Wednesday, April 11, 2012

From Pig to Elephant

Sounds like a magic trick but it's not really.  I had promised to show how I had decorated my pig in the Pigs on Parade post and I finally got around to putting something together.

I couldn't believe, as I was finishing up my pig last month, that I failed to take pictures of the steps as I was decorating it.  Bad blogger!  Usually, even though I may not decide to post, I have been trying to photo document my work, even if it's just for my own future personal reference so I can recreate something.  I guess I was just too much into the experimenting part, not knowing if it would turn out the way I wanted that I just forgot all about the camera.

Well, I happened to have another little (and when I say little, I mean smaller than the pig, can you believe!) papier mache animal - an elephant.  This I picked up in the clearance bin at Mike's for a whopping 20 cents!

Here it is - standing on an empty yogurt cup to give you an idea of the size.

And here are the steps..........................................

I gave the original papier mache elephant 3 coats of white gesso.

Then, using a Sakura Micron blue pen I started drawing spiral circles.  You start with one complete one and then add from the back the partials.

Once you fill in a little, start another section the same way.  The spirals that are drawn first will be the foremost when shaded.  I did the same thing with the wings that I drew on the pig, starting with one wing and then adding from behind.  The difference with that was the pattern that I chose.  The wings had direction which I think gave them more dimension than these spirals.

Once I had enough a bunch done, I got out my Prismacolor pencils (not watercolor) in a similar shade of blue and started defining the areas to be shaded to give it some depth.  I found out very quickly that since this pattern, and the whole of the elephant, was very small, that not a lot of penciling was necessary.  Just a light line.

You can see that just the pencil alone starts to make the pattern pop a little.

To blend the pencil I use some odorless mineral spirits (oms) and a paper stump or tortillon.  I just dip the end of the  stump into the oms, being careful not to make it drippy, and then go over the pencil line.  

The more that you move the stump over the line, the more the waxy pencil mark flows.

Hopefully you can see some dimension of the drawing here after the blending was done.  

I got tired of this little pattern and added some others around the rest of the elephant as you will see below.  I even left some of it white and blended another lighter bluish turquoise into those areas.

I almost forgot - I added a couple of light coats of a spray fixative.  I use a matte finish which I think gives it just the right amount of sheen and enough protection from fingerprints and smearing.

Hmmm, I think I have a little papier mache giraffe around here - maybe he's next!


  1. I hope you enjoy your few days off!
    Thank you for sharing how you created your elephant and pig. I'm amazed at the amount of depth and shading you got with your gamsol - and your patience to draw each and every single one of those wings. I shall show this to C tomorrow, he's been curious to know how you did it too. I'm thinking that Papillon needs a coat of varnish for protection, you've really just confirmed that.
    The elephant has a wonderful Oriental look to it.


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