Tag Archives: customizing

Too Many Legs

Remember that episode of Coupling where Jeff cries “I’ve got the keys to Paradise, but I’ve got too many legs!” ? Yeah, that was hilarious. My problem is mostly unrelated. Anyway…

I resculpted by Pebbles Saddlebred’s legs not once, not twice, but three times- with progressively more work but better results. There wasn’t much detail in them originally, which bugged me. And at this scale, it’s even more obvious when detail is missing.

Chrys 2.0 7-23-13

This third–and last–resculpt was partly inspired by Sarah Rose’s thread on Blab which follows her sculpting process for her new mini Marwari resin (my apologies to those of you without a Blab membership who won’t be able to view that thread). Her model had such gorgeous delineated detail on the legs, and I decided I would never be happy if I didn’t give it one more try on the Saddlebred.

Horse anatomy by Herman Dittrich – front legs

Horse’s lower legs are complicated and confusing. There are no muscles below the knee, but there are a bunch of tendons and ligaments going too and fro and creating all kinds of interesting lines under the skin. I found it extremely necessary to both photo references and consult my Herman Dittrich horse anatomy pictures. They’re posted on my Reference Photos page and also published in W. Ellenberger’s great Animal Anatomy.

My other invaluable resource was Kimberly Smith’s wonderful, big reference pictures. Every week Kimberly posts a bunch of big, high-res pictures on her site for model horse people to use. It’s great to have someone take photos with customizing in mind, because you get super useful stuff like this:

lower leg ref

Thank you Kimberly for letting me repost this picture

I’m really glad I took the time to redo the cannon bones, and do the research necessary, for two reasons. For one, of course, my Saddlebred looks much better and is much more correct for her refined, thin skinned breed. Also, it was great to practice and learn sculpting lower legs at this (relatively) large size. Because I’ve got a number of horses in line who need help in that department!

My poor Akhal Teke has no leg detailing, Alpo has a club foot, and my trotting TB has been sorely neglected...

My poor Akhal Teke has no leg detailing, Alpo has a club foot, and my trotting TB has been sorely neglected…

Yowza! I’ve got my work cut out for me on those guys. But I do feel a little more confident about legs now, so that’s something. Now back to sanding…

A Short Tale of a Long Tail

With the MEPSA donation horses done and shipped, I’ve turned my attention to preparations for a live show in early September. Of course, by “preparations” I mean all the new stuff I want to have done, not actually preparing for the show…

One of my main goals is to have my Saddlebred mare done. When I last posted about her she was getting close to done but still lacked a tail. Since then I’ve done hours of sanding and refining, resculpted her lower legs for the 3rd time (sigh) and added a tail.

The first thing I did was cover the rest of her in plastic. I have a bad habit of getting epoxy all over my fingers and then all over the otherwise-smooth model, which means more sanding later. I’m trying to avoid that here, using plenty of blue tape and a cut up plastic bag.

Chrys 2.0 tail 01

Next I built up the wire tail with tin foil, secured and stiffened with super glue & baking soda. Once I had the basic shape built, I started to block in the shape with chunks of epoxy.

Chrys 2.0 tail 02

The tail took quite a bit of epoxy. I could maybe have done more with the foil to avoid this, but oh well. It’s funny working in this larger scale- normally I wouldn’t go through that much epoxy in an entire drastic custom!

Chrys 2.0 tail 03

Once the tail was blocked in with the epoxy, and it had dried a bit, I started to add the hair detail. I’m not great at this, but with a lot of shaping and brushing and shaping I got something I was sort of happy with. I use denatured alcohol to smooth all my epoxy including manes and tails. I think I learned that from Jen Buxton who learned it from Tiffany Purdy.

Chrys 2.0 tail 04

After more sanding, primer, and little changes, Chryselephantine 2.0 has a tail!

Chrys 2.0 7-23-13

I’m still working on smoothing and sanding, but she’s getting so close! I’m excited to start adding color.

Oscar Update

Oscar continues to be his delightful adorable self.

Oscar 1 - 7-3-13

The urge to photograph him is pretty irresistible, considering his epic cuteness. But it’s also hard, because he’s so friendly! As soon as you come into his paddock, he heads right over to say hi. So I get a lot of pictures like this:

Oscar 2 - 7-3-13

This one through the fence came out pretty darn cute-

Oscar 3 - 7-3-13

He’s got his baby teeth in now and is very interested in using them, although he generally drops his finds after a bit of chewing. He’s already messing around with mom’s grain even!

I rode early in the morning this week to beat the heat. Remembering the issues some of the horses at Inavale had with umbrellas, I set up this excellent obstacle for Cochise:

2013-07-03 10.50.27 copy

He only refused it once, which honestly is fair, considering. But then we went over it many many times without issue, so I was very proud. He was really more afraid of the noise the tape made when I attached the pool noodles to the standard.

I’ve actually been working on my model horse projects quite a bit, although I’ve been very bad about posting, clearly :P Among other things, my Saddlebred is really coming along- I would say she’s nearly ready to get a tail, but I just decided she needs her cannon bones redone again so back to the lab. But still… I’m very pleased with how far she’s come.

chrys 2.0 7-7-13

In addition to the obvious- new mane, removed tail, turned head, and shortened hooves- she has new muscles on her right shoulder and hind quarters, new hocks, new cannon bones, refined fetlocks, new ears, added face and jaw detail, and correct mare parts. She’ll also be getting veining and wrinkles :) With any luck, she’ll be in clothes in time for a live show in September.

Rewind: Lengthening Legs

I knew I’d taken some photos while working on my Pebbles Saddlebred’s legs, but I didn’t find them til now. So this is a bit of a rewind to before this post.

The photo I did fail to take were the ones showing the original issue. This borrowed picture of another OF shows the issue a little- notice how the fetlocks on the near side end lower down then those on the off side? The cannons and hooves are significantly longer too.

pebbles asb of feet

To adjust the legs, I more or less followed the same steps I would to fix a broken leg. Although I did have to “break” the leg first- or , to be more precise, I sawed it off with my dremel.

saddlebred legs 1

After paring down the amputated legs a bit to match the others (as well as the hooves on both sides), I reattached them using a metal pin and super glue.

saddlebred legs 2

The next step was filling in and resculpting with epoxy. And a whole bunch of filing and filling to get the hooves even and flat. But now I’ve got a much more balanced and correct horse.

2013-06-09 11.44.29

A Splitting Headache

Har har har! I’m so punny.

In the last post I left my poor Citation ornament both headless and hopeless. It seemed like the Chips Thoroughbred head I’d gotten for him would be too small.

racehorse 06

I revisited the project and realized that the head isn’t entirely too small- it’s mostly that it’s too narrow.

racehorse 07

What he really needed was a slightly wider head, and maybe some slight enlarging on the cheeks and muzzle. As I mentioned before, I don’t feel ready to sculpt a head from scratch, but I am confident that I can add to an existing head. It helps to have the guidelines that provides, even if you are adding a lot on top.

First step was to cut the head in half lengthwise. This is easier said than done, especially at Stablemate scale! (You can also split a head to narrow it down, as mentioned by Jennifer Buxton).

splitting the tb head

It took a lot of patience with the cutting blade, but finally I got there.

split head

It was even harder (and more patience-requiring) to get the head pieces onto the horse. I tried connecting them with wire and then attaching them to the neck, but the face was too wide and it was all wonky. So I broke them back apart and went one at a time.

racehorse face

With half his face on

This method made it easier for me to get the sides of the head properly on the neck, and to better gauge the additional face space that was needed. Finally, after a lot of work, a lot of super glue, and some choice cursing, his head was attached!

racehorse face 4-3-13

I’ve been putting off any heavy work on the face until I get his hooves figured out- if you look at some of the earlier photos you can see how pointy and weird they are. Plus he has no pasterns and intermittent fetlocks. So I’ve been working hard on those. I moved a few of his legs slightly as well. He’ll likely lose the mane and tail, but for now I’m leaving them so I can see how he balances aesthetically.

Here’s my guy as of today, with his legs and head still very much in progress. But what a huge improvement!

racehorse 4-3-13

It’s really exciting to see the change in him. He’s super fun to work on. Plus he looks just like the kind of horse I like to ride. I’ll likely paint him a deep bay with minimal whites- something like his original color, only better :)

Destruction of a Racehorse Ornament

A while ago I got my hands on the Breyer Citation ornament, and I’ve been excitedly working to turn him into a floaty-trot horse. It’s been quite the process- and I’ve been quite remiss in blogging about it.

racehorse 01

The victim

The most immediate issue was that pesky jockey. The Breyer ornaments are made of a hard, somewhat brittle plastic, but the dremel did relatively quick work.

racehorse 03

The other big issue, which became very apparent when I took a decent look at this horse, is that his head- or at least, his eyes- are terrifyingly anatomically incorrect. It’s like they’ve been rotated 45 degrees to face forward… in a really creepy way. That combined with the molded on bridle meant off with his head!

Poor guy...

Poor guy…

So then I had a headless horse with a big hole in his back. I filled the hole with styrofoam, wire, foil, super glue & baking soda, and finally, a layer of epoxy. You can see above where I also crammed some scrap paper to fill in his neck. Whatever works, right?

racehorse 05

Building up his new back

I’m not confident enough yet to sculpt a new head from scratch, so I acquired one from a Peter Stone Chips Thoroughbred that might do the trick.

racehorse 06

With his new back roughed in

What you may notice from the above picture is that alas, even the Chips head is a bit small. It seems the Breyer ornaments aren’t quite Stablemate scale. But have no fear… I have a plan to recapitate this long-suffering model!

The Start of a Roan

I had planned on painting my roan draft stallion using acrylic paint to do hair-by-hair roaning. But after a couple sessions, I really wasn’t satisfied with how it was looking. At the same time, I ran across part one of a nice roaning tutorial by Amanda Brock (Rogue Horse Studio) and Caryn showed me her first roan (done with a similar pastel technique) who was turning out quite nicely.

Caryn's horse (in progress). Can you believe that's her first roan?

Caryn’s horse (in progress). Can you believe that’s her first roan?

Inspired, I washed the acrylic roaning off my resin and started to work on him with pastels and pencil. He already had a sealed blue-grey-brown base coat, and I started in on some white pastel using Amanda’s stippling technique. I also added some hairing detail with colored pencils. I was all ready to start doing some serious hairing with white charcoal when I dropped him on the floor. Sigh.

I was actually pretty lucky- all he lost was an ear. But it took me another few hours of work to get him whole again.

Building a new ear using Sarah Rose's super glue and baking soda technique

Building a new ear using Sarah Rose’s super glue and baking soda technique

After shaping his new ear, it took a few coats of acrylic to get it somewhat matching again. Then finally, using my white charcoal pencil, I started adding individual white hairs.

hale - hair roaning started

It’s crucially important when doing hair-by-hair roaning to a.) keep your pencil very sharp and b.) keep references handy. I’m using multiple hair growth charts (download them here) as well as close up pictures of flanks, armpits, and other tricky areas.

Keeping the pencil sharp enough to draw hairs on a stablemate scale resin requires a lot of sharpening. I used a regular sharpener plus sandpaper. You have to do it almost constantly, and that means you go through a lot of pencil.

When I started roaning, I had two full sized pencils.

When I started roaning, I had two full sized pencils.

Happily, there’s an art store within walking distance so I was able to pop out one afternoon and buy six more pencils to use.

hale - charcoal pencils 2

I’ve got a whole collection of nubbins now, but I’m done with the first layer of hair detailing.

Even with all the sharpening, it’s basically impossible to get all the little hairs quite right. To keep things from being too stark, I go over each section with a medium-stiffness brush, keeping with the direction of the hair growth. It smudges the drawn hairs slightly and takes off any excess dust, which softens the detailing in a nice, more realistic way. I seal each layer with Dull Cote before moving on to the next. As with pastels, the sealer “pushes back” the color a bit which also helps prevent any stark lines.

On his neck and shoulder, the hairs have been brush-softened and sealed with Dull Cote. The starker hairs on his barrel have just been drawn in with the pencil.

On his neck and shoulder, the hairs have been brush-softened and sealed with Dull Cote. The starker hairs on his barrel have just been drawn in with the pencil.

I’ve been finding time to do a bit of work every night, and by today the first layer of hair-by-hair roaning is done. I need to do a bit more blending in some areas, but I’m going to give him a break for a bit so I can come back with a fresh eye. I also might work a bit on his acrylic details so I can better picture how his coat color will look on the finished horse.

I’m still working on a name for him- I’d like to find something from French Brittany, since the Breton breed is from there. It’s an area highly influenced by Welsh and Gaelic language, which is always fun.