Sometimes small changes can make a huge difference on your customized model horse projects. One often made change is to add a fresh new mane and tail. Past articles have been written about the how-to, but here we’re going to address the “why-to”. Hair can change more to a model than you might think, and it needs to reflect the personality of the horse. Before you even start to change the hair, try to reflect on the expression and mood you want your final work of art to reflect. What is the personality you would like your one-of-a-kind creation to have?
Long hair can look either romantic, or wild, or both. Having a extra-long forelock, laid flat and covering one eye, can lend a mystical, mysterious, mischievous, or even bashful look to a model, as if he is hiding something or even playing peek-a-boo. Be careful not to use this effect too often, and note that totally covering an eye can be off-putting to some people. To play it safe, only partially cover one eye, and leave a little bit of it showing, to appeal to the biggest group of collectors, if it is a model you plan on selling. If it’s a creation purely for your own enjoyment, do whatever you like!
Long hair that is windswept or flowing back adds excitement or drama. Be sure that the mane and tail, if windblown, are both going the same direction! If a horse is spinning, and creating its own breeze, try to plan ahead to make sure the flow is natural and accurate. References can help.
Don’t forget to maximize breed characteristics when sculpting hair. Some breeds, like Friesians and Morgans, often have horizontal waves or curl in their hair. Maximize this effect to help your model look even more like the breed it represents. Also be aware of styles used in various breeds. For example, Friesians do not have a bridle path cut into their manes at all, while Arabian horses in the show ring typically have exaggerated bridle paths, where up to one third of the mane at the top of the neck is shaved off completely.
Shown here are a few examples of models that were given dramatically different looks mainly through the use of newly sculpted manes and tails. On the “Ethereal” models, one has a heavy, windswept mane and tail.
With the addition of a bit more belly, a flipped ear, and a pinto paint job, he makes a fun Chincoteague Pony stallion! Tiny elegant braids and a subdued paint job on his brother transform him into a sophisticated Australian Sport Pony.
Despite the big differences in the finished models, most of this is an optical illusion created just by changing the hair.
On the “Alborozo” model, the first example shows a wild chestnut overo Spanish Mustang stallion. Body changes were minor, and include ears turned back, and a slight tweak to the head. Other than that, all the drama and excitement were created with paint and a thick mane flying in an imaginary wind.
Let’s see what happens when we rein in that attitude! On my second custom Alborozo, the most difficult part comes first - removing all that mane that is laid flat to the neck.
This required a couple of hours with a Dremel motor tool. After that, a lot of sculpting was needed to try and match the muscle detail that was lost.
This is a pretty challenging model to work with because of this, a much simpler path would be to use any number of molds that have the mane off the neck completely. Remember when adding new epoxy, first rough up the plastic with sandpaper, and make sure you clean the dust off with soap and water, before trying to stick the epoxy clay onto the neck. It’s critical that the epoxy has a rough, clean surface to stick to.
Pulling out my references, I decide to go with a fun French Braid on this fellow, for an elegant Baroque look. I start by mixing up a bit of epoxy, and only sculpt the top portion of the mane. I let this first part dry completely before moving on. Next, I make a snake of epoxy that is slightly thinner at one end.
Looking carefully at the references as I go, I shape it into a braid to resemble the photographs.
For the tail, I cut off one “chunk” of tail that seemed to be blowing wildly out of place, and sanded down the excess. I reworked a thin layer on top to form a smooth, tame and well-groomed tail worthy of a Dressage ring.
Whatever the mood you’d like to create, here are some hints. Most important, have an idea of the feeling or expression you’d like, and try to visualize or even sketch out the mane and tail you’d like before you ever mix up your epoxy. Once you have style figured out, remember that you can use layers to build an underlying framework by cutting off lengths of wire and adding epoxy to this support.
Be aware of the breed you’d like to represent, and keep it correct. Braids or banded show manes should be neat and tidy, and in correct scale. If you’re sculpting long manes and tails, take into consideration performance elements, like saddles or breast collars.
Now you’re ready to give it a try! Have fun and be creative, and go give that custom model horse a salon-worthy new style!