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White clay effect and black on Indian

Discussion in 'Painting Techniques' started by Kandor8, Jun 3, 2005.

  1. Kandor8 Active Member

    Hi Guys!

    One of my current 5 projects is the Poste Militaire 90mm Cheyenne Wolf Scout and I'm going to have to simulate white clay smeared on his face, torso, and arms. I also have to have black paint on his forearms and hands as well as his face and wanted some suggestion as to how to make this look realistic.

  2. Einion Well-Known Member

    Ah, good question Ric. I discussed this issue a lot when I was concentrating more on Native Americans, around the time this kit came out, and there was some debate about how to best do this sort of thing; needless to say how the 'paint' was made in the first place is relevant, which is not easy to find out with any certainty.

    There is very little absolute information about how tribes decorated their skin that I have been able to discover in years of research. You'll read accounts that it was just powder and water - which would dry, crack and begin to flake off pretty quickly - and in others that it was bound with buffalo fat or rendered oil - which would make something that could easily look just like greasepaint. I personally think that both might have been used, perhaps side by side, so the first thing I think you should do is to decide for yourself how the paint was made by your guy and based on this imagine how it would look. In the artwork of modern artists depicting NA subjects it looks like a type of greasy paint in the great majority of cases, if that's anything to go by.

    If you like the idea of the cracked dry pigment (difficult to pull off but might look great if done really well and I think this kit is just large enough in scale for it to work) I would suggest doing it in gouache or casein paint. Pure black will dry a charcoal grey which should look exactly like the real thing, since that's what it was made from. The white clay you might want to apply with shading in mind to enhance the illusion of three dimensionality, I'd use an off-white mix for the upper surfaces and maybe one or two grey mixes for undersides; all made from white, black and a touch of umber to kill the blue tint.

  3. Bluesking Active Member

    When I paint black warpaint I tend to highlight it with a dark flesh tone so that it looks slightly transparent but with white I paint it opaque given that it was more chalky in origin. Also remember that the areas around joints / armpits etc. will retain less "paint" due to movement and sweat.
    One thing I always try to bear in mind is that body paint was not applied by a makeup artist or using eye liners and make up brushes but with chewed sticks and fingers so if it is a bit crude it is more likely to be realisitic.

    By the way Ric that's one of my all time favourite figures.

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