The pond is turning out so well, it called for a single koi to be seen rising from the murky depths to the water surface. Behold the Koi of Enlightenment. These underwater shots knock me out!
I had in mind to make a koi that looked like Chinese Joss prayer papers, all bright oranges and shiny gold. I meant this to be quick but it became intense yet incredibly useful. It was such a total blast making a puppet with carved foam that it got me hopped up to make most of the supporting puppets this way. (More on them as these posts roll out.)
Using that toy fish, that was in my mouth in earlier test shots, I snipped out a fish shape from a scrap of upholstery foam. Slit it open to insert and secure a simple twisted wire armature for fishy tail swishing. Here's where it all get ingenious by accident. I used the right-sized mesh nylon tuile applied with heavy gel gloss medium all over which looked for all the world like fish scales when painted. After my cat's eye paint failed to give the illuminated effect I wanted (post on that later) I gold-leafed his top-half (the eye was covered in gold leaf here, but his real eye underneath (see photo below) was made from gluing an acrylic halfdome onto a piece of real joss paper gold giving a most effective illusion of illumination in them)
This is where it got fun. I started hitting the scales with the orange paints and chalks, lightly over-brushing with white for definition. I could have/should have left him there. He looked cool and pretty. But oh no, I had to try new things and go too far. Heck, it's all a new thing, how could I know how far too-far was?
In any case I dropped tiny beads of clear glazes onto each of his scales which gave him a lumpy grotesque look rather than mystical. I then toned all that down with (of course) walnut ink which made it now no longer pretty, even when I tried brightening him back up and filling in his surface terrain with layers of clear medium until it was flush. I added matte medium to real orange feathers for his fins, fishy moustache, and tail. I could have worked his tail further to get that great graceful billow koi tail often have but I'd learned my lesson. In some cases, good enough is great.
Hey, what do you know? This is the Koi of Enlightenment after all! I discovered the technique I'll want to use to create the main character Kyra the mermaid's aqua blue tail now!