29 January 2012

Painting 15mm horses (tutorial)

This is a tutorial for painting horses with a fair amount of contrast between layers. It's moderately time consuming but it looks (imo) great at tabletop distance (50-100cm). You can put more effort into the details such as blankets, satchels, belts etc if you wish. With this particular unit, Dragoons, I stuck to putting most of my effort on the horseflesh - I figure I will paint the blankets and other details with more effort on the elite units such as Winged Hussars and the commanders.

To tell the truth, half of what you paint on a 15mm miniature is lost to the view once it stands on the table. The only reason to put a little effort into these tiny soldiers are for pictures that are posted on blogs and forums, and to make your battle report pictures look nice.


As these horses are intended for a unit not belonging to the nobility I focused on 2 shades of brown for their flesh. I use a "patched painting" method for these miniatures as well, this was a bit hard to get used to since I'm usually trying to make smoother highlights.

Step 1)

Models are undercoated with black, and base coated (drybrushed) with Vallejo Scorched Earth. The bases are also painted at this stage. Follow up with a generous wash o Devlan Mud on the horses.

Step 2)

Mix Scorched Earth with either Khemri Brown or Calthan Brown depending on which shade of brown you want for your horse. The mix should be 50-50. As you can see the painting is a bit "rough" and "patched".

Step 3)

Repeat the above but reduce the ratio of Scorched Earth-Other color, to 20-80.
If you have the time and will, you can make a 3rd layer using pure Calthan Brown/Khemri Brown and really highlight areas of your choice - just keep it "patchy".
I also gave the models a thin wash of Vallejo Umber Shade for a more matt finish.

Step 4)
Time to paint the mane and tail. I used 1 layer of pure Dheneb Stone and Vallejo Khaki for this purpose. The painting should still be "patchy" although a bit more controlled.

Step 5)

Additional details on the horses such as markings were painted with Skull White.
After this is done, hoofs are painted with Charadon Granite. You can make the horses a bit more individual by not painting every single leg with that white "sock".

Step 6)

Reins and saddles are painted with black.

Step 7)

Horse blankets in this case have been painted with Vallejo Imperial Blue followed by Vallejo Ultramarine Blue. Saddles have been given an additional layer of Charadon Granite.

Satchels are painted Scorched Brown and then Khaki. Bedrolls Scorched Brown, Calthan Brown and washed with Ogryn Flesh.

Metal details are painted with Boltgun metal.

Step 8)

Now just add some flock and tufts, or whatever basing material you wish and you're done.


  1. That's really nice, I'm gonning to try your method out on some of my FOG Napoleonic’s that I'm about to start on.

  2. Hope it works out for you, as I mentioned you can add a 3rd layer of horse flesh to make the contrast and detail even greater :-)

  3. Those look fantastic! I'm going to paint my horses like this tomorrow! Thanks for the tips :)


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