Tag Archives: Lady Diptych

It Takes a Village…

My ex-frankenhorses, Liam and Lilah, are now basically finished. I am really pleased with how they’ve turned out. But I was stuck- how could I sign them? Their coats are both very dark, particularly on the underbelly where one would normally sign.

For most of my horses I use my trusty black Micron .20mm pen, which works wonderfully. But alas, Micron doesn’t make any pens in light colors that would show up on these guys. So I hunted around the Dick Blick website to find some alternatives. After compiling a list, I turned to two message boards, Model Horse Love and Fallen Leaves, to see if anyone else had experience with those products.

They had something better. Contributors on both forums pointed out that I could simply sign with my nice black Micron on the bottom of a dark horse’s hoof.

Duh. It’s a cheap, simple solution–just my style–but I needed help to get there. Thank goodness for helpful hobbyists!

Meanwhile, I also finished my bay-going-grey pony, Typhoid Mary. Check out her pictures in the Grey Gallery. Kettil Blacksmith and Troy Soldier are still in progress, but Kettil at least is on track for completion by Saturday. As for Troy, well, fingers crossed. If nothing else, this upcoming show is a fabulous motivator.

Strategies for those Pesky Acrylic Paints

I have tried to paint horses entirely in acrylics before but it’s always ended badly. I find it extremely difficult to blend acrylics properly, let alone get them to go down smooth. The reason I fell in love with pastel finish work is because both shading and smoothness are pretty inherent in the medium. It’s great.

But pastels are not very good for fixing chips or mistakes in finish work. With my recent rash of restoration cases, I’ve been forced to use acrylics- and, to my delight, to get better at using them.

Four strategies helped me in my endeavor to fix the finish problem or chips on Alpo, Doublet, and Troy Soldier.

First: Have plenty of applicable colors on hand. Any base color that might be a part of your horse’s lovely coat can be relevant. While doing these repairs I was constantly surprised by what colors worked and what didn’t. I was very happy to have all these different colors on hand in these great Ceramcoat bottles. I lucked into these at a garage sale for a pittance, but now that I know their awesomeness I’d be happy to pay full price for them. Besides, these little bottles hold a lot of paint and keep it neat and fresh much better than paint tubes, so they’re a good investment. Having so many easy to use, pre-made horsey colors made color matching much easier- and less wasteful too.

Second: Keep track of what works. I use my handy-dandy notebook to write down what base acrylic colors I’m using on the horses so that I can recreate the mixes- or another useful hue- when I go back for more layers or additional repairs. (When I saw the photo of Alpo below I immediately noted on his page “left front hoof needs filing!”)

Third: Work quickly in small batches, with water and a rag close at hand. Acrylics dry very fast, so it’s important to remove applied paint immediately if it doesn’t match. Happily, wet acrylic is easily removable if you act fast. I brush the offending area with water to liquidate the applied color. Then I soak up the water and pigment with a larger, dry brush, which I wipe clean and dry again on the rag. Depending on how much pigment you are removing, this may take a few repetitions. Be careful not to let it leave a line of color around the edges of the area- you may need to scrub the remaining pigment a bit with the wet brush to pick it up.

Fourth: Blend beyond the repair. The goal of finish restoration is of course to repair the part that’s damaged. But if you only put your acrylic patch there, even the best color matching is going to leave a funny shape. You want to concentrate your pigment on the problem area, but use that same color watered down to blend into the rest of the horse. Alpo had a weird “rain rot” mark in his pastel work, outlined in red below. That’s where most of my pigment went, but I brushed thinner and thinner acrylic over the rest of the purple-outlined area as well to blend the repair into his body.

Speaking of acrylics, here’s Lilah with some of her acrylic detailing mapped in. The orange in her mane and tail is a bit garish, but even with that toned down I think she’ll be quite a stunner.

Palpable Pony Progress

I’ve been spending a lot of time working on the seven horses I hope to have ready for the show on March 25. They are all moving along at a lovely pace and it’s rather exciting to see so much progress.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon customizing and came to a place I don’t think I’ve ever been- done. Of course I’ve got a whole box of bodies and put-aside WIPs, but in terms of the six I’m focusing on, I was truly at a Stopping Point. Doublet and Troy Soldier (the earless twins) were both drying with new paint-matched acrylic layers. Kettil and Liam were both sanded and sculpted and wet with primer. And Lilah, Alpo and Typhoid Mary had fresh fixative over pastelled coats.

Lilah’s dark liver color is coming along nicely. This is about her third or fourth layer. I think she’s ready for some acrylic detailing before I go further with color development and shading.

Meanwhile, the feisty Fjord stallion Kettil (and his buddy Liam too) are just about ready for pastel coats. Ketil finally has his expressive mane, tail, and forelock added.

Taking photos is a great way to find trouble spots- when I’m working on him I’m mostly looking down from above or holding him. Here, at eye level with him standing on a flat surface, I can see how his hooves need leveling. One more thing to do…

Choosing Colors

Usually by the time I have a horse in primer I’ve given it a name and planned a color. But not so for the horse I’ve been referring to in my notes as “Head up mare” (She has a corresponding sister, Head down mare). She’s come a long way from her original digital mock-up to her current status as an almost-ready-to-paint creation.

Just a bit more sanding and primer and shell be ready to go

So now it’s crunch time to pick a color. She did give me a hint and told me that she should be some kind of chestnut, but there are so many beautiful choices out there. I’ve narrowed it down to seven reference horses (click to enlarge).

What do you think?

Remake progress

I am having a bit of a crappy week but I hope to spend much of this weekend working on models and distracting myself from the aforementioned crap.

Several of the models that I have been sculpting for weeks are nearing completion and will be ready for painting to start. I have been having so much fun with the sculpting aspect of things that I have barely done finish work lately. But soon I’m going to be overflowing with models needing paint work. I like to work in these batches, with lots of models needing sculpting or paint, because I can go slow and rotate around, working on each one each day and still having plenty to keep me occupied. Otherwise I work too fast and bad things happen.

This is Alpo, a snotty little pony made from the G3 Highland. He’ll be painted a very white grey.

This is a PS mule with a new belled tail. I’ve redone that darn tail about 5 times but I think this time I might actually keep it. He’ll be a chestnut with pangare.

The G2 Shetland with a less neurotic headset, new ears, tail, and knotted mane. She’ll be a semi portrait of my friend’s adorable rose grey Welsh.

I love to chop up stablemates. My original idea was simply to use the back half of the G2 ASB with the front half of the G1 Morgan mare (left) but then my friend told me I should put the two remaining halves together too, so the model on the right was born. Colors, names, and breeds are still undecided, and I have a lot of sculpting left to do on these two. The model on the right is my first to require massive muscle re-sculpting… I’m learning lots, and fast!

Mostly the above models require sanding, sanding, more sanding, and a few little tweaks. I also have a G3 Cantering Warmblood who I hope to start today; he’ll be a warm dapple bay. I may also get feisty and try some acrylic body work on my another (uncustomized) G3 Highland pony.

Model horses are great therapy.