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VCU Archaeology

A Daunting Task

by Olivia McCarty, VCU student and her final blog as a Fall intern

Working in the Virtual Curation Laboratory has only gotten more exciting as the semester has gone on. One of the most important projects we worked on is the lab is the exhibit of our 3D collection in the James Branch Cabell library. With this exhibit we wanted to not only have the plastic artifact and their fun bright colors but we also wanted to show a representation of how the actual artifact would look as well. This led a lot of us interns to paint the plastic models we had to give a better realistic interpretation of what these artifacts actually look like in real life.

Unfinished replica of bird/man figurine.

Unfinished replica of bird/man figurine.

I particularly liked this job and after a while I put myself to the daunting task of trying to recreate the colors of a sandstone figurine block. This artifact representation has a bird engraved on one side and a man engraved on the other. There were lots of different tan, and brown colors in this representation and in the beginning I don’t believe that I myself even knew what I was getting into.

Bird/Man replica adjacent to original.

Bird/Man replica adjacent to original.

I started out with a simple base coat of the lightest color that I noticed on the figure, which was a light orange-ish tan color. Once I had this base coat painted and it was dried I then decided to go to the other end of the spectrum and grabbed the black and work on the dark detail marks that were all over the figure. For me this was the hardest part, and the most time consuming. The reasoning for this is because it was hard to see where the faint detail was represented on the plastic model and keeping consistent fine lines was no easy task either.

Bird/man replica adjacent to original,

Bird/man replica adjacent to original,

After working on the higher contrast colors I then worked on the midtones. I did this by using a dry brush technique, combining a multitude of various shades of browns, and then layering on these different midtones one after another. With all the time spent on my first depiction I was happy to find that it was very similar to the real artifact and while it is not as perfect of a representation as it could be. I am willing to state that it helps to give the viewer a good interpretation of what the real artifact looks like.

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