LAG ‘Predator Guitar ‘
Repainting a LAG Roxane Guitar
This guitar is going to be painted with a ‘Predator’ themed design, you know the one….. Arnies semi-transparent trophy gathering mate from the jungle, the one with the odd looking dreads, the heavy cold and the nucleur wristwatch???? Anyway, that’s the theme of the design going onto this, I have to say, rather nice LAG guitar. Well worth checking these LAG Guitars out if your looking for a new guitar – the finish on this guitar is near perfect – far more than can be said for some of the more expensive and yet inferior quality guitars I’ve sometimes worked on here. Anyway…..
…………and yes, this is the back ;-). As you can see, a really nice factory finish on this guitar, almost seems a shame to paint on it, but we’ll make it look pretty cool again by the time it’s done.
And the headstock.So there we have it as it started out, watch this page to see how the project develops and see how this demure ‘Roxane’ transforms into a mean and moody ‘Predator’
Okay, after three designs that just didn’t work as I wanted them too, finally, this one kinda works for the guitar. I found that by marking an outline of the guitar and marking the positions of the hardware on it, by then laying a sheet of tracing (actually it’s greaseproof ) paper over the outline, it’s easier to work out rough designs.
With a whole raft of reference material to work from, the Predator took final shape.
The plan is to have the Predator figure in half shadow in a semi dark background emerging from the water as in a scene from the original predator film. Going to be applying the static electricity effect that was working over the Predators body in that scene too………….should be a neat effect against the darkish background.
Here the drawing on tracing paper is cut to shape and laid up onto the already primed guitar body. Prior to this the other side of the drawing on the tracing paper was gone over again with a pencil. This is then laid and taped in place on the guitar and the design is drawn over again………….hopefully leaving an outline of the design marked onto the surface of the guitar.
As you can just about see, there is the faintest of outlines left on the guitar but this enough to work from.
The next stage is to draw in the detail of the design as the image is marked in with a fine line pen.
Here the design is almost finished being penned in.
And here the design is fully drawn in. In the background there is going to be a fire on the other side of the lake (under the Predators left arm), this will be my main light source and will be used to give an orange glow to the trees directly around it in the background, it’ll also give a nice effect reflected on the water in the middle ground of the scene. The foreground of the scene will just be in silhouette as deep shadow, and the Predators triple laser targeting beams will be shining from his head down behind the rock at the neck pickup. The top of guitar will be a jungle scene silhouetted against a semi dark night sky.The next stage is to mask out the Predator figure and start working on the background scene of the guitar. I could start with the main Predator figure, but I like to work from the background forward as once the background scene is set I find it’s easier to paint in the mood of the design. Anyway, enough of the arty farty rubbish, time to start some masking.
Okay, here the Predator figure has been masked out using Frisket masking film, along with the foreground log and the boulder (can’t be seen here for the paper masking). The first part to paint in is the sky and the background above the waterline, so here the first light shade of blue is applied.
I want to try and make the fire as vivid as possible against the otherwise dark background, so the first yellow paint applied here is a transparent yellow around the area that the fire would illuminate.
Then a bit more of the background is very roughly airbrushed in to start forming the scene.
After a bit more work the night sky is darkened down to where it needs to be, the fire is painted in a bit more thoroughly and I’m starting to work a bit more carefully around the fire scene itself. Remember this is only background, so in the greater scheme of the design this is purely to set the scene.
The colours and tones are starting to work here and some more of the background trees are roughly airbrushed in.
I want the Predator figure to be quite dark and in half shadow, so the background needs to be predominantly dark too, the main source of light in the scene being the fire on the far bank.
Starting to apply some highlights from the fire here. Really just a case of playing about with it until it looks like the scene I have in my head (hopefully anyway!)
The shiney stippling is a combination of fine line pen work and acrylic paint painted over the airbrushed background to give the trees some depth. Once this is clearcoated in all these different paints will be indistinguishable.
Looks very dark here, as it’s meant to be, though actually the picture makes it look darker than it actually is. This is the above waterline background almost done for now, time to start on the water……….
First thing to do is to mark out the highlights (ripples) on the surface of the water. Masking film is then applied, and very carefully cut around with a scalpel to leave the highlights masked out…………..verrrry fiddly, but it’ll hopefully be worth the effort in the end!
They look about right anyway, so time to apply some paint.
To give a nice neat cutoff line at the waters edge, a piece of masking tape is carefully applied. Then the first stages of the water are painted in. The water needs to reflect the background to look realistic, so the colours are again predominantly dark green into black for the trees reflections and dark blue for the night sky. Here the first tones of the blue is being applied.
Darkened down a bit, this is starting to take some shape. Unfortunately with work like this there is no reference material, so it’s a case of relying on imagination and trying to work out how it would actually look. Hmmmm……….doesn’t always work, but I have high hopes for this one.
Okay, here the water is pretty much painted in and looks pretty much as I wanted it too. Once the main colours are painted in, then the masking of the highlights will be removed leaving the white basecoat, this will then be airbrushed over with transparent yellow and orange paint and should hopefully give the desired effect on the water, ie.,, reflections of the fire on the surface of the water.
So there the water is is almost painted in and the background scene is coming together.
Difficult to see it clearly with the masked areas covered up and overspray painting false lines over the masking, but once the masking is removed, the highlights painted in and the foreground boulder and log painted in, the Predator figure should be sandwiched between the foreground and the background, which should hopefully give the work some real depth.
Here the masking is removed from the ripples on the water.
A bit more work is done on the detail…….
The Predator figure is supposed to just be emerging from the water, hence the water running off of him.
He’s also going to have ripples of static electricity running all over him once he’s painted in, but for now he’s just dripping dry.
Once all the ripple masking was removed and the finer detail applied to the water we’re left with this, ready for some colour to be applied.
With some transparent colours applied to the white ripples the background of the scene starts to take shape.
All looking very busy in this piccy.
After a bit of subtle airbrushing work around the newly painted ripples the water effect is working quite well. Time to apply some reflections from the reeds at the waters edge to finish the scene.
Just by the addition of a few simple reflections, the water looks far more convincing.
So this was what the basic background scene ended up like. All looks a bit messy with all the masking over the predator figure still in place.
Here the masking is removed and the whole thing looks much tidier. This picture came out quite dark as I’m afraid the natural daylight has gone now for today, but the effect can be seen well enough. The next stage is to paint in the foreground rock, log and a few random reeds. These will be almost black silhouette so they should visually push the Predator figure into the middle of the scene, but we’ll see tomorrow. Then it’ll be a little bit of prep work on the back of the guitar ready for the work to be done there…………and into the spray booth for a sealer coat before work starts proper on the Predator figure.
Played about with the rock and the log in the foreground before deciding on my original idea of an almost pure black silhoutte effect.
So here we have the front of the guitar with the background and foreground pretty much painted in. I’ve also painted over the back of the guitar with pearlescent white as a basecoat for the effect that’s going on there, so now all that remains of this stage of the ‘Predator’ guitar is to apply a sealer coat of clear over the whole guitar ready for the next masking and painting stages.
Here the back of the guitar is being treated to a ‘basecoat’ of silver leaf….
Once it’s all dried and tidied up it gives a nice ‘background’ effect for the little experiment I’m going to be doing on the back of this guitar.
Then it was into the spraybooth to apply a sealer coat of lacquer. This seals in the silver leaf on the back of the guitar…..
And also seals in the artwork on the front of the guitar ready for the next masking stage and the painting in of our ‘dreadlocked’ pacifist.
After a long layoff due to other projects, it’s about time this project was finished off as I’m sure Mark (the ever patient owner of this guitar) would agree!
The first job was to mask out the background and the parts of the predator figure, leaving just the uncovered arm, leg and body sections of the Predator for the first stage of painting.
Then the first layer of colour is applied.
A darker tone is applied to start filling out the shape.
Then after a bit of work, the darker tones are applied. At this early stage I’m just applying the basic colours of the figure with just enough shadow in place to give something of the feel of the final image.
As the painting stages progress and more of the figure is painted in it will be easier to see where the deepest shadows and highlights will need to be to create the finished effect. But for now it’s simply a case of whacking some paint into the various parts of the figure to fill it out.
With the limbs and the torso fleshed out a bit, time to put some initial work into our Predators helmet. Here the rest of the already painted sections are masked out ready for work on the helmet section.
The first paint on the helmet.
All very roughly applied at this stage and loads still to paint in before our Predator really starts to take any proper shape, but this is a good start to proceedings.
Time to start putting some of the more detailed stuff in. Here painting in some detailing on the weaponry.
And our Predators other hardware. Most of this stage is being painted in with a regular fine paintbrush using acrylics.
Once all the primary work is done on these more intricate parts, they’ll all get toned in and balanced up with shadow using the airbrush.
Lot’s of scope for playing about with the detail on this one.
All looks a bit messy at this stage, but once everything is toned in and the background masking is removed it should look okay.
As you can see the bit’s I’ve been working on are far to bright at this stage.
But once all the other hardware sections are painted in to match, then I’ll tone all the parts down and add the depth of shadow that would probably be there. Then hopefully it’ll all start to look as I’m imagining it.
Time to start work on the more interesting bit’s. Not really any more interesting, but the parts of the image that should really start to make the whole thing take shape.
Working mainly around the upper part of the image, the head and the upper body armour sections.
First a base colour for the chest armour is painted in using acrylics. Then the deeper shadow around the Predators ‘dreads’ are painted in. This starts to give the image some depth and seeing as these will be the darkest tones on the figure, give a visual measure of the shadow tones for the rest of the image.
With the deep shadow tones around the dreadlocks painted in the ‘dreads; themselves can be painted in.
Already the figure is starting to look the part. The painting in of the white areas around the head help tie the whole thing together. As the rest of the detail is painted into the rest of the image this ‘coming together’ effect should get more pronounced.
Lot’s of fine detailing still to be painted in and adjustment to the colour tones around the head.
At this stage though I’m now confident that this design idea will work out nicely. Tomorrow I’ll be painting in the rest of the body armour sections of the Predator and once all those separate sections are detailed in then the balancing up of the shadow tones can be done. It should then be ready to remove the background masking and get a first look at how the image really works as a whole.
The next stage was to continue adding the detail to the rest of the Predators ‘hardware’.
Then with most of it filled in with a bit more detailing we were ready to start bringing the image together.
First stage then was to remove the rest of the masking actually on the Predator figure.
With that done our dreadlocked troublemaker was looking kinda pale again, lot’s of white bits all over him!
Amazing just how quickly an image can alter, paint in just a few of the white bits and it all starts coming together again.
Okay, here is where we’re at this evening. Unfortunately this isn’t a great picture, but the natural light has gone tonight so struggled to get a decent piccy. A few more little detailed bits to brush paint in tomorrow, then the airbrush will be used to apply the final shadows and red tints to the fireside edges of the image. Once that’s done the masking over the background will be removed and the static electric ripples will be applied………………
Okay, jumping a few minor stages here, but this is as our Predator looks pretty much fully painted in. Still got the blades on his right arm to work on, but the next main stage is to remove the masking over the background. This should really start to make the image ‘pop’ as there is still quite a bit of overspray showing over the background around the figure, with this removed the outline of the figure should be really well defined and look something like proper. Once the background masking is removed the last stage before sealing it all in under a clearcoat/sealercoat will be to start applying the static electricity effect that will be running over his body. I’m hoping this last effect will really make this image look seriously effective……………but time will tell!
Here is where we left off. The Predator figure is pretty much painted in here.
Had a bit of a dilemma here, as I really quite liked the old ‘Pred’ like this, but having set out from the beginning to try and capture a particular effect and try and make it work, I struggled to leave it as is. So painting the static electric effect as his ‘electric cloaking device’ shorted out as he left the water started. The reference piccy gives some idea of the effect I was trying to achieve.
Started off by brush painting in with silver acrylic where I wanted the ‘static’ effect to show.
Then when the whole of the Predators body was marked out with the silver acrylic, it was out with the airbrush and a very light over spray of cellulose base white.
Then it was a simple case of mixing some cellulose deep blue with some fine silver metallic in a transparent base coat, thinning it down accordingly and working my way carefully around my previously painted white over silver, leaving the white centre of each static strand.
Lastly, some subtle detailing to the bank and the foreground log was painted in with silver acrylic, and then over painted with transparent orange and yellow cellulose. This all plays nicely in the light as the guitar is moved around and should really work well under clearcoat which should make the colours (all looking a bit flat here) really ‘pop’.
I can’t put the red laser targeting beams into the picture at this stage as I really need to seal all this paint in under a sealer coat first, but the detailing in the bank is there to represent the reflected red glare of the red laser, as is the red area around his eye, hopefully it should all work when it’s all in place. Next step is to mask the front of the guitar off to protect the paint, then I can airbrush in the ‘Predators eye view thermal image scene’ that’s going onto the rear of the guitar before finishing off the edges of the guitar black, and sealing all that new paint in.
Right then, on to the back. This has previously been silver leafed and clearcoated in, then rubbed down ready for the work that’s about to be applied.
The scene going on here is supposed to represent the Predators’ eye view of Arnie and his oppo’s bimbling through the jungle. So the figures are very roughly drawn out on rectangles of Frisket and cut around with a scalpel.
With all three figures and a bit of representative palm leaf action in place and masked out, it’s ready for some paint.
The idea of the silver leaf background is to give the image a really bright appearance, so to utilize that I’m using mainly transparent paints, allowing the silver leaf underneath to reflect any light back through the paint.
You can see the effect quite nicely here as the image is built up.
These are the reference images I’m using for this part of the guitar. I hadn’t noticed at this stage, but I’d unwittingly made a bit of a boo boo………………but more of that in a minute.
Still building the transparent colours up.
Decided to be really clever here………….Uh Ohh! Thought I’d whack in the predators eye view of his laser targeting device on one of the figures. Well you’ve gotta try these things!
At this stage I was still thinking this might just work.
Then the masking was removed from the figures?……….they really don’t look that much like figures I know, but this is pretty much how they looked in the actual film.
Yes, well, by this stage I really wasn’t happy.
And when I came in and looked at these pictures (Which did actually look even worse than the guitar………..just!), it was a no brainer. This had to go and the back be repainted. The idea was good enough but I’m just not good enough to be able to pull it off, bugga, hate admitting that!! Anyway, it wasn’t until I’d cleaned all of this off that I realised that the photographs I’d been working off of weren’t quite as good as they should have been. No excuse on the painting front, but my printer, instead of printing out black was painting out a muddy green colour, which I then transformed into…………….a lighter green colour on the guitar. So what was painted green here should have been black. Might have looked better I think, but hey ho. That’s what comes of trying to do too many jobs at once, little details like the printer not printing the actual colour on the monitor can get missed!
Anyway, plan ‘B’. There is a scene in the film where the Predator looks down at his own hand and see’s an image like the one in the top left of this piccy……………no muddy green instead of black in this picture!
So, having laid a piece of masking film on the back of the guitar and drawn the Predators hand shape onto it, the excess masking is cut away and the back of the guitar is painted with a very dilute black paint. This allows some of the patterning in the silver leaf to show through even on the black areas and creates a nice textured effect. Also here I’ve masked out a rectangular section above the hand for a bit of detailing.
Here that rectangular masking has been removed and another very like coat of dilute black paint has been applied over it, This gives a perceptibly lighter, but still basically black section on the guitar.
Some detail is then worked onto this area.
And painted over with a transparent red to lift the detailing.
Then it was simply a case of removing the masking from the hand section and painting in the transparent paints roughly as they look in the reference picture. This really works well and gives the hand a really luminous effect. The slightly irregular surface of the silver leaf also adds to this………………looks really good even before clearcoating.
So there we have it. The back of the guitar is now looking pretty good. The next thing to do is silver leaf the front of the headstock and paint in the back of the neck of the guitar and the sides of the guitar body in black. Then it’s into the spraybooth for a clearcoat, ready for the final stages of the artwork.
Here the guitar has been clearcoated after the new paint was applied.
This is a first finish coat which although it went on very nicely, still has some slight stepping from the previous masking stages showing in it. So this coat will once again be rubbed down until it is perfectly smooth prior to the final clearcoating. As you can see here, the Predators laser targeting beam has been painted in prior to the clearcoating.
The back of the guitar also looks much better under clearcoat.
This will all work very nicely when the final clearcoat is applied and buffed out.
You can see all the little dimples in the clearcoat very well in this picture. This will all be rubbed down until it is perfectly smooth before the final clearcoat is applied, that final coat should then go on and give a really smooth flowing coat that needs very little if any, rubbing down prior to final polishing.
This was the front of the guitar just prior to clearcoating. Here the laser targeting beam has been applied.
After clearcoating all the colours really ‘pop’ and the image becomes far more vivid. This will become clearer and more vivid still once the final clearcoat and polishing stages are complete..
But here is the very nearly finished guitar, ready for rubbing down before the final clearcoating and polishing.
Just a few quick update piccies. Here the guitar has had it’s final clearcoat, it was lightly rubbed down with 2000 grade wet and dry and rubbed back to this stage with a liquid cutting compound.
The idea is to try and get some piccies of it before I finally polish it up, as once they’re polished, these guitars are very hard to photograph!
These pictures show quite well how the image changes depending on the light, this is the effect using any reflective basecoat or silver leaf will give with transparent’s painted over it.
Here again, the basic amateur photograph as usually taken by me in normal light.
With the light source knocked out a bit, this is the way it looks. This is pretty much the kind of effect I was hoping to achieve.
Again here, I’m really pleased with this. So there we have it, an almost finished guitar.
The last stage of this now is to fully polish it up, then it’s going across to the capable hands of Derek at ‘Capricorn Guitars’ to be re-assembled and set up with some new ‘Iron Gear’ Hammerhead pick-ups. The next piccies of this guitar will be when she’s fully assembled. Hope you like the finished result.