Hello All,


I was wondering if anyone had some tips on how to paint foam latex puppets so they are not prone to cracking in the high wear areas.

I was given verbal advice on this from a professional puppet painter to follow these steps (from my memory) but I thought I'd post here to see if anyone had any suggestions they could add.
My questions are on the bottom. Thanks.

*I will airbrush for the most part until the end.

First coat - Pros-aide

Base Coat - Pros-aide with base coat of paint

Additional layers of pros-aide and paint.
More paint and pros-aide mixed to highlight features.

A sealer of sorts.

Should I cut the pros-aide for the airbrush?
If so how much?

What's a good ratio for paint to pros-aide?

What do I seal the puppet with after it is complete?

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I've done some pros-aide painting and some airbrushing, but never both at the same time - my puppet painting has always been done with little pieces of paper towel or urethane foam scraps left over from making the puppets. So maybe you'll hear from somebody who's actually done exactly what you're looking for - but until that happens, I can give some general advice. 

I'd start with the pros-aide itself. I suppose I'd do this in an airbrush jar or in a small jar if you'll be transferring it into an airbrush cup - add water until the pros-aide is the consistency of whipping cream (before it gets whipped). Maybe a little thinner - but don't go too watery with it. 

I don't know any ratio - I just add acrylic paint until the mixture becomes opaque. Or I suppose you could stop when it's still transparent if that's what you want. Anyway, the idea is to just add enough paint to get the tint you want - the mixture should be primarily pros-aide. I'd start with a larger jar of pure pros-aide thinned with water and portion some out into each of your jars before adding paint to them. Just like with airbrushing anything keep a big pad of paper or something next to you to test it before using it on the puppet. I always had a pad of newsprint paper on an easel standing next to me to test the brush before each pass and for the inevitable unclogging operations. 

Something I've read on the board but haven't actually tried - I understand that if you're airbrushing and you start and finish with a coat or two of pure pros-aide then toward the end, when you're just doing slight touch-ups here and there you can use pure acrylic paint through the airbrush - no pros-aide added. Then finish with a couple of coats of pure clear pros-aide as a sealer (which answers your last question). Since those final small touch-up passes are very thin and you're just misting a little paint on it will become a part of the pros-aide layering process, so won't affect flexibility adversely. But for the first few coats of paint you do want to have pros-aide mixed with the paint, since those will probably be fairly heavy coats. 

And after painting of course powder your puppet when the final coat is dry so it doesn't stick to itself and to reduce the shine. You can use corn starch or baby powder, but they tend to leave a silvery-whitish sheen that's just visible and slightly affects the colors - a better product is a clear makeup powder. Ben Nye makes what's called neutral-set colorless makeup powder which works great. Use a makeup brush or one of the big fat watercolor mop brushes to dust it on and then brush it away gently. 

And just an additional note - you mentioned painting without the airbrush toward the end. If you do that then you definitely want to have pros-aide in that paint. The only reason you can get away with using a little pure acrylic paint if you're airbrushing is because it goes on so thin - if you're not airbrushing it goes on a lot thicker so you'll need to add the pros-aide as a flex agent. 

Thanks for the detailed notes Strider. Very helpful. Hopefully it all goes well.



Strider said:

And just an additional note - you mentioned painting without the airbrush toward the end. If you do that then you definitely want to have pros-aide in that paint. The only reason you can get away with using a little pure acrylic paint if you're airbrushing is because it goes on so thin - if you're not airbrushing it goes on a lot thicker so you'll need to add the pros-aide as a flex agent. 

Paint "cracks" for lots of reasons.  Foam latex is more flexible and tries to move and the paint is a more rigid shell.  Is this what you are experiencing?  Createx is the most flexible airbrush/ paintbrush paint I know of.  It vulcanizes at room temp and acts like liquid latex rubber. If you already have this solved you don't have to respond.  Best wishes. Gary

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