For Dustin’s name tag we started out with a very pale blue. Three coats of acrylic paint were brushed on by hand. The key is to put it on heavy enough to cover well but not puddle. Let dry thoroughly between coats. Fans help speed this process.
The first glaze was a medium blue. The glaze was made by mixing a clear base with a normal paint (medium blue in this case) and a dash of water. We mix our glaze in quart containers and keep a wide selection of them on hand.
A darker blue glaze was next. We wiped this off just a little more thoroughly to show both the base color and the medium blue glaze.
The last glaze was a very deep blue. The outside border got a second coat (without wiping) to frame the plaque. The last step was to paint a couple coats of metallic gold paint on the top of the letters.
Elsie’s name plaque started with three coats of off-white base color.
The first glaze was a slightly darker and very warm tan color.
The second glaze was a tan color. The piece suddenly started to come to life.
The rope received a slightly darker yellow/tan and was glazed first. Then the background weave got its dark glaze.
Daniel’s name plaque started out with a coat of Coastal Enterprises FSC360WB primer. It was brushed on with a small brush with brush strokes left purposely for added texture. Then three coats of Modern Masters acrylic metallic gold paint were brushed on, covering well but leaving no puddles.
We mixed a glaze using a mix of copper and gold metallic paints (plus our clear base) and applied this to the name plaque.
Next up was a metallic copper glaze. The plaque border and area around the letters received a second coat of glaze to leave them dark. The plaque was already looking pretty good by this stage.
The last step was to paint on two coats of metallic gold on the letters. To add a little depth, a little dark glaze was brushed on the letters and then wiped off, leaving a teeny bit on the bottom of the letters in a very gentle fade. This weighted the letters nicely.
The full-size version was carved from fiberglass-reinforced concrete over a welded steel frame. It weighed in at an impressive 12,000 lbs. We base coated the feature with three coats of base colors, allowing it to dry thoroughly between coats.
We then started in on the glazes, using multiple colors of glaze for the rocks, blending them wet into wet. Peter brushed on the glaze, then Jenessa and Felix chased him with towels, wiping off the glaze. They left it heavy in the cracks and heavily-textured areas.
After it dried, they went over key areas again to make the texture stand out. Lower areas were weighted by leaving more glaze.
Projects of any size can be painted with these methods. The most important thing is the texture. Glazes need texture to really be effective. We’re working on a massive project now—two 40-ft. Viking boats and a 30-ft.long target for the kids to shoot at from the boat with water cannons. We started with a 30-in. scale model.

Glazes work magic on 3D graphics

They enhance texture, add depth and make things a lot more interesting

By Dan Sawatzky

Posted on Friday, October 28th, 2016

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Last issue we showed several name plaques we have created for the participants of our workshops through the years. While they were a great take home gift for our guests, they were also a wonderful way for us to develop our painting methods through the years.

Every project we do in our shop uses these same painting techniques. The only difference is the scale. But no matter how good or confident you may be, it’s always best to do small practice pieces first before tackling something large. Get your techniques and color combinations nailed before moving on to the big stuff.

Even after doing more than two hundred name plaques we still do small sample pieces for almost every large project we tackle. These samples also serve as a reference and standard for staff members, which ensures a consistent finish.

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Dan Sawatzky's shop, Sawatzky's Imagination Corporation, is in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada. Dan shares his experience in his Sign Magic Workshops on 3-D sign making, and his Sculpting Workshop.

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