I’m rather pleased with this paint job, so I wanted to post a tutorial on how to do it. It’s done on artist’s mountboard (I’m making a display case for jewellery, for me to use when selling my work) but any smooth surface will work.
The first thing to do is to paint it black, paint it black again, and then drybrush red over it. I use System 3 Mars Black acrylic – any black will work, but you’ll probably want to use acrylic rather than anything that might be picked up, redissolved, or smeared around by the next layer, like poster paint (gouache) or watercolour. You’ll want a medium-smooth finish on the black, finding a compromise between roughness (to hold specks of the red) and smoothness (so that the red beads interestingly rather than coating it evenly) but that’s easy to get.
The red I use is Winsor & Newton Galeria Cadmium Red Hue, but any warmish medium red will do. Dry-brushing is just what it sounds like: painting with practically nothing on your brush. It helps to have a crap brush here – that’s mine on the right, after something like six years of generalised abuse. I use it for dry-brushing because it’s not much good for anything else, and because the accumulated crap in the body of the bristles means it can’t hold much paint at all. I like to think of this technique as polishing the red on, rather than painting with it. You’ll want to brush mostly along one axis, to keep the “grain direction”, but a bit of messing around is entirely encouraged. If you get actual deep-red spots, take a bit more black and dry-brush over the red with that. You can’t really ruin the finish by doing that – if you get too much black, put more red on!
When it’s done, varnish it as usual – I use matte Mod Podge as an all-purpose sealant & to bring out the colours & highlights. The picture at the top shows it after the first coat, but I’ll normally do three or so, for strength and water resistance.