The bad news is that scratches and rubs happen to the most beautiful and beloved models. The good news is that they can be repaired! These areas of imperfection can be corrected using a variety of mediums. I have tried them all and have found oils to be the easiest medium to use.
John Henry's scratched muzzle.
Many people avoid oils for a variety of reasons, such as they take a long time to dry, are messy, and are hard to blend - but for fixing a model horse, oil paints have a richness and subtlety that works well when trying to cover scratches. You’ll get perfect results with the following glazing technique.
No matter the age of your model, begin by cleaning the scratched area with rubbing alcohol. Let it dry. This will remove any excess dirt or debris that may hinder your painting process.
When choosing oil colors, it is wise to keep a variety of horse colors on hand for quick touch-ups. The best way to pick the correct color for your touch-up is to uncap the tube of oil paint, squeeze a tiny bit out, and hold it next to the horse in natural lighting. This John Henry model we're working on is a dark bay, so I chose a regular bay color (Burnt Sienna) and added a darker brown (Burnt Umber) to the mix.
|Squeeze out oils on a paper palette
for easy clean-up.
When mixing oils, keep your brushes clean. I use the oil paint straight from the tube without extenders like linseed oil.
Squeeze the colors you’ll be using out on a paper plate or similar palette. Dip your brush into turpentine to get the brush slick. Blot any excess turpentine from the brush onto a dry paper towel, then load up the brush with your oil color.
|Load up a water color brush with oils.|
After the brush has been loaded, blot it on a dry paper towel to take off any excess oil paint.
|Blot excess oils from brush.|
Another blotting method is to make wispy marks on a blank sheet of paper. This helps to take off the excess oils from the brush.
Another method of blotting: swiping the brush on paper.
Blotting the paint helps to keep the application of the oils light and almost “glaze –like." After this blotting, gently apply the color to the scratch. The first coat will cover the exposed plastic, but only slightly.
The hardest part about painting with oils is having patience. After the first layer of glaze is applied, the next step is to wait for that layer to dry fully. The first layer, because of the blotting, will probably take a day to do so.
|Brush oils on the scratch.|
As soon as the first glazed layer is dry, you can then apply another layer of your oil color in the “glaze-blot” fashion.
|Apply a second coat.|
This John Henry model needed three layers of oil to cover the scratch on his nose.
|The third coat of oils completely covered this scratch.|
Keep building the glazed color until the scratch disappears. If the area around the scratch gets too much paint on it, just wipe off any extra - that is the beauty of oils! You have time to remove any color you don’t like or need in an area well before it dries.
When you are finished just clean up your brush in turpentine and you’re done. It’s as simple as that!
|Newly-repaired John Henry model.|
HOT TIP: Try applying your oils with a watercolor brush. Watercolor brushes keep application very smooth and supple.
HELPFUL LIST: List of colors to keep on hand in your workbench: Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna, Raw Umber, Naples Yellow, Mars Black, Davy’s Grey, Indian Yellow, Indian Red. With these, you’ll always have the perfect color at your fingertips!