Painting a 3D model horse for the first time can be intimidating, especially when you are trying for a realistic horse color. What seems like simple patterns in the real world can seem difficult when it’s time to put paint down on your model. Here, I’ll give you some tips on how to create a bay horse with a Stablemates Paint and Play set!
Along with items in the set, you’ll want some paper towels (to try your brush off with between colors and layers,) water in a small cup, a styrofoam plate or something else non-absorbent to use to mix paints (I’m using a scrap piece of palette paper) and a toothpick to help with eye detail. You can also use a hair dryer with a low or cool setting in between layers if you’d like to speed up the drying process.
First, a few other tips that will be helpful for any color you choose to paint:
For our bay, I am going to start mixing some of the brown and some of the white to create a lighter tan on my little scrap of palette paper. Less is more when you are mixing these paints, because they are going to dry out between your layers. That’s okay!
As you can see, with one layer of our tan, the horse is still pretty transparent. I’m putting this tan over the whole horse, even though in the end it will only mostly highlight the flanks, belly, and parts of the face. I’ve done this because it will help make the paint less transparent for your darker layers, and help add some “glow” to the coat!
I’m also going to use the whiteware (unpainted area) coloring to my advantage, to keep the flank areas bright. I’m not too concerned about covering up the whiteware 100%.
This is our bay with three layers of tan, and now one layer of the brown paint right out of the container. You can see my start of a change in color on the barrel, which looks like a half moon swoop. I know you can barely see the difference, but keep at it!
If you feel like your layers are starting to “gum up” or that the brush is dragging on the model and moving the layers underneath, you’ll want to let the horse dry completely. While your horse will feel dry to the touch in a matter of minutes, it doesn’t mean that it is dry all the way through. Patience is key!
I’ve put a few more layers of the straight brown coloring down, staying away from the flank and areas I want to keep the lightest all the way through. I’ve also put down my first layer of straight black paint on the mane, tail, muzzle, eye shading, and mane. Don’t worry about getting the small tendrils of the mane yet - we can do that later with the toothpick.
I know the black legs look really stark and terrible, but we are going to mix some dark brown paint and blend them in next! I’ve left the tail unpainted for now, as that is my handle while painting.
Well, I realize this is a drastic change from the last photo, but what I’ve done is made myself a dark brown. Because we’ve built up so many layers of the other colors, it will now be easier to build up the darkest portions of brown in less layers.
The topline of your horse is always going to be darkest when painting a shaded bay, and as you can see, most of the face has also been shaded darker. This is also when I start touching up all the rest of my colors.
Now that you’ve almost finished your horse, you have a feel for how these paints work. Feel free to blend in your layers where you want to with different colors to start being more subtle, or pop out, etc.
As you’ve probably realized, the paint brush provided in the Paint and Play kits is too big to work on even simple eyes. Luckily, a toothpick is perfect for this! I’ve used my toothpick to put a small dab of white in the corner of the eye. Then, I make a larger circle of dark brown as the iris (colored part of the eye). When that is dry, I’ll add a black dot for the pupil. I’m also going to use the toothpick to paint the end tendrils of the mane, and bridlepath (shaved patch of hair behind the horse's ears).
Our last step is to paint the hooves and tail! For a horse with dark legs, you’ll want some dark grey hooves. This can be done by mixing a bit of your white and black paint together, of course! One color grey looks fine at this scale, but you can also shade with some darker grey up by the base of the hoof with either your brush or your toothpick. When your whole horse is dry, finish up your tail with black paint. You're finished!