Unless you hang out a lot in hurricanes or on airport runways wearing your cape, you just don’t get to observe the effect too often.
That was my dilemma when I needed to paint a guy riding way up high on a Brachiosaurus. I took the pose in my backyard wearing a satin gown and a red velvet cape just to get into the spirit of it.
In the movies they have those giant fans to simulate wind, but all I had was a puny window fan, and that didn’t move the cape at all. So I had my wife yank the cape back and give it a little flip right before the camera took the picture.
That helped, but I needed to see how the cape might really look with the wind filling it and pushing it back. So I made a little manikin out of chunks of wood and wire and set it on a brachiosaur model that I sculpted out of polymer clay.
I cut the cape from a small piece of red fabric and then soaked it in acrylic matte medium. I arranged it the way I wanted it, and let it dry. Matte medium is like plastic. When it dries, it holds all the folds just the way you arranged them. For the photo it's held up by little wires underneath.
You could also soak a cotton cloth in plaster, but that gets heavy and fragile. The plaster method worked well for a lot of the old masters when they painted angels. Another trick would be to put a cape on a little manikin and photograph it moving it through a fish tank. But I didn't have a fish tank.
Here’s the final picture, called “Up High,” as it appears in Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara.
Tomorrow: Keyframe Animation