Customizing from a Shoebox

The nice thing about customizing smaller model horses is that you don’t require much to get started– or to keep going!

[Which you couldn’t tell from my closet of bodies and art supplies, but that’s a tale for another day…]

Assuming you’re not looking to break out the epoxy and start sculpting, there are basically two sets of tools need for working with model horses. The first are used to prep the model horses and the second are used for the actual painting.


Customizing Tools

Prepping is the first step of customizing a model. Prepping is short for ‘preparing’, which consists of removing seams and mold marks (for mass produced models) and base-coating the horse with a primer.

As you can see, the basic tools I use are sandpaper (200 to 400 grit), an X-Acto knife, a Dremel, a scrubby old paint brush. Somewhere I have a Rio Rondo carbide scraper which can replace the X-Acto knife for some seam removals– but I haven’t found it yet.

If you are working with Breyer Mini Whinnies, other softer plastics, or with pewter models the sandpaper will be mostly useless. I do most of the seam removal on these models with the X-Acto knife or the Dremel.

While you can see the el cheapo cordless Dremel model in the photo, I also have a corded Dremel that I use for detail work. I like the variable speed better on the corded, but the cordless are nice when I want to work at my computer desk.

Once the seams are done, I go over the model with the scrub brush and some plain Guesso. This gives the paint something to adhere to (since bare plastic and pewter aren’t the best of friends with acrylics). The scrub brush is just and old flat brash that’s gotten too much paint in the ferrule.

Depending on how much work and how large the model is, sometime the Guesso layer is just a quick basecoat and sometimes it’s a full-out priming.


Tools of the Trade

Once the models are prepped, I add a few more brushes to the mix. At this point it really depends on the scale of the model for how many. I have worked with as little as two brushes before, but that was on Stablemates where the patterns were much more forgiving.

The smallest brush I use is the largest one in the photo (the red and black one) and is a 18/0. They cost an arm and a leg, but it’s close to impossible to paint the Micro Mini scale models without one.

The next brush up is a 0 flat that I use for putting large swatches of color on the micros and medium-sized patches on the Stablemates. Pair this with a round and you have all the brushes I use for Micros.

For Stablemates I hop up to a 2 or 4 flat, mostly depending on how big and area I’m working with. Most of the time I’ll just use the 4 and the 0, but the 2 is a nice filler depending on the coat pattern.

Bare Bones Tools

If I had to cut back to nothing, I’d keep the sandpaper, the X-Acto knife, the 18/0 round, the 0 flat, and the 4 flat. Although it wouldn’t have as much range as a full set of tools, those are enough to get me from concept to finished model.

So if you have a hankering to pick up a Stablemate and give customizing a try– it’s really not that hard to gear up!

Customizing in a Shoebox

Martha Bechtel

My name is Martha Bechtel and I write fantasy and science fiction stories, paint small model horses silly colors, cast resin and plaster magnets, code random code (and Wordpress plugins)... Come on in and join in the fun!

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