Friday, June 01, 2012

Horses Progress #1

I have been asked to do a detail of my fast painting horses method, first shared to me by Bluebear Jeff, so I shall go through the progress and include what detail comes to mind.  Please do ask any questions that you have so that this may be a useful resource to others in the future.

As with most painted metal men, flashing cleaned off, then I mount them to fender washers.  Small #12 or 3/16" ones for the foot troops and line cavalry (two on each base) or a larger 1/4" disc for command types and 'blown or disorder' horses.  I do this so that my minis can be attached to sheet metal stands using powerful neodymium magnets.  I spent quite a lot on the bases (originally for SHAKO) and have since found the same bases useful in Napoleon's Battles, Fast Play Grande Armee, Tricorne Wars (Jeff's design) and Warfare in the Age of Reason.  I can re-base or re-arrange the troops as needed and whenever casualties occur on the field of battle I just 'tip them over' leaving them on the field where they lay.

After that I mount the mini onto a painting stick ... I have used paint can stir sticks, leveling wedges and 'spacers' from wood packing crates, which most of my paint sticks are.  I get them for free at lumber yards as these are normally waste products that keep the cut lumber from wearing against themselves in shipping.  I have seen folks use hobby sticks (like large tongue depressors) and other wooden or card scrap materials for the same job.  I suggest anything flat, stiff and free (since it will be used many times by me, I like the wood as it lasts longer).  I mount them to the sticks with thinned out paper glue, the 'school glue' non-toxic and washable.  I used 'thinned out' with water as I do not want the mini to be permanently attached, just stay on the stick well enough to be turned upside down while I work with the paintbrush and still be able to 'release' so that I can take them off and use in game.

I have used gray base coat material on this lot, as it was all that I have left in stores right now.

Base coated and ready to paint horses

For this method of horse painting the riders are done separately.  This way you can lavish the attention to each part that it needs.  One school of thought is to do the horse very basic while making the rider more detailed and layered.  I like to do the horse with the fast approach and spend some time on the rider and shabraque (horse blanket), especially if it is 'cast' on the horse.

My riders are all mounted to a cardboard wedge with a 'cutout' that I use as a saddle space.

Again the thinned out white glue is used to attach them as I want them to let loose so that I can attach them to the horse once both are painted ready to go.

Base coated and ready to paint riders

Work now commences on the painting.

I use GOLDEN tube acrylics, I mix almost all my own colors.  In tubes I have black, white, ultramarine blue, primary yellow, primary magenta and burnt umber.  I cheat for certain colors with crafters hunter green and base flesh.  For metallics I am back to GOLDEN tubes with iridescent fine bronze, silver and gold (these metallic tubes I have had for more than 15 years and still have only used maybe 1/2 of them).  I started with the little pots of paint, they kept drying out, so I went back to my art training and began mixing my own colors again.  All acrylics as I cannot have the mineral spirits around with my small son who likes to get into things still...

The first tools
My palette consists of an old white section of plastic signboard, a corrugated plastic center (like cardboard) with a flat white plastic sheeting outside.  I wrap this in plastic food wrap, so that when I have filled the palette with paint sections that have all dried out or I just do not want to use them any more I just lift off the 1/2 of the board I was using tear off the plastic with the paint on it and toss it away, in less than 15 seconds I have a clean palette and continue painting or have it ready for the next day all clean.

Everything is this stage is WET, very WET and thinned out.  I mix 1/2 & 1/2 brown & black, thin with water till runny and slop it all on ... I do this with any color base spray.  Even black.  Why?  No matter how good the spray or what focus you did when you put the base coat on, somewhere gets missed, this wet dark brown is a perfect way to complete the base coating.  With gray and white you get a darkening effect which helps to bring out the tack and harness.

Leader horse on 1/4" fender washer ready for paint

First stage wash in progress, work it WET

First stage of all horse done

The entire time for this first stage took me 1 hour, that included 41 horses and riders, 2 staff officers and 24 artillerymen.  (along with pauses to take pictures)

These minis were then left to dry overnight.

Stage 2 was the 'white pulling' or "wet light brush".

Here a white was thinned out and an old straight brush was charged up with the paint.

The paint is then very lightly dabbed or brushed or pulled across the miniatures.

The lighter the contact, or more spaces that are left without paint then the darker the final miniature will be.

You can also work with the wet paint being so thin that it becomes bubbly.  Do not fret if there are 'splotches' on the miniatures.  The horses will look very strange at this stage, that is normal.

Wet 'pulling' and dappling on the future highlights

A very light hand here with the thinned out white wet paint
This stage was just the horses, some 26 minutes for the 41.  (and pictures)

These horses are then left to dry overnight.

My next posting will be about the color work.

Leave your thoughts and comments or any questions, thank you for your time.


Bluebear Jeff said...

Murdock uses a variation of my original technique . . . but the philosophy remains the same.

Focus should be on the RIDER, not the horse. As long as the horse is reasonably recognizable as a horse, the eye will go to the riders . . . where we want it.

-- Jeff

Rafael Pardo said...

Curious about the final result

MurdocK said...

I have actually shown the work before, just not with the same level of detail as I plan to with this series.

Here are the steps in photos from 2007:

White base

Color Layer

First Inks

Second Inks and harness

With Final riders attached