Pracken's Paint Shop Pro Tutorials

Swedish Dala Horse

(Updated October, 2006)

A long time ago, someone gave me one of these horses as a present, and I immediately loved it.  It's called a Dala horse and originates in Sweden.  Legend has it that it began in the winter of 1716 when a soldier carved the first horse from a scrap of wood during a long, cold winter.  The decorations were primitive,  but the colors were so bright that the woman of the house gave the soldier food (so he learned to carve more for more food).  Most of the horses are bright red, but they can also be found painted black, white, blue, or natural wood.  The Dala horse is named for the district of Dalarna, where some quarter of a million of them are made yearly.

I was looking at my horse the other day and decided to draw one; hence, this tutorial was born.  It's really more of a guideline than a tutorial, as you can decorate this little horse anyway you like.  I've given you loose instructions about how I did mine,  but I encourage you to get creative and make him your own.

October, 2006: I'm using this holly in my Santa's Workshop tutorials, so be sure to check out that series of tuts. This tutorial was originally written in 2003 for PSP7. I've now updated it so users of later versions of PSP (8, 9, X) may also be able to do the tutorial.

For this tutorial, you will need the following:

Paint Shop Pro. You may download the latest version of PSP here. You should have no problems doing this tutorial in Versions 7, 8, 9, or X.

Xero's porcelain filter (optional).  This filter is freeware and you can download it here. (The porcelain filter is in Set 1).

My canvas with selection saved to alpha channel. You may download it here.

You'll also need my color chart. Right click on it and save to your computer.

Step 1. Open up the canvas with alpha selection you downloaded.

Step 2. Open up the color chart you downloaded. Copy and paste it as a new layer onto your canvas. Move it to the top, out of your way. When you need a color, just click on it with your dropper tool.

Step 3. Add a new layer. Load selection 1 from alpha channel (go to Selections>Load/Save Selection>Load Selection from Alpha Channel. Click on the box to the left and navigate to the selection. It'll show up in the preview window on the right. Then just click "Load."

Flood fill with color #1.

Step 4. Add a new layer. Set your foreground color to black, background to null. Choose your pen tool>draw lines and polylines, width 1, antialias checked. Draw two lines for the legs. Lower the opacity down to about 50.

Step 5. Apply an inner bevel (effects>3d effects>inner bevel), using settings in the screenshot.


Step 6. Your horse is now ready to decorate. Feel free to add whatever touches you want to him. He's supposed to be a bit "primitive" so you really can't make a mistake! If you want to make yours like mine, I've given you very loose instructions below on how to do that.

Add a new layer. Set foreground to white, background null. Choose your pen tool (change width to 3). Draw some white bits on his head. I applied the xero porcelain filter to mine, and then an inner bevel (same settings as above).

Change your color to black and draw a little eye.

Step 7. Add a new layer. Choose your pen tool, change mode to draw freehand. Draw some scallopy lines on the head. Apply porcelain filter and same inner bevel as before.

Step 8. Add a new layer. Set foreground color to null, background to white. Choose your pen tool>draw freehand, width 3. Draw a shape inside the scallopy area you drew.

Step 9. Choose the airbrush, using settings in the screenshot.

You can choose whatever colors you like, but these are the ones I used: 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Paint some lines of color, designs, etc. on the horse's head, inside the scallopy layer you drew above. Once you have something that you like, apply the porcelain filter and an inner bevel (same settings as before).

Step 10. Add a new layer. Set foreground color to null, background to color #2. Choose your pen tool>draw freehand. Draw a saddle shape on the horse's back, similar to mine. Apply inner bevel.

Then, just draw different designs, putting each on its own layer (get creative!). Once you have something you like, hide all layers except the saddle bits. Merge visible layers. Apply the porcelain filter, and then an inner bevel.

Step 11. Turn all layers back on. Add a new layer and place it underneath the saddle layer. Set foreground color to null, background to color #2. Choose your preset shapes tool>circle and draw a small circle, using settings in the screenshot.

Add a new layer. Choose your airbrush to decorate as you wish. Once you have something you like, hide all layers except your circle. Apply porcelain filter, then an inner bevel.

Step 12. Turn all layers back on. Copy your circle and paste as a new layer. Reduce the size by 80%. Do this twice more. You should have 4 circles, each progressively smaller, and each on separate layers. Sharpen any that need sharpening.

Turn the visibility of all layers off except these 4 circles. Merge visible. Place them under your saddle.

Duplicate this layer. Rotate left (image>rotate>free rotate) by 45. Arrange it under the saddle.

Step 13. When you're satisfied with your image, delete the color chart and background layer. Merge visible layers. Save as a psp file.

And that's it, your little horse is all done. Hope you've enjoyed making him!

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Screenshots of programs used in this tutorial are copyrighted to their respective authors.
This tutorial was created on December 7, 2003, updated on October 13, 2006.
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ŠPracken, 2003-2012