In this blog post I’m going to show you how to make your own highland cow 3D picture like artist Purple Faye’s (me) original 3D acrylic painting, using the ‘Make Your Own Highland Cow 3D Picture Kit’ by Yorkshire artist Purple Faye.
First, you need to buy the kit here
Your kit contains step-by-step instructions to talk you through the cardboard and modroc stages of making your highland cow 3D picture. However, as the kits don’t contain paints I don’t go into any detail as to how you might like to paint it. You can enjoy making it up for yourself but just in case you’d like some guidance here’s how I made the original 3D acrylic painting that the kits are based on. In this case I’m showing you a few versions as it’s one of my oldest designs, and best sellers. It’s also one of my favourites that I like to show at artist demonstrations and workshops as I think it shows the technique off nicely, especially how I use modroc to create texture.
I start by drawing the highland cow design directly onto the piece of cardboard, you have the design already drawn for you by me in the form of the template, so all you need to do is cut it out and use that, following my instructions. In early versions, which you can see here, I include the eyes up until the modroc stage as I felt that it was important that even though you couldn’t see them behind the hair/fur that they still were there. But over the course of making various versions of them I came to realise that actually they aren’t neccesary, so that’s why they aren’t included in your template.
Next I cut out the design. In some versions, and in your instructions I get you to use more cardboard shapes to create the 3D layers, but with this one I just used the one piece of cardboard and created the 3D layers by overlapping the edges (apart from the eyes).
It is this cardboard stage that makes them really 3D but because it is cardboard it isn’t as heavy as people think it will be when they think it’s solid plaster being used.
The next stage is applying the modroc (bandages with plaster of Paris in them) over the cardboard layers.
I did this by getting my piece of modroc and cutting it to the rough shape of what I needed, keeping in mind that it shrinks when wet so it’d need to be a bit bigger plus have some overlap to go round the edges too. I cut it when it’s dry as it’s easier to cut when it’s dry rather than wet. Plus once it gets wet that’s it you have to use it, so if you don’t need to use it all then you can’t save any offcuts for later.
I wet the modroc by filling a container (an old Tupperware dish) with cold water (using cold water slows down the setting time so you have longer to use it, warm water speeds it up) and a squirt of PVA/craft glue then dunking each piece of cut out modroc separately to try and reduce the amount of scrunching up in the water.
When removing the modroc from the water I try to wring out as much water as I can without distorting the shape too much. I then place it on top of the cardboard and start to smooth it out so it covers all the area that I need it to. I continue to do this until the whole cardboard shape is completely covered. To create the highland cow’s hair/fur there are a few techniques to try, the main ones that I’ve found to be effective are scrunching and rolling. Both ways mean using more modroc once the whole shape is covered smooth so keep this in mind when you’re cutting your large piece of modroc down to size. Keep the offcuts to use to create your hair/fur texture. Scrunching means you use different sized pieces and once they’re wet you scrunch them on top of the smoothed modroc you previously applied. This creates a wrinkled effect. The next technique I’ve called rolling as it involves cutting thin strips of modroc and rolling them into sausage shapes before placing them on top of the previously applied modroc. You can also use your thumb/finger nail to gently score grooves/lines into the drying modroc too. Once you’re happy with the texture you’ve created it’s then time to leave it to dry.
When the modroc is setting and still wet it looks a lightish grey colour and gets more white the drier it gets. I try to leave mine overnight at least to make sure it’s fully dry, it dries faster the warmer it is so if you wanted to speed up the process you can use a hairdryer on it.
Once it’s dry I give mine a quick sand with some fine sandpaper, just to get rid of any rough bits, then I start to paint it with acrylic paints. You can use whatever paints you have available though. For this one I used brown, orange, yellow, white, green, and black.
I started by painting the whole of the highland cow white, once as the base coat to seal the modroc and then another top coat to make sure it was fully covered. Next I painted the body brown and the feet, horns and nose a light brown, by mixing the white and brown together. I painted in the nostrils with black and added some white highlights to the feet, nose and horns. I then used the orange, yellow, brown and white to mix in different ways on the hair/fur until I was happy with how it looked. Finally, I mixed a light green, as a suggestion of grass, to paint the canvas background with.
So now you know how to make your own highland cow 3D picture like artist Purple Faye’s (me) original 3D acrylic painting, using the ‘Make Your Own Highland Cow 3D Picture Kit’ by Yorkshire artist Purple Faye.
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