Learn How to Paint a Shaded Base Coat On a Model Horse

  • 01 of 07

    Learn How to Paint a Shaded Base Coat to Customize a Model Horse

    Artist resin model draft horse ready for painting
    Learn how to create shaded, painted layers on a model horse to add realism to your painting projects. Photo © 2011 Jeanne Grunnert

    Painting model horses or changing a basic Breyer horse in any way is called customizing a model horse. You can customize or paint a Breyer model directly out of the box and change its factory color into one you like better, or you can paint white markings on the Breyer horse and customize it just a little bit. Model horse such as Artist Resin horse models are usually custom painted; most Artist Resin model horses are sold unpainted, and it's up to the buyer to prep the model horse and then paint it into the desired color, or hire a painting artist to finish the model for you.

    Kollean Gouyton of Stone Wolf Creations, Alaska, shared her steps for painting a shaded base coat. She is using the Boise Bound Artist Resin draft horse.

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  • 02 of 07

    Prep and Prime Your Model Horse Before Painting

    Prepping an artists resin model horse before adding base coats
    Prepping an artists resin model horse before adding base coats. Copyright 2011 Kollean Gouyton Used With Permission

    The first step before adding any color to your model horse is to prep it. Prepping means sanding off any bumps or lumps, filling in pinholes and other areas, and sometimes carving out the ears, hooves or nostrils. If you're going to paint a Breyer horse, you may wish to sand off the Breyer logo and sand away or fill any seam marks or gouges, depending on the condition of the model. You do not need to strip off the factory paint. Acrylic paints adhere well to the plastic body of Breyer horse models.

    Artist Resin model horses need special prepping. Read and follow the instructions for prepping an Artist Resin model horse first, since the technique is slightly different than prepping a Breyer.

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  • 03 of 07

    Painting a Chestnut Model Horse by Adding a Red / Brown Base Coat

    Artists resin model horse being prepped with a red brown base coat
    The base coat for a chestnut colored model horse is a color called Autumn Brown. Copyright 2011 by Kollean Gouyton. Used with permission.

    The final model horse will be a deep red chestnut with various markings, so the first step in painting it is to paint a base coat. Black, dark bay and gray horse models usually start with a black base coat. Chestnuts like this one start with a red base coat. Kollean is using acrylic paints to paint this model horse and acrylic brushes of various sizes. Thin the paint and experiment with it before painting your first model horse. It's important to paint it carefully, with paint the proper texture, and the correct brushes, to avoid unsightly lines.

    The base coat on the model shown here is a color called "Autumn Brown." To avoid brush marks, Kollean prefers to thin the paint and paint two coats rather than try to cover the entire model in one coat.

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  • 04 of 07

    Add the Next Base Coat of Paint Using Barn Red to Paint a Chestnut Model Horse

    Artists resin model horse painted with a barn red base coat to achieve a shaded chestnut color.
    A third coat of Barn Red is added to the model horse's body to achieve a shaded chestnut color with rich depth and detail. Copyright 2011 by Kollean Gouyton. Used with permission.

    After painting the first two coats of Autumn Brown, the next coat of paint should be a red color for a chestnut colored model horse. Using acrylic paints, the entire body of the model is covered with the third coat of paint in Barn Red. The mane and tail are left unpainted right now because eventually they will be flaxen colored. This horse model is a Belgian horse, and Belgians are typically chestnut or sorrel colored with flaxen manes and tails.

    If you're repainting a Breyer horse model into a chestnut colored horse, you may need to add one more coat or subtract a base coat of paint, depending on the original color of the model horse you are repainting.

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  • 05 of 07

    Paint the Flaxen Base Coat on a Model Horse for a Flaxen Mane and Tail

    Painting the base coat on the mane and tail of an artist resin model horse
    Paint the base coat on the mane and tail for your chestnut model horse. Copyright 2011 by Kollean Gouyton. Used with permission.

    Before adding shading to the model horse, paint the base coat for the flaxen mane and tail. In this picture, "Golden Brown" acrylic paint was added in two thin layers on the mane and tail. Use a narrow acrylic paint brush and try not to get paint onto the body of the horse model. After both coats dry, thin out some of the Golden Brown paint, and paint a lighter coat on just the tips of the mane. This adds shading to the mane and makes it seem like it's glinting in the sunlight! Repeat the process on the tail. You might want to use a very fine paint brush to paint just a few strands in on the tail of the lightest Golden Brown coat.

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  • 06 of 07

    How to Paint the Shading on the Face of the Chestnut Colored Model Horse

    Shading the face paint on a model horse.
    Begin adding shading to the model horse's face, especially the muzzle and eye area. Photo © 2011 Kollean Gouyton Used With Permission

    The last step to create shading on the model horse is to add shaded colors to the areas of the horse model's body that would normally be in light and shadow. On this closeup of the face, you can see how it is done. Mocha Brown paint applied to the muzzle is gently shaded in by thinning the paint. It's added only to the muzzle. A real Belgian horse has a lightly shaded muzzle, with more details like pink-brown lips. As this project progresses, more shading is added over the model horse's body using Mocha Brown to blend in brown points along the muscles and other parts. The eye area is also shaded using Mocha Brown.

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  • 07 of 07

    Use a Good Reference Picture to Paint Your Model Horse

    Chestnut Colored Horse
    Use a reference picture of an actual horse to get the color and shading right on your model horse. Copyright 2011 by Jeanne Grunert. Used with permission.

    As you continue shading your model horse and adding layers of color, a good reference picture helps a lot to get the color just right. For example, in a picture of a red chestnut colored horse, notice how the coppery color of his coat is really a mix of many different colors and the sunlight creates areas of highlights and shadow. Many shades mix together to form the light chestnut color. Nature never uses one color; colors are always a blend of many colors together.

    Thank You to artist Kollean Gouyton for sharing her photos of a work in progress and explaining the detailed shading technique she uses.