Special FX Focus: The Eye of an Artist - Stencil Patterns
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My article won’t be too long this time around, but the pics you get to see are what really
matter, anyway. The obvious part of being a special FX artist is, still, often overlooked, in that it
means being an artist. One of the first things you’ll learn in a beginner art class is to un-see and/or
re-see everything you look at. The main thing is being able to see the negative space instead of
the positive shapes. Well, it turns out that is exactly how and why I’ll choose the airbrush stencils I
use so often. So…let’s just stick to stencils this go around.
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Most people look at trees the same no matter what. Not me. I either see trees full of
leaves…or I see tall, wooden clusters of veins. Barren tree branches and their roots look just like
vein systems in our bodies. So, now knowing what I see, take a look at some of my favorite tree
stencils and realize how perfect they are for insane and creepy veining by airbrush in only seconds.
Acid Tactical is a site online that does stencils for clothing, model and vehicle stencil painting.
They are focused on camouflaging patterns when they make them. It’s not what I see, though. I
see cracked, dry skin patterns…not dried up, cracked mud. I see torn, lacerated skin patterns...not
wood grain. I see festering skin…not Tiger Stripes. And so on.
I want anyone who desires to be a special FX artist to seriously become an artist in full
mindset. Once you begin to see everything differently, you will begin to see so much more and
likely realize how many everyday items you can repurpose for FX…because we do it all of the time,
Duane P. Craig is a special effects artist and screenwriter living and working in Memphis, TN.
Check out past articles in the Special FX Focus series in our Article Archive or listen to Duane on