Etching is most often used to add white markings, pinto patterns, or appaloosa patterns to otherwise solid horses. However, it can also be used to add other effects – like a clipped coat, for example.
An etched hunter clip with hearts on a Stablemates Friesian.
To etch a clipped coat, you’re going to need at least three things: a hobby knife (or a different etching tool of choice), a model horse, and one or more reference photos. You may also want to have some acrylic paint or a pencil to trace out your bodyclipping pattern before you start etching it.
Choosing a Pattern
There are several different types of clips: hunter, Irish, blanket, and trace, to name a few. Do some research on the various types to help you decide which one you’d like to do on your model - our article "The Art of Bodyclipping" by professional bodyclipper Morgan Osbaldeston is a great place to start!
Many people also like to add fun designs to their horse’s clipped coats. Stars, hearts, wings, and musical notes are all examples of additional symbols you could put on your model. For these, an internet search is the best way to find inspiration.
Laying Out a Pattern
You can choose to etch your desired pattern by hand, but quite a few artists like to have some guide markings to make sure the pattern turns out the way they intended. I often use watered-down acrylic paint to mark areas that need to stay solid, but you could also use a pencil, pastel pencil, or anything else that will wash off for this purpose.
How to Etch
Etching a clipped coat is a bit different from etching a solid white area, as you’re trying to lighten the coat color rather than completely remove it. To do this, you simply etch tiny lines over a large area to give the coat the illusion of being a lighter color. The more lines you add (or the closer together they are), the lighter the coat will appear. This is the same technique that’s used to etch roaning, mapping, or sabino markings onto a model.
You can always remove more paint but you can’t put it back on, so start gently at first and etch more paint off as needed to achieve the desired color. Be extra careful at the edges of the pattern, so you don’t leave any marks in areas that are supposed to remain solid. Taking your time and paying close attention to your guidelines is the best way to prevent unwanted scratches, or you can use painter’s tape to protect unclipped areas and help you make sure the edges of clipped areas are relatively straight. On small models you may need to use your knife to touch-up the edges (after washing off paint or guidelines) to make sure they’re straight. Always be sure you’re using a sharp blade, which makes it easier to etch fine lines than a dull one does.
|Etching a hunter clip with hearts on a Shetland Pony.
The painted lines and hearts mark where to stop etching.
|A close-up of all the tiny etch lines that make up
the clipped areas.
Once you’re finished etching the clipped coat, wash off any acrylic paint, pencil, or anything else you used as guidelines. Washing also gets rid of all the little paint flakes that come off while etching, and gives you a clean surface if you want to add any other painted details (such as hooves or eyes) to your model.
|The final result.||The etched model next to his original finish counterpart.|
Last but not least, be sure to clearcoat any painted details you add to your model. Clear nail polish and brush-on sealers (often found near the acrylic paints at craft stores) are all good choices. After that, just let your horse dry and enjoy your new creation!
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