Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Vistoso is finally done and up for auction on eBay! It was a long road, but well worth it in the end, I think. Now I can finally relax a little!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Tip

Welcome to the last tutorial in the dapple grey series! It is difficult to see the detail being painted in the video, so take a look at the shading in this picture (click to embiggen) and note where the dark and light areas are shaded around the braid in addition to the natural mixing of colors in the greying hair. Don't go overboard with the shading, or it will appear that the mane color itself has blocks of color on it. Keeping that in mind, let's move on to the video and recap:

  • Begin by basecoating the entire mane and tail in a dark color (if the hair is to be dark or medium grey) or a light color (if the hair is to be mostly white). Use a large brush for the bigger spaces, and a small brush with a good sharp point for the tighter spots. Make sure to get in all the nooks and crannies!
  • With the basecoat on, start adding some medium grey, leaving the deepest parts of the braid black. (If this were a very light mane, you might paint white or light grey over a medium grey basecoat, leaving some grey in the shadows.) Also leave a bit of dark paint along the line where the unbraided portion of the mane meets the braid.
  • Repeat this step, but with lighter greys and whites. These initial coats do not need to be very carefully painted (but obviously taking care not to get paint anywhere it doesn't belong) as they are just there to create some tonal guidance and act as a shaded basecoat to do the real work on. Do make sure to apply the color blocking in roughly the correct areas however; use references to get the greying pattern right.
  • With the basecoat in place, grab a very sharp and tiny round brush, and begin painting "hairs". Paint several layers of alternating light, medium and dark (in any order that best suits you), taking care to keep the natural variegation in color while adding some shading and highlighting to make the braid pop instead of blending in in one boring mass.
  • Be sure to get right up under the braid and around every bit of mane and tail. Details should be viewable from any angle.
  • Remember to take breaks! This process takes several hours and trying to do it all in one go usually results in sloppy and uneven work.
  • Try doing some wet on wet and some dry painting. The acrylics look a little different depending on which method is used, and you may find that one or the other, or both works best for you.
  • This method of shading does wonders for braids with no sculpted detail, and can even work to give a bit more precision to a simple crosshatch sculpted braid. But be careful, as overdoing it can easily cause a distraction instead of having the intended effect of unobtrusive realism.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Tip

Apologies for my absence, but Vistoso put my back out of commission for quite a while. It's feeling much better now, but I still don't quite have the mane painting video done. In the meantime, here is a tip that is really helpful for pieces that take a long time (ahem) to paint.

After a while, the paint will start drying on the palette, even when it is folded over. When it starts getting goopy around the edges, that gross stuff can sometimes get into the paint that is actually going on the model. This is not good! When goop happens, scrape as much good paint off of the palette as possible and put it on a new one. More blending medium or a drying retarder (like linseed oil) can be added if desired. In Vistoso's case, I actually put a tiny bit more drier in since the paint was taking several days to dry thoroughly.

Another related tip, always keep your paint until the horse is sprayed and photographed. You never know what you might notice while editing photos, and the repeated handling while finishing markings can damage paint. As long as the original mix is kept, the paint can be matched perfectly for touchups!

Monday, September 7, 2009

A quick peek!

Just a little peek at the whole thing before I move on to Vistoso's mane, tail and details. He is almost done! I hope to have him ready for auction by the end of the week, so stay tuned for sales information.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday Tip

With the dappling (mostly) done it is finally time to move on to finishing up the head and legs. We are almost there! I always do the head last on dapple greys whereas I would usually do it first on other solid colored horses. This is because there is so much fiddly work to do on a grey, I don't want to risk messing up the head in the meantime. (The head could certainly be finished off last on any color, it is simply my preference to do it earlier.) Before the video started, I scrubbed on a shaded layer of paint on the head to make blending the details possible. This was done in exactly the same way as previously shown, so we are just jumping straight into the details now:
  • Start by adding highlighting with a very precise small round brush. The highlights should go on the eyelashes (if the horse has light lashes), eyelids (don't forget under the eye!), around the nostrils, wrinkles can be created around the mouth, and any other spot that needs it. A lot of sculpting can be done with paint, and certain areas can be emphasized or fixed up a little with creative use of highlighting and shading. Just be careful not to go overboard or it will stand out saying "I am paint!" instead of just appearing to be natural shading.
  • Use a soft small round brush to gently blend the white lines in. Try not to over blend to a soft nothingness, but don't worry if you do. More paint can always be added, and sometimes it is better to overblend one part in order to better blend another highlight. On the flip side, blend enough so that the lines are not too stark! Practice is essential here, so do not get frustrated if the first, second or more attempts are not exactly as you want.
  • Next, add dark shadows between the eyelid and nose wrinkles, shade deep inside the nostrils, and anywhere else that needs it. Blend the black, and repeat with light and dark as much as necessary to get the highlights and shadows just so.
  • Now move on to the ears. If they have dark rims, use a small brush to paint around, and then shade the deepest part of the inside dark as well. My reference horse has some fuzzy white hairs inside his ears, so I am shading grey in between. The ears can be left dark too - consult your references. Don't forget to blend the backs of the ears!
  • Finish off the head with more hair texture anywhere that needs it. You can emphasize the grey on the nasal bones, perfect the hair whorl on the forehead, etc. Try to have some sort of hair effect even if it is just light grey and white in the lightest areas to simulate hair growth. With most of the horse hair textured, any spot that is not will look unfinished or not quite right.
  • When the head is done, fix up any areas on the body that still need work. Hair texture and dappling can be added at any time. If you are worried about ruining the work done on the head, you can always stop and come back when it is dry.
  • Finally, move on to the legs. I started this session with the legs already basecoated with 2-3 layers of shaded paint.
  • First, add black to the darkest areas, and stipple a little bit on over the white marks on the tendons.
  • Lightly go over the black with grey to add hair texture. You can go back and forth between black and grey until the shade and amount of texture looks right.
  • Add white according to your references. My horse has white on his tendons, insides of the upper legs, trailing down into the tendons behind the knees and in front of the hocks, behind the pasterns and around his coronet bands. These are very common areas to lighten, but not all horses grey out in the same way.
  • Touchups can be done at any time, but the body is now done! Tune in next week for painting the mane and tail!