The Facts on Airbrushing Taxidermy By John Peterson

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Step 1


Three paint colors “black, bright pink, and burnt umber” are prepared. A lacquer-based acrylic automotive paint (in this case Dupont) is used, partly for its structure. The lacquer-based acrylic sticks well to porous skin and, by flaking the paint, any overspray can be easily removed from the hair without damage. Pink is sprayed inside the mouth, on the front part of the nose, and around the eyes with an Iwata Custom Micron C airbrush. The pink is also used as a basecoat to even out the skin pigment.

Step 2:


Bren oversprays the nose with the burnt umber, giving it an orange color (which looks far more real than the black/pink in the original) A heavy layer of brown 1s sprayed around the eyes.

Step 3:


Black is now applied around the eyes. With this three-color combination, the eyes immediately begin to give the impression the animal is alive. Ben has studied photographs of live animals to achieve his realism. “there is difference in color when the animal is alive,” he says. When he works on the inside of the ears, he uses a toothbrush to comb the hair out of the way.

Step 4:


Black is used for the lips and inside the nostrils. To give these areas a “wet” look, heavy paint is applied. This type of paint is glossy and works well in creating a moist appearance.

Step 5:


Once the painting is completed, the clean up begins any paint on the hair will flake off easily. Removing paint from the eyes is just as easy, but a little bit more involved. Bren uses an X-Acto blade to score the paint to the edges of the eyes and peel it away. A cotton swab with lacquer thinner is used to polish the glass eyes and remove any excess point. To avoid dripping, the swab should be wrung out to avoid dripping.

Step 6:


Using a cotton swab and lacquer thinner, Bren cleans the teeth. It is important to avoid the gum line because this process will ruin the natural look of the gum at the base of the teeth. With the job completed, I was amazed at the difference.

The time Bern spent researching live animals and using that extra color really paid off. Refusing to take short cuts and spending a bit of extra time and paint was well worth the effort. Without any reservations, I must say this is a rare and unique art form, thanks to a talented and knowledgeable artist.


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