Along with being used to create smaller details such as roaning, clipped coats, and white markings, etching can also be used to remove larger areas of paint on a model to create pinto patterns. This technique takes lots of patience, but the results look great!
To etch a pinto, you’re going to need: a hobby knife (or other etching tool of choice), a model horse, and at least one reference photo for your pinto pattern. Some pinto patterns are quite intricate, so the more angles you can get the better. Acrylic paint is optional, but can be used to detail the muzzle, eyes, and hooves after etching.
Choosing a Pinto Pattern
There’s a wide variety of pinto patterns, and no two are exactly alike. While you can choose to etch any pattern you’d like, there are a few things you may want to take into consideration:
|An etched tobiano pattern.||An etched frame overo pattern.|
How to Etch
Etching is a very simple technique – just hold your model securely, and use your hobby knife to carefully scrape away the original paint in any areas of the pinto pattern that are supposed to be white. Keep your reference photos handy and look at them often to make sure that your pattern matches your reference. Also make sure you’re using a sharp blade, and switch it out for a new one if etching starts to become more difficult.
Some artists etch with the back of the blade (shown here) while others prefer to use the front.
The term “mapping” refers to the lighter color that’s sometimes seen along the edge of pinto markings where the colored and white areas meet. Not all pintos have mapping, so it’s up to you if you want to add it to your model or just stick with clean, distinct edges.
|Crisp, distinct edges.||Soft, mapped edges.|
Although paint isn’t a requirement for etching, you can use it to add extra detail to your model. A horse with a stripe, blaze, or snip will benefit from having some subtle pink shading added on the white areas of the muzzle, and light-colored hooves are usually painted on if white leg markings were added. You can also repaint the eyes to add detail or to change their color. No primer is required for these small areas, but you should wash your model first to help the paint stick better. Once dry, you can just paint right over the factory paint.
|Repainted eyes on an etched Tobiano.||
Repainted and glossed hooves.
If you do add any painted details to your model, be sure to seal those areas with clearcoat to protect the paint. Some artists spray the entire model with Testors Dullcote, while others use brush-on sealers that are found at craft stores near the acrylic paints. You can even use clear nail polish to gloss the hooves and eyes if you’d like. Once finished, let your horse dry and admire your new pinto!
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