When I began the wood grain heads, I looked at a lot of different examples of how it had been done before. Jace from LaxNation gave me a lot of guidance, and I have to thank him for that. He came out with a wood grain dye before any other I saw, so I have to thank him for leading the way. This is dye project has been more difficult and given me more headaches than any other I’ve ever done. But, I think the two heads show how my process evolved after a first attempt.
For the first head, I used liquid electrical tape to coat the head with a few layers. I then used combs, a knife, and other items to rough up the surface of that tape. I was trying to make a pattern that resembled the grain in wood, but it was very difficult to keep consistent. On the first head, the darker one, I used light brown, spread on my liquid electrical tape, scuffed it up, and then dyed it cocoa brown. (These are all RIT colors, by the way) When it came out a little too light for my liking, I dipped it again into Dark Brown. This is how it came out as dark as it did. Overall, the head looks a bit like a darker wood, but you can’t really see the grain pattern because of how dark it is.
On my second attempt, I went with rubber cement. It was easier to spread around, but harder to keep my grain pattern consistent. I spread on the rubber cement and let it dry for a minute or two until it became more jelly than liquid. Then I used a serrated knife to put rows of lines into the cement. If it moved around too much in blobs, I would try to reapply the cement and start again. Towards the end of the process, I realized that the best method for getting the lines is to let the cement come to a near-dry state, and then use an Xacto knife to draw parallel lines in the cement. You can tell (on the second head) near the throat area where this method came out the best.
It was harder to keep the lines parallel on the curved parts of the head, but stay patient. Remember to cover every piece of your head or you will get huge patches of darker brown that will mess up the overall effect. Small tears in the rubber cement are OK. It will catch on the tip of you blade and start to rip, but just pick up your knife and start again. On this head, I started with light brown and used dark brown as my second color. The rubber cement allows some color to go through it, which keeps the head from being overly contrasted between light and dark colors. OR, it makes the lighter brown turn darker, even when you don’t tear through it. This way, it looks a little more natural.
I know this tutorial has been a little vaguer than my usual step by step articles. The fact is, after looking at a number of other articles, it still took me hours of experimentation and failure (first stage, first head) to find out the best way for me. If you have a broken head around, I suggest using pieces of that as test runs. Just chop it up with some limb cutter things, and you can use smaller pieces to test colors and methods before sacrificing a brand new white head.
If you have any questions, feel free to post them on here. I’ll do my best to get back to everyone.