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My first "real fire" attempt, what am I doin wrong?

Discussion in 'Getting Real!' started by Michal, Jun 11, 2015.


  1. Michal

    Michal Gravity Guru

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    Hi all,
    so been trying to paint fire.... i made some simple stencils from cardboard, i watched a couple of different tutorials on youtube, these guys make it look very easy but my fire doesnt really look like fire =) can any tell me just by looking what am i doin wrong? the way i was tryin to go is do a couple of light white lines, cover with red, then do some flames shapes with stencils with white again and cover with orange and then this same again and cover entire piece with yellow.
    Am I doin too many liitle flames or something? this just doesnt look right!

    Attached Files:

  2. Madbrush

    Madbrush Guest

    I admit to being total shite when it comes to fire but I can tell you just from looking at this that you are relying way too much on stencils, to be honest almost every attempt I have ever seen has had the same problem and this has always put me off even bothering to try, I have watched a load of the vids to and many of examples I've seen there are also crap.

    Two important things when trying to do real fire stencils should be used only to pick out dips and curves that have a natural hard edge, and secondly, you have to remember that flames are unpredictable therefore you have to make random shapes and avoid uniformity, using stencils to complete the whole job just leaves you with the series of shapes or pattern you have here which because of how it's done looks uniformed, the opposite of what you seek.

    If you have a phone with video camera try lighting a fire in a safe way and film the event, play it back and study the behaviour of the flames, also pause at different places and study the shapes you see there, if you do this enough you will begin to understand what's needed to recreate flame.

    The only artist I've seen on YouTube who gets anywhere near what I would call flame is Ed Hubs, have look for him, Mitch (airbrush tutor) did an SBS here on the forum which you should also check out.

    Other than this, choice of colours is important, this unfortunately a lucky bag since all brands behave differently.
    afterdark likes this.
  3. Michal

    Michal Gravity Guru

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    Hi Madbrush, i agree with you 100% about stencils, i am only begginer but i dont like using stencils at all, of course freehanding is very very hard but its worth working hard for that skill, i just dont get it how to build flames, i sm goin to check out more vids on that, Thanks for your help m8!
  4. Madbrush

    Madbrush Guest

    No problem at all, like all of us you have seen fire plenty of times and just not given it a thought, but now you'll look at it differently;)
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  5. ad fez

    ad fez kind of a big deal = Admington

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    Best video I. M.o is gear durans realistic fire with wicked. .... its very similar to mitch's sbs but a decent hours worth of vid
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  6. splasha

    splasha Detail Decepticon!

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    Although the colours seem about right, and the way you have gone about lapping them is also right, imho it's the way you have 'bunched' them up together, that makes them appear cramped and unnatural.
    Also the curves are repeated too often, flames are totally random and that's what makes them so hard to recreate.
    It's probably one of the hardest things to get looking 'right'.
    Yours is way better than anything I've tried to do, so far, so just keep at it.
    Like most of us now, you'll start to see things much differently than you did in the past.
    This is a good thing.
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  7. Russ71

    Russ71 Young Tutorling

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    cant comment to much love playing around flames, bit like yourself not happy, think im the same using to much stencil , mind do like what you have done so far
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  8. Squishy

    Squishy Queen Clown Slayer Mod

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    Michael I think you are overusing the stencil, and so it is not having a natural look? I think more freehand and just use the stencils to accent where needed. I struggled with using flame stencils for a long time, and couldn't get a look I was happy with. Eventually I ditched them altogether, as I just wasn't getting a natural flow, although for stylised and twisty flames they are good. Depends on what look you are after, but for realistic flames the less stencil the better IMO. Don't let the freehand aspect put you off, it's all just lines and blends at the end of the day.

    Also some of your flames look like they only have one edge to them, which is probably making it look a little off too. Find a good ref, and really look at the shapes, there are sometimes breaks in the flames so it isn't so solid looking, and there may be smaller bits that are flying off etc.

    When applying colour to each layer of white, the new colour shouldn't go out of the area of the colour below. Also try adding some hotspots with white mixed with just a tiny tint of yellow to the final layer.

    Flames as you say, are one of those things that people make look easy, but I promise you they will have spent many, many hours perfecting their technique. It's something you have to get a feel for, and a practice makes perfect kind of thing. You have to switch your perception so that fire isn't a thing on it's own, but a collection of shapes in different layers, focus on getting those shapes down, then when you bring it all together - voila fire. Just keep playing around and you will have that "aha" moment (it took me a long time to find mine, I am a slow learner though lol, but the penny eventually dropped even for me) and find a style that suits you , or even develop your own way.

    Edit - I didn't read Madbrushes comment before writing this Lol. But yeah - what he said :D
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  9. Michal

    Michal Gravity Guru

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    Thank You all guys, I really appreciate your input and good words of advice, slowly but always forward =)
  10. afterdark

    afterdark My friends call me Ward Very Likeable!

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  11. Skellington

    Skellington Gravity Guru

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    Have you seen Mitch's Free Hand Flames - the Skull video on YouTube? I had a go at that having never attempted any kind of flames before and it turned out OK. It really helped me to understand the layers and how they change colour. Building layer by layer makes it look realistic. Also trying it freehand might help you to get that random effect that is typically flame-like!
    I've only had a small go with handmade paper shields/stencils and my freehand attempt looked so much better.
  12. Michal

    Michal Gravity Guru

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  13. Mr.Micron

    Mr.Micron Royal pain in the air hose Admin

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    While I suck at true fire (over think it ) there is way to much stencil work and not enough free hand.
    While I can do smoke it seems I lose something on fire. Good first go at it.
  14. twood

    twood Detail Decepticon! Very Likeable!

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    Real fire has been kickin my butt ever since I tried doing it. I think I am just getting my own style down. I too was using too much stencil, but I have stopped using them as much, and its lookin better.
    Cool try...
    Cheers
  15. Michal

    Michal Gravity Guru

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    thanks guys, its all down to practice, dedication and determination to keep goin :)
    PS Mr Micron do u ever go offline? :)
  16. Mr.Micron

    Mr.Micron Royal pain in the air hose Admin

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    what is that line from Monsters Inc... Watching always watching :D
    Yes I do go off line but from 5:30 AM EST to 1:30pm EST I am at work and I am always on line when I am there.. .What can I say I have a great job:D
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  17. Dagobarbz

    Dagobarbz Double Actioner

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    Fire is the first thing I played around with. There are beginner examples everywhere here, and if I can pick out one thing that needs tweaking, it's the number of layers and busyness of the design. I've looked at a lot of flame work and I think the key is 'less is better.' My trash can and bunk helmet I practiced on are a lot like your pieces, there's not enough negative space. It's hard to back off on that because I get into the shading and layering and the next thing you know I have a pattern that doesn't look like flame. I'm trying to leave more space around the tips of flames so that it shows where that particular flame ends. Well, I know this in my head but I still wind up with too many layers and not enough negative space. Practice, right?
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  18. Dagobarbz

    Dagobarbz Double Actioner

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    Hey Michal, here's a side of my first attempts. Doesn't look like flames. Not sure what it is.

    Attached Files:

  19. basepaint

    basepaint Air-Valve Autobot!

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    Like anything airbrushed it all takes practice to get it down so it's easy for you to do,Keep practicing
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  20. KustomCandy

    KustomCandy Needle-chuck Ninja Very Likeable!

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    Dont feel bad. Of all things I have learnt. And being a fast learner. THIS was one style that took me years to get right (not yanking your chain). I almost gave up. I tried every possible technique known, all with out success. Untill I found this simply... Not particularly well done style from a youtube ch.. I had a go at a few attempts, and to my shock. It started to fall into place.

    What, I would suggest trying. Is forget multi colours. Just use white. Forget, the layers.
    Just play with Licks and forming shapes. Dont try to get them correct strait off. But use your black and erase some of the area's you feel dont add to it. Then just lightly add a little more. Just play with single layers with white, and erasing. See how you go.

    Dan

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