Welcome to our third and final part of our journey with Vinylmation custom artist Jennifer Bednarski and her Elsa Vinylmation. Here’s Jennifer:
In the first installment of this custom Vinylmation journey, the concept was designed and sketched. In part 2, the 3” vinyl was prepped and sculpted. In this final section, I’ll bring all the pieces together with paint. When painting a custom vinyl the progression happens more fluidly than with the structured steps of sculpting. Rather than illustrating an actual step-by-step process, I’ll be showing snap-shots of time, as the painting progresses.
Time to get started!
Before I can begin painting, I need to prime my vinyl. During the warmer summer months I would do this with a spray-on primer. Due to Minnesota’s cold fall and winter, I have had to switch to a brush-on. Vallejo’s Game Color has given me good results. I brush on 2-3 coats with a soft brush.
Speaking of brushes…here are the ones I will be using primarily to paint the Elsa vinyl. They are size 2 or smaller and tend to be round. The trick with brushes is to just try a bunch until you find some you really like. When you do, find brushes you like, make sure you take the time to clean them. A little maintenance will keep them working longer.
Now that the primer is dry it’s time to start painting. Most types of acrylic paint will work for custom vinyls. You’ll find that every brand of acrylic paint has different qualities. In fact, different colors within the same brand will have different characteristics. Here again, it’s best to just try out a bunch until you find something that works for you.
For the Elsa project, I am using Delta Ceramcoat, Apple Barrel & Americana. I often start with Apple Barrel because it is real thin and smooth. It gives me the opportunity to block in shapes with out worrying about texture build-up. Then I’ll go over the AB with Delta Ceramcoat or Americana as they have more pigment and beautiful color.
Throughout this process, I’ve never really determined what I want the back of the Elsa vinyl to look like. I vacillate between finishing the back of the figure with her likeness or illustrating a scene from Frozen. In the end, I have decided that I want to create the following image. It conveys a pivotal moment, in the movie, when the character is able to push past what is expected of her and embrace who she really is. For me, the image holds the essence of the character’s spirit.
From this point on, I try not to touch the vinyl with my fingers anymore. I will often roll up a clean rag to lie the figure on and use a second one to hold onto the vinyl. OK, time to paint!
Starting on the back, I begin laying in a rich blue, building up color with layers. Once the head has reached the desired intensity, I move onto the snowflake/power burst layers with a lighter blue.
After a few layers, I switch to a small detail brush and start adding fine lines and dots in white. Once I have the head snowflake/power burst developed I begin working my way down the figure, adding details. First the curved rays of light that will be emitted from Elsa’s hand.
Continuing down, I blend light blue into the background color, establishing a sky line & mountain terrain. Next, I paint in Elsa & the movement of her train with white, light blue, and a straw color for hair. Slowly, I develop the folds of her dress, the snowflake pattern and her braid. A few “stars” in the sky and the back is about done.
Onto the front! I start by laying down a light wash of Elsa’s skin tone color. A wash is created by adding extra water to acrylic paint. I’ve decided to block in the background color and her dress. To give the hair more depth, I’ve painted a medium brown wash. (Hey look – It’s Katniss!) With a smaller detail brush, I start to create an outline of Elsa’s face and shoulders.
Time to darken up the background and paint the mouse ears. I’ve decided to flush out her dress bodice and contemplate leaving the lower snow swirls out (from the concept). With a very small detail brush, I start adding highlight details to her dress and overlay.
At this point, I decided that I DO like the snow swirls (from the concept) and start establishing them using white with a dry brush application. Dry brush is just as it sounds. Straight paint, most of which is rubbed off on a cloth – no water. Then I began developing some shadow areas on her face and braid. Eye placement is vitally important. Bringing in the whites of her eyes helps develop her distinct features.
With a very fine brush, I start adding defining lines around her eyes, brows and lips. I’ve gradually been moving from light colors to dark colors. Now I’ll paint some strong definition with black, dark brown and burgundy.
With clear features in place, I begin adding rosey tones to the cheeks, nose, around eyes and the brow bone. Further detail has been added to the lips and eyebrows. With the figure fully developed, I move onto the background, adding snowflakes, swirls and dots.
This figure took many sittings and dozens of hours to create. Now at the very end, I find it
hardest to walk away. I just want to finish, but I can tell there is something not quite right about the face. So, I’m going to leave it along for a while.. Later, after a few more tweeks (restoring roundness to her cheeks and more interest to the eye) it is time to declare the Elsa custom vinyl… done!
Here she is!
Thanks so much for joining me on this custom Vinylmation journey! Hopefully you have found it informative and entertaining. My wish is that some of you will take this info and try a custom Vinylmation of your own. After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
I’d like to give a HUGE THANK YOU to Travis, Roger, Matt and all the great people at Vinylmation Kingdom for giving this newbie a fantastic opportunity to share her creative work! It’s been a wonderful opportunity that I am extremely grateful for!
Thank you, Jennifer. Personally, I think this is an amazing piece. I hope you all agree.
Want to have a chance of winning this amazing piece? Starting Wednesday, December 11th, and running through Sunday, December 15th, you can bid on this Elsa piece over at the Vinylmation Kingdom Auction House.
To see more of Jennifer’s talented custom work, some of which is quite breathtaking, you can visit her Facebook Page.
To see amazing creations for a lot of very talented custom artists, don’t forget to join our Artists Unleashed Facebook Group.