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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Painting horses with oil paint

I have been painting some Elite and Old Glory horses using the 'oil drag' method. It is pretty simple, you base coat the horse and then block in a colour, such as yellow ochre. Then you liberally baste the beast in a darker oil paint such as burnt umber. You leave the paint on the horse for some time. Some people whip the paint off after five minutes, others leave the paint for an hour or more. When you wipe off the paint, with a cotton cloth (old t-shirt) there is a residual stain on the original paint. More paint is lifted from raised areas, creating highlights.

This time I have been painting highlights on the horses with oils. After finishing the process outlined above, I paint a light line of colour onto the high points of the horse. Then I wipe the brush clean and 'blend' the lighter colour into the surround by brushing away from the light line of paint. This gradually fades the lighter colour into the darker background. Oil paint is very forgiving. You can move it around very easily with the brush, or even wipe it off with a cloth.

I have also been using the oil paint to dapple some of my white and grey horses. I was in the UK recently and dug around in my collection. I found a beautiful Cuirassier figure where the horse for the trumpeter was dappled. I wanted to recreate this effect so I painted up a hundred or so horses in white and light grey. After preparing the horses with the oil drag method, I used black ink to give a patchy darkening to some areas of the horse. I had noticed that dapple horse have a varying colour 'under' the dappling.

The dappling I have created is quite strong. There will be a highly detailed rider in the middle of the horse. Anything around it has to be quite strong to show up. If it turns out I need to fade the dappling I can dry brush lightly over the lot in white. This may look even more interesting.

I was struck by how beautiful the horse looked in gloss. These horses are destined for my Napoleonics, so they must be matted down. But I think I will have to consider painting up another period just in gloss. I am thinking about painting the Minden range of 7YW figures.
One of the horses after Matt varnish
It might be interesting to paint the whole army with oil paints. I will have to pick up some more oils when I am next in the UK.

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