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Thread: A project log of an Airbrushed computer ( final fantasy )

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    A project log of an Airbrushed computer ( final fantasy )

    Hi Guys,
    I'm sure at least some of you will have seen some of my other project logs. Well this one will be a little bit different.

    Besides the projects I do for my self, my friends and family, I also do the odd job for paying clients. In this case the client has come through <snipped>
    I will be detailing the process of a start to finish job that a <snipped> customer has signed up for. Many people never see any of the stuff I am about to show you. usually it is kept between me and the client


    With the kind permission of my client, I have been allowed to post a project log on a custom painted <snipped>

    This log is to give people an insight to how ordering your very own custom painted <snipped> computer works, and the steps that are taken to get to the finished article.


    said process is a much bigger operation that most people would think. As my clients will tell you, most of the time is spent planning the paint job to get it to a point we are both happy with.

    Here is where it starts:


    The customer calls the <snipped> to place an order. When Custom paint is selected, I will be contacted to get the ball rolling. I normally start with an email to the client, introducing my self and so on.
    Obviously, I need to ask the client what kind of paint job they would like to go for, I try to keep this as vague as possible, usually a theme or even a colour! In this case the client initially only wanted a black cherry / pearl black straight paint job. Then the project changed to a realistic fire paint job, and then the whole thing evolved to a realistic flamed paint job, with a final fantasy 7 twist.
    I was asked by the client if it was possible to get his favourite game character 'sephiroth' from the final fantasy series. so we planned for a flamed case with a single portrait of the character.

    I explained to the client that I would draw up a very rough sketch, to see if we were even on the right wavelength, The client was happy with the direction the design was going in, so i took some more ideas from the client, and added some elements to the design.

    Things don't always work out as planned though. He wanted a final fantasy logo painted on the case, and the phrase 'one winged angel' No matter how i tried to fit these elements in, it just never sat right in the design. I explained this to the client, and we agreed to leave them out. Instead I researched FF7 a little further, and found a pendant that the other 'hero' character, 'cloud' wears. It is of a wolf's head.
    I decided that this logo could work well in the design, and then came up with the idea of airbrushing a faux scroll of paper on top of the case with the phrase 'one winged angel' on it.

    With the client happy for me to go ahead, I drew up the first concept of the full design.


    (parts have been blurred out for my client's confidentiality)


    The client was happy enough for me to start painting as soon as possible.

    <snipped> were notified and I had to do was wait for the laser cut side panels to arrive before could start painting.




    The paint work:

    The case in question, is the brand new <snipped> chassis. It is a heavily modified lian li PC-P80b
    The case is huge and allows for some very smooth paint work.

    It was stripped down, and brought back to my workshop to be prepared.

    The first thing I do is mask off the entire backs of the panels, so no over spray can get to them. and mask off anything that does not need to be painted. I do not mask the folded edges of the panels, where the panels meet the chassis. These are left bare so they do not cause any issues with fitting the case back together.
    The main chassis is wrapped in cling film, and receiving holes are pierced. I use cling film because it is extremely thin and allows the panels to fit onto it without raising them, or damaging masking tape that would normally be used.



    The most important thing to do with a case that has been handled, by many people is to give it a thorough clean. I use panel wipe ( also known as wax and grease remover) and scrub the panels down.
    I then use a hand sander to reveal some of the bare metal from the parts, then I tack rag and clean the parts again. From this stage, latex gloves are worn at every point to prevent further contamination.

    I use a special etch primer that etches into the anodised aluminium as well as the bare aluminium. It also acts as a filler to fill the brushed texture from the metal.
    After 24 hours, the parts are wet sanded smooth, cleaned and tacked off once more.


    Using a spray gun, Base coat black is applied to the surfaces starting with a very thin coat and building it up gradually.

    After the base coat has dried over night, I will come back to clean them once more and start with the artwork... now the gloves can come off


    Artwork:

    The digital age has greatly helped with this process. It is now easier than ever to compose artwork in photoshop, and change anything in the blink of an eye.

    I use a vinyl cutter / plotter to cut my masking out. People are quick to point the finger and call this cheating.
    I use this equipment because it aids repeatability if anything goes wrong. It helps to get the artwork to the right size, first time. and it prevents damaging the panel by cutting into it in the conventional fashion.

    the downside is, I still have to sit and draw / trace the images in corel, line by line. This is a very time consuming process indeed. Using a plotter actually ends up just as big a job as the traditional method.

    Here is what I sent to be cut out by the plotter.



    I use the outline of the portrait, and I cut in some basic lines to help position facial features. There is NO POINT in getting this wrong. Working for <snipped> means that deadlines are tight. I do this to get everything right, first time.



    The cut design is then applied tot he panel.







    This is the point where mistakes can happen. If I positioned the mask wrong, and it was cut by hand, I'd have to start over.
    and I begin to peel away selected parts for the design and spray very gently to give me the indication of where things will be laid out.





    As you can see, some parts of the mask will not peel away as one part. I simple lift the edge up, and spray just to give me an indication of where the features are.



    I then remove a all of the facial mask, to leave just the 'heart' shape of the face. Then I begin to airbrush in the shapes and detail.




    My painting always start off looking pretty rubbish, and slowly take form. when you see the next few pictures you will be thinking 'eugh, what the hell has he done there!' don;t worry - it will take form.


    I start to peel away some more sections of the masking, filling in parts of the hair piece by piece.
    I mask section of the hair in order to get the lengths going in he correct direction, and at the correct size.. Copying a hair style is incredibly hard to do without firm reference points.



    The paint that I am using is still quite a dark grey, this is the most light shade on at the moment


    It looks grey in the brush, but looks white on the panel.


    The way I normally paint is by constantly over highlighting, or over shading, then bringing the tones back down. I've had no formal airbrush training, and I'm sure it will be frowned upon by most but this is how I work.
    If you pay attention to the belt / strap you will see stark highlighted lines. I wanted to paint in some stitching, So instead of painting the stitches in white, I do a thicker line then paint the black around them. It's a lot easier this way and works better.


    so here it is with the highlights reduced:


    the colour has a reddish tint to it, this does not matter.


    A friend of mine decided to try out his photography skills:


    not bad for my mug!


    The next step is to start shading areas. For this I use a black candy, or some refer to it as 'smoke' Really, it is just a very weak black tint from the mixing scheme. Here is how it looks :

    It allows me to shade areas without spoiling their existing tones. Each tone is shaded equal - if that makes sense?
    for example, where some sections of the hair over lap others, this paint is used to darken everything equally, without saturating it in black. It's also used to cast the subtle shadows of the hairs lying on the characters face.


    That's all for now folks, I'm pretty much done with the portrait, so will add some finishing touches in the next session and start adding some colour.
    I hope you like RED !


    [edit]
    I forgot to mention that a little way through the painting, I stopped using the reference as much. The reason is because the reference image is very very bad, I have a decent ground for the portrait now, so I began to paint it, reflecting what was already there - not trying to make it look more like the reference - if that makes sense.


    As always, I'm more than happy to answer any questions, and will do my best to make things clear. I cannot answer questions about my client though.
    Last edited by Agent; 03-10-2008 at 06:15 PM. Reason: Amazing work mate, but I'm afraid advertising isn't allowed

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    re: A project log of an Airbrushed computer ( final fantasy )

    Crikey...

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    re: A project log of an Airbrushed computer ( final fantasy )

    that looks awesome!!

    how much do these babies cost or does it depend on each design


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    re: A project log of an Airbrushed computer ( final fantasy )

    Quote Originally Posted by [GSV]Trig View Post
    Crikey...
    I hope that is a good 'crikey' lol!

    Quote Originally Posted by danroyle
    that looks awesome!!

    how much do these babies cost or does it depend on each design
    Thanks,
    The price depends entirely on the design. They are very hard to put a price on, So usually I work to a budget. I know I have not answered your question, but it is a tough one to answer.

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    re: A project log of an Airbrushed computer ( final fantasy )

    Great googly moogly!

    That's some typo in the post title!



    Oh and the case looks sublime. What's the turnaround time for projects such as these? Are you able to do more than one case design concurrently or does all your efforts have to concentrated on one project at a time?

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    re: A project log of an Airbrushed computer ( final fantasy )

    Ahh, that is is pretty sweet. nice work!

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    re: A project log of an Airbrushed computer ( final fantasy )

    Very impressive indeed

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    re: A project log of an Airbrushed computer ( final fantasy )

    Looks impressive!

    Are there ever any copyright/license issues when painting using a reference or established IP?

    Doesn't your hair ever get in the way?

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    re: A project log of an Airbrushed computer ( final fantasy )

    WoW is all I can say, my GF a complete FF nut would love that!
    Quote Originally Posted by TAKTAK View Post
    It didn't fall off, it merely became insufficient at it's purpose and got a bit droopy...

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    re: A project log of an Airbrushed computer ( final fantasy )

    way cool. I know you hesitated on the price, but give us a ballpark: 100's of pounds? how many 100's of pounds, roughly?
    One can never stop saying Thank You

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    re: A project log of an Airbrushed computer ( final fantasy )

    Awesome work

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    re: A project log of an Airbrushed computer ( final fantasy )

    wow thats amazing
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    re: A project log of an Airbrushed computer ( final fantasy )

    Definitely not a design I'd personally choose but it's incredibly well done.

    I wish I had the talent to create images as good as those.

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    re: A project log of an Airbrushed computer ( final fantasy )

    Quote Originally Posted by Emirzan View Post
    I wish I had the talent to create images as good as those.
    trust me, it's 90% sweat. And he's put the time in.
    talent makes very little difference.
    One can never stop saying Thank You

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    re: A project log of an Airbrushed computer ( final fantasy )

    I caught this on coolercasesUK's forum, excellent work.

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    re: A project log of an Airbrushed computer ( final fantasy )

    Quote Originally Posted by fuddam View Post
    way cool. I know you hesitated on the price, but give us a ballpark: 100's of pounds? how many 100's of pounds, roughly?
    We are talking more than a few hundreds of pounds, sometimes 4 figures - it is very hard work!


    Quote Originally Posted by Disturbedguy
    WoW is all I can say, my GF a complete FF nut would love that!
    So is mine... I havn't told her it's for a customer though... not sure how to break it to her lol!


    Quote Originally Posted by sleepyhead
    Oh and the case looks sublime. What's the turnaround time for projects such as these? Are you able to do more than one case design concurrently or does all your efforts have to concentrated on one project at a time?
    Turnaround is quite long. I work 9-5 also, so painting is done in spare time. This one will have around a 3 week turnaround, but that doesnt include the design phase.

    It depends on the design, but this one is relatively straight forward.






    Update:

    Okay, Let's re-cap.

    The last update contained the ins and outs of the portrait painting, which since has been finished. I get the impression that some people are not sure where the design is going though.

    The portrait will be 'coloured in' eventually, this is normally done last though.

    I love to paint in black and white, and most of my pieces start off like this. I'm leaving it black and white because if anything were to happen to it, paint to spill or something bad like that - it is a lot easier to fix while it is still black and white. Fixing it when colour has been added would be a nightmare. It also will help me balance the colours with the flames, rather than trying to guess it.



    These updates tot he log are not in real time by the way, I'm just uploading a batch of pics in one go and writing fewer, larger updates than lots of small ones.



    The update:


    Let me tell you, These cases are amongst the most difficult to paint. As if the sharp corners and slots are not enough, I have had to pretty much re-assemble the whole case as it would come to paint it! Normally I can get away with having panels taped into place, or small wooden blocks holding things together, just so the artwork will line up when the cases are put back together, but this one needs to be completely re-built.

    here's what it looks like:


    With everything held in place, I can start laying out the base for the flames. The airbrush I use for this ( which I will go into more detail about later) has a very large spray pattern, and i always shoot at max pressure. Because of this, I knocked up a quick mask to cover most of the portrait to avoid getting orange over-spray all over it.




    Nothing has to be neat here, It's only going to be used briefly. I don't press the edges down as i want to leave as soft an edge as possible.


    I mix up some bright orange and begin to lay out where I want the flames to be.


    Looks horrid doesn't it! The fact is that you cannot spray red on top of black like this.
    I spray this 'bright orange, then I will go over it with a deep red candy paint. This will make it real red.
    These red patterns will become the glow around the flame licks.

    The Red candy I use is very dark, The more you apply the darker it will get until it is almost black.


    A 'candy' paint is just a translucent paint, the best way to describe a candy is to think of a stained glass window, or a sweet wrapper from a tin of roses or something.
    When a candy is painted on black it will not show. When a candy is painted over anything lighter than black, it's colour will tint it.

    I'm using this red candy to give me a shade of red that is 'impossible' to get by any other means.





    after I have my basic layout, I begin to introduce some basic 'flame' shapes, these shapes are done in the same bright orange as before, but now they begin to show up a little better. Some orange candy is sprayed over to burn off any overspray and sink the orange into the black. It's hard to explain what happens, but the effect is instant.






    Here you can see parts of the panel which have been covered in orange candy, and the parts that have not.



    I'm using a mini spray gun to do this. This gun's spray pattern starts where my 'biggest' airbrush finishes. It gives me large, quick but accurate coverage with minimal over spray.




    The 2 airbrushes I have been using so far have been these:


    The kustom custom micron, and the Eclipse CS

    I've used this image before, but I'll post it again as it's quite informative:



    The Kustom Custom micron has a very fine needle and matched head system. I use this for the bulk of the detail work, and most of the flame work. It's a little fine for the flames but it has a very nice atomisation at it's thickest spray pattern.

    The eclipse has an upgraded needle at .5mm (which is BIG for an airbrush) It has a very large spray pattern, and can empty the cup very quickly. I use this as a quick alternative to a mini spray gun. It does have a lot of overspray though

    Briefly, the way an airbrush works is that you push the trigger down for less or more air ( they are very sensitive to control) and pull the trigger back to pull the needle back - which lets out more paint. A combination of these two actions gives you the ability to do what you see here




    Back onto the update,
    After a few more orange / orange candy layers, I start with the next step. Each step the flame licks will get smaller, and tighter, and also brighter.

    BE WARNED - this step always makes people think 'oh my god, what on earth has he just done there! it looks awful!'

    All will become clear on the next update. Please be patient here as this step always looks bad before it looks better.


    I'm using the yellow paint in the picture above with the 2 AB's in it. It's bright yellow, straight off the mixing scheme. It is as yellow as yellow can get. I over reduce this, so it gets quite 'dangerous' to spray in terms of it is very easy to apply too much and get a run. It also creates tons of overspray so frequent tack-ragging is needed.

    What I am doing here is creating new shapes int he fire, which you will notice are smaller and tighter. I'm also giving the fire more 'body' toward the source.


    Any questions, just let me know,
    Rick

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