The main difference between painting a skin-mounted fish and a replica or carving is the real fish skin has the natural markings to follow so you need to apply the colors lighter than with a replica. On a replica, you need to use good reference to create the markings as close to the real thing as possible. One trick I have used over the years is to use the skin from a real fish. I filet it off and dry it flat on a piece of cardboard. If you soak it in water with a handful of borax added, the markings usually don’t fade that much as the skin dries and gives you a great reference for reapplying the markings on a replica.
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