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"Painting Horses" Topic

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Correus Inactive Member09 Mar 2006 4:23 p.m. PST


Found a site I thought I would pass on.

PDF link

It's a Games Workshop 'eavy Metal class. Looks good.


Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP09 Mar 2006 5:10 p.m. PST

Here's another:


for 15mm…..

Veteran Cosmic Rocker10 Mar 2006 2:58 a.m. PST

Excellent! Many thanks Correus and Extra Crispy.

SDallimore Inactive Member10 Mar 2006 1:58 p.m. PST

Thanks! Great article. I normally hate painting horses and try to avoid it at all costs.

DeanMoto Inactive Member11 Mar 2006 10:12 a.m. PST

Thanks; very nice; I'd been using my Model Soldier Manual by Peter Blum (illus in B/W by Risley) for reference (the one from the early 70's).

Askari Minis Sponsoring Member of TMP Inactive Member12 Mar 2006 1:38 p.m. PST

I tend to avoid horses until I need to do at least a dozen or so. Then I go after them with an airbrush—it's a really quick way to get to all those hard-to-reach places and gives them a very nice finish.

donlowry Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2006 3:34 p.m. PST

Ive never used an airbrush. is it hard to learn?

Eccles Inactive Member14 Mar 2006 6:55 a.m. PST

Horses are a doddle.

wballard Inactive Member25 Mar 2006 11:13 a.m. PST

RE Donlowry

Can't be too hard to airbrush horses, I've done it. I'm still learning about controlling air pressure but my basic idea is:

Prime White

Use very thin color (burnt umber, burnt sienna, black, and a yellowish tan)

Learn to control stipple (droplet setting coarse to do spots, fine for uniform cover)

Initially spray a uniform color (other than black in most cases) building up different base colors on different models (you don't want all the horse exactly identical do you) then add a bit of or switch to one of the other colors and overcoat to desired depth.

One of the advantages of the airbrush is for doing things like on many horses the leg color will gradually change. With the airbrush it is easy to get the gradation by varying the number of passes at different parts.

I still need to brush on blazes and such but I like the look much better. This may not be faster because of mixing and cleaning and allowing some dry time between coats. Also, it really seems to be a good idea to largish numbers at a time. I find 40 or 50 not to be to many.

I haven't done this for any where the riders are attached, but I suspect it would work, just paint the horse first and try to minimize spray on the rider. I normally work in 15mm so your results may vary.

alcal50 Inactive Member14 Apr 2006 5:00 a.m. PST

ive always used oil paint to do horses,prime the horse in (for instance)bright orange enamel paint.when dry and i mean a couple of days dry brush on the oil mix and simply wipe of with a sponge/toilet roll(i use toilet roll.

Couple of examples below:

alcal50 Inactive Member14 Apr 2006 5:01 a.m. PST
alcal50 Inactive Member14 Apr 2006 5:06 a.m. PST
donlowry Supporting Member of TMP14 Apr 2006 6:04 p.m. PST

Interesting technique. I'm guessing that it only works because oils take a while to dry?

Jim McDaniel Inactive Member14 Apr 2006 7:01 p.m. PST

If you use a slow cooker/crockpot/or whatever you call it locally, set on low, overnight that will speed drying of your paint without using any drying mediums. Obviously don't use it for preparing food afterwards.

I know what you mean about oils. Back in my horse-owning and gaming days, it seemed like most of the horses I knew had a lot of burnt umber in their coats. So why try to mix or match that color from hobby paints when the nice makers of artists' oils have done it already?

wyeayeman15 Apr 2006 1:04 a.m. PST

Hey Alcal,
That terrain sure looks sweet. Are there more shots of that?

Donlowry, no its not the drying time. I use the same method. The oil sort of imparts a patina to the base colour. You have to leave it a few minutes before wiping off. The longer you leave it the richer the tone. Unfortunately if you work in a warm room and leave it too long it drys on, which sucks.
I put mine on the radiator or on a sunny windowsill and they dry overnight.
You can then put on the detail with acrylics or more oil.

alcal50 Inactive Member15 Apr 2006 3:07 a.m. PST

theres a couple more pics,we played a RCW game at a show in March.

I used to prime the horses white but doing them in an over bright shade of the finished colour takes out the worry of waiting for the undercoat to soak up the oil,it can be pretty instantanous as a process

wyeayeman15 Apr 2006 10:14 a.m. PST

Love that terrain!!!

PitYak Studios Inactive Member23 May 2006 4:21 p.m. PST

My approach to painting horses;


Jim McDaniel Inactive Member23 May 2006 5:42 p.m. PST

Nice article PiutYak, my ocly point might be the fact that a bay horse is any brown body color with a black mane and tail. Bays aren't always a reddish brown. My appaloosa was more of a bay with with burnt siena on his belly and a burnt umber body. We'll ignore his white blanket on the rump and the snowflakes all over his body as being points which really confuse the issue.

You can therefore use a lot of browns for your bays. It just seemed I was always around horses that were burnt umber in color so that was kind of my standard bay color.

PitYak Studios Inactive Member23 May 2006 6:10 p.m. PST

Ok, like I said, what I know about horses I can write on the back of my hand.

TiYo 3828 May 2006 12:29 a.m. PST

Here is another link about painting 15mm horses:
need a little more job but the result is worth the pain.
Here the result with my first try:


JCLondon Inactive Member28 May 2006 4:57 a.m. PST

In my blog "The Waterloo Campaign in Miniature" I have a link to one of the best painting guides for horses on the Net…"HORSE-POWER GRAPHICS INC"

In my gallery you can view a number of examples of 28mm horses I've painted.

Or check out my photos…

The Waterloo Campaign in Miniature

Jeremy Sutcliffe Inactive Member30 Nov 2006 5:24 a.m. PST

Now I wish I'd seen some of those links some 3000 horses ago!

Stewbags Inactive Member06 Dec 2006 10:04 a.m. PST

Aaag, 3 posts that were not mine, what the heck!!!

Someone should do a horse paint set like they do other specialised sets (damn sight more interesting than another space marines set or ss tank corps. set imho). At the very least everyone should do a chestnut paint in their range. I have found all of the articles and postings above interesting and useful (the Mike McVey one bought a tear to my eye, I worked for GW when that was first published in WD), as well as this one link I have settled using a combination of block highlighting, drybrushing and magic ink washes on my 15mm horses.
I have spent quite some time looking for a decent book on horse colourings but all I have been able to find have focussed on the breed (which is obviously far more interesting to most equestrian folk. Indeed my better half has loads of horse and pony books which fall exactly into this mould. I had a bolt of inspiration today and for £9.99 GBP bought a desk calendar called "just horses". It is brilliant, 320+ colour pictures of horses to take inspiration from for markings and the like. Bargain or what!!!! If anyone is interested it is made by and its isbn is 1-59543-415-1.
I have been painting again for a little while and use the following techniques (if I have borrowed from what you have described previously in this thread thanks, your idea was brilliant and is mentioned here not for me to take credit but to support what you have said). I paint in blocks of 10, so I do 4 bays and 4 chestnuts, then 2 "others" (usually a black, grey or Dunn). I am probably covering all sorts of different colourings such as palaminos and all sorts of other names with my Chestnuts and Bays description but i think they are all simular enough to be covered together. I am just about to embark on a Parthian DMB army though and for that I think I will do the horse archers as 10 horses the same body colour at a time (for the Chestnuts and Bays anyway) and mix them up at the basing stage once they are all painted. I use valajio paints and inks so the paint names I use relate to them. For those who don't know about magic wash look here link . I tend to use a slightly stronger mix than indicated but try it out, it does work. Finaly i use a black spray primer on all the minis, followed by a touch up with 1/2 black paint, 1/2 black ink mix to get all the patches i missed.
*For the red-brown base coat on what i call Chestnuts and Bays I use a combination of tan, bestial brown and brown ink in a roughly 2:2:1 ratio. I like this because you can vary the mix if you are doing a lot of them, as well as maybe using terracotta or orange as the "red" in the mix or changing the brown or the ink. This should allow you to have a nice authentic mix of different shades for a horse heavy army. I then use a thickish magic brown ink wash. Next i block highlight with the base colour minus the ink and use a couple more thin brown washes till the highlights have nicely blended. Next I add socks and face markings in white and black on Bays and white only on chestnuts except sometimes black on the muzzle. I paint 1/2 of the chestnuts manes and tails in bleached bone and use one more thin brown wash to tie in and shade all this. Finally I tidy up the Bays manes and tails and lightly drybrush them with grey and drybrush the manes and tails on the Chestnuts with base mix minus the ink or bleached bone as appropriate.
*For Dunns I do the same but I use bleached bone and skin wash ink on a 3:1 ratio as a base and just straight bleached bone as a highlight. I only do black mane, tail, face and sock markings, which I think is correct for this colouring.
*For blacks I resort to lightly drybrushing with grey over a black base. I guess you could use a lighter grey and black ink wash but I don't think you would notice the difference once they are varnished anyway and it is just an extra hassle. I use white for face and socks on blacks and dont wash over it because it is more striking.
*For Greys I have so far used a wolf grey base (though they do come in a large selection of shades from nearly white to blue-grey so pretty much any grey would do), black washed then drybrushed (as this gives a sort of dappled finish that I think looks nice on some greys) or block highlight with the base coat then sort out the mane and tail. I have tended to take that to a darker tone so far though lighter would also be appropriate. I vaguely remember experimenting with drawing my thumb over a loaded stiff brush to flick stippling on to horses to get a dappled effect when I painted 25mm, I might look at that again. I think greys look nice with some of them irregular and patchy. They can have black and white face markings and socks.
*I have not done a white yet but I think I would prob base with white followed by a very thin black wash, drybrush or block highlight back with white then a very thin flesh wash. As with greys darker or lighter manes and tails are appropriate. I am not sure what the crack with socks is on whites (please inform if you know) but again black or grey muzzles would be appropriate on some.
*I have also not done skewbald or piebald yet because I don't think they were very prevalent in the horse stocks of Iran (but if you know better please let me know).
I finish the horse before I paint any furniture, I tend to use tan and bleached bone mixed in various quantities as this seems appropriate for the period (again anyone who knows better I would be interested to hear from you). I try to use a colour that will contrast with the horse so it stands out a bit.
Any thoughts on feathering in the edges between black socks and the body colour would be very gratfully recieved, they do look a bit odd with sharp edges. I am thinking for trying a black paint/ink mix watered down and dragged over the join.
I am quite happy with the results these techniques give, I know that layers of ink washes take a while to dry but I have 2 blocks of 10 minis ready to paint at a time so just switch between them or punctuate my painting with a bit of green stuff fiddling or the construction of elephants or cleaning up of new figs.

Jim McDaniel Inactive Member06 Dec 2006 8:18 p.m. PST

If you're seeking an on-line guide to horse color, why not check out all the coat patterns listed at They advertize a painting guide for folks who compete in horse/er modelling shows with those large plastic model horses made by Breyer. The guide listed on their site shows tons of wonderful coat patterns to use which look very realistic to my eyes after about 15 years around horses.

The Warrior Pole Inactive Member08 Dec 2006 7:58 p.m. PST

Can I get a more thorouggh step by step explanation of the oil technique? i'm not sure I understand it, but I loved the results and want to use them on all my cavalry back home over chritmas break.

Sgt Ironsides Inactive Member13 Dec 2006 9:23 a.m. PST

A trick I've used in the past with my oil/enamel paints, is to do the base colour with a flat paint, then do a wash or second coat with India Ink (browns or yellows) Most times you can get a very nice effect

Jim McDaniel Inactive Member13 Dec 2006 8:36 p.m. PST

After over a decade of fied research called grooming horses, I'd lik to add the Great Secret of Horse Painting which is to show the coat color coming up from the underside in front of the hind leg and between the belly is GENERALLY ALWAYS lighter than the sides and top of the horse. The exceptions to this rule are very light body colors like white/grey horses, light palominos and other such very light-colored coats.

Of course this runs counter to the obvious notion that the underside is out of direct sun light so the hair there should be much lighter. But it's not.

Look at the color plates Darol Dickinson painted for the late Dr Benb K. HGreen's "The color of Horses" to see what I mean. It sounds rather silly but forgetting it is a prime reason why most miniature horses just don't look right and real.

Hope this helps and good painting.

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