parents and kids to enjoy something together.
Kids finishing early in the day can take their models to The Model Show at Starfest and put them in with the other great modeling works on display. The Model Show is the longest running model contest in Colorado. Each year it has a healthy showing of around 70 models representing the tastes and talents of sci-fi fans who enjoy modeling as well. The show is run by Vern Clark with the support of the Saturday Night Gossip Club. There is no contest registration fee but a con pass is required.
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The core group of the Make-N-Take staff consists of members of Team Iwata Colorado. And much of the staff consists of other dedicated, community-minded modelers from the Denver Metro area. Leading the pack this year were several members of the CoMMiES, Colorado Modeling Militia Enjoying Sci-fi. This group of very talented scratch builders and kit bashers is one of Denver’s most noteworthy model groups. Their willingness to support these Make-N-Take events is a testimony to their dedication to enjoyment of the hobby.
Adding to the modeling program this year, several area modelers also volunteered their time to present a variety of model building skill demos. Included in this year’s program was a resin casting demo by sculptor and garage kit producer Mark Krabbenhoft of Back to the Garage Model Kit Company from Colorado Springs.
Once the dust settles and the sprues and boxes have been cleaned up after the last kid finishes his model, the airbrush events area is transformed into a classroom for the airbrush classes available at a nominal fee to older con members. Each year participants are treated to an original piece created by the instructor expressly for the event. Aspiring artist gets the artwork predrawn on Artool Friskfilm. The students are shown how to transfer the frisket to the illustration board. Next, they have cut all the lines with #1 knives fitted with double-honed #11 blades from Excel Hobby Blades. One must suffer for one’s artwork and these students are given a taste of that experience with the joys of frisket and the tedium of cutting it!
With that behind them, the real fun begins when they pick up the Iwata Eclipse CS gravity feed airbrushes and learn the basics of applying paint with these fine tools. Fine lines, thick lines, x’s o’s and dots make up the list of control exercises these students are shown. Once they have the idea, painting of the actual piece begins. The students use Medea’s ComArt Transparent paints to color their own versions of the current year’s illustration. Pieces of FriskFilm are lifted with the tips of the Excel knives and parked on the frisket backing while the students paint the illustration board underneath them. Each piece is replaced and another lifted. Artool has also made it possible for the students to further embellish their paintings with shapes and patterns made with the help of a selection of Artool Freehand Templates provided for the event. After the last area is painted, the artwork looks awful because of the layers of paint on some of the frisket. Then comes the “moment of truth” when the frisket is removed and the artwork underneath is revealed. A quick signature and each participant can remember his first adventure in airbrushing with his own colorful illustration piece.
The support of Iwata-Medea, Artool, Modelmaster, Excel and Polar Lights makes these events possible. The participation of community minded modelers makes the Free Model Make-N-Take a success. Starfest is a great weekend of sci-fi fun and games. Thanks to the folks at Starfest for providing space and time for the airbrush and modeling events. Thanks to the generosity of companies like Iwata-Medea, Artool, Model Master, Excel and Polar Lights for providing the supplies and equipment. Thanks most to the volunteers who donate their time and talents to share the hobby with the next generation of modelers. Come play with us at Starfest ’07!
StarFest Make-N-Take and Airbrush Class Sponsors.
Starfest info: www.starland.com
The Model Show info: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Over the last 30-plus years, the main tool I have used in the creation of my pinup art is the airbrush. More than half of those pictures were produced with the aid of frisket. My first experiences with this material were very much trial and error. I had a good idea of the effect or technique that I hoped to achieve; however, it was the execution of said technique that opened a door to a whole new set of skills and information.
Initially, I was defeating myself with various types of frisket and materials. This began to hinder my progress and ultimate results. Some types were very high-tack and thick, resulting in heavy cuts and paint coming up when the frisket was removed. This was unacceptable, but few materials developed for the airbrush were available at that time. All you could do was experiment until you found something that worked for you. During this time, I elected to produce more work in a freehand manner and developed the technique of working with handmade shields and various curves as masks. I would also make complex cuts on thin sheets of acetate and use rubber cement to hold it down.
By 1982, I had purchased my first Iwata, an HP-A. This instantly solved any and all of my airbrush problems. With the addition of a couple of HP-Cs, the stable was complete. Around the same time, a number of manufacturers began to produce a low-tack frisket that could be lifted without damage to the paint and re-applied for reuse. Shortly thereafter I began using scalpels as cutting instruments, and the final key to my puzzle had been solved. Scalpels are designed for a specific purpose in mind. A standard utility blade has been manufactured to have a great razor edge, but not necessarily a great point for cutting something like a frisket.
The following procedures have been used without alteration for many years. Only my eyesight has changed, and that's a big part. You need sharp eyes and good lighting to make great frisket cuts. You will also make life easier by using a scalpel to do the job. There is simply no comparison to other knives. Although permanent edge diamond scalpels (fitted into a handle and capped like a fountain pen) are outstanding tools, they are expensive and difficult to sight. I prefer a number 11size, rib-back, carbon steel scalpel that fits directly into a standard number 11 handle. For a real tight curve, or radius, I use a number 11 Beaver Blade and fitted handle. This knife looks like a miniature number 11 handle and blade in appearance. This is a stainless blade and, medically speaking, was produced for eye surgery.
|Medea Com-Art Colours|
|All airbrush colours are not the same. Com-Art is considered to be one of the finest and most versatile professional airbrush colours in the world. Because of a common hydro-carbon base binder, Com-Art transparent and opaque colours can be used together without bleeding between colours. This non-toxic, ready to use paint is specifically formulated for use with an airbrush and never needs to be filtered or strained. Com-Art colours are heavily pigmented and light fast, allowing for accurate 4 colour separations. They provide superior atomization, smooth spraying, and they dry instantly.|
Pictured below are the two types of cutting knives that I use for making frisket cuts. The top handle is fitted with a number 11 rib-back, carbon steel blade. The bottom knife is a Beaver Blade with the fitted handle. Examples of both blades are also shown without handles.
For me, a lot of work has taken place before I even get to the point of cutting friskets. The first stages involve a good deal of drawing, and refinement. Starting with thumbnails, and evolving to small B&W and color studies, I then begin to refine the working drawing. This drawing is the final size and composition that will be painted. Many alterations may take place during this stage, but the true focus is on the draftsmanship and correctness of the figure or object. I may make 3-8 tracing paper overlay corrections or levels of refinement before I am satisfied with the working drawing.
When I feel that the drawing is satisfactory, I place another piece of tracing paper over the working drawing and produce the master drawing, using various ships, engineer's and French curves to execute an exact line or edge. This gives me a clean linear contour to transfer to the illustration board.
Using the master drawing, I transfer it to illustration board with a commercial graphite transfer paper. Generally speaking, I would transfer the master drawing directly by rubbing graphite onto the back side. The commercial paper is being used for time and efficiency. Using the same curves, I re-trace the master drawing, being careful to follow the contours exactly. This yields a precise, clean, very light line as a guide for the frisket cuts.
Whatever the brand, I prefer a low-tack, matte surfaced frisket. I also prefer to purchase it in sheet form as opposed to rolled. From my experience, a rolled piece of anything has a memory and wants to stay rolled. Tracing paper functions the same way for me.
Once I have cut the frisket to the size of the area to be sprayed (in this case, the entire piece), it is smoothed, with any air bubbles removed. I now have a perfect contour to follow under the frisket. With a perfectly smooth curvilinear guide to follow, the actual cutting is easy. All other decisions have been evaluated and solved through the transfer of the master drawing. One of the pluses with using scalpels is that due to the quality of metal in the blade itself, its longevity is that much greater. I am able to make many more clean cuts with one blade, and they are finer, more precise cuts. With a good sharp scalpel blade, the weight of the blade and handle alone is enough pressure to make the cut. You merely need to guide the knife through the various contours. The point of this blade is clearly visible in the photo below. You have to exercise great caution using scalpels. They are extremely sharp tools and have to be used with care!
With the image contour completely cut, I begin to remove various areas that are to be segregated for spraying. For this particular study, I will be using a premixed transparent watercolor to paint with. This allows me to work from the darkest darks to the lightest lights without having to replace the frisket for subsequently lighter areas. For a more complex image, I would work with a series of smaller pieces of frisket, masking completed areas with plain paper.
Working from my value studies, I begin spraying the darkest areas first and systematically remove frisket that contains lighter and lighter sections. Keeping the areas of light and dark in order takes some practice, and the media has to be fully transparent. At various stages during the process of painting with friskets, it is a good idea to lift an area to check your values and other relationships. In this case, I am doing so to check the quality of the edge or contour. The remainder of the sections or areas that were segregated by the frisket is in turn completed, in this case using a lighter value gray to complete the passage.
Since our subject in this edition is about cutting Flawless Friskets, we are going to jump ahead to the finished study in order to analyze the various edges and contours. The quality of curvilinear edges made by frisket cuts is one of the many keys to painting a convincing shape or form with the airbrush.
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