Painting the Front

This is the front of the guitar with the design transferred onto it and then masked with masking film. This masking protects the foreground detail from paint while the background is painted in.........

Right, to give a good light shade for the brighter background colours to lay down on, I've given all the 'background' sections of the design (and the back of the body too) a light covering of white paint. This will help the lighter, brighter watery shades to show out brighter............. and quicker.

Basically playing about with the airbrush until the watery effect I am looking for starts to emerge. Also, lightly painted in the horizon line to tie in with the wreck I drew into the background of the design. Notice here that the neck socket is masked out. This is for two reasons, the first is simply that I don't want the inevitable build up of paint and lacquer (as the painting progresses) to foul the neck socket and affect the fitting of the neck. The second reason will become evident later on once the painting is complete. This is all pretty rough at this stage. I obviously have 'some' idea of what I am trying to achieve before I actually start painting, but unfortunately I am not that good at visualizing and then applying the colours exactly as I want them to be - 'first time'.

It is difficult to really visualize exactly how this is going to look when the masking over 'Eric' and the rest of the detail is removed - but this is starting to feel right 'colour wise'. Much of what you see here is actually just painted background being continued onto and over the masking film. This is important, as there are parts of the design where the background has to show through holes in 'Eric' , gaps under his arms, etc.. (these areas were obviously also cut out of the mask) The great thing about masking like this is that once the masking is removed, all those separate background areas will match in together - making the whole design look right. I like to try and paint in the background so that certain features, in this case rays of sunlight, are visible and easily followed from the top down through the gaps. The eye can follow these and it's little details like this that help make the finished design look right.

The top edge of the guitar is relatively easy to work out, as both the back and the front of the guitar are very similar (design/paint/colour- wise) at the top. Just a case of working the design into the white top edge. Early days at this stage, but I just know this is going to look really good when it's all properly painted in.

Starting to get the effect I was looking for on the seabed. I am also starting to put in some light shadow work in the background/foreground at this stage. Still lots to do to get the background/foreground exactly as I want it. I am taking a bit of time over this stage, as much of this work is far easier done while the main detail is still masked out, before the main image is revealed. I don't really want to re-cutting masks over all the detail again if I can help it - there will be enough of that as it is. Okay, had a brainstorm (that poor remaining brain-cell is having a really hard time!), it suddenly came to me that a couple of reefs similar to those on the back, would serve two purposes on the front of the design too. Firstly to give 'Eric something to lean against and rest his foot on - bloody tiring for the old fella otherwise! And secondly, kinda frames the main character and gives depth to the whole scene - even before 'Eric' is unmasked and painted in.

Taking shape now.....

Put in a bit more shadow below the new reef and under 'Erics' limbs, when he is unmasked these shadows will 'hopefully' be in about the right places....

Okay, thats the background and foreground pretty much as I want it. There will be a lot of small detail applied to both background and foreground later as the main figure of 'Eric' develops, but for now I am fairly happy with that. The next step is to carefully clean off the 'overspray' paint from the masking film covering 'Eric'so that I can see my lines beneath. That done, it's then possible to re - cut the existing mask covering the main figure and start painting parts of it in, without completely re-masking.

Right, finally got back to work on 'Eric'. Here the overspray on the masking film around the areas that can still be worked has been removed using a cotton bud and thinners. These are the areas inside the main mask that can still be worked before the mask is removed completely, areas like 'Erics' face, the treasure chests and the buckles on his belts.

Here the buckles have been worked on a bit more and are about as far progressed as they can be taken at this stage. Most of the colours applied at these early stages are guesswork - most will need to be altered at least slightly as the whole piece develops to make the whole image work and look right.

Some detail is painted onto the coins that are being worked on at this stage. This should show out slightly once the metallic gold paint is then sprayed over these coins - and will hopefully give the effect of markings on the coins when looked at close up. The coins being worked on here are those lower down in the chests, the upper coins are going to be worked in gold leaf at a later stage - this should hopefully give some depth to the treasure chests.

Thats the first coins in the main treasure chest and the all buckles very basically painted in - there will be a lot more work to be done on most of these early stages later on, but for now these will do..

Some of the coins in the smaller treasure chest are also painted in the same way at this stage.

Then it's time to start painting in 'Eric's elegant good looks........

Okay thats a start to Erics face. Here again there may well be some quite major adjustments before this project is complete, but again, for now this is a start.

Here the coins, buckles and 'Erics' face have all been remasked (just using normal masking materials ie, paper, greaseproof paper and masking tape - not masking film) allowing the woodwork on the treasure chests to be worked on.

Looking a bit more treasure chesty...............

Both the chests are roughly painted in at this stage and then the masking is finally removed.

Here the paper masking has already been removed and the masking film is just starting to be removed. An interesting time this, as only when the main character is once again revealed can you really get a feel for if the background is going to look right.

With all the 'Frisk' film removed 'Eric' is once again showing clearly against his newly painted background..........

Not looking too bad for this early stage........

The wreck should help to give the whole design depth when it's painted in at a later stage...

Quite pleased with this so far..........

So that is the first real work on 'Eric' proper. So much to do on him before he starts coming together properly. His face looks very light at the moment, but until his hair and the all important eye is in place it is difficult to tell.

Right, after a few frustrating weeks of problem solving, cursing, waiting for parts and d.i.y. my new spraybooth is finally in service, so at last I can get on with 'Eric'. Not a lot to show at this stage though, as basically I'm just set up here ready to apply a couple of coats of lacquer to the body of the guitar. This is to seal in the design before the next stages of masking (on the front of the guitar body) and to fix and protect the design already pretty much completed on the back (showing here). Once a second coat has been applied, thoroughly dried and lightly rubbed down work 'proper' will start again.

The guitar body has now had two coats of lacquer applied to seal everything in and has been lightly rubbed down. Having already done a little bit of reworking on the back of the 'Guardian' body (see 'Painting the Back'), the back was then masked off to protect the newly applied paint - and now work 'proper' can start on the front. The first thing to do here was to completely cover the whole front of the guitar body in masking film. Unlike the back of the guitar where the only masking was really necessary around the shark (the rest masked by paper), here on the front of the guitar body, there is fine detailed masking work to be done all across the face of the guitar. Masking film applied, it was then just a case of deciding which parts of the design to paint - and then carefully scalpel the mask accordingly. 'Erics' trousers, his shirt, his shoes, some flesh tissue, the sword handles, the pistol handle and the skull behind 'Erics' head were all cut around with a scalpel and the masking film removed ready for painting.

The idea is to try and keep (at least small) sections of masking film in between all the areas to be painted, this gives a masked surface to tape secondary masks onto in between the areas to be painted. Here and in the previous picture you can clearly see where the masking film remains and where it has been removed ready for painting. With so many areas of masking cut out some secondary masking will be necessary here. As you can see above for example, the unmasked areas of the trouser leg and the pistol grip are quite close together, so in order to prevent paint from the trouser painting overspraying onto the pistol grip section a secondary mask is applied.

As 'Erics' trousers are the first section to come under the airbrush during this painting stage, the rest of the guitar body is masked out completely using a secondary paper mask. This removes any chance of accidentally spraying over into another unmasked area and protects the rest of the guitar from any accidental spillage's and spatters. Having finally settled on the colours for the various sections of the design, all thats left to do now is to start painting them all in. Progress should be a bit quicker now as colours have been experimented with and finalized and many areas of masking have now been precut ready for paint, so hopefully the design will start to fill in quite quickly from here.

Here the trousers are taking shape.

Trying to get the feeling of old and faded - and the impression of being under water here. At this stage it's quite tricky to get the balance of the colours and depth of shadow exactly right as each section is effectively being painted in individually. Obviously the plan is to try and get it as near as possible to the finished look first time, but inevitably it will all need balancing up once the whole image is painted in.

A bit more tone work has been done here.........still not right by a long way but looking better. The masking film is still in place (ready for the rest of the painting during this masking stage) and so with the overspray the image isn't very clear as yet, but the next section to be painted is 'Erics' shirt so..........

'Erics' shirt......ready for paint

Mottled highlights are added here to try and develop the underwater feel. All the work during these early 'filling in' stages is basically guesswork. Until all the sections of the design are painted in and the image can be seen as a whole, it is difficult (for me anyway!) to judge the tones and shading accurately. When all the sections are in place it's then usually a case (for me), of going over the whole design again, balancing the shadows and tone to (hopefully) make the whole image look right.

Struggled to decide how to do 'Erics' good eye, so roughly drew out in crayon a few alternative colour schemes.

The eye shown here ready for paint..........

First base eye colour painted in..........

After a bit of work ended up with this..........'Erics' face needs a lot of work before it is anywhere near right, but having the eye (the focal point) painted in will make it easier to match up and finish the rest of the face.

Okay............with the good eye painted in it's time for 'Erics' eyepatch......

Again, roughly painted in.............much of the work done at this stage will be re-worked before the guitar is finished.

Filling in little bits section by the skull behind 'Erics' head is ready for paint.

Lots of overspray can be seen on the design here.......but once the masking is removed the whole image will look much sharper.

Starting work here on the pistol...........

Marking in the chequering on the pistol grip with a fine line marker pen..........Not quite a classic 'Dueling pistol' But 'Eric' doesn't seem to care!

With a bit of paint starting to take shape.

Starting work on the shoes..........

Here there are signs that the basic feel of the design is starting to develop..........

There is still a lot to be painted in before the image really starts to fill out properly......

Okay, back on 'Eric' and time to get him moving along a bit. Here the basics of his hair are painted in.

Starting to paint in some of the detail. Here the seaweed is painted in. Many of the sections being painted in now will need to be toned in again once the whole of the image is blocked in with colour, this is important to get the whole image to balance and look right.

The next few pictures show some more detail being added to 'Eric', mainly with a paintbrush - as opposed to with the airbrush. A lot of these brush painted areas will then be gone over once again with the airbrush to smooth them in, to add the highlights and to match them to the rest of the image.

Apologies to any medical students or Doctors out there............................but it is only a guitar.

Obviously still a lot of work to do here...............

But starting to take some shape now. Still got a lot that can be painted in during this masking before the next lacquering. Also some more brushwork and the application of some gold and silver leaf to be applied to the design.

Still a lot that can be painted in before the first gold and silver leaf is applied. Here some of the background is painted in. This background 'detail' is deliberately left hazy and unclear, so as to give the effect of being in the distance (and underwater of course). The idea of having these kind of background details in the design is to give depth to the overall image.

Again this shark is very lightly airbrushed in.............not worried about any detail here. The darker blue frame around the shark is just the overspray left on the masking film from the secondary masking. Once the main masking film is removed areas of overspray like this (and that visible around the egde of the shirt) will peel away with the masking film, thats when the effect achieved by the airbrushing really shows.

The masking film that was covering the face has been removed here to allow work to continue on 'Erics' finely chisseled features (his Mum loves him).

Still lots of work to be done on the face yet, but with a bit of detail work completed on the face it is finally starting to get some real depth. Full day on this guitar tomorrow so should hopefully get a fair bit done.

Done a bit more work on 'Erics' headscarf............

Then started filling in some colour on (whats left of.......) 'Erics' limbs. The tattoo on his arm is left covered when the masking film is removed..............

Then the arm section is masked off using masking tape, masking film and lining paper.........

The masks were then removed and some work was done on the tattoo detail to try and make it look faded and old, the overspray above the arm section is on the original masking film layer. There is still a lot of shadow work to go in here yet which will make the various sections work better together.

At this stage it was time to start filling in some of the structural detail of 'Erics' image and give him a bit more shape. Prior to this stage all the masking film covering the skeleton sections was cut and removed. These sections were then roughly painted in along with some of the deeper shadow in between the ribs. Still a lot of work to do on the bones and the shadow in and about the ribs, but it's starting to fall into place now.

Still a good bit of overspray showing on the remaining masking film.

Not a great picture this one, but it does give an impression of the overall image starting to work. Lots of detail and shadow work still to go in before the next lacquering....................

All the masking film has been removed from the guitar here and the outlines are obviously much sharper as a result. With the masking and the oversprayed areas removed it is easier to see parts of the image that need reworking. Here the fleshy bits on 'Erics' limbs have been reworked and quite a bit of work has also been done on the bones - although that doesn't really show too well in these pictures.

Parts of the image still look quite dis-jointed (sorry..........couldn't resist the pun!) at this stage, as there are still a lot of 'connecting' sections of the design that have yet to be painted in. It's only really when the whole image is blocked in with colour that image can be worked together as a whole.

With the masking removed there were areas that didn't quite fit together properly. Quite a bit of subtle shadow work has been done already to lose some of my mistakes...............but still a lot to do 'infilling' various sections in between the main parts of the design to merge the whole image together.

Again, not a great picture this one but it gives the idea. A bit more brush painting and touching up with the airbrush tomorrow, then it will be ready to start applying some gold and silver leaf to the detail, then the next lacquer coat.....

'Erics' chains were painted in next........................

Still some shadow work to go in here yet once the belts are painted in.......

The skeletal hand has also been painted in here..........

This is a terrible picture. The batteries in my camera packed up right after I'd taken this so I couldn't get a better one of this section tonight....but one of the treasure chests is roughly painted in. The coins here will be finished in gold leaf before the guitar body gets it's next lacquering, so they should really show out well. The jewels in the chest have had some sections airbrushed in, the rest of the sections will be airbrushed in after the next lacquering they need to be remasked.

The manacles are painted in here (painful!)..............

Erics leg will be finished properly once the sword scabbard behind it is painted in.................

The second treasure chest is also painted in here. The next stage is to paint in the crabs, 'Erics' sword belts and apply the gold leaf to the coins.

Just a quick update. Painted the crabs in this afternoon and took a few pictures, which I thought I'd post on the site before starting work on 'Erics' sword-belts this evening.

Difficult to get a good picture of the whole guitar but this isn't too bad. Once the belts, swords and pistol are painted in the whole image should start to come together fully..................but the grey bits are disappearing.

Finally got the belts finished and looking something like right. Getting to the stage now where some of the final shadow work can also be done which is helping to bring the whole image together.

Going to be painting in 'Erics' socks next and doing a bit of work on the shoes. Then it's the gold leaf work on the coins, the silver leaf work on the sword.................................a bit of tweaking here and there.............. and then in for a lacquer coat. After that lacquer coat the final masking and airbrushing can be done, again mainly on the sword and then the body will be very nearly finished and ready for the final lacquering coats.

Okay, the gold and silver leaf has been applied to the coins, pistol, shoe buckles and swords. The guitar body is mounted here ready for the application of a lacquer coat.

As can be seen here - particularly on the knuckle guards of the swords - there is no depth, shadow or indication of shape apparent at this stage. Once the lacquer coats have been applied sealing all the gilding work and latest paint in place, the 'leafed' areas of the swords and the pistol will be worked on to give them some shape and depth.

With a lacquer coat applied, the colours really start to show out and the gilding work on the coins starts to look as it was intended. Still a lot of fine detail work to be done on 'Erics' treasure, but the effect is starting to take shape.

Here you can really see the colours starting to work together. Here the guitar is being treated to a session in front of the Ultra Violet lamp. Although this lacquer coat will be effectively baked on and cured with Ultra Violet, it will still be left to fully cure for a couple of days before it is lightly rubbed down ready for the final painting stage.

Managed to get an afternoon in on 'Eric' today - so this is where we're at. The guitar body has already been lacquered to seal the last painting stages in, it has also now been rubbed down and masking film applied to the front of the guitar. The areas that need to be airbrushed in first have carefully been cut around with a scalpel (making sure not to cut into the laquer underneath) and the masking film removed. Here the sword scabbard has already been painted in (the overspray on the masking film is clearly visible).

The next part to start on is 'Erics' pistol. Previously this has been silver leafed and was sealed in with the last lacquer coat.

In order to give it some depth and shape the pistol needs highlight and shadow painting in. Here a loose mask has been applied to the first barrel and paint applied...........

The result is a barrel that is starting to look cylindrical rather than flat............will be doing some more work on the pistol this week.

Also painted in the hand guard of one of the cutlasses. This too was silver leafed at the previous stage, in order to try a couple of ideas out at this stage. Here some detailing, highlights, shadow and reflection have been airbrushed over the fist guard silver leaf. Doesn't look very clear here as the overspray and masking film makes it quite fuzzy looking........

Playing about here................with the lacquered in silver leaf below the paint thats just been applied, by working through the newly applied paint with thinner and a sharp cocktail stick it is possible to reveal the silver leaf underneath and give the impression of engraving. This still needs a bit more work to finish it, but that done - and with the masking removed - I think this will look pretty good.

Well, having come back to this guitar after a while away from it, there were parts of it that I wasn't happy with. So the first job was to start putting some of those bits right. Here I'm very carefully removing the paint from the hand guard on Erics' sword. I want to try and get the effect of engraving on the sword guard, but this was just a bit too rough as it was.

Once cleaned off it was ready to start work again. Here the areas I'm going to be working on can be seen clearly, the swords, the coins and the jewels in the treasure chest. I want the gold leaf of the coins to shine out as gold would, but I also want them to look a bit more like coins under close inspection.

First stage of the process on some of the coins in the first chest. Not going into too much detail here.......

But, this same process will be done with all the coins on the guitar.

After a bit of work the coins are taking shape and looking a bit more like coins.

Much Better, but still with that shiny gold effect in the light.

After lot's of pondering on what colour to do Erics' socks...........

Greeny white seemed to fit the bill. Early stages here, lots of darker tones and brighter areas to be added to both the shoe and the sock once it's all painted in properly.

But again, starting to take shape quite quickly.

Exactly the same process with the other sock.

Here the sock has roughly been painted in. The majority of the rest of the front of the guitar is still masked with Frisk masking film, so parts of the detail are looking a bit 'hazy' round the edges. This is just overspray on the surface of the masking film, once the masking film is removed it'll all look much crisper and should (hopefully) look right.

The other sword needs painting in to match the first.

Here both sword hand guards are painted in. The one at the top is in the light, the one at the bottom isn't. This is a pretty good illustration of how the silver leaf works to give the desired effect.

From a slightly different angle.

So there we have most of the the silver leafed areas reworked and tinted, safe to take some of the few bits of secondary masking off now.

Those tones work okay. Once the main masking is removed the effect will really show out.

Time to start finishing off some of the last of the so far untouched details. Here the bubbles are painted in with 'size' (gilding glue).

Then silver leaf is applied.

Once the glue has dried, the excess silver leaf is removed and the bubbles are ready for the final stages of tinting, detailing and finishing.,

Likewise with the two jewels in the treasure chest. Here gold and silver leaf is applied as part of the process to make the jewel effect work.

Once done, these newly worked jewels also reflect the light and look far more effective.

Still some work to do on the sword hand guards, but here a hint of engraving is applied to the finish.

The overall effect of the left side of the guitar. Much of the guitar here looks very 'matt' and slightly vague compared to the areas that I've been working on. This is because of the masking film protecting the rest of the front of the guitar. Once I've done all the work I need to do and the masking is removed it should hopefully all work together much better.

Here's the right hand side of the front of the guitar, still quite a lot to do here.

So this is were we're at this morning. Still got some bit's to work on before the main masking is removed, but really the guitar is very nearly finished now. Once the masking is removed it'll then be a case of working my way over the whole image, adding final bits of shadow, adding highlights and the watery pattern to some of the bits as yet still to be finished off, and generally toning and balancing everything in together. A few more days work should see the body completely finished and ready for finish lacquering, but I'll be showing the final touching up and finishing off stages over the next few days.

With the masking removed from the background, a real impression can now be seen of the colours and hopefully, how they'll all work together. Here some more detailed work is being done on 'Erics' shoe.............and 'No', he's not just shot himself through the foot!

Here quite a bit of work has been done, most noticeably around his hair.

Most of the basic work is done now, so time to start thinking about tidying it up and adding some shadow to bring the whole image together.

Some darkening down of the shadowed parts of the design is still needed here.

But in other parts, the fiddly work that took a while to get in place is really starting to show now. The etching effect on the hand guard of the sword was an experiment that is starting to work at this stage.

As here.

The fish work really well when they catch the light.

With some shadow work in place the design was looking better, but it still needed more shadow in places to make it work.

Here the process of softening some of the sharp edges left after some of the hard masking stages has begun around the the seaweeds edges. Also here you can see that there is a drop shadow missing underneath the scabbard of the sword.

Here, with the drop shadow below the scabbard in place and other more noticeable shadow work done on the skull underneath 'Erics' head, on the crabs shell and underneath hi right arm the whole image is looking more realistic.

Along with darkening down and shadowing 'Erics' face, adding some more defined watery highlights over the whole image and adding some bubble trails............finally the front is about finished.

Again here, the bones of the leg and the lower sides of most of the detail is darkened down. This contrast makes the highlighted areas work far more effectively to create the effect I was aiming for.

So there it was, the front finished and ready for the final stages of lacquering.

Still had some work to finish off on the back though, so now a mask is cut for the front of the guitar out of wallpaper lining paper.

This will protect the newly applied paint and silver leaf on the front of the guitar body, while I finish off the back.

Once the back was complete, the guitar got it's first finish lacquer coat. Here it's hanging in the spray booth while the lacquer cured, ready for rubbing down.

Before it was rubbed down I took a few piccies of the guitar after the first lacquer had been applied. This finish is far from perfect at this stage and needs various rubbing downs and relacquering before the surface is perfect, but it does show something of how the fully finished guitar will look.

The colours really pop under lacquer and the image becomes really bright and crisp looking.

The gilding used in various ways to create some of the effects shows out really well once it's lacquered in. It'll look really good once the surface is perfect and completely polished up.

Not a great piccy this one, but it'll do for now until the guitar is into the polishing stages. That'll be the next time this page is updated. So, very nearly done now!

The guitar body and the neck are now fully finished and ready for final fitting and assembly. Here the guitar is lose fitted with the neck, the pickups are dropped in place and some of the knobs are laid roughly in place to get an idea of the overall effect of the guitar.

It's great to see the body with the neck roughly in situ. Seems I've been working on this guitar forever, so to finally get it to this stage is a real relief.

Obviously there is no bridge in place for these piccies, they're just to get idea of if the design works.

I'm hoping that it will sound as good as it looks when all the hardware is wired in and she's (or should I say 'He's') strung up, seems almost apt for a pirate to be strung up!

Well that is very close to end of this project.........

Once the guitar is fully set up and finished there will obviously be lot's of proper finished piccies of the guitar, but for now, thank you for following the project through to this stage. This (very) long term project has been faithfully followed by returning visitors (you know who you are!) from all across the world, from the USA and Canada, to Russia, across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa, some have been watching it from the very beginning (a long time ago now!). After the satisfaction and relief of finally almost completing a project like this, coming a very close second as the most gratifying part of the process is the interest that there's been in the project from visitors to the site. So thank you all very much.

Right, that's about it for this one, barring the final piccies. So time to get some other work done and start on the next Leverty Special - The 'Leverty Wizard'.


Watch this space.........


Painting the back of the 'Guardian Guitar'.

Click on the image above to see how the back of the guitar was painted.


Painting the neck of the 'Guardian Guitar'.

Click on the image above to see how the neck of the guitar was painted.




 Jim Fogarty Graphics.

All artwork, images and text are Copyright © Jim Fogarty 2002-2009. All rights reserved. All artwork shown on this website is protected by international copyright law. No image on this website may be used for any commercial or non-commercial purposes without prior written permission from the artist.