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The Lord of The Rings trilogy was an FX artist's bonanza.  Vance Hartwell had a front row seat with his trusty airbrush in hand.  Working for the WETA workshop in New Zealand, Vance found himself knee deep in orc parts that needed some paint.  About the time I posted Vance's interview to this site, Rick Difeo had an unpainted latex monster sculpted by  FX Pro Jon Fuller.  Rick couldn't pass up the opportunity to have Vance paint his latex prized possession in the same style of the Moria orcs.  Now you have a chance to see step by step just how those orcs were painted and to learn from one of the  best  FX painters in the world.


Note: Rubber cement is an excellent paint medium for flexible rubber masks.  It has been used for many, many years for just this purpose.  Rubber cement is typically thinned with hexane or bestine.  The mixture is VERY hazardous to your lungs and nervous system.  You should only work with rubber cement using proper ventilation and  a working respirator with organic filters.  Besides, Vance has been using it for decades and shows no ill effects.  Well, except for his constant neck twitch and the need to drink 32 cups of coffee a day for nerve control, but Vance thinks that might be related to his kids moreso than the paint.


Now without further ado...


I mixed my tint first and then added it to the rubber cement. I thin it down with hexane and put it in a squeeze bottle. From this bottle I squeeze out a small amount into a dental cup. I then thin that down to the right consistency for airbrushing.

I can't give exact ratios.....it's just something you'll have to experiment with to find out what works. I can say it will probably take more thinner than you'd expect.

Here's the mask after I cleaned it with a citric acid wash to remove the white areas left from the mold. It's all ready to paint on.
This shows the base coat of rubber cement paint. I used a brush to apply it. I did not use this base for the inner mouth.
I mixed up my tint first and then added it to the rubber cement. I then used hexane to thin it down to a brushable consistency.

Make sure you add enough tint to make the rubber cement opaque. You can get a translucent paint by thinning it out so just start out with it opaque.

Here I've airbrushed a yellow in a very loose mottling style.
I've now added an orange in a tighter mottle.
I've now added a light raw umber in a tighter mottling.
You can see in these pics the mottling and also how I'm starting to pick out the details of the sculpt and help "shape" it with the light raw umber.

I'm now using a medium raw umber. I've just added a bit of black to the light raw umber to darken it up a bit.

I've also started to darken the tips of the ears and lips.

Again, I'm also shading and shaping with the medium raw umber.

I've continued to darken the ear tips and lips.

I'm also starting to bring out some of the warts in the sculpt.

I've now used a dark raw umber (made by adding more black). I've used an even tighter mottling and have also done more shading and shaping with it.

Still darkening the ear tips and lips.

Although you can't really see it in this picture, I've added a fine layer of speckling with the airbrush. I used all three of the raw umbers, thinned them way down and toned down the paint job this way. It breaks up any "airbrushiness" that you might have and make it look more real.

I've also added some dark flecking. I used a really dark raw umber. I thinned it way down and used a brush to fleck it on. I then used the airbrush to pick out and enhance some of the freckles.


I've started painting the inner mouth now, too. I've used some reds and tans to do the tongue and gums.

Here's a shot of the inner mouth partially painted.

I've painted the eyes. The Moria orcs had green-yellow eyes. These came out a bit more green than the ones in the film.

This shot, and the next two, show you the head from various angles.


I finished by sealing the whole mask with V-Matte. I then used V-Gloss to add a bit of sheen to the skin. I used a gloss acrylic to really shine up the eyes and mouth.

These are most of the colours that I used (except for the eyes).

(left to right)
base, yellow oxide, orange, light raw umber, medium raw umber, dark raw umber, red.

This is my work area. I have a colour correct flourescent light above. I have all my tints out and empty bottles ready for putting the paints into. My airbrushes are set up in their holder on the right.