Friday, 11 May 2012

Painting Horses

Part 1 - Preparing the Horse
This is how I paint the majority of my horses. I've shown in earlier posts how I use the oil wipe technique but I'll give a start to finish account of how I paint horses here.

This first pic shows the finished horses. How I did it is outlined here.

Here are the horses to be painted - 7 castings from Crusader Miniatures. I'm using these as an example as they will be used for the Norman knights. The casting, rear left, is the 'old style' horse the others the newer replacements.

Firstly the figures are undercoated with Humbrol Matt Enamels. Left to right they are Humbrol Matt Red Brown (100), Insignia yellow (154), and Matt Leather (62.)

Next I use Daler-Rowney (Georgian) Burnt Umber oil paint to cover the figures. Thin the oil with White Spirit to get a thin milky consistency - experiment here. Some painters use the oil paint quite thickly and get great results. (See photos in an earlier posting showing the oil consistency.)

Now I do the 'oil wipe.' Sometimes I leave the figures until I've done about 5-6 before wiping off. Other times I leave then for about 15-20 mins then wipe - again experiment here. The ones I've done here were given a quick overall wipe after I'd oiled all 7. Then after 15 mins I gently tidied up the finish with a careful and light wipe in selected places - head, rump, chest and top of legs. As you do this you see how the finished effect will be. (If you take off too much oil just add some more and wipe again.) Once you get the hang of it you'll find the results very effective.

For wiping I use a piece of old t-shirt. For tidying up after 15-20 mins I carefully use a piece of kitchen roll or the t-shirt - both work well.

After a general first wipe

These (above) were given a careful wipe after 15 mins to tidy them up. They are still 'wet' but the ones on the left are drying quite quickly. This photo was taken immediately after the wipe.

These (above) were photoed straight after the ones above them in a different light and you can see they are still 'wet.' You can also see how they look after the wiping.

Leave overnight to dry. This batch were done on the afternoon and I started the next stage - block painting the colours - at 10. 30 am the following day so no problems with drying here!

The figs all dry and ready to be painted up.

Next time: Part 2 - Painting the detail etc.
Taster - I've painted the tail/mane black on some and drydrushed the others with Vallejo Green Ochre.

This account will simply show the method used. You can adapt the method in many ways to give more variety including:
different colour undercoats
different oil colours
varying the wiping off method - how long you leave the oiled figures before rubbing and how much you wipe off!

I'll probably show the effects achieved using the different oils, undercoats etc. as I paint more horses for the Norman knights.

Below are a couple more completed samples. This effect was achieved by using the method outlined in the tutorial above.  (The figure on the left is a plastic Norman Knight.)

I appreciate that this method has been described numerous times in many places (books, mags, internet ...) and by many talented painters. I'm only showing how I do it from the various requests I've had. I also appreciate that this method is not to everyones taste and that many prefer various other methods of horse painting so take it or leave it as you see fit!


  1. That's a great result. I tried this about 30 years ago but I think I didn't thin the paint enough. Might give it another go on my next cavalry unit. Thanks.

  2. Lovely tutorial and a very good result. Much simpler than the method I use..I´ll definately give it a go. Thanks

  3. Very nice stuff there. Ill have to give it a try too. Hard to believe that the horses painted red and yellow (literally!) turn out looking sooooo good!

  4. I have been a fan of it for years. It does always produce effective results as you show. Great tutorial

  5. Thanks for the walk through of the technique. Very effective!

  6. Great looking horses! Thanks for the tutorial.

  7. Excellent tutorial - arguably the most important of the lot? The best technique for representing 'horseflesh' - I have not seen anything better !!

  8. Great tutorial will have to give that a go!

  9. That Humbrol 'red brown' looks really effective. I use 'orange' but I think your choice looks more subtle. I will try your colour next time (very soon:))!

  10. I was giving this a try and when I began rubbing the oil coat off, I took the paint right along with it. I guess the question I have is do you prime first and then apply your enamel undercoat or are you applying the undercoat directly to the horse without a primer base?

  11. Fantastique !!!!!! clap clap clap clap

  12. Would you mind if I post your tutorial on my own forum ?

  13. Wonderful tutorial my friend. Im about to try emulating this method but have one question. Part 1 Step three the painting of the Humbrol enamel colours, is this done over the cleaned bare metal, or are they spray / painted a primer colour white?

    Thanks a lot ;)