Largemouth Bass Paint Schedule

Back around the turn of the millennium, before the plentiful availability of information on the web, WASCO (Wildlife Artist Supply Company) would regularly publish award-winning paint schedules in taxidermy trade publications by artists who used Polytranspar Airbrush Paint to finish their fish. Unfortunately, many of these step-by-step painting instruction guides were printed only a single time, in a single publication, and then were never to be seen again.

The information that was presented in these forgotten paint schedules can still be very useful to fish taxidermists, and it is a shame that they are no longer available to anyone who might benefit from them. After rediscovering some of these overlooked treasures in my files, I decided that this blog would make a good time and place to resurrect some of these lost paint schedules for today’s fish artists. Here in Ken’s Corner, they will again see the light of day, find a new audience, and will remain accessible for years as a searchable resource.

Mickey Bowman of Lawton, Oklahoma has won a trophy room full of WASCO Awards and Polytranspar Awards throughout the 1990’s and into the 2000’s. His beautiful fish entries stand out in every competition he enters. In 2000, he presented the following paint schedule for his award-winning largemouth bass skin mounts.

Largemouth Bass Paint Schedule by Mickey Bowman

I know there are a lot of painting schedules out in the market, and each one has its own special technique. You can pick up little bits of information from each one of them.

Many taxidermists have the over-painting syndrome they go through before they can start blending colors together. My philosophy is, “When you start coloring the fish, you should be able to see the undercoat of the fish. I would rather have too little paint on the fish than too much, because you can always come back and tint it again later.”

The paint schedule that I’m about to tell you about is for the largemouth bass. It’s my favorite fish of all to paint, and I hope these techniques will help you b­e successful in painting them.

Before I start painting the fish, I make sure all scales are laying flat. If there are blemishes, I use Magic Sculp on them first. I’ve been using brown epoxy on the darker areas and light colored epoxy on the lighter areas.

Step 1. FP220 Fungicidal Sealer — The first step I use is sealing the skin really good with FP220 Fungicidal Sealer. I spray three moderate coats all over the fish to make sure the paint adheres to it (this is very important) so you can achieve a quality paint job.

Step 2. FP15 Bass Belly White — The first primary color I use is FP15 Bass Belly White. I don’t use an air brush when I put my primary colors on, instead I use a touch-up gun so I can get a full even coverage (this is vital). I start at the belly section first and work my way up to the throat area, then back down to the tail butt section. I only go high enough to where the spots are located and don’t cover any of them. You should be able to see the markings through the entire process. I then go to the facial area and paint the gill plates, mandibles, lips and light areas of the cheek, next to the maxillary plate. I also paint the inside of the mouth. I leave the sclerotic capsule alone because the epoxy is the same color white needed for this area around the eye.

Step 3. FP401 Satin White Pearl Essence — The next color I use is FP401 Satin White Pearl Essence. It is a silky smooth pearl and blends in really nice with the Bass Belly White. Spray all the areas where the white was sprayed and mist it up into the median line, but not over the cheek muscle.

Step 4. FP260 Bright Yellow — The next color is FP260 Bright Yellow. Thin this color with retarder. I don’t use any paint thinner in any color. Instead, I always thin with retarder, because it prevents your paint from spitting on to your fish. Spray the Bright Yellow on the upper two-thirds of the fish, including the lips, fins, cheek area and the back of the maxillary plate.

Step 5. FP425 Yellow Gold and FP360 Gold Transparent Toner — The next color I mix to go over the yellow. It is FP425 Yellow Gold and FP360 Gold Transparent Toner. I mix this 50/50 and spray it over the bright yellow areas. This is an excellent color as you shall see. Don’t worry about over-spraying this color.

Step 6. — FP220 Fungicidal Sealer — After these colors are applied, I spray a light coat of FP240 Wet Look Gloss all over the fish to lock these colors in and to give it some depth.

Step 7. FP160 Gill Red — Next, take FP160 Gill Red and thin it about 50/50 with retarder. Mist the fleshy areas and the gill plates with a very light coat. Make sure you just lightly mist the red on to achieve this effect. Then take WA402 Silver Pearl Essence and go over the gill red areas with a small artist’s brush.

Step 8. FP61 Medium Bass Green — The next color to use is FP61 Medium Bass Green. Spray the top section of the fish with a light, moderate coat on the upper one-third of the body, but not past the median line. Also spray the edge of the lips, the rear edge of the maxillary plate and down the side of the cheek. Darken the spiny and soft dorsal fins and 3/4 of the tail at an angle to highlight it.

Step 9. FP62 Dark Bass Green — FP62 Dark Bass Green is next. Spray just the top section of the bass including the top edges of the fins.

Step 10. FP220 Fungicidal Sealer — Take the FP240 Wet Look Gloss and spray a moderate coat to lock these colors in and give it depth. It also gives you a fresh flat surface to put the detail markings on.

Step 11. FP64 Scale Detail Green — The next step is to do the detail markings. I use an Iwata air brush for this step because you can turn the air pressure down real low and can achieve some very fine detail work with low air pressure. Use FP64 Scale Detail Green or FP62 Dark Bass Green mixed with retarder. Start with the median line at the tail and work toward the head. You need to break these spots up so they won’t look like they have been put on with a stencil. When applying these markings, use an up and down movement with fingers and leave the wrist still. You have to practice this movement to perfect it. It just takes practice. The upper body markings and facial markings are done the same way. On belly spots spray at a downward angle with low air pressure. Next, spray the white part of the sclerotic capsule that was made with Magic Sculp and just color the front edges of the eye and mist it back just a little.

Step 12. FP280 Intense Red — The next color to use is FP280 Intense Red. Thin this 50/50 with retarder and spray the upper one-fourth of the fish to give it a brownish color. Be very careful with this color because it’s a bleeder. Also spray the tail and fins with a mist to give the fish an aggressive look.

Step 13. TG102 Treasure Gold — Now I apply my gold scale tipping. Tip the upper portion of the fish down to the median line and a few scales below that with TG102 Treasure Gold Florentine rub-on metallic wax. This is a real soft gold that has the exact color you need for a bass. I use a 2-0 brush, with the bristles cut off so that it is one-eighth inch long. By holding the fish up in the light, you can see where the scale tipping should be applied on the scales. Tip each scale and then smear it in so it won’t look too sharp.

Step 14. FP442 Shimmering Gold — Now apply the shimmering colors. Spray FP442 Shimmering Gold Iridescent down the side, about two-thirds down the fish, including the cheek muscle and fins.

Step 15. FP445 Shimmering Blue-Green and FP443 Shimmering Red Iridescent — Take the FP445 Shimmering Blue-Green Iridescent and spray the top section of the fish lightly. Next take FP443 Shimmering Red Iridescent and lightly mist the belly area.

Step 16. FP160 Gill Red and FP280 Intense Red — Spray the gills with FP160 Gill Red first to get the coverage and then spray FP280 Intense Red to give it that darker color.

Step 17. FP240 Wet Look Gloss — Spray the final coat with FP240 Wet Look Gloss to lock in all the colors. Make sure it dries good before spraying your FP241 Competition Wet Look Gloss because this gloss may make your colors run down if not careful. Make sure to mist a light coat first and let it dry before you apply any heavier coats. By doing this, you won’t have any problems.

I hope this paint schedule will dramatically help you in your fish painting success. It has helped me be a winner and I know it will make you one too.

— Good Luck! Mickey Bowman

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