Equine Sculpture by Mel Miller

Prepping

Prepping is no doubt the least likeable part of customizing for most people. It takes a long time and quite a bit of patience which is running short after resculpting the horse. But it is also one of the most important parts of creating a top quality finished product. If you leave dings and other imperfections, the final paint coat won't look good no matter how nicely painted, and that could cost you placings and sales on otherwise nice models.

First, mix up some epoxy and apply it to any large dents or other imperfections. Smooth it out with a paintbrush and water to make sanding easier.

Next, spray the horse in several light coats of primer. (Heavy coats will create drips in the paint.) This will instantly make all of the seams and divots stand out. I used to favor Krylon rust colored primer, but the consistency is bad more often than not now. I have switched to Rustoleum, and so far like both the grey and rust colors. Try different primers to see which brand you prefer. Once you can see the problem areas, use your carbide scrapers or sandpaper to scrape seams and other bumps off.

For small divits, use the thick "messo" mix described in the customizing article. (Equal parts of gesso, white acrylic, and modeling paste, plus a drop of colored acrylic for visibility.) Simply use your finger as a trowel and squish the messo into any dents.

Next, sand the very rough areas and seam remnants with the 120 grit sandpaper. This sandpaper can easily take off details, so be careful and only use it on the roughest spots. It is best not to use 120 grit sandpaper on resins at all as it will create too much damage. For resins 220 grit for starters works well. Finally, use 400 grit or higher sandpaper all over to make all of the surfaces smooth. Take extra care at the points where epoxy joins with the plastic. All epoxy sands more easily than plastic, and resin sands more easily than gapoxio. Because of this, you could end up sanding off too much of one material, creating an uneven surface. Apoxie Sculpt sands fairly evenly with resin, which is one of the reasons I prefer that epoxy. Brushing over the epoxy with a soft brush while it is still wet helps prevent most of the imperfections, but a little more sanding and edge feathering is usually required.

After you think you have sanded the model completely, spray another coat of primer. With this next coat on, you will be able to see marks you couldn't see before. Continue prepping like before, and re-spray. Keep doing this until you can't see any more dings. Try to do as much sanding and filling in between spray layers as possible to keep the paint buildup to a minimum. Remember, this part takes patience; rush now and you'll sacrifice quality.

When all of the filling and sanding is done, re-spray with primer one final time. This coat should be completely even in color. In other words, there should not be any areas where you can see through to the model's surface. At this point, you may prefer to use a different primer color, such as white if the horse is to be light grey. It is sometimes helpful to paint or sponge over the entire surface with gesso, depending on your painting style and desired final look.

Materials Checklist