Thursday, January 29, 2015

Progress with ECW Horses

I now have close to 150 horses almost finished for my ECW project . . . that is the good news.  The bad news is that I am not nearly so far along with their riders.

All that I have left to do with these horses is to paint their saddle cloths . . . but they look like a lot of horses, don't they?

What?  Do I hear mummers of unease?  Surely I need to add more horsey detailing? . . .  Actually, no. . . . Please allow me to espouse a bit of my tabletop philosophy.

With cavalry I want the focus to be on the rider, not the horse.  I paint my horses very quickly and simply (as described below).  Particularly since they will be in units, I want the viewers' eyes to "see" horse (you did, didn't you, when you saw the photo above?) and to focus on the rider.

I know that others paint beautiful horses . . . and I appreciate that . . . but my figures are for tabletop play and I'm satisfied with my philosophy.

Some years ago I was timed on my horse painting technique and it was determined that I spent less than a minute and a half total brush time per horse.

"Impossible", you say?  Not at all.  There is of course considerable "drying time" between steps associated with my method, but the "brush time" is quite short.

I start by "black priming" with a spray primer (this is not "brush time" but it doesn't take long).  I wait at least a day, usually more before moving on.  Then I do a very quick "damp brush" with white over the horses . . . so that the raised areas and broad flat areas are covered.  The result looks something like this:

Each horse (even those with the same pose) will have a slightly different mix of black and white.  After that dries, I will then do another (slightly drier) "damp brush" with a "horse color" (numerous tans, light browns, red-browns, and darker browns).

It is important to keep in mind the fact that most paints (especially yellows, reds, and many browns) are really translucent and not opaque.  I don't have a photos of this step, but the result should have a mix of black, white and horse color . . . but it is certainly on the blotchy side.

After they are dry, the final step is to "ink them".  I mostly used two different inks for the horses at the top of this post . . . a chestnut ink and a tree brown ink. . . . I mixed them each about 50/50 with water and "washed" the horses with one or the other.

(Note -- a few horses were washed with a third "nut brown" ink that didn't do well so I will have to re-ink those before using them on the table top.  Perhaps you can spot them.)

I should also note that I turn the painting stick upside down so to be sure to get their bellies and undercuts from below, then run some wash over the top as well.  And again, this (like previous steps) is a very quick process.  I am not being "overly careful".

You can see the result . . . and they look like horses to me . . . although they will look much better with riders (which are not nearly as easy to paint):

-- Jeff


daveb said...

They look mighty fine. I just struggled through some of my first horse figs, and I'm looking at a small horde of 15mm to do in the future, so this is a nice post to read. Thanks.

Phil said...

I'm with you on horse philosophy Jeff.
Well done on getting the mounts ready. Like your painting process. I'm sure the riders will be along real soon.

john yorio said...

While I admit to preferring the painting of the horses to their riders, I like the overall look you achieve. The fact that it takes so little time is even better. If only there was a way to get reasonably acceptable riders in the same amount of time.

A J said...

They look really good. Thanks for the tips. My pet peeve in painting figures has always been cavalry. No matter the scale, no matter the period, they always seem to take a lot longer than I care to spend painting.

Archduke Piccolo said...

Looking fine so far. i like the variety of colours!

Fitz-Badger said...

I also actually like painting horses (and other critters). I don't go "all out" display quality, just pretty basic tabletop paint job, but I do spend more time picking out patterns, doing stars and blazes, harness, etc. But yours look great en masse, and that's really what counts for units of figures for tabletop games where you're mostly looking at them from a few feet away or more.

Allan Tidmarsh said...

Nice work on the horses
-- Allan

Bluebear Jeff said...

First I would like to thank everyone for their comments.

Next please allow me to reassure those who said they might "steal" my technique . . . no need to steal, I am freely sharing it with anyone who wants to try it . . . and I suspect that it is far from original with me anyway.

Also I do NOT wish in any way imply any criticism to those who prefer a much more detailed painting of their horses. I enjoy viewing photos of such . . . but I do not have the time nor skill to do that so I use my quick and simple method.

Finally as to which inks I used. I am not suggesting that these would be the best; they are simply what I had on hand. I suspect that there are many inks that would work just as well or maybe even better.

I used a Games Workshop "Chestnut Ink" #61-69.
I used a Reaper Minatures "Woodshade Ink" #08206.

I used both of the above mixed 50/50 with water.

I also tried using a Winsor & Newton Ink "#954 Nut Brown" similarly diluted with water and was unhappy with it. I suspect that it would be better undiluted (but I did not try it that way).

-- Jeff

MurdocK said...

Yes the undiluted ink works well, I used it on all of my horses, with a drop of red brick or black India ink to achieve some extra variation.

Scheck said...

You have really a fine technique, developed by yourselfs experience - the speed you reach is fantastic and unique and the effect splendid:
Thanks for giving us this informations - great post!