Our Brands
iwata anest logo
airbrushes + compressors
iwata logo
airbrush accessories
medea airbrush logo
airbrush-ready paints
medea airbrush logo
airbrush beauty products
artool logo
templates, masking + tools
karajen logo
hanging +storage systems
anest iwata logo
spray guns + equipment

How-To: Dance of the Jellyfish

 

Dance of the Jellyfish

The Charming Underwater World of Dennis Mathewson

Republished with permission of Airbrush Step by Step issue 02/09
For more information, please visit www.airbrush-magazin.de

I live on the beautiful island Hawaii in a wonderful tropical environment. I enjoy to the full the unique, casual lifestyle, the special music and art, and the extraordinary food. I can do no different than get inspired by all these surroundings.

I have a special preference for painting jellyfish. Since I could see it with my own eyes for the first time while diving, I was immediately crazy about them. Since than, I have been making photographs of all kinds of jellyfish in aquaria all around the world and naturally also here on Hawaii. These photos are the samples I use for my artworks.

When I paint these breathtaking creatures of the seas, I prefer to work on a metal plate. I use the same technique as for the custom painting on cars. The only difference is that these metal artworks are no commercial art like the projects on cars or motorbikes which I produce with my business.

Basic equipment DANCE OF THE JELLYFISH:
Airbrush pistols:
Iwata Custom Micron Airbrush
Paints: Hawaiian Hues (white, grey, blue, orange and yellow as well as Burnt Sienna and Burnt Umber), transparent metal effect varnish, 2K clear coat car varnish, brown and blue pinstriping paints
Additional materials:
Angle grinder, etching solution, aluminum cleaner, adhesion-promoting agent, 600 grit sandpaper, masking film, razor, thinning agent, stencils, fine paintbrush, small
stick, water-based cleaner
Base: Aluminum plate

image
image

Picture 01/02
I begin with a bare metal aluminum and grind a pattern on it with an angle grinder that has an abrasive pad attached. As soon as this pattern is complete, I treat the metal plate with an aluminum cleaning and etching solution containing acid from the company PPG. I obtain a rough surface which makes the pain adhere better. Without this treatment, the paint could peel off later when I will remove some masking. Then, I clean the plate with an aluminum cleaner and spray a layer of adhesion-promoting agent afterwards. Now four layers of the 2K clear coat car varnish follow; it was mixed with a blue colour tone so that a transparent blue colour emerged.
I´ll leave the plate to dry overnight. The next day, I will grind its surface with a 600 grit sandpaper. I will clean the plate again and begin with the jellyfish artwork.
When I paint these breathtaking creatures of the seas, I prefer to work on a metal plate. I use the same technique as for the custom painting on cars. The only difference is that these metal artworks are no commercial art like the projects on cars or motorbikes which I produce with my business.

image

Picture 03
I mask the entire surface with a masking film and draw the jellyfish design freehand onto the masked working ground. When I am satisfied with the drawing, I will cut out the curves of the jellyfish umbrellas with a razor and remove the masking.
Then, I begin to brush the inner part of the areas that are not masked. I use for this my own line of liquid colour basecoats called “Hawaiian Hues”; these are solvent-containing, highly pigmented paints produced by ALSA. Similar paints are those from House of Color or PPG. I brush with a Iwata Custom Micron airbrush. Thereby I will begin to form the cake-shaped jellyfish umbrellas with a strong opaque yellow.

image

Picture 04
Subsequently, I will lighten up the light areas with white and paint the individual lines to create the so typical structure of the umbrellas. I always mind some areas between them which should not be painted. These should remain clear so that the painted aluminum can shine through them so to make the umbrellas appear transparent. I use Burnt Sienna for the shadings in the jellyfish umbrellas.

image
image

Picture 05/06
I prefer to mix my paints with a thinning agent at a ratio 1:2 and to brush with 1,6 bar. When I wish to work out particular details, I often add even more of the thinning agent and reduce the pressure. Now it´s time to mention a good characteristic of the Iwata Custom line that each device has an integrated air-control valve. I also sprayed a layer of a transparent, shiny metal effect varnish for a better atmosphere. This way, the jellyfish umbrellas obtain a naturally shimmering colouring and with it a realistic appearance.

image
image
image

Picture 07-09
I revise my picture one more time to add detailed colour shadings of the jellyfish; for this I apply other colour tones. All colour I use are warm yellow and orange tones with a little drop of Burnt Sienna. Having finished the umbrellas, I remove the masking of the umbrellas´ inside so that the blue of the background emerges. I begin at the edges with yellow and subsequently spray shadings with Burnt Umber. Also here, the lines and gradations fade out into the background colour to give the jellyfish umbrellas its transparent look.
Having obtained the desired look, I remove the entire masking film and clean the plate with a cloth.

image
image
image

Picture 10-12
I continue with the tentacles of the jellyfish for which I use a grey base colour. I work freehand as well as with a loose curved stencil. I spray the tentacles with shaky rotary movements. I begin at the umbrella and spray several layers to obtain more depth. Occasionally, I hold the stencil above some areas to create lines with harder edges. I somewhat attenuate them freehand so that some lines appear to be closer to the observer whereas other step back to appear more distant.

image

Picture 13
To add more detail, I thin the white base colour and use low pressure. I spend a lot of time working on the tentacle details freehand.

image
image

Picture 14/15
When I am happy with the look of the jellyfish, I spray several colour areas on the tentacles with transparent yellow and orange tones. And then, blue shadings follow. This way I will create more depth in the tentacles and they will appear more realistic as a whole.

image

Picture 16
I will also revise the unmasked edges freehand with airbrush paint to soften up their look. They will not look as masked and hard-edged but much more natural. I use for this soft yellow and warm orange tones.

image
image
image

Picture 17-19
Now I mix a brown pinstriping paint and add – using a fine paintbrush – the outer tentacles of the jellyfish. I use a Mack pinstriping paintbrush; it allows for very fine, long lines.

image

Picture 20
Subsequently, I brush the brown tentacles freehand to give them their natural soft look.

image
image
image

Picture 21-23
Let´s approach the air bubbles now. I use many different methods to create air bubbles. In this special case, I created a stencil with a computer and a plotter. It really does cost you more time to cut the vinyl yourself than to paint the bubbles and let them be plotted afterwards. In addition I use several hand-cut stencils. I made them to be able to repeat the pattern if required.

image

Picture 24
The individual bubbles will be brushed light blue at the bottom and dark blue at the top. Having done that, I remove the stencils. Then, I apply a very light, blue edge around each bubble freehand. I need a lot of time to do this.

image

Picture 25
I put some white base colour onto the end of a stick. When I now target the stick with my airbrush in a 45-degree angle and spray a bit, the air will cast off the paint; the emerging small stains and dots should turn out to look like air bubbles. When I work more at the back of the stick, I will obtain bigger dots.

image
image

Picture 26/27
Having positioned all the air bubbles, in the next step I use a fine paintbrush to add a slight light reflection to each of these air bubbles with a very light, blue pinstriping paint. When I am done with the paintbrush details, I use my Micron airbrush to soften up the paintbrush work.

image

Picture 28
To give the air bubbles the final charm, I also add a soft, white dot at the bottom of each.

image

Picture 29
Well, actually I am done with my artwork as a whole now. But I still need to clean the surface with a water-based cleaner.

image

Picture 30
And finally the varnisher Mark Chiu, an employee at Cosmic Airbrush, will apply four layers of clear coat varnish. This way the artwork obtains its final, shiny and long lasting finish.

image
image
image

Picture 31-33
Some other works from Dennis´s jellyfish series.

 

Why are there no prices on your website?

Iwata Medea is the wholesale distributor of Iwata, Medea and Artool products in North and South America, and the UK, and does not sell directly to customers at this time. To purchase Iwata Medea or Artool products, please check our dealer pages for a reseller near you. Or call our customer service team at 503-253-7308 ext. 2000, and we’ll help you find a local reseller.