It is worth knowing a little bit about horse colours before painting them - unless, of course, you base your figures on the Bayeux Tapestry where they come in a variety of interesting colours including red, green, blue and yellow!
There are six basic horse colours. These are:
White - as the name says but often with greyish or cream areas, especially manes and tails
Black - not quite as the name says. The manes and tails are true black but the bodies are more blackish brown
Chestnut - brown body (often redish or golden brown) with mane and tail of the same or ligher colour
Bay - usually dark brown with black mane tail and lower legs
Dun - light brown with black mane tail and lower legs plus a black line down the back
Grey - varying shades of grey usually with black mane and tail.
There are plenty of variations on these as well as rarer colourings. For fuller and more informed information the Equine World website is a handy guide. Most horses also have white markings on their faces and lower legs, these too are illustrated in Equine World. I have heard that only one white leg marking is a sign of a superior horse and on all four marks a poor horse. I am not enough of an expert to know if this is true.
My Horse Painting Style
I have found the trick to painting impressive looking horses with a minimal amount of effort is to build up the coats with a variety of washes. First spraying with a white undercoat (yes even for black horses) then applying a thin base coat in a lighter colour than the intended outcome. on top of this goes a darker ink wash and finally a raw umber wash. The following pages take you through an illustrated step by step guide.