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Chain Pickerel Paint Schedule

As amazing as it seems, just ten short years ago in 2003, there were no smart phones, no tablets, and no photos posted in the Taxidermy Net Forums. If you wanted a paint schedule for a fish, you actually had to find one printed on a piece of paper! During this time, WASCO would occasionally publish fish painting schedules from different taxidermy artists featuring commonly-mounted species. We had never done a commercial fish painting schedule for the popular eastern gamefish, the chain pickerel. After numerous requests for one, I found out that my old friend George Roof had actually developed a paint schedule for a chain pickerel in his shop and was offering it to any taxidermist requesting instruction.

George Roof is well-known for generously providing taxidermy information to anyone who asks for it (and even some who don’t ask for it!). With his nearly 50 years of experience, George is a treasure trove of knowledge. He graciously agreed to allow us to publish his paint schedule in the Summer 2003 issue of North American Taxidermy News, a publication that is no longer with us. Since the publication is now out of print, I am happy to share George’s original paint schedule again for viewing on tablets, smart phones, and computer monitors.

Chain Pickerel Paint Schedule by George Roof
using Polytranspar™ Airbrush Paints

This paint schedule was developed using the Polytranspar Airbrush paint system by George Roof of Delaware. George is an award-winning taxidermist, an outdoor writer, has served on the Board of Directors of the National Taxidermists Association and is a frequent contributor to the Taxidermy Net Forum, an interactive message board located on the internet at http://www.taxidermy.net/forum.

This paint schedule can be used equally well with either Polytranspar water-based (WA series) paints, or lacquer-based (FP series) paints. Use the same series for the entire procedure.

The chain pickerel is an aggressive, carnivorous and often cannibalistic cousin of the musky and pike. It may come into your taxidermy studio at any time. The fish is relatively thin-skinned and will often require extensive filling and repair work. Shrunken areas along the snout will need to be rebuilt with sculpting epoxy after the skin dries. Once the eyes have been set, cover them with an eye protection product before painting begins.

Step 1. Fungicidal Sealer (FP or WA220) — Spray a heavy coat of sealer over the entire fish, making sure to cover the inside of the mouth and gills.

Step 2. Dark Bass & Trout Green (FP or WA61) — Paint over all repaired areas and around the eyes to match the surrounding skin color. Paint heavily on the top of the fish but fade quickly as you move toward the lateral line.

Step 3. Bass Belly White (FP or WA15) — Use this color instead of Superhide White since the fish has a dingy look. Spray the inside of the mouth heavily. Spray a heavy coat along the belly fading quickly to the lateral line. Ensure that the bottom of the mouth and opercles are also covered with this color. Paint the leading edges of the pelvic and pectoral fins heavily.

Step 4. Cadmium Yellow (FP or WA140) mixed with Silver Pearl Essence (FP or WA402) — Mix these colors in equal parts so as to have enough to paint the entire fish. Paint from the cheek area to the tail with a medium coat. Mist all the bottom fins and tail.

Step 5. Sparkling Gold Pearl Essence (FP or WA423) — Paint a medium coat of this color over all of the yellow areas from step 4. Follow this application with a light misting over the entire fish.

Step 6. Scale Detail Green (FP or WA64) — Paint the dorsal and tail fin rays heavily with this color. Adjust your airbrush to the finest spray that does not clog the gun and paint the “chain” pattern that gives the fish its name. Contrary to what most references show (other than an actual photo), the pattern consists of fine dots connected to form the lines. The lines are wavering and run from 1/4 to 3/8 inch in width, while the links seldom exceed 3/4 inch in length. Get in close to avoid overspray and eliminate shadows on the pattern. The pattern is absorbed by the Dark Bass Green from step 2 on the back, and fades out as it nears the Bass Belly White from step 3. After finishing the chain pattern, use this color to lightly mist the upper back to blend the color of the back with the beginning of the chain pattern.

Step 7. Shimmering Green Iridescent (FP or WA441) — Carefully mist the entire fish with this color. Use an overhead incandescent light to ensure that you do not overdo this color. It builds quickly and can eliminate the sharpness of all of your detailed work.

Step 8. Shimmering Red Iridescent (FP or WA443) — Lightly mist the lower jaw and belly of the fish with this color.

Step 9. Gill Red (Cadmium) (FP or WA160) — Pack the mouth and spray the gills heavily (when dry, cover any overspray with Bass Belly White). Very lightly mist the very edges of the bottom and tail fins to give an orange tinge effect, Adjust the airbrush down and get in very close to spray the anus. Lightly mist the lower jaw and repaint the tiny red spots that appear on the bottom of each mandible of the lower jaw.

Step 10. Wet Look Gloss (FP or WA240) — Spray the mouth interior and gills heavily. Ensure that the fish has a complete cover of this gloss by holding it up to the light and looking for “dull” spots. Before the fish is completely dry, remove the eye protector.

Reference Photos

Although not included in the original publication, I am adding some reference photos of live chain pickerel that have been submitted by members on the Taxidermy Net. The “Fish Reference” category of the Taxidermy Net Forum features thousands of live color photos of hundreds of species of fish. They are all neatly arranged by species and easy to navigate. If you click on the word “Subject” in the main category menu, the Forum will arrange all posts in alphabetical order, making it easy to browse any species. Here is a sample of some of the chain pickerel photos from the thread here: http://www.taxidermy.net/forum/index.php/topic,2094.0.html

Looking at these photos, it is easy to see that a final scale tipping step could be added to George’s commercial paint schedule for a more realistic effect. As with anything, the final quality depends upon the amount of time you wish to put into it.

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