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How-To: Mottling a Mutant


Mottling a Mutant

by Jim Bertges


The Metaluna Mutant from the film This Island Earth is an icon of 50’s Sci Fi movie monsters. With his exposed brain, bug eyes and insect-like pincer claws, he is a vision of outer space terror from a time gone by. He is perfectly captured in all his retro-alien glory in this bust from GEOmetric, sculpted by Joe Simon. After a quick wash and a coat of white primer, the first thing I did to start painting was to stain the kit overall with a black acrylic. Staining is a simple procedure: apply the paint liberally and then wipe it off, leaving it in the recesses and detail areas. This helps to bring out those details and add depth when layers of transparent colors are built up over them.

Here’s the bust with a coat of white primer and a staining coat of black acrylic applied. The black paint was brushed on in sections and wiped off before it could dry, leaving the dark color in the deep recesses and details.

Normally when you see this guy depicted, he’s a solid bluish gray color and that’s kind of boring. If you’re painting an alien being, I say make him look interesting! The key to getting an interesting “realistic” alien appearance for this guy’s skin is to create a mottled texture of various colors. This breaks up the surface and creates a translucent appearance in this membrane. My Iwata Eclipse HP BCS was perfect for the task on this 1/4 scale bust. Using very low pressure (around 10 psi) and Com Art Transparent colors, I started by going over all red areas, including veins, with Transparent Bright Red and then randomly spraying little “squiggles” of the red over the skin surface, followed by “squiggles” of Transparent Royal Blue and a little Opaque Ultramarine Blue. A misting of Transparent Cerulean Blue over the skin surface blended the colors while allowing the mottled look to show through. I’ve found that the Com Art Transparent colors are excellent for building up subtle layers of color, which can add so much depth to your work while creating a realistic look, especially when you’re working on more creature-oriented projects.


On the left you can see the red veins as well as the red and blue random squiggles on the skin surface. Notice how the black staining effect shows up the details under the color. The right shows how the mottling is made subtler by a light overcoat of Transparent Cerulean Blue.

To add a little interest I added a few more random “squiggles” of Transparent Emerald Green, Transparent Kelly Green and Transparent Violet over the skin. Transparent Black was misted on to the lower chest area and the creature’s mouth/chin to give it depth. This work was then protected with an overspray of Testors Dullcote. With the skin finished, I hand brushed a bright red Testors Enamel over the veins and other red areas and dry brushed a light gray acrylic on the lower chest area and a light blue gray on the mouth/chin part. The eyes were coated in a gloss black, flecked with random specks of silver and over coated with Com Art Transparent Violet, with a final layer of Future acrylic for gloss.

It was a real blast bringing one of my favorite movie creatures to life with these great tools.

Reprinted with permission of ARTtalk.com


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