Picking up those brushes again.

Hi and welcome to the occasional mutterings of Dave Doc, a military modeller and some time gamer. Gaming and model making has given me a real education, History & Geography(obvious really), Artistry, Politics, Economics, Logistics, Project Management -you try building miniature armies without the last 3.

I will use the blog to record my creations & the odd occasion I actually do some gaming.

I have always been inspired by the aesthetic side of gaming. Playing on well constructed terrain using excellently painted units is always a joy.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

White Horses

Aaargh!! I hear you say.  I love painting white horses, and you never need that many usually so I don't mind spending a bit of time on them. As I am working on a cavalry regiment at the moment I thought I would try and deconstruct how i did them to work it out as it has mostly been discovered through good old trial and error. I have tried various methods from just white , grey, oil washes etc, and have settled on this method.

Horse initially undercoated in Humbrol 67 (Tank Grey) - yes dark grey.. Allow to dry properly. Then a heavy dry brush of Humbrol 64 (Light Grey), allow to touch dry, then again a heavy dry brush of Humbrol 34 (White) - making sure the paint is not too thin, even just using a bit of thick stuff at the bottom. I don't find I get the same result using acrylics here at all , they don't dry brush as well. The aim being to give a good lightening effect from the dark grey  but still leave darker areas in the muscles folds, around horse furniture etc

This is after the 3 first coats as above.

Next up add the furniture. I this case i am also colouring the tail, mane, socks and the muzzle using a Vallejo black. For the eyes, again just black. Don't worry about "whites of the eyes" - horses don't really have them they are more yellow anyway and horse pupils are very large - you are looking for suggestion here

Now time for the hard earned experience bit. White and grey can look a bit stark or dull. I want to add a little bit of warmth to it. I use water thinned Vallejo Khaki Grey (70880). Take a large brush and paint clean water all over the horse. Then working quickly using the large brush add neat Khaki to the horse -  it will run with the water already applied, work it over the horse. If it appears too thick add more water to your brush, too thin a little more paint. Allow the colour to collect in the folds around the furniture etc. Too much water? Dry your brush on kitchen paper then by touching it to the water area it will draw water and pigment off the horse.

At this stage it can look a little odd, but once it dries (a few minutes) it gives a certain warmth and weathering (probably sweat!) to the horse.

Next , i then use Vallejo Neural Grey (70992) and paint a few thin line marks on the flanks and neck etc to help suggest movement and muscles too. Out with Off White (70820) next to paint (not drybrush - but paint in ) the tops of muscles and flanks. You can at this stage add any dapple you want with the Off White. The horse furniture ,tale , main, muzzle and socks are given a light dry brush of the Khaki and hoofs painted in in Khaki. The muzzle is then given a light brush of Dark Flesh.heavier at the mouth end.
Furniture brasses and steel then added. Add any further dry brush to tail and mane etc . Add any neat pure white to muscles, flank, nose top blaze etc if you want too. Again you can over dapple with dots of pure white.Just remember sometimes less is more!

Overall it does not take that long. Funny thing is it is not until near the end that it all seems to come together and suddenly it comes to life.

Time to complete one horse about 15 minutes altogether with a bit of drying time between some operations

And some more with riders i did this week

Belgian 2nd Carabinier Trumpeter(with own added trumpet etc as the range did not have one!)

Belgian 2nd Carabinier Officer

"Conoisseur" Heavy Horses. I do like them!


  1. Dave,

    The khaki wash had never occurred to me before but it is indeed very effective. The greys i have that look that good have all been subject to 'browning varnish syndrome' - your method is more immediately satisfying than waiting 30 years for the varnish to go off....8-)

    Gilder horses remain my favourites - there may be others that are more correct anatomically, but none that have the 'life' and movement.


  2. Spot on DC. It was hours of looking at old stuff that led me to discover the patina that old varnish leaves. The Khaki is an attmept to "instant" it, and does work well , they gloss varnish beautifully as well.

  3. Very nice and effective. Have you ever tried white using the oil method you described earlier? I used to use the oil and but never tried white. Cheers, Michael

  4. I have done white in oil , but have not found an effective quick wipe method that left a colou i was happy with. Ended up with more darker grey and shades, and it took ages to get them right!

  5. Eventually I'd like to do some horses, but right now I'm not good enough to try one. Having tutorials like this with pictures helps a lot though.


Work in hand


No more than 3 things on the PAINTING table at once. Nothing new added until something is finished.

PREPARATION work is done when I don't fancy detail painting. Cleaning up, converting, undercoating etc.

PLANNING is expressions of interest or things that have inspired me to be created with no definite timescale as yet.

28mm Sudan
28mm Necromunda

On the PREPATION table.
28mm Sudan
15mm WW2 Landing craft
1/200 ME262

WW2 D Day game