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Old 12-08-2008, 01:29 PM   #1
Mike Delamar
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Default sky backing

until one of the recent books showed someone spray painting a sky backing, I was always fascinated and intreagued as to how they got the effect.

Id like to know more not only from my interest in all things anderson, but this can also help me with my model railway diorammas.
nothing looks better than a professionally done sky.

does anyone know the techniques, painting clouds etc, and how the guys at ap films went about it?


cheers

Mike
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Old 12-08-2008, 01:41 PM   #2
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There is a story about Rembrandt (the classic painter). Once he was visited by a wealthy merchant and his wife who wanted that their son started art studies in Rembrandt's studio. Old R told them that were no vacancies (in that time, well-known artists had a lot of people helping them).

The couple insisted, and then told old R that the boy could perform easy and monotonous tasks for a start, maybe painting skies. Rembrandt replied that if the boy could paint skies, they did not need apprentice because he was already better than R himself.

And I'm not trying to discourage you in any way... sometimes the (apparently) easiest things are not.
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Old 12-08-2008, 01:45 PM   #3
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interesting

I notice the ones from Thunderbirds and earlier shows daytime scenes appear to be simple clouds on a light blue sky, the later shows like scarlet seem to get more intricate.

Id be happy with a basic sky, Id imagine that because the backing wasnt in focus, that helped to make it look better?


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Old 12-08-2008, 06:31 PM   #4
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I've always fancied having a go at painting a sky backing but never had the bottle...

I tend to use huge prints of real sky (about 5 foot long) in any diaramas. In this picture, the sky is only a few inches away from the model. It is lit by a 500W halogen lamp.



With the camera down low enough, it fools the eyes.
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Old 13-08-2008, 10:10 AM   #5
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that looks great Dave

heres a model railway where the guy has used a printed one

http://nevardmedia5.fotopic.net/c1537509.html

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Old 13-08-2008, 12:05 PM   #6
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I dont know if this'd work, so dont flame me if it's silly-

but what about a mirror sitting behind at an angle, reflecting the real sky?
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Old 13-08-2008, 04:32 PM   #7
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Interesting topic Mike,

For model effects shots, i think the painted clouds can be what gives it away. Even a beautiful painting can just look like a painting. I guess thats why Derek Meddings would often try and shoot his models in front of a real sky - the lighting on the clouds would match the lighting on the models exactly. Having said that, just because you can tell its a painted back drop doesn't spoil anything, and I think it can add to it when its beautifully done.

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I notice the ones from Thunderbirds and earlier shows daytime scenes appear to be simple clouds on a light blue sky, the later shows like scarlet seem to get more intricate.
Yeah I noticed that too. Something to do with time limit perhaps?

Do you know the opening shot of the Burton Batman movie? It shows a view of Gotham city. Derek Meddings re-painted the sky when Burton decided he wanted a more dramatic one. I think the sky in that shot is stunning. Does anyone know what materials, paints, equipment are used to paint skies like that?

Beautiful shot by the way Dave
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Old 13-08-2008, 05:21 PM   #8
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Excellent railway shots Mike.

That grass is the dogs b*ll*cks!
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Old 13-08-2008, 08:03 PM   #9
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I've had to paint a few over the years but I've never been totally happy with the results - you do have to have real talent to often paint the simple things.
First time I painted the board a matt medium blue then used white spray primers to create the clouds. I cut a curvy cloud outline into a cardboard sheet and held it between the paint can and the background to get soft edged shapes.

Recently for my Zero-X shots I bought a pile of those small taster matt emulsion paints that you see in Wickes/Homebase for about 80p each. I got a selection of blues, plus some whites and a black and simply used them all at the same time on the same brush, blending them together on the board to create a nondescript sky. (Painting the sky one shade of blue is a clear sign that its fake) In the end though it was not that important as I ended up painting over much of it in photoshop when I removed the supporting wires!

The best thing when taking pictures is to simply remember to light the sky background brighter than the forground objects, ignore your cameras warning and over-expose it.


I was always very impressed by the painted backgrounds on the Walker shots in 'The Empire Strikes Back'.
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Old 13-08-2008, 08:53 PM   #10
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I suppose the best way is to take your model outside and photo it against the real sky like this OO gauge model on a plinth taken outside, but thats not always possible, although taking a shot of your model in natural light always looks the best, not my model by the way.



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Old 13-08-2008, 10:32 PM   #11
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Agree with Mark 42, the skies used on Empire Strikes Back for the Walkers/Speeders were unbelievable.
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Old 13-08-2008, 11:06 PM   #12
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I havent seen that to comment, heres a couple of railway ones, another 4mm layout taken outside and photographed with a real sky background


and this is actually a real shot although played about with on photoshop to make it look like its been focused in on a model


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Old 14-08-2008, 03:56 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike Delamar View Post
another 4mm layout taken outside and photographed with a real sky background
That's a model??!!
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Old 14-08-2008, 04:41 AM   #14
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How to paint clouds? Phew! Depends on what kind and what medium you are using. I stayed away from them in oils for many years. My first venture, beyond brightly colored sunset clouds, was with cirrus clouds. In oil, I let my basic sky background get good and dry over several days, and then apply simple narrow brush strokes. Then, using linseed oil and a cloth or paper towel, I thin and slightly smear these wisps to make them look close to the real things. I look for interesting patterns in the uper atmosphere that give character to the scene, but not so much as to overpower things.
Once in a while, though, I go in the other direction and paint those big, massive clouds on sees in summer (sorry, this late I can't remember the proper name). These monsters are anything but delicate, and stack skyward like mile high castles. A very light gray-usually with a bit of purple thrown in does for shadowing, and white sometimes tinged with yellow if these clouds are brilliantly lit. Here I'd recommend just looking at the real things closely. Distant clouds are closer to the horizon and less detailed, while the ones closer in are towering and complex and have darker undersides. I'd work form the distant ones and come forward to your foreground clouds. Then decide where the light is coming from and and your folds and shadows accordingly...simple! Ok, just practice a lot, you'll get it.
Actually it is kind of hard to give verbal instructions for such a visual thing!
Keep in mind, though, that if you get the basic look down, there are not a lot of wrong ways to do them; clouds by their very nature are undefined shapes, so almost any shape is OK.
Good luck!
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Old 14-08-2008, 09:25 AM   #15
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Rather than use black to shade clouds try paynes gray artists oil or acrylic as this gives a more natural blue tone to the shadows.
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Old 14-08-2008, 09:37 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Kane View Post
That's a model??!!
You can't beat God when it comes to lighting.
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