What are good alternative methods (to airbrush) for painting a latex-rubber puppet?

My stop motion puppet is almost ready for action! I just need some tips on painting latex-rubber. I do not own an airbrush kit. Unfortunately I hear that airbrush is the preferred method. Are there any good alternatives? I don't want to see brush strokes on my model. Any suggestions would be awesome :)

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Hi Eric. I like the teeth! 

I noticed you haven't done any filling of the sections where you had a problem with air bubbles. I could see one of the long ?muscles/stringy bits on the neck has a couple of gaps. If you want to fill them, do it before you paint. You can use blobs of latex and/or little bits of cotton wool soaked in latex to fill. Let it dry thoroughly before painting.

One other tip. You can colour the latex before you put it into the mould, which would give you the base colour. Mix acrylic paint straight into the liquid latex. Test a bit because the colour when dried is not the same as when you mix it. Too late for this one, though...

OK. Painting. The method I use is to apply acrylic paints with Pros-Aide. Pros-Aide is an acrylic medium that dries clear and sticky, although there is a version which supposed to be non-sticky. I apply a couple of coats of this, using a piece of sponge taped on a stick or held in forceps.  Dry with a hair dryer between coats. Don't apply thickly or allow it to run, just build it up gently. You can tell it's dry when it goes clear. Then I put on several coats with acrylic paints mixed in. I usually do a base coat, so the darkest tone, and then overlay it with progressively lighter tones. If you mix only a small amount of colour into the pros-aide, then you end up with a diffused coat of paint, ideal for film work and hopefully not showing any brush marks. Dry each coat before starting to apply the next, and watch out! It will be very sticky and shiny. Use talcum powder (baby powder) liberally dusted on, to take away the shine. But one drawback of original pros-aide is that it goes a bit sticky again after some days, so store it carefully and be prepared to dust again. The non-tacky version may be different. If you find the final effect is too matt for your liking, then use a bit of vaseline on set to bring out some shine. Or experiment with coloured powders. (Tip: If you want a pearlized effect - lizard?? - you can achieve it by putting on a coat of straight Pros-aide, then dusting gently with eyeshadow powder (shiny not matt ones) You might do this as a final effect, so not too liberally - experiment first so as not to ruin hours of previous work!)

It might be a good idea to prepare several sponges-on-sticks, as they will also be pretty sticky and will get thrown away at the end, and make sure there is nothing around that could be damaged by the pros-aide. I once spilt some in the footwell of my car, and had to throw away the carpet! If you must use a brush, make sure it is a cheapie, and plonk it in water immediately after use. I generally paint small details just using acrylics, no pros-aide.

BTW, I've never used an airbrush, and reckon pros-aide would probably gum it up very quickly. Practise using a sponge delicately. You might want to cut several shapes to get into the corners. You can also get coarse sponges, known as stipple sponges, for wider-spaced marks (great for broken veins on a full-sized face). I have a couple of old pairs of surgical forceps which hold the sponge firmly and make it into a good tool to hold. Otherwise your fingers get very sticky too!

Can you remove the teeth for painting? It would be a help. 

The other thing that will help to hide any painting would be hair or fur or other texture. The pros-aide would stick textured grains onto the latex. Again, experiment until you get what looks right.

If you can't airbrush, you can apply thin coats of Pros-Aide and acrylic with a stippling action to avoid streaky looking brushstrokes.  Wash the brush frequently, the ProsAide will gum it up if left too long - or stipple with a bit of cushion foam which you can throw away and replace like Simon said.

I don't use petroleum jelly on latex - or any oils, or oil or enamel paints.  They can damage the latex.  The paint might protect it, but I prefer not to use it anyway.   I have sprayed a light dusting of clear acrylic gloss medium over the top a couple of times (but with an airbrush, so not very helpful).  A very light dry-brushing technique would work, so it tends to put the gloss on the high points and not so much in the hollows.  similar to how you would add highlights with a paler colour, only with clear acrylic.  But usually I don't want more of a gloss, it can come up shinier than you think it will be under movie lighting.

Eyeshadow powder - I never would have thought of that!  I use a little metallic powder in clear medium for pearly effects.

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