Drake surf scoter bill finishing


I paint a ton of fish in my studio, and have the best airbrushes available. after years of frustration, I wanted to try finding a more realistic way to finish bills and feet, not only saving a ton of time from color cup cleaning, but to also have a more intimate connection between finishing and application of some different mediums. I thank my good friend Rick Krane for sharing some of his methods and techniques for finishing fish, and I used those methods and applied them to finishing birds. so, I would like to share some of that hear for those that might find it helpful. this is my method to finish a Drake Surf Scoter. hope all will enjoy


Some of the materials I use for finishing bills and feet:
Derwant Water Color Pencils, Pan Pastels, Folk Art Paint, Water Based Paint, Fine Powdered Charcoal, Woman’s Make up, Hair Spray, Scrubber Brushes, Rubber tipped brushes, rattle can primers and Matte Clear rattle can final finish. besides your local Dollar and hardware store, here are good places to find the art supplies:
http://www.dickblick.com and http://www.jerrysartsarama.com

pic #1 shows some of the materials I use and the Derwant Water Color Pencils
pic#2 shows some of the Woman’s Make up
pic#3 shows some of the other materials listed

color-pencils make-up %231

I usually finish the lower bill first, but do block in any defined black areas on the whole bill with Folk Art water based paint. the best color for this is the color called Licorice. I then block in the jaw on the lower bill as well with water based paint and a brush. these are then sealed down with Ultra Cover Matte Clear and allowed to dry. you can speed that up with a hair dryer


I then move to finishing the lower bill that has been blocked in with the natural flesh water based paint.


the soft tissue between the lower jaw is blended with Pan Powders. Titanium White and Permanent Red Tint I then start to blend the lower bill itself, still with Pan Powders. here I use the colors Diarylide Yellow shade and Yellow Ocrhe


I then high light still with Pan Pastels the end of the bill. Orange Shade, Permanent Red and Red Iron Oxide. I forgot to mention in my previous post, that I seal down the powders between each color with hair spray if you don’t want to blend. if you want to blend between two powder colors, do not seal. the hair spray locks down your colors without building up a finish that can take the detail away from the bill, like many finishes can. Mod Podge is, IMO, is the worst medium to use on bills and feet


I then finish shading with both powders and watercolor pencils. you can go over your sealed work to adjust the colors and intensity. this gives you the opportunity to put in some contrast on you bills like you will see on live ducks. everything is not blended in nature.
here I did some more high lighting, and finished with burnt umber, raw umber and burnt sienna. it was then sealed with hair spray, and the whole lower bill was dusted with Pan Powder Titanium White. this will pull all the colors together and give you a more natural, and blended tone to your finished work. once satisfied with the end result, I lock it all in with lacquer based rattle can MatteClear


the under bill completed. upper bill next


not to be redundant, the upper bill finish has all the same colors, materials and application as the lower bill. I do however use a small amount of woman’s makeup at the start, and is sealed down


the same color sequence is applied to the upper bill. starting with the yellow powders listed above, then moving to adding in the red detail


once you are satisfied, and your color detail is finished and sealed with Matte Clear, I go back over, and detail the black patch with Folk Art Licorice. your done! I hope this might be helpful for all forum members!


finished Drake Surf Scoter bill: top, side and bottom

scoter-lower-bill-1 scoter-side-1 top

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Like so many boys growing up, I had always hoped to someday be able to make a living doing what I enjoyed so much……being outdoors, and anything having to do with nature. My growing passion for animals in any form, and my obsession with fishing built a foundation and a wonderful understanding to all the ways to enjoy the outdoors and everything in it. I loved to draw and paint, and spent countless hours learning to put what I had seen on paper. Fish were a favorite subject and specimens were readily available at the docks in Oyster Bay, LI. “Sagamore Hill”, Teddy Roosevelt’s home was just around the corner, and it was there, after many trips to view his trophies, that my interest in taxidermy spurred a lifelong passion. Trips to the American Museum of Natural History, the Bronx Zoo and Coney Island Aquarium became very frequent, and I could not wait for my next lesson from the Northwestern School of Taxidermy to arrive in the mail. Road kills were never left without examination, and my salvaged fly tying materials were steadily turning into a nice collection of skins, tails, wings and feathers. By ninth grade, I moved from LI, NY to Cumberland, Maryland. Great Maryland fishing as well as Maryland turkey and Maryland deer hunting was everywhere in Western Maryland, and I did as much as possible. After graduation in 1971, I moved to Ocean City, Maryland and landed a mate job on a charter boat and then a commercial long- liner. It was there, that Maryland Taxidermy came to mind. I learned to mold and cast reproduction fish. Winters were spent hunting Maryland waterfowl and the wild Sika deer of Assateague Island. I had plenty of specimens further my experience, and knew that becoming a Maryland Taxidermist was sure to happen. In 1979, I moved from Ocean City to Kent Island, Maryland on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay. This area was then a Goose hunting mecca, and hunters from everywhere came to hunt the Canada and Snow geese. Maryland’s eastern shore, is also known for its heavy racked trophy Whitetail Deer. That year I opened Kent Island Taxidermy and became a Maryland deer checking station. The combination of my fishing charter business and new Maryland Taxidermist business worked very well together. I joined the Maryland Taxidermist Association, served on it’s board and as president. I was co-writer of the Maryland Big Buck Contest as well implementing a Maryland Taxidermist Licensing test, now required through the Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources. Besides my USCG 100 Ton Ocean Master Unlimited Captains License, I was also a registered and licensed guide in New York and West Virginia. When the Maryland DNR implemented the new Maryland Guide License, I was one of the first to qualify, and meet the requirements. Many of my clients hunted and fished worldwide, and I saw the need to offer assistance in Importing/Exporting their trophies. I applied for and received a non designated port permit for game trophies as well as becoming Maryland’s first USDA Approved Establishment for restricted products. The opportunity to preserve so many diverse species has and continues to be a very rewarding challenge. It had always been my intention to maintain control over the technical and artistic aspects of taxidermy and animal preservation. From start to finish, it was my goal and has been to maintain a sole proprietorship. Every completed trophy is totally done by me, technically sound, anatomically accurate and artistically pleasing. Anything is possible, and I look forward and enjoy pushing the limits of “taxidermy”, as a respected art form. I love my job, and love what I do…even after all these years…and look forward to many more years of taxidermy, preparation and animal artistry.