Sunday, 23 March 2014

Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man replica bike project

With Spring officially here, I thought this would be a timely post to do. I was approached by a new client that was building a replica bike from the movie Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man. He had contacted me through the company Facebook page inquiring if I would be interested in re-creating the lettering job done on the hero bike, ridden by Micky Rouke. The answer was a quick ... You Bet!  Being from the 2 wheeled community, and having watched the movie myself, it was a perfect fit. Not to mention. a great use of the hand lettering skills.

                                                                  Picture courtesy of the web

My client had fabricated the bike from the ground up, and needless to say, I was blown away by the attention to detail. My job was to replicate the lettering and graphics. We decided to stick as close as possible to the lettering done on the original bike. There are other bikes people had built, but I would be only using reference from the movie bike. Whoever had painted the original had put their own touch to the lettering, so it was important for me to try and capture it. There were a few subtle differences in the tank, so I had to improvise on the positioning of the lettering. In the end, the client was thrilled to say the least, and it was a piece that I'm glad to share with you. Here's a few pictures of the work in progress. And I'd like to say a big thank you Andy, for trusting me with a piece of your dream project. 

The blank canvas.

Due to the curved surface, the pattern was applied in separate pieces. This way, you have the luxury to move it around.and adjust to the surface. Another trick I use is to print off part of the layout, instead of redrawing it, and pounce the print. It saves you a little time. And no, it's not cheating, you still have to paint it.

                With the layout in place, it's time to get the brushes out and mix some paint.

With the orange on, it's time to move onto the outlining. Time to turn up the tunes and get into the outlining zone.

Just about there. Next step, paint inline and card detail. 
Sorry about the glare, the lettering is really orange. 

The finished job. I was asked to change a few cards to represent some important points in the client's life.

The finished bike. It's always nice to be part of a custom build. It's the type of job that someone has put their heart and soul into, and they have the trust in you to be part of it. PS... it sounds as good as it looks. Thanks for taking the time to drop by.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

My first" Distressed Sign" workshop.

                                                                                                                                             Photo courtesy of Brian Batista

After years of thinking and talking about it, I finally decided to put together a Distressed Sign workshop. With the help of my good friend Doug Swinton, who owns Swinton's Art Supplies, it became a reality. I felt there may be an interest with people wanting to learn some of the scenic techniques I've picked up working as a sign painter / scenic artist, for the film industry over the years. With the rising popularity of hand lettering, it seems everyone and their dog is jumping on the bandwagon to hold sign painting workshops. Although I'm sure they can be fun, I don't think you'll learn more than just the basics of hand lettering in a day or two. What they will give you is an insight to the process, brushes and materials, and techniques, used in sign painting. From there, it's up to the students to follow thru on their own. 

I wanted to do a class that would take someone with little, or no sign experience , and have them create something they can take home with them. We decided to make it a 2 day workshop. Day One would cover the basics, layout / brushes / paint and materials.  Day Two would cover transferring their layout to the board / lettering, and the best part...wrecking their signs, but hey, that's what the workshop was all about. I didn't want to waste a lot of time on practicing strokes and such, as that gets old real quick. That's also something they can practice on their own. The focus of the workshop was to create a distressed sign, not to paint the perfect sign. I also wanted them to have something to take home to hang on their wall.

I decided to limit the class size to 10 students, which in the end, turned out to be the perfect size. Because this was going to be my first workshop, I felt it was important to make sure I had time for a one on one with each student. That way no one would feel left behind. As luck would have it, the class sold out.  They were such a enthusiastic group, they even took their layouts home to work on. Probably not something I would have done with my Saturday night. I also brought a wide selection of brushes and paints to the class, along with a few finished signs so they could see the finished product.  I find most people starting are unsure of what type of  brushes  to use / what kinds of paints and substrates to use, and where to find them. So I  put together a small workshop booklet that covered brush practice, layout rules, color combinations, and where to get suppliers. For the workshop, we would be using water based paints, and the proper brushes for use with the paints. I also spent some time covered oil based paints, such as One Shot and Ronan paints,  different types of brushes used, and which ones to use on what surfaces. One of the big high-lites of the class was letting them loose on the electro-pouncer, only two got zapped. All in all, everyone seem to really enjoy the workshop, and the best part was they all took home a finished sign. Due to the interest, and buzz from the class, we've decided to do another workshop in early July or August.  Here's just a few pictures from the class, I can't say how much I enjoyed sharing my information with such a talented group of people. I  look forward to doing it again.

Playing with the paint.

Starting the aging process

You could hear a pin drop, everyone was so focused on their project.

Step one. Painting the sign.

The most important part is enjoying yourself.

And I think they did.

Can you say "Focused"

                                           Photo courtesy of Brian Batista

                                                                                                                                                       Photo courtesy of Brian Batista

The happy class at the end of the workshop.
Thanks for taking the time to drop by. If you have an interest in attending one of the workshops, just drop me a line. I'll make sure to let you know when and where. Also, watch for my new upcoming video blogs.


Saturday, 7 December 2013

It's not a sign, but it is hand painted.

I received a call from a production company wanting some scenery for a set. They needed a 5' x 8' waterfall painting from a reference photo they had. The turnaround was tight, only one week, that included picking up the materials / prepping the panel, and finalizing artwork and details. But hey, that's what a good challenge is all about. The substrate I used was Alum-Panel (same as Dibond), which was available in a 5' x 10' sheet.  I decided to use artist acrylic due to to tight deadline, plus I like painting with them. The beauty of working with acrylics is the speed that they dry, plus they're water based and have great color.  The reference they provided was reasonably good, but it's only the starting point. Once you start, the painting takes on a life of it's own.

 I start by sanding and priming the panel with B/M Fresh Start. This product is designed to adhere to the enamel factory finish on the panel. The next step is to do a rough layout so I can block in the values. For this step I use black gesso. I picked up this technique from a workshop I did with a well known Canadian artist named Mike Svob. Just click on his name to check out his website.

Now that I have the basic layout and values established, I can start to add color. This is where the fun begins. The nice thing with using artist acrylics is the speed you can work , and on this project, I can use all the help I can get. It's also amazing how far a small tube of paint can go when pallet mixing.

With the color added, it starts to take shape. One important thing to keep in mind is the end use of the painting. It will be used as background for a scene being filmed, not a fine art painting for a gallery or home. You still have to make it impressive, but careful not to get bogged down in detail. It's always a fine line when doing this type of work. Paint the big picture and add detail as time allows. It helps to take some of the stress out of the job.

The finished painting. Overall, the job went off without a hitch, and was ready for pick-up on the promised date. Although I enjoy the process of painting the artwork, I also enjoy watching it go out the door, as that means it's time to get paid. I'd rather be a working artist instead of a staving artist, I've tried the starving part, and it wasn't much fun.

 A shameless promo shot to give you a sense of scale. All in all, it was nice to do something other than signs. It never hurts to challenge yourself. No gain. Thanks for taking the time to drop by.

Friday, 15 November 2013

It's Official...My first Distressed Sign Workshop

After years of painting and distressing signs for the film industry, I decided to put together a workshop. It will be a 2 day workshop held at Swinton's Art Studios. The class will be limited to 12 students, to make sure I can do some one one one. I get a lot of inquirers in regard to the painting and aging processes I use on movie sets, so it seemed the perfect fit. So if your in the Calgary area, or like to travel, this may be of interest to you. I was told yesterday that its half booked, so there may not be a lot of time left. If it's popular, I may do another one down the road. You can get more information at:

Monday, 11 November 2013

Painting Highlights on Cast Letters

I recently did a job for a client that collects and restores  old gas pumps and different types of memorabilia. He had a Texaco pump base that he wanted the lettering and logo highlighted. Anyone who's involved with collecting or restoration will have to deal with this at some point. Although it's not a really complicated process, it does take time and patience, it also it helps to use the right brushes and paint. The paints I use are for painting signs. One Shot, or Ronan lettering enamels are the brand I use. One Shot is available from stores selling sign supplies and such, Ronan is readily available in the states, but only from one suppler in Canada carries it. Brushes can be a little difficult to find, but can be found online. If you are planning to clear coat the piece after, you'll need to use a hardener made for the lettering enamel. One Shot makes a hardener that works with both brands. As for brushes, I use liner brushes and sign quills, as they hold a nice edge, and have good control. Most of the brushes you get from the local art store aren't suitable for this type of work, and will only add frustration to process. It's amazing how much easier a job becomes when you use the right tools. The process is the same whether it's a gas pump or a piece of equipment, and it really adds a "WOW" factor to the project.

This is the base my client wanted the high-lights on. I can't stress enough about adding hardener if it is going to be cleared. If you don't, the clear will attack the lettering enamel. If you're planning to clear with an enamel based product, you won't need the hardener.  For this job, I didn't have to worry, as it wasn't going to be cleared. Most of the projects I work on, they use urethane, so hardener is a must. Care must also be taken with the first few coats, which should be dusted on to prevent it for attacking the lettering enamel.

Time to start highlighting. For this I use a liner brush, as it is narrow and doesn't fan out as much as a quill. The trick is to stay in the center of the letter. Once you get the hang of it, it's just a matter of being patient, and watch the line width. Cast letters are far from perfect, so you may have the odd challenge with straight lines and curves, but hey, that's part of the fun. If you have to second coat, depending on the color, you already have the letters established, and it goes quickly.  

With the white finished, it's time to move onto the logos. This part can be a little more challenging, as you will be dealing with different shapes, not to mention the missing details. This piece had a poor casting on the word Texaco, and also the Reg. Trademark copy. The trick is to just keep it clean.

Now the piece starts to come to life. Care must be taken when painting ovals and such, as a sloppy job will ruin all the hard work you've done on the lettering. If you make a mistake, just take a rag with some paint thinner, and wipe it off. It's just that simple. Better to start again than try to work a bad line. People only see the final piece, not all of the challenges you had doing it, so take your time and do it right.What's that old saying again...oh ya  "Practice makes Perfect" So don't worry, it's only paint.

 A picture of the finished piece. My client was thrilled to say the least. It really does bring out the beauty of an industrial  piece of equipment. With just a little paint, and a little more patience, you can turn the average piece into a show piece. Hope this helps. If you have any questions on this project, or any of the others, just drop me a line. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

A simple Gold Leaf sign

Sometimes they don't have to be fancy, just effective. I recently did a sign for the Best of Seven Barber Shop that does it all "Old School", complete with straight razor cuts, and yes, shoe shines. I felt they needed something that got your attention, but not too over the top. Nothing seems to work together better than some stained wood, a lot of varnish and Gold Leaf, a true winning combination. The nice thing about a sign like this is I get to use my skills in wood working / paint finishing and hand lettering. That's a big change from painting signs that look old and faded for the film industry. Although I didn't have a chance to film me doing the actual work, I did get some pictures of the sign a different stages of completion. When it was finished, I had the added bonus of a client dropping by and liking the look so much they ordered a similar type of sign for the historic building where they work. It's sort of like fishing, put something shiny out there and see what bits.

The first step once you finished the sign blank is to transfer the layout. I like to use a pounce pattern for this type of sign as it produces a clean layout to follow. Although you could lay it out on the blank, why bother.

Once you have the layout transferred, it's time to get on with applying the size for the Gold Leaf. I don't worry about transferring the outline or drop shadow as I'll eyeball them in after I apply the leaf.

I used a mixture of Rolco quick size, and a bit of One Shot Chrome Yellow for the lettering. Adding a little color helps when doing the lettering so you can see what your doing. The size on it's own can be a little difficult to see as it's transparent. Be careful not to overwork the lettering as it will show up in the finish gild. You don't have to be real precise with the corners when lettering because you can clean them up with the outline. You should also be careful if you have to push back the size, as the gold will want to stick to it.

The first step done, now it's time for the outline and shadow. At this stage you have two directions you can take. One is to brush varnish over the Gold, the second is to leave it and hope you don't screw up with the outline. Getting paint on the leaf is not a good thing as it will leave a stain. I find clearing the leaf kills the brilliance of the gold. But there are many applications where it's necessary, such as in high traffic areas, or on a vehicle that is going to be washed. This sign will be on a wall in the shop, so it should be fine.

The sign is almost finished at this point. I managed to make it without going into the gold. The only thing left is to permanently attach the trim and add the boarder. Although I could get away without one, I feel it finishes off the sign, just my personal preference. The other thing is to check that you didn't miss any strokes on the outline, like I did on the "N". It may sound basic, but it's easy to do. Better to catch it now instead of when it's installed

     The finished product. Everything on the sign was hand painted, including the boarder, with no tape or stencils being used in the process. Hope you enjoyed the post. Now it's time to get onto my other projects that are waiting, and I do have some interesting ones on the go. Thanks for dropping by.