My goal for NaMo this year was to paint some models to sell (which I utterly failed at sadly) and finally get round to painting the Maggie Bennet micro mini Shetland I'd had sitting naked on my shelf for the last few years. I'd never been able to settle on a colour so he'd been relegated to the 'procrastination station' until such time as inspiration struck. It kinda didn't, but I pushed myself to paint him anyway and I honestly couldn't be happier with how he (and his bonus friend!) turned out.
February turned out to be quite the month this year. Making Max's animated adventures took up a considerable portion of it, and indeed, her own model had to be painted with the room set on my desk still up which caused its own set of problems. I really only managed to make a start on my own model during the last couple of weeks which was less than ideal, as I'd intended to paint several more!
I scoured my reference folders and finally settled on a black semi-leopard appaloosa. I did have one specific spot reference in mind (the Fjord/Appaloosa below) but ended up ignoring most of it in the end, just taking inspiration from the pattern and the colour from another pony.
He was pretty well prepped before the primer hit...or so I thought. 😩
After taking a couple of dramatic leaps out of my hand whilst priming him, I noticed a couple of divots I'd neglected in the initial prepping process so I whipped out the milliput and after a little minor surgery he was ready for his second coat of primer and once that had dried, the first layer of acrylic.
I began with a dark grey and gently sponged on darker points and highlights with a makeup sponge.
Next I used the old school splatter brush method to create some subtle mottling and spotting using neat black paint with only a touch of water, and an old stiff paintbrush. Most of it would be covered up by the blanket in the end but I always think a good base is very important - especially for such a complicated pattern.
He was looking a little too 'cold' for my liking, so I added in a quick layer or two of chocolate brown pastel on his muzzle and undercarriage. I'm not sure how well it showed up in the end after sealing, but I'd like to think it gave him a slightly warmer tint.
The first few dabs of white paint are always the trickiest because now you've committed yourself to the pattern, and it's so easy to screw it all up - especially at this scale! Using one of my tiniest brushes I gently flicked the paint on - rather than smearing it like you would do normally.
Constantly checking back on all my references, I started to draw around the spots I wanted to create with a really tiny brush. It didn't need to look neat at this stage, just as long as I captured the basic pattern. It's also important to make the spots bigger than you think you'll want them as you can always add another layer of white to fill them in a bit.
Once dry I started filling in the white areas, being careful not to go over any of the spots.
The white markings honestly looked terrible at this stage but that was ok, it's just the Ugly Stage, it gets better!
A few more layers in and the white areas looked far more solid. Once I was happy with the coverage, I mixed some slightly thinner white paint and went over all the spots. Yes, the one thing I warned against earlier! This technique gives the spots a nice frosted/muted effect which is perfect for 'haloed' spots. Not all Appaloosas have them of course, but I love them. Once that layer was dry I used a nail art dotting tool to dab smaller black spots in the middle of the now greyed out ones. It's really fiddly but incredibly rewarding as they really make the spots pop!
I also added in some hair detail on the face and around the edges of the blanket with a very long and fine bristled brush I got in a nail art set from the £1 shop. Nail art supplies are brilliant for painting minis as you can get some absolutely minute brushes which would normally cost a fortune in art shops super cheap!
As you can see, I used some white tack to hold him onto a base for painting. I used a cork sanding block as it was sturdy enough to hold onto and nice and stable for him to stand on without falling over. On models with all four feet on the ground I usually stick some double-sided tape onto it first, then gently press the horse down onto it. The adhesive isn't strong enough to damage the model, but it's usually strong enough to hold them on without falling off, though do be careful, especially when using spray primer as it may not be quite enough to prevent them from blowing away!
I continued adding details such as his hooves, mottling, pinking and some very fine hair detail on the belly, sealing every few layers, though not as much as I would if I'd been using mostly pastels on him. He was almost 100% acrylics.
I don't really like glossy models much but I had to admit, he'd have looked great in it, as seen here after a fresh coat of varnish! XD
Adding the eye was...tricky, and I'm still not entirely happy with it, but given the scale I can't really complain.
Finally, after waaaaay too many white layers, he was done!
I haven't given him a name yet, though I'm thinking something mighty and intimidating because he's a tiny pony who doesn't realise he's a tiny pony.
Because I'm apparently a mini masochist, I decided late with only a day to go to the deadline, that I'd like to paint something even smaller.
Compared to his bigger spotty brother, he ended up being considerably easier to paint, despite being absolutely minute!
As he was painted while the 'Beast from the East' was hitting Scotland he gained the name Blizzard fairly quickly!
I'm typing this early on the first of March, the NaMoPaiMo month now over, and while I'm still disappointed that I didn't manage to paint more, I'm really pleased with what I did accomplish and hopefully I can use some of that motivation to continue on in the same vein!