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Help Achieving A Transparent Look To Fins

Discussion in 'Fish Taxidermy' started by Trapper2016, Aug 19, 2020.

  1. Trapper2016

    Trapper2016 Thanks for this awesome forum!

    Hope everyone is having a good week,

    I am getting ready to try and paint a reproduction lionfish and while thinking of a gameplan to tackle the color scheme I have run into a problem.The caudal, soft dorsal, anal fin, pelvic fins, and parts of the pectoral fins are all transparent. The membrane area between the lips when his mouth is open is also fairly transparent as you can see in the picture. The blank is fiberglass and I will definetly need to primer these fins so I was trying how to figure out how to get that look. I searched the archives and also rewatched some Rick Krane material. I also looked at other lionfish reproductions that have been painted and in general it seems most people just white the fins out rather than try and get a transparent look. I will do that if i must but I would like to try and get it as lifelike as possible. I had considered priming the fins white and then seeing if i can pull something off with candy paynes gray to give an illusion but I don't think that will give me the realism I am after. I also contemplated maybe taking some fin magic and possibly mixing a drop of candy paynes gray in it and seeing what kind of result that would give. The fin magic gives that nice transparent look but I have heard it will yellow over time. I was wondering if anyone might share a procedure they have used in the past to get that transparent illusion.

    Thanks for your time and have a good one
    a946be73d2f96e2642667215a68077b6.jpg Common-lionfish-caudal-fin-close-up.jpg Invasive_Species_Prevention_Pics-05_0.png
  2. joeym

    joeym Old Murphey

    Prime them with a clear product, such as Krylon Matte.
    JL and Trapper2016 like this.

  3. Trapper2016

    Trapper2016 Thanks for this awesome forum!

    I was able to find kinda the look I am after. The person who painted it is/was an artist at Marine Creations. I am hoping they may be a member here and can answer but if not I will drop them an email if they are still in operation. Would anyone have any suggestions on the color combination he used in order to achieve that transparent look to the pectoral fins, caudal fin, etc? Any help would be appreciated.
    Have a good one,
  4. ARUsher

    ARUsher Well-Known Member

    I am not very experienced at all. But I believe you are on the right track with an ivory white color and a candy paynes grey with maybe a little blue. That is what I see at least. I say give it a try and see how it looks.
    Trapper2016 likes this.
  5. crablover

    crablover Well-Known Member

    For what it's worth, I have found that pure grey works very well. I would stay away from anything but pure black and white.
    Trapper2016 and 3bears like this.
  6. DFJ

    DFJ Active Member

    Mike Kroessig from Marine Creations is a true master at understanding paint techniques.
    He is, in my opinion and others, the ultimate illiousionist.
    Illusion is the key.
    Transparent fins and parts is usually where our minds take us when we're trying to accomplish the look your after but thinking of ways to make an opaque part look transparent always looks better to me in the end.

    People like Mike have a special gift. I believe that they understand things naturally that most of us just don't get.
    He may or may not even be able to describe the thought process involved.

    Good luck to you.
    Trapper2016 likes this.
  7. DFJ

    DFJ Active Member

    Another way to look at it.
    Photos from a printer on a piece of opaque paper will give you that transparent look with only the primary colors and black.
    Think like a printer. Lol
    Kerby Ross, Trapper2016 and 3bears like this.
  8. Trapper2016

    Trapper2016 Thanks for this awesome forum!

    Hope everyones fall is going well and I appreciate all the advice. This lionfish project is a personal project that has seemed to stretch on forever working on it a little here and there. I am not good on colors and color theory but am getting some decent results on achieving the look of the lionfish in the picture attached. I have him mostly figured out aside from the transparent fins.

    I have tried most things i can think of to try and get a good look. I tried starting with a white primer base and then going along the inner webs with candy paynes gray. This gave me a decent look, and i think i can get by with it on the caudal, dorsal fins, and anal fin, along with some pastel work and pastels. But the pectoral fins and pelvic fins still trouble me. In particular the transparent portion of the pectoral fins.

    To try and get that look i attempted to mimic the look of the lionfish replica i posted above done by marine creations. To my inexperienced eye it looked like a base of something like buckskin over the white primer. Then a light misting of white over the top as you approach the transparent section of the fin, getting heavier towards the center of the transparent section of the fin, and then fading back out as you approach the fin base. When i did this though, i did not get a great result. Their is just something missing. It seems like in the example from marine creations like their is a turquoise of some nature misted that helps add to the illusion. I just cant figure this part out.

    I have attempted some other techniques to try and achieve this with mild success. I have tried various applications of fin magic, both tinted and untinted with pigments to try and achieve a similar effect but that didn't really give me what i was after. At one point I thought about potentially cutting the fin in half vertically, hollowing out the section that would appear transparent, inserting a xerox stiff plastic material and then bonding the 2 halves back together. The problem with that is that i don't have the equipment to really pull that off cutting such a small fin vertically.

    If anyone might have some other tips on what I am doing wrong I would greatly appreciate the input. Here is the fish I am attempting to paint. If i can just get that transparent section right on his pectoral fins i think it will turn out pretty good overall. I really appreciate the above tips and thanks for your time.


  9. Trapper2016

    Trapper2016 Thanks for this awesome forum!

    Here again are the 2 examples from Marine Creations that pull off that illusion of transparency.
    maxresdefault.jpg Lionfish_Taxidermyrerer.jpg
  10. Frank E. Kotula

    Frank E. Kotula master, judge, instructor

    He’s got white rays, Payne’s grey burnt orange spots chocolate and black umber some grays where needed not a hard combination to see.
    Clew and Trapper2016 like this.
  11. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

    Chris, I think you are overthinking it. First off Marine Creations fish look great but I don't think the look of transparency was achieved on those. No, I won't even start to say I could do better. To get the illusion of transparency you have to trick the eye into believing that it sees what lies behind the object in the front. ON the pic of what you are trying to achieve I see the markings are more pronounced closer to the tip of each ray and start to blur as you go closer to the body and I see the lines from the side of the fish showing through. Maybe paint the fin starting with the body markings that show through and lightly paint over them with fin markings working your way out on intensity.
    Trapper2016 likes this.
  12. JHardman

    JHardman Active Member

    A wise and well known Fishhead mentioned starting with silver. If you think like a printer silver is a combination of black, white and a bit of blue.
    from these primary colors you can begin to produce the look I believe you are after.
    Learn to look deep into the colors of your reference pictures and actual specimens.
    you'll likely find hints of blue, purple, silver, pinks and earth toned reds in those fleshy transparent and semi transparent areas. Just some things I have learned from other folks smarter and better than I am at this stuff :) Hope this is helpful.
    This is why I joined my local association and this forum.
    Trapper2016 likes this.
  13. Clew

    Clew Help a child, Build our future

    York, SC
    I don’t see transparency
    I see white with colors applied
    Frank hit it spot on
    Frank E. Kotula and Trapper2016 like this.
  14. JL

    JL Taxidermist for 64 years

    All looks airbrushed to me, just go very light.
    Trapper2016 likes this.