View Full Version : My detail work sucks!

02-10-2008, 12:15 PM
I've tried thinning my paint down, using tiny script brushes, I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I was just looking at Trail Boss and thinking, how the heck does he do that??

When I use the smallest brushes if I load to much, I get blobs, to little and I don't get the coverage I need. When I try to find the "medium" area on loading, I can't seem to get it.

Any suggestions :confused: Vicki

jeff m
02-10-2008, 01:10 PM
My Detail work sucks.........

Mine too

Have you tried using flow aid and a longer brush (longer bristles)
I'm a "water" person generally, but for detail it just will not cover, and you can't paint detail in layers :D
I like the Loew Cornell script 4050-00 it's cheap too. (brushes don't last long in my house)

Don't go overboard with the flow aid, add a few drops at a time 'til you get what is right for the brush.

02-10-2008, 02:11 PM
Mine too.

So I try to work without the detail... Lots more fun for me that way :)

02-10-2008, 03:00 PM
Theres a couple of tricks that may help. Start with a long haired brush (rigger) use a well thinned medium and load the brush really well by stroking thru the medium in a twirling motion, rolling the brush thru the paint. Then on a clean section of the pallette roll and draw the brush until theres no clumps and the tip has a fine point.

Now for the really hard part, it takes CONFIDENCE, start your stroke but watch WHERE YOUR GOING not the brush. Many people make a lot of short strokes to draw/paint a line and it seldom if ever comes out straight or clean. It takes practice practice practice to trust yourself, a canvas filled with long straight lines and curliques, swoops and swirls .

details like Rodger does though are a whole different animal and since he says he doesnt know what he's doing Im sure not going to try and explain it:lol: But its a combination of knowing your tools and medium and A LOT of inherient talent

02-10-2008, 04:15 PM
When I use the smallest brushes if I load to much, I get blobs, to little and I don't get the coverage I need.
You're probably trying to do this in a single layer, which is hard if not impossible. Acrylics are relatively transparent and generally have to be used in layers if you're working thinly.

But if you want to paint as much as possible in one application you need to focus on using opaque pigments in a good brand; no point in aiming to get single-coat coverage with Cadmium Red Hue from Galeria, unless you apply it very thickly, which would generally go hand-in-hand with a looser, more painterly style anyway. And don't thin with medium, they directly add transparency.

Any suggestions...
Practice. And then a little more practice.

You might like to see if you can locate a copy of Landscape Illusion by Daniel Chard, that has some good tips in creating detail - both sharp detail and the kind of stuff that just looks right, but is really just random blobs - using acrylics, painting layer by layer. Another good title that I think would help a lot is Painting Wildlife Textures Step By Step by Rod Lawrence.

Even if your subject matter is neither wildlife nor landscapes the basic principles apply much more widely.


michelle stone
02-10-2008, 06:54 PM
Oicclouds-first of all let me say thank you for your service to our great country!!I love to do alot of detail work also!!I use a liner brush which has very long bristles and bends.I also use a little trick-when Im trying to do a tiny staight line or detail,I hold my breath!It seems to slow my heart rate and steady my hand!although some times Im not even aware Im doing it and I get a little dizzy!!have fun painting!!:wave:

02-10-2008, 09:45 PM
Vicki, I like to do detail, too, but I could never do it with standard body acrylics from tubes. By the time I would get the paint thin enough to flow well off a small brush, it was so transparent that I could hardly see any color in it. It was so frustrating.

Switching to Golden Fluid Acrylics helped a lot! They are the consistency of heavy cream and very easy to thin with a bit of water so they flow much, much better. Adding a bit of flow aid to the water helps even more. The paint is still strong and fairly opaque (as much as acrylics can be opaque) and they flow well off the brush.

There are other brands of fluid acrylics (also called flow formula). Matisse makes a flow formula acrylic. So does Da Vinci. Liquitex calls theirs Soft Body Acrylics.

Another option is to try the Atelier Interactive Acrylics. They liquify very easily with just water into something resembling ink. Some folks here who use the Interactives report that they flow very nicely off the brush when thinned down this way.

Something else that you can try if you are using thinned liquid acrylics is a metal dip pen and simply draw fine details as though you were using an ink pen. This only works on a fairly smooth surface such as watercolor paper, illustration board, a very smooth gessoed surface, even Fredrix Watercolor Canvas (because it is such a fine weave). It won't work on medium weave canvas because the surface is so rough that the pen point will skip and spatter. I use this method when I'm doing fine hairs or whiskers on animals or on people.

You can also use an old style drafting pen if you can find one. They take a bit of practice, but you can load liquid acrylics into them with an eye dropper, then draw long, even lines. They are great for drawing rigging on sailing ships or similar lines. You can adjust the width of the pen's opening to vary the thickness of the line.

I hope some of those suggestions are helpful. By the way, major thanks for your service to our country.


02-10-2008, 10:47 PM
Thanks everyone! I guess its practice, practice, practice! Vicki