Lesson Four: Bluegill
by Mike Bromelow
In this final lesson I will show you how to add the final little details that will turn a good looking lure into a true work of art! For this one I use an Iwata Hi-Line HP-CH and an Iwata Custom Micron CM-C Plus which have a special little feature called the Micro Adjust Valve or “MAC”. I make great use of the MAC valve on these airbrushes to dial in the perfect air pressure as I switch from paint to paint.
It allows me to get in really close when needed without the fear of “spidering” the paint from using too much pressure. Another thing I’ve discovered is that I waste less paint because, if I’m careful, I can dial in just enough air pressure to actually spray the left over paint in the brush back into the bottle without blasting it all over the place. Hey, I’m frugal, what can I say!
We are going to paint a Bluegill pattern which incorporates all of the steps of the previous lessons and has some nice little touches that add an even further level of realism.
Lay down the base color which will be the same Transparent Gray used in the other lessons. What this doing is rendering the spaces in between the individual scales when it is removed.
Now cover the lure with the mesh and lay down some Olive Green over the back and upper half of the lure. I mix my own custom color using Forest Green and a drop of Black to try and match the actual fish as best I can.
Add some Transparent Violet to the middle of the lure now, making sure to let the overspray blend with the edge of the green we sprayed before. Lastly, spray White through the mesh onto the lower third of the body and also on the belly.
Bluegills have prominent bars down their sides which we can render using Black sprayed through the mesh. Use dagger strokes to get the bars wider at the top and tapering as they go lower. Spray these through the mesh also.
Now we’ll use the stippling technique explained in an earlier lesson to add the little Black dots to the sides of the lure. However, with the MAC valve, I can fine tune the stippling effect by shutting the MAC valve completely and then slowly opening it while rocking the trigger back and forth. I do this against a sheet of scrap paper first until I achieve the desired effect.
Bluegills also have a noticeable Orange patch on their bellies. Remove the mesh and spray Orange patches onto each side of the lure. The Orange goes all the way from the bottom of the belly and part way up the sides near the head.
Once that is done we move on to the head which, as always, I like to paint separately from the rest of the lure. Mist some Transparent Ultramarine Blue over the entire head and also over the lips. Add some darker lines with the same color as shown in the photo.
Next I spay some Golden Acrylics Interference Green onto the gill plates mostly on the upper portion and mist a little over the upper half and on the back of the entire body. This adds a really nice sparkly green which looks even better after clear coating has been done.
Now add the prominent Black spot that is on the gill plates to complete the look.
Of course we need some fins now which once again we render by spraying through a stencil we have made from Mylar or other such material. Use Transparent Yellow for these fins and be careful to allow the paint underneath them to show through.
Once they have dried add some spines with a pencil. In this final lesson we take things a step further by adding a soft shadow under the fins with Transparent Gray. This really makes them appear to be standing out from the body of the lure.
Next we are going to render the lateral line which runs down each side of the fishes body. This is done with the back edge of a craft knife by carefully nicking the paint so that the White Primer shows underneath. Now it’s looking less like a lure and more like a real fish.
Now it’s time to add a few reflection highlights with Opaque White to really add that final touch. Using a freehand template to block off overspray highlight a few edges of the gills and fins. Don’t forget (As I nearly did!) to add some blood red for the gills.
For the last step I custom paint the eyes for an ultra realistic appearance. I searched the internet for some good reference photos and try to recreate the look with the airbrush and a fine tip paint brush. This particular lure I signed as it is a special one to be auctioned. I don’t usually ruin the illusion by putting my name on them afterwards!