Tag Archives: tips & tricks

So behind!

Yikes! Can you believe it’s already August? I mean, I can, I just wish it wasn’t. I could use another month to catch up on… everything.

One thing I’m very behind on is blogging. I have a lot of pictures and progress waiting to be shared. The other thing I’m behind on are my goals for the Rose City Live at the beginning of September. Here’s what I’m hoping to get done by then:

  • repair Nightfox’s finish
  • finish acrylic details on Hale resin- and name him!
  • sculpt, cast, and paint a rider for Nightfox
  • prep and paint Chryselephantine 2.0
  • repair and repaint Alpo

WIP herd 8-2-13

And here’s where I am on those goals:

  • Nightfox has some acrylic repair, but needs socking and pastel
  • Hale needs work on his hooves, eyes, and chestnuts. Also a name.
  • The rider is sculpted and awaits casting- more on this later!
  • Chryselephantine is just getting her first layer of acrylic, along with last minute details like veining.
  • Alpo has a new leg but still needs to be sanded and get his tail back on. Plus painting!

So I have a long way to go. Right now I’m waiting for Blick Art to open, so I’m taking the time to catch up the blog on my recent antics! For there are many.

As mentioned above, Chryelephantine is finally getting some paint!

Chrys - acrylic layer

I don’t always do an acrylic layer before pastels, but it can be helpful in speeding up the process. Plus, I’m trying to follow the basic steps I used on an earlier palomino that I really liked, and this is how I started. Also, this light color does a great job of showing last minute blemishes that need to be fixed before I move into pastels.

During this stage, I am also adding last minute details with modeling paste. To show the part of her mane that is shaved (as per Saddlebred show standards) I did a layer of modeling paste along her bridlepath to the forelock, with a bit of shaved-hair texture.

Chrys - bridle path

She also got added veining and some neck wrinkles. Next she’ll get a bunch of socking, and then it’s time to add pastels! I’m really excited to get her in clothes.

Lots more stuff coming… my first adventures in resin casting! Building a full-scale panel jump! General madness! Stay tuned :)

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.

Martouf the Strawberry Blond

I’m continuing to work on Martouf as time allows. I was able to put in some really good time on him last weekend, and I can really see his body color coming together now.

martouf - 2-22-13

His mane and tail are a complex color. As a chestnut-going-grey, he’s got a whole bunch of tones in there. I was actually a little afraid to start working on the hair at all, but I got brave yesterday. My main reference horse has a reddish mane with greys around the roots and a lot of variation. I started out by gathering together a bunch of colors that might work. I used Jaime Baker’s brilliant tip about comparing to a printed reference page to find out which I really wanted to use.

martouf forelock - colors

Martouf already had a very thin light chestnut coat over his hair to help me visualize. I started adding in the other colors, keeping an eye on my reference and also on the overall flow of color in the sculpted mane. My technique was basically to keep adding color, in thinner and thinner lines. If there was a swath of one color that I could fit my brush into, that meant it needed another line of a different color added.

martouf forelock 01

Besides varying the colors, it’s really important to make sure you find and paint every bit of sculpted mane or tail. Sometimes it’s hard to get at, for example, the edges of a lock of hair, but it’s really important to maintain the realistic “weight” of the hair.

martouf forelock 02

Also, note the color of the shorter hairs where the mane meets the body color. Often those are the color of the body more than the mane. I used some Titan Buff to transition between the white/grey of his body to the reds and darker greys in his hair.

martouf forelock 03

In the last picture his forelock is about 95% done. I still need to add a few more bits, but I ran out of time. I’ll add that when I tackle the tail- but I want to wait til I have 2-3 free hours before I start that!

Great Painting Tip from Jamie Baker

Jamie Baker is a great model horse artist, and is always very generous with sharing her techniques. She shared a brilliant (and so simple!) technique on Blab that I definitely plan to use.

Jamie Baker tip screenshot

This idea is a cool compatriot for another tip from Blab about visualizing colors, which I posted about previously.

Have I mentioned I can’t wait to start painting again?

This post needed a picture. Check out the butt on this gorgeous guy!

This post needed a picture. Check out the butt on this gorgeous guy! I know it’s the angle but… dayum. Cool reference for the pangare, too.

Too Much Fun with Organization

I love a lot of things about this hobby- I love the horsey aspect, the learning, the crafting, the people… and I love how often it gives me an excuse to organize. I loooove organizing. I get maybe a scary amount of pleasure from things like binder tabs and well formatted lists.

In preparation for the show this weekend, I wanted to better organize my documentation. Sure, I had it all laminated and in plastic sleeves, but isn’t it just an absolute hardship that I had more than one in each sleeve and sometimes they covered each other and I couldn’t tell exactly where they were? Oh, the humanity!

So armed with a stapler and some fresh sleeves (not too fresh- they’re from Goodwill) I set about making a pocket for each reference.

A line of staples down the middle keep the two references from sliding around, and a slit down the right side of the bottom one provides a way to slip the bottom paper in and out.

I did the same for performance and separated the two with sticky-note tabs to make things even handier. I’m very pleased with this method. The individual pockets also allow me to easily store relevant notes with reference material. For example, my little sketch that reminds me how far apart lope-over poles should be can be tucked in with the western trail pattern.

I was a little bit stymied when it came to organizing my wee little text only bits (for pleasure classes or other relatively simple events). I almost gave up and put them all together in a sleeve, but was saved from that terrible tragedy by some sweet card holder sleeves (again from Goodwill). These divided each sheet into four pockets, and from there I could easily delineate more with staples. Voila!

It’s beautiful. My heart will sing a little song every time I use my handy dandy newly organized reference binder. Is it Saturday yet?