British Equine Collectors' Forum

For All British Model Horse Collectors

Making Backgrounds

Making Backgrounds

When you look at photos of real horses you probably don't take much notice of the background. Why should you - it's the horse you are interested in.  That's the general rule to remember when it comes to photo backgrounds in the model world.  You don't want to distract the judges eye from the horse, the horse is the most important thing in the photo.

The first thing you need to do is find somewhere to make the setting.  The immediate background is what you need to think about here, i.e. what's going to be behind the horse.  For example, if you have a hedge in the garden, use a table with the hedge behind so it looks like a woodland scene with the greenery. 

Alternatively you could simply make a 'backdrop' - like a hill behind the horse using some bricks under fake 'model' grass to give a bit of height, then add some greenery to make it look more natural and hang a white or pale blue sheet behind the scene to resemble sky, also by adding a bit more greenery (model train 'greenery' works well) hide the join between the sheet and grass.  



Picture Shows a OF Magpie Model standing on fake grass with model railway trees and bushes arranged behind the model with a plain sheet of blue paper as 'sky'. 



  • You either find a suitable picture, or take one of your own and have it enlarged to poster size
  • Find a field with a hedge in the distance is best, with a nice blue sky.
  • Or if you are going to a show, take a photo of the empty ring with the stands around it. 

If you use a picture with natural light, then it will work well if you take your photos outside.  Stand your poster against a wall, (stuck on card, but be careful of those creases,) then there will be less chance of getting a reflection off it.  You can use a fence to break the line between the grass and the poster, but don't forget to keep it in scale.  Light wood is available from most hobby/art/railway shops, glue together for the appropriate size and paint white.



Picture Shows a CM Mini Nahar resin standing on fake railway grass with a painted wooden 'fence' with Plastic ELC bushes and a printed picture of fields behind.


For most types of photos the key to success is simplicity.  Keep the background simple and it will be both more realistic and effective.  So how do you go about getting a background and making a good scene?  The best type to make is a natural one, that is a field or woodland scene.  This suits any breed of horse or pony.  However don?t be tempted to use carpet as grass or a towel, it doesn't fool anyone. 

The most popular is the rolls of grass that are sold in model/hobby/railway shops and are used for train settings.  Please note that this is expensive, but a good investment, and needs well taking care of.  It comes in various seasons, that is summer, autumn and spring grass.  Make sure that you flatten it out and remove any creases.  To make the grass look more realistic you can open a teabag and sprinkle over the grass, this looks a bit like mud on the grass (but resist the urge to put on the model, even if it is a Native and looks more life like!). 

The next thing is to get hold of some other bits of greenery, which can be bought as packs of bush like clumps, they come in a variety of colours and sizes.  Split them up so that they look like bushes and tiny clumps of ?plants?, and add them along the back and around either side of your model until you are happy with the effect.  Don?t get carried away!

This type of scene is often the most successful and is quick and easy to make.  To add a bit more interest to the scene you could add some tree branches or bits of bark, broken down to look like logs/tree stumps, these look particularly good along the back of the grass with tiny clumps of plants growing out of them. 

Please note, don't put trees in the middle, or else it will look as if it is coming out of the back of the horse!  Also, find small stones, wash and add to the background.




Picture shows a OF Rydal standing on woodshavings with trees behind. Taken outside in natural daylight. Sun was behind the camera.


So you've got your basic setting, now what? 

Here's where you can use your imagination to make your scene more individual. 

  • You could add a fence along the back of the model, remembering to make it to scale. 
  • You could perhaps add a dog or another animal to the scene, again check the scale, otherwise it will end up looking like a scene from a horror film if the dog is as big as the model! 
  • You might try using sand/gravel instead of grass for desert Arabs. 
  •  Snow is a possibility too if you don't mind getting a bit cold and wet. 

You could go on to do some Ridden or Performance scenes.  Look around for photos of real horses to draw inspiration from.  For example cross country jumps are fairly easy to make from tree branches, simply run a string along the back of the scene to resemble a rope.  You might already have some jumps that could be enhanced with the addition of numbers, flags, markers, pots of trees/flowers (these you cam sometimes get already made up from dolls house or craft shops)  The list is endless and the limit only in your imagination.

The BECF would like to thank Lydia Beesley, Bernadette O?Neill and Catherine While for their contributions in helping to make this Information Sheet.

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