How to Paint a Dapple Bay with Pastels
by Nikki Button
I am hoping this picture tutorial will be helpful for those of you who want to pastel a dapple bay this month.
Remember - Safety first. It's very important to wear a respirator when using loose pigments and pastels. There are some on Amazon for $15. Also, make sure you are in a well ventilated area when sealing your horse with a matte sealer.
This horse began with a hand painted acrylic base coat, which you can see here:
Pigments and pastels
- Earth Pigments (EP) Environox Falun Red
- EP Black Iron Oxide
- EP Dark Neutral Brown
- Rembrandt Burnt Umber 409.5
- Rembrandt Burnt Umber 409.3
- Rembrandt Burnt Sienna 411.5
- Rembrandt Gold Ochre 227.5
- Pearl-Ex Brilliant Gold
- X-acto Knife (to gently shave down your soft pastel sticks into powder)
- Matte sealer (I like Testor's Dull Cote, but Krylon Matte works well too in low humidity)
- Faber-Castell Eraser Pencil (for dapples)
|Nikki's studio, with Bailey|
Lighter areas (around muzzle, eyes, and barrel) are a mix of gold ochre, pearl-ex brilliant gold, and a tiny amount of white, to help lighten. The rest of the body is a mixture of gold ochre, burnt sienna, and environox falun red. Start detailing skin areas with black pigment (eyes, muzzle, groin area).
Important to mention... after each layer is applied, I use my brush to knock off any excess pigment that might be sitting on the horse.
Seal with a matte sealer and allow to dry.
Second layer - points
At this time, I like to block in the dark points to help me gauge the rest of the color. I use black acrylic paint on his m/t and legs. You can plan ahead and leave white markings bare, as you can see on his lower legs. This will save you time and white layers. I also blended the black acrylic with burnt sienna above his knees. This makes blending dark legs with pigment easier later on.
Second layer - body
Using the gold ochre/burnt sienna/environox falun red mixture, I add a small amount of burnt umber and apply to the body area. I also sealed this layer because I planned on doing dapples next.
I add more burnt umber to the mixture. Gradually adding dark browns to the mix to helps to avoid graininess and creates depth. I gave him dapples on his barrel, since I wanted those to be a little more subtle than the ones on his shoulders and hindquarters.
This layer is also sealed. Normally I try to apply at least two layers of pigment before sealing, but I wanted to do varying dapple colors on this one.
Now I add a small amount of dark neutral brown earth pigment to the mix. I check my reference and begin shading, avoiding the areas I want to keep lighter. I also begin applying dapples on the shoulders and hindquarters during this layer. Seal.
I add a good amount of dark neutral brown and a touch of black to the mix. This is applied to the appropriate areas, mostly along the topline. I also start blending the legs, accentuating my dapples at this stage and covering skin areas with black. Seal.
I use the pure black iron oxide pigment by itself on this layer. It's applied to the topline and muscle grooves (again, look at your reference!), as well as the legs. Blend and seal.Here his markings have been blocked in with watered down gesso. We are ready for detailing!
The markings are blocked in markings again. Then I apply two to three layers of watered down gesso, then seal, before switching to Jo Sonja Warm White for the final layers. The edges of the markings are detailed, following the natural hair pattern.
The finished horse!
Thanks again, Nikki. You make that look so easy. Maybe if I fail in my oil painting mission, I will give the pastels (another) try!