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 grey 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:
I’ll admit two things right away with our grey horse tutorial: One, there are lots of different types of greys, and different types of grey stages. This horse is going to be a dapple grey, but when greys are “all greyed out,” they are virtually white. However, for painting, if you aren’t painting a portrait of course, it seemed less interesting to paint a nearly white horse.
Secondly, grey is one of the more difficult colors. I find grey the most difficult color with my professional painting, let alone with a limited palette. So if this is your very first time painting, you may want to try a bay or a chestnut horse first!
For my grey, I first started off with a mix of white and black paint, on the darker side. You will be able to mix varying shades of grey from these two colors, which we will use later. I added some layers of grey over the whole horse. I am using the tail as a "handle" while painting, so it will remain blank for now.
I am not looking to make the whole body of the horse one color, but to give myself a base to start adding lighter details. I added more layers around the muzzle, where it will be darker in the end, and less layers to the legs, which will be lighter in the end. Having a few reference photos of dapple grey horses handy may be helpful - even if we are going for a more painterly finish, rather than a hyper-realistic one.
Now, I’ll go in with some lighter grey, and maybe even some white, and start outlining the areas I want to highlight. I’m using thin washes of color here, around the flank, armpit, cheekbones, and high parts of the neck. Your white paint will go on more bright than it will dry, so don’t worry if it looks like you've added too much. Also, if you decide it did become too white, you can always add another thin layer with your darker color on top of it. This will tone the white down.
A lot has happened here! But most of it is just simple layers with the same two colors as before. I’ve added a bunch more layers to the legs of our lighter paint. I’m not trying to cover the darker layers entirely, but instead, I’m adding depth. You can also see that I’ve highlighted his hips and neck more.
I’ve also started on his dapples. With these paints, I felt that a simple dot-style dapple looked the most deliberate and best. I just took the tip of my brush at a point, and added my dapples, making sure they were in a natural-looking pattern and not in a line or a grid pattern (again, reference photos are handy!)
His mane, which was very dark, has some layers of light grey on it - I used the raised edges of the mane to my advantage and only lightly brushed the light grey on, so that it doesn’t get into the low parts of the mane, creating depth. I added some darker grey to his knees and hocks, like many grey horses tend to have. I also have painted his hooves grey. One mistake a lot of people make is painting a grey horse's feet tan. Unless the horse has a sock on that leg, its hooves are grey like any other solid leg. If you need some tan for a light colored hoof, though, it’s easy to make with some by mixing together the white and brown paint.
Here is my final grey! I’ve lightened him up a bit more here. To add layers to his dapples, I added a few more light washes of grey all over the body. This helped blend in my dot dapples slightly. Then, when it was all dry, I used the tip of my brush again and added a smaller dot of paint into some of the dapples.
His tail has been finished here as well, first with dark grey paint, and then like his mane, I brushed over the tail with a few layers of light grey at the base, making sure to let the lowest indents stay dark. I’ve used a toothpick to paint his eyes, with a dab of white on the edge by the tear duct, brown for the iris, and black for the pupil.