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I'm doing some tiny domes for my shop right now and I thought up a non-paper way to make butterflies and winged bugs. I'm not super sure about them yet. The first few I made were kind of clunky but I think they have some potential.

There's this idea I have in my brain space of a sort of fantasy landscape with curly trees with lots of butterflies. It seems like I've seen butterflies made of vellum a lot but I thought a benefit of using acrylic might be that I could build it up in areas and make a body, as well as easily attach legs or antennae than on paper.

I don't know if somebody has thought about this before already, but it occurred to me it be a good way to make some bugs to tuck into terrain pieces or dioramas-- and practically for free too since most of us already have acrylic on hand.

[Image: IMG_2093.jpg]
Lay the colors down on some parchment paper in reverse order with the colors you want showing on top being the ones you put down first. The details I used fine paint strokes on, but then I added a thick layer at the end. I also brushed on some Woodland Scenics Water Effects for the added benefit of some stretchy, strong support. But anything really would work if it dries clear.

I folded the paper a little and left it to dry bent so when it was set, it would be in the position I'd set for it.

[Image: IMG_2086.jpg]

This one may leave a little to be desired yet in terms of how I got the colors down and how the wings wrinkled (I avoided this on subsequent ones by letting the layers dry in between instead of doing one thick wet layer.) But it all peeled off pretty well by nudging the edge up with a razor blade. As long as you wait for it to dry completely it should be super easy and maintain all the detail. It kind of reminds me of pysanky or something. With the big reveal at the end. :3

The antennae are made of false eyelashes. On the underside there's a little paint bulge that makes it look like it has a body. Since I've been able to replicate the process, I'm going to also start adding paint to this side to make the body more 3D on the top as well.

[Image: IMG_2100.jpg]
My sister thought it needed a little shine because it didn't look quite right flat. Now I think the glaze I used might have been a little bit too shiny, but in terms of ease of production and use it was pretty good. 

[Image: IMG_2101.jpg]
This first tester one was kind of plain on the back (and even a little messy, sorry) but I wanted to make sure it wouldn't do something like flop over or wilt if I glued on the body and left the wings unsupported. I figured if it did alright -then- I might take the time to do a fancier one. It's been a while and it's still doing alright. The Water Effects/SomethingClear coat also helps avoid the pieces sticking if they get folded the way acrylic on its own does.

I'm hoping to stockpile some of these and get a little more comfortable with them and I just thought I'd share in case someone wanted to modify the idea for something in their build. If this is something that's already been done and someone can point me to a place with some tips I could apply that'd be cool too.
Wow - that is beautiful!
BRILLIANT! This is rep-bump work.

(07-22-2015, 06:14 PM)BlueMeander Wrote: [ -> ]My sister thought it needed a little shine because it didn't look quite right flat.

Ah yes. This might require advanced technique.
I agree that the butterfly doesn't look quite right flat OR shiny. I think this is probably because butterflies aren't shiny/glossy so much as they are iridescent. This may seem like a negligible difference, but it is the defining form.

The big question here is HOW to do iridescence at such a small scale. Goniochromism (look it up!) happens at a molecular level, so the effect SHOULD be achievable or at least a reasonable facsimile in tiny amounts. While I've never done it, I'd think using flake or nacre carriers would work.

My first idea was flakes. Metallic paints give shine because the metal flake reflects light. While this is not true iridescence, I think it would provide the illusion of such without the "wet" shine of a gloss medium.

Then I had a classic "DUH" moment; nacre! "If you want iridescence, use a goniochromatic medium you pile of pants!" I shouted at myself. Nacre (the stuff pearls are made of) is naturally iridescent, and so are 'pearlescent' paints! Pearlescent paint is just like metallic paint but with nacre instead of metal flake. THIS is the stuff you want for painting butterflies.

However, it occurs to me, at this small of scale would we be able to see the iridescence? Would there be enough paint to reflect enough light to give us the effect? Maybe. If 'too shiny' and 'too flat' are both visible at that scale, then I'd think iridescence (real or simulated) would be visible.
Holy folding pants! That's incredible.

I was thinking iredescent/pearlescent paint would work great. The fiance has some that she's used on a fee paintings. Even a thin layer gives a really "alive" look/feel.

How fragile are these? About as fragile as 1:1 scale lepidoptera?
These are really neat!

Also: Hahahaha, I just noticed the tiny can of Mountain Dew and bag of Cheetos in the background. Awesome!
Super cool!
Would you need to do it backwards? Based on what you've tried so far, do you think one could put down the water effects first, let it dry, then paint it normally so when you peel it off the parchment, the underside of the butterfly is what is smooth/flat? Just curious because I have a hard time thinking/painting in reverse. Tongue
Awesome-- I looked up goniochromism, though I admit I think I was most entertained by learning how many ways we can exclaim about pants. That was pretty good. XD I will definitely try this again with iridescent paint. I don't think I have a ton of iridescent colors right now but i'll see what I can come up with. I watched a docu on butterflies once and they're super rad. Getting to see the scales up close and all was awesome. I know I can't really recreate that, but I really appreciate the iridescent tips. The straight up shine was better than flat, but it's not really doing it yet.

I'll also try making one a little neater.

Caleb, as for the strength, they're pretty robust, even with just the acrylic. I was trying to do some luna moths (they sucked hardcore and I gave them all to my kid. I made 10 of them. I should have tested the design before doing a whole batch. But it was good practice.) Anyway, since they didn't turn out, I didn't bother with the extra Water Effects/strengthening layer. I found that they didn't hold their shape-- they didn't stay 'bent' the way the first one I made did and fell laying flat by the next morning. But I can hold them by one wing and flick or fling them around. I think their size helps in this case. I made a single large wing (to practice and also to see if I might be able to replicate one of those boxes lepidopterists put butterflies in because I love the look of them but one one of those obnoxious vegetarian animal cuddlers so I liked the option of being able to create something without pinning dead things to my wall. Also having the option for making them for dollhouse people or something.  Or just because I clearly have a hangup with miniatures being cute (and look at who I'm saying this to. Talk about preaching to a choir, right?) and I liked the idea of being able to make a tiny one. ............. uh, anywho... I don't think they'd handle crumpling well. But it's a more concerted effort to pinch and crumble a tiny one instead of accidentally crunching up a larger wing on a bigger piece. Also it'd be heavier and maybe more prone to sagging? The big one I made (a nickel size wing) is so far laying flat, even when suspended (I hung it on a string to see what it would do unsupported) but I don't know if it'd hold its weight if it was tipped at a slight angle yet. Rambling. Stuff. Okay... also, you can tear it with effort, but not easily. You're actually more going to be worried about changing shape from stretching before you manage to tear it. If you start to pull, it's sort of rubbery and stretches, but if you let go, then it sort of bends out of shape.

But again, those are all without the support layer, which, while I haven't made one to toss around and pull on with the Water Effects on it, I can at least visually see has strengthened it to keep a shape, etc. I also dropped it on the floor twice before mounting it to the stick and it came back looking fine.

And yeah, got me some Cheetos in the background. XD I was taking some pics for my Facebook thingymabob.

[Image: 11061194_10203076780439313_6362643343984313295_n.jpg]

Sorry, bad cell phone pic. I made a small bag of Cheetos, some dice and a Dew.

[Image: IMG_2106.jpg]

This is kind of a bad photo too. XD I never claimed to be a photographer. Some of the detail was lost on the can top after I glazed it (it went on too thick and obscured some of the details.) I also used watercolor paper for the Cheeto bag, but next time I will use thinner paper because I want to crumple the bag a little and the thick paper makes clunky looking folds that betray the scale too much. I also did actually even paint "crunchy" but it seems to have disappeared through sheer mystery.

Although my tabletop feast of choice tends to consist more of strong tea and cookies instead of Dew and Cheetos, we all know that Dew and Cheetos are code for a certain breed of nerd. I thought it'd be funny to put something like that in a nice, elegant dome. I'm going to attach some hardware onto it so it'll be a pendant necklace and then make them available for custom order in my shop with a necklace or just a decoration (make the hobby pay for itself, right?? XD) The Cheetos are super easy to make and the can and bag aren't hard to paint, just take a little time. What was SO EVIL was making those tiny dice. SO EVIL. I had originally wanted to do a D20 but I realised I couldn't manage it. I think it was through sheer dumb luck I managed the D10. I made molds of them because there's simply no way I could keep recreating those. It took a couple hours. I used liquid polymer, soft pastel colors, and tiny glitter. I wanted them to be more clear so you could see the glitter. I'll have to try next time.


I'm sure you wouldn't have to do it backwards, but doing it backwards makes it look like they're all flat and sort of one layer. I guess with acrylic being thick, when you paint on layers, I'd think it'd get higher and the colors wouldn't really look like they're all embedded into a single sheet. Also, when I do the back layer with the Water Effects, I do an all over coat, but then I also kind of shape some into a ridge to make a stronger sort of 'spine' out of the material to support the wing in the position I want it to stay in. So that lets me have a flat display front and hide the support stuff on the back of the wing which I'm not trying to show off. But there's totally no reason you couldn't do it not backwards. But I definitely wouldn't do the Water Effects first, if that was the product you were using for it. Cause it's kinda bumpy and meant to be textured, so you'd have a hard time making a smooth top to it and you'd be trying to paint your butterfly on mini waves and ripples. Probably better to paint the butterfly right side up or upside down as you choose, and then peeling it off and adding the Water Effects (or other medium) afterward. That's what I'd think.
Quote:Although my tabletop feast of choice tends to consist more of strong tea and cookies instead of Dew and Cheetos, we all know that Dew and Cheetos are code for a certain breed of nerd.
They are indeed! And I have the good (and also awful) fortune to hold my weekly game at the home of a professional baker. So good.



I am getting fat(ter) just thinking about it!   Wink
A Variation on The Theme:  Diaphanous Wings

Seeing this technique led me to epoxy and wax paper as a method of creating diaphanous wings for other bugs like dragonflies and bees.

Concept:  It is known that epoxy does not stick to waxed paper, so it may be possible to draw on the paper with alcohol ink (Sharpie), "paint" epoxy over it, then peel the finished wing off.  As an aside, this might work with parchment paper IF epoxy doesn't stick to it.

Step 1:  Draw wing outlines and veins on waxed paper with a fine tip alcohol ink marker. I only had black; brown may be more appropriate.  A euro and a penny are included for scale:

[Image: wing1.JPG]

Step 2:  "Paint" epoxy over the drawings.  For this experiment I used Envirotex Lite and added a drop of ink for a more wingy color.  The "painting" was done with a toothpick; drip a drop of epoxy, then steer it around with the point of the toothpick.  This was actually much easier than I anticipated.

[Image: wing2.JPG]

Step 3:  Let cure, then peel off.   This photo shows the wings cured before taken off the paper, and you can see a few problems.  Some of the wings are no longer whole; this was cause by a few fixable factors.  In my typical impatience I just rushed through this, but anyone taking a little time can overcome this.  Epoxy shrinks a little bit when it cures, and since it doesn't stick to the paper, the increased surface tension while curing caused the epoxy to pull back (creep) from its outlines in some places, especially where the paper wasn't taped down flat AND in areas where the epoxy wasn't thick enough.  Seems counter-intuitive, but more epoxy is better here, but makes thicker wings.

[Image: wing3.JPG]

All these wings peeled of the paper and took the ink with them, so consider this proof-of-concept.  HOWEVER, as I was doing these waxed paper tests, I decided to do a set on parchment paper just in case.  I presumed it wouldn't work as I thought the epoxy would stick to the parchment.  I WAS WRONG.  The parchment actually worked better; the texture of parchment is enough to help prevent the shrinkage creep, but not enough to grab the epoxy permanently - it peels right off when cured, taking ink with it.  Perfect.  Of course, I took no photos of this thinking it was an autofail, but the technique is exactly the same.

In conclusion, if you use this technique, go with parchment and a slow epoxy.  Try to maintain an even coat of epoxy and keep the paper flat by taping it down.  And keep a bottle of isopropyl alcohol nearby in case epoxy gets spilled.  Also keep cats off any working surfaces to prevent cats with bug wings glued to their feet.
(07-24-2015, 08:17 PM)Munin Wrote: [ -> ]They are indeed! And I have the good (and also awful) fortune to hold my weekly game at the home of a professional baker. So good.

Some people have all the luck. 

Right on, Tob. I'm actually really stoked that this idea seemed useful enough that someone tried to use and expand on it. Your idea of taping the paper down is a good idea. I'm still having some issues with wrinkling, even with parchment. It'd probably be a MESS on wax paper. I'd really like to see some of your finished wings though if you get a shot of how they look once they're off the paper.

I used the pearlized acrylic paint that was recommended and skipped the gloss layer on this one entirely. I also took more time laying down the colors and the effort was worth the improvement in my opinion.

[Image: IMG_2141.jpg]

With these I also did a little experimenting. I tried to reduce the layers of paint, making the first butterfly (which is supposed to be a female checkered white) by doing the paint, a single thick white coat, then a bit of the Water Effects. On the second butterfly (the pipevine swallowtail) I did just the very thin layer of actual colors that make up the wings and then did no acrylic coat and just added Water Effects.

[Image: Meander%20bluemeander%20bull%20Instagram...7%20AM.jpg]

The checkered white is drooping, about an hour after removing it (my first made butterfly has yet to droop five or so days later, so clearly this was too thin to support itself.) Leads me to believe that the blue one will have the same before long. I added another layer of Water Effects and I'm giving it time to really cure.