Have I ever told you that I am borderline obsessive? Well that and a perfectionist too. I think it's why I like quilling so much. Sometimes I post pieces and I don't think the details come out in the photos. The Scovill Zoo's cheetah is one of those pieces. Here are some of the fine details I incorporated into him so that when viewed in person, he's extra special. See the original post with additional full-size images here.
1. Extremely Realistic Eyes - I don't just wrap up some paper and glaze it then call it good. I sometimes make three or four versions of the eye to test out which one looks best. I make them slightly smaller, slightly larger, and with color variations. In the case of this cheetah, not only did I go through several eyes, but I also tried a new technique to create the left eye which is viewed from an angle!! This was tricky. I had to create the eye and then cut it into a wedge shape which is difficult when you're working with paper domes. To add even more realism I built a multi-layer lid system for both upper and lower lids. The process itself takes an entire night. The finishing touch was to glaze the tear-duct in the corner of the eye. This is best viewed in person, but definitely brings it to life.
2. 3D Tufted Ears - The ear was built 2D to simulate the look of tufts of fur that arched over the darker inner ear area. After the piece was done I took teeny weeny wedge-shaped strips and inserted them at an angle into the existing quills to create actual tufts of fur that extend up beyond the flat portion of the ear. So when you look at it in person, you see these tiny hairs lifted up off the surface.
3. Two-Layer Design - Instead of making a completely flat portrait which included both the face and the neck, I built the head first, then attached it to scaffolding to hold it up off the paper by 1/4". When placed on the background it slightly overhangs the neck section and creates the illusion of depth. This helps create a sense of realism since the face is the closest section to your eye and therefore should be closer in space.
4. Tapered Whiskers - The whiskering process included taking strips of paper and tapering both ends so they didn't look flat and linear. This is best appreciated in person when you can see if from different angles. I inserted whiskers on the underneath of the muzzle, on the sides, and also the top. This way they have real depth and don't all stem from the same location or area.
5. Detailed Outer Furring - I noticed when researching cheetahs that they aren't just shades of cream and brown like our eyes tell us. If you look at closeup photos of them, on the outer edges are little black hairs that stand up slightly higher than the lighter fur. To create this effect I spent another evening snipping black strips and inserting them into the tiny combs I'd already placed.
I tried counting the number of individual pieces on the cheetah but decided it would take too long. If I had to guess there are probably 500-1000 total. The entire project took roughly 15 hours from start to finish and I could have spent another 10 on tiny details - but I had to stop myself, LOL.
I hope you enjoy seeing the detail shots and the explanations behind them. Looking forward to a busy summer and some more wildlife quilling in the near future!
Where I Buy My Supplies
Paper: Little Circles
I chose Little Circles paper for this project because I needed a wide variety of colors in the same family to produce shading effects. Little Circles has the largest array of colors available (that I know of) so it was a logical choice. I used two different types of their paper for the cheetah.
- Culture Pop - this is their normal weight quilling strip. I believe it's 70lb weight. I always use 1/4" strips for extra depth and a bold presentation.
- On Edge - this is their new outline weight quilling strip. It's too thick to make quilled shapes with, but perfect for thick, bold lines. In this piece I used 1/4" black On Edge strips to create a sturdy scaffolding to hold the head up off the background and I used 1/8" white On Edge strips for the whiskers.
Tools: Quilled Creations
I always used Quilled Creations tools. I don't think there are any exceptions to this. I love the quality, I love the innovation, and I love the variety.
- Savvy Slotted Tool - this is their new slotted tool which is ergonomically designed and features a teeny tiny slotted tip. I will never go back to a regular tool after using this one!
- Fine-Tipped Tweezers - a must have for holding, placing, and maneuvering individual pieces.
- Fine-Tipped Scissors - a nice set of scissors that are small and compact with a fine tip for getting into tight places.
- Mini Mold - I never thought I'd use this but I can't live without it now. Especially for my eyes.
- Needle-Tipped Glue Applicator - again, another must-have weapon in your quilling arsenal. You'll never go back to thicker tipped applicators once you see how amazing this one works.
- Fringer - these fringing scissors are tough, solid, and more than aptly do the job required.
- Crystal Coat Glaze - perfect shine, every time!
Background: Dick Blick
I have been through a variety of backgrounds over the past few years. I have used cardstock and then watercolor paper, and now I have decided the only background that is worth my time is the fiber-infused artboard through Dick Blick. It cures everything I hate about other background materials. It doesn't warp even with excessive glue use. It doesn't discolor over time. It allows for quick and efficient editing even after quills have been glued down for days! I'll never go back to another background medium for my larger, more elaborate pieces.