Monday, February 6, 2012

Silk painting/banner tutorial: Color fade & shading

A few extra steps can make your silk paintings or SCA banners look like a million dollars by adding dynamic color. Blending two or three related colors gives your painting more dimension and vibrancy. To achieve this effect, I use a regular household spray bottle or clean paintbrushes and water.

a circle of water to blend the sun yellow with the golden yellow

First imagine how you'd like your background. Here, I wanted the demi-sun to be highlighted, so I wanted the gold to start bright around the sun and fade to darker shades towards the edges. I chose sun yellow, golden yellow, and brass. Use a spray bottle to wet the silk around the area you'd like your colors to blend. Working quickly so your paint stays wet, fill in the lightest color.

sun yellow
Next, fill in your middle shade. Remember to work quickly so it all stays wet. Once the color has been laid into the silk, go back with an almost-dry brush and blend the two shades together where they meet. The water already on the silk will cause the color to dry much lighter, so use more paint than you think you need. I go over areas two or three times to get it as bright as I like... but remember, dry silk is your enemy! Keep it wet or lines will develop in your color from wet paint being applied over dry paint. Just be carful of paint running, especially if you're working vertically. Keep paper towels on hand to soak up little beads of paint before they run down your whole painting or stain areas designated for different colors.

golden yellow
Get the edges and corners wet to blend in your last shade. Here, the corners are darkened with the brass color. Remember to blend the two colors where they meet with the damp brush.

brass blended into the corners
I would suggest working on the largest areas first so you can use the spray bottle for blending. If you spray a color after it's dry, little spots will form and ruin the color. After the largest area is done I switch to a clean paintbrush so I can get the water exactly where I want it. For the demi-sun I chose two shades of green, spring and emerald. Like the background, I use water where the two shades will meet. 

water where the two greens will meet
Like the background, use a mostly-dry brush to blend the two shades where they meet.

emerald and spring green blended

Colors can also be mixed with water to achieve different shades. For shading of the banner, I used only the color brass and water. I picked out the darkest areas and used the full strength paint in those spots. I then placed plain water in the areas where the light would hit. I mixed the full strength paint with a bit of water on my plastic palette and used that for shading opposite the wet areas. When the paint contacts the wet silk, it will slowly bleed into the wet area and fade out naturally. 

one color and water shading
To fill in the letters, I used the same two color technique as the demi-sun. Since they are so small I did not use any water, but two tiny brushes. Again, work very quickly to avoid dry paint and lines, and let the two shades blend into each other naturally.
letter shading
Let the whole banner dry completely then heat treat it as usual. Sew on ties and you're done!