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Painting Horses - Part 1

Many modelers out there are daunted by painting a horse. Taking that first step and painting a horse opens up a whole area for figure and diorama modelers. Some of the techniques I will talk about here will apply to practically any scale of horse. You will find that many of the painting techniques used on painting figures apply to horses as well. Mounted figures, for me, are one of the joys of the hobby, and I strive to complete at least two mounted figures a year.

I won't go into too much detail about assembling a horse. They generally come in two body halves, and separate head, ears, tail and mane. This is not always the case but generally this would be the breakdown of a horse kit. I assemble as much as possible before painting, but always leave the tail off to make painting easier. If the saddle and harness are separate, it's a good idea to leave them off as well. I generally apply the mane, but that would be a personal preference. It's a good idea to pin and mount the horse before painting. A horse figure can be difficult to manipulate. This is especially true with the large scales like the 120mm horse used for this article.

Finding a horse figure to paint
There are many mounted horse figures of all scales out there. Some are better than others. Casting materials include plastic, resin and white metal. Mounted figures can become costly. So if this is daunting to you, Dragon (DML) makes some nicely detailed, and affordable 1/16 scale figure kits in plastic. I will be discussing one of these kits in part two at a future date. Other manufactures, such as Verlinden, have a great selection of resin mounted figures at a decent price. The sculpting on these kits is pretty decent as well.

colors of a horse
There are many colors and breeds of horses. In fact, there are too many to discuss here. The reference material is everywhere. If you can get your hands on an older Historex catalogue there are generally color plates of different horses. Go to the library, or used book stores and pick up material with lots of horse pictures in it and just study the pictures. This will give you great insight into the highlights and shadings of different horses and coats. Pay attention to the eyes, hooves, etc. There are some details there that you may miss. The eyes for example usually have very little white in them unless the horse is excited or frightened. This is a detail to take note of for action scenes. Bill Horan's “Figure Modelling Master Class” has a great section on horses. For the Military miniaturist there are three main colors that we will concentrate on; dapple grey, chestnut, and dark bay. This article will be divided up into three parts with the first covering the dapple grey. The chestnut and dark bay will come at a later date.

painting a dapple grey
As a miniaturist, when I think of dapple grey horses I think of the Scot's Greys, charging down the field at Waterloo. If any of you remember the Shep Paine dio, you know what I'm referring to. Most Cavalry unit’s trumpeters rode either white horses or dapple greys. - GREAT STUFF.

For the purpose of this article and my own preference, I picked the excellent Alpha Image 120mm Kit of a Polish Winged Hussar. This horse kit is exceptionally sculpted and cast. It is in an action pose with the front legs rearing up. I've seen other renditions of this horse painted chestnut and black, but not dapple grey. I decided for my collection it would fit.

I use a variety of paints from acrylics to oils. For this particular horse I used the following paints:

About the Author

About Ray (RayW)

Mainly into figure modelling but sometimes branches off into armour and aircraft. I would like to do more Sci Fi Fantasy figures and maybe will start that someday. My primary interests are Military History, dog sledding