Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Vision vs Execution.

The main focus of this post was to be how I paint with thin washes.  I was going to explain in detail the process.  Then I started painting.  And it all went to shit.  So, here's my best effort at being instructional after the fact. Forgive me in advance if you are an experienced painter, I'm going to present this with more of the "I've only painted with solid colors. I never knew you could do that" crowd in mind.

Acrylic paints are made to be thinned.  As the official GW (we still have you painting with solid colors) vids even say, two thin coats. What many inexperienced painters don't realize is the multitude of cool things you can do paining acrylics on a 3D surface ( this case). Not coincidentally, they are most of the cool things you can do on a flat surface.

Citadel has been nice enough to mix acrylic medium with pigment and make their most excellent washes. Although, if you knew the breakdown in costs of the what is used to make said washes, vs paint... you might feel a bit ....violated. Personally, I think its worth the convenience, that way I don't have to worry about getting all the ratios perfect. These washes, as you may have noticed, really do have a nice burst of transparent color. And, it gets even cooler when you water them down.  Like a normal paint you can mix them, glaze them over other colors, glaze them over other glazes (preferably after they are dry). While I wanted to get in depth with all the things I've discovered I can do with them (and there are doubtlessly more) I just started painting and didn't take any notes.  Nearly 40 years of painting have made too much of it second nature... and I don't think.  For the future... my wife has suggested videos.  Probably not a bad idea.

SO.... here's the progression on Charlotte's wings. Described the best I can, below.  Some of the differences are subtle and may not have transfered well in pictures.

 First pic: Left wing is the base, right wing is one thinned (50/50) coat of Althonian Camoshade. (I'll be using that a LOT
Then some Gryphonne Sepia (50/50).  I let each wash dry before I put on the next one and I make sure I collect the gathered wash out of the creases and cracks with a dry brush.  Those slower drying blobs of color can mess you up later.


  1. 1 :  to engrave by means of dots and flicks
  2. 2a :  to make by small short touches (as of paint or ink) that together produce an even or softly graded shadow b :  to apply (as paint) by repeated small touches
Yup, you can do it with paint. I do it all the time. What they don't tell you is to start with a loaded brush (not over loaded or underloaded) and apply as little pressure as possible when you start. As one of my art professors used to say constantly "Its not a bad thing to have to go back for more paint or to water the brush."  His main point, usually is painting in general is an additive process, but in most additive processes its much easier to add a little and add some more , rather than add too much and not be able to take it away. (I hope that makes sense, I'm told I can go on for hours like that...)

After the greenish, then yellowish wash. I put a nice blob or Althoinian Camoshade(olive), Gryphonne Sepia and Druchii Purple (all known by their basic colors from here onwards). Add a generous few brush loads of water and onward.  Do I use an actual wet pallet? No.... but my regular diposable pallet is pretty wet at the moment.  I mix the purple and olive and occasionally a little sepia and a couple layers of stippling begin. I wanted the mottling a bit darker toward the "fingers" so I mottled on the mottling.  Here's where the whole "wait until the other wash dries" thing kinda goes down the rabbit hole.  In this case some of the mixing is OK. What you have to avoid, is mixing at the wrong part of the drying process. There's this tacky,plasticy period just before it mattes down and dries, where if you hit it with a wash you can actually life all the washes right off.  So, pay attention.

Let everybody dry good. I went and had a snack, played with my kittens and came back to it. Then, I did a very light dry brush along the raised detail and fleshy edges with a light tan (it could have been Screaming Skull or P3 Thrall Flesh... kind of betting on the latter)  This mattes everything down well and kind of makes it all look like it was painted with one crazy brush stroke. I have to admit this is one place the camera fails us (and I took about 6 photos, plus messed with it in the editor) If you zoom in, you might be able to see all the other colors showing through.  We're not done.... just for kicks, I then do a thinned (60 water/40 shade) was with a mix of the Sepia and Olive. (40/60)

It greens it up a little, though very subtle and another light ,light drybrush to flatten it all down.  Ms Charlotte's Dorsal view  has become a damn sight well, the wings are done.  And yes, this whole time she was upside down on the desk.

Lord knows, you don't need to get so complicated with whatever project you might think of washing like this, but layers DO matter. They add depth and richness of color.  One thing I can't stress enough is experiment. You'll find things that won't work, but you'll find things that do. Even if you aren't trying to be a trophy winning miniature painter, but are serious in expanding your abilities, the first and most important thing I can tell you to buy...even more important than good brushes, though that's #2 (and by good I don't always mean the most expensive, but that's another post all together) is...a COLORWHEEL.  In-friggin-valuable.  Not sure I want to get into spouting on and off about color theory and such, but in a nutshell knowing a colors compliments and values is a very simple way to take a mediocre piece and turn it into a wowzer.  One way I apply this is using Druchii Purple to darken Althonian Camoshade, for example. If there is any interest, let me know and I can get into that all in more depth another time.

The other thing I recommend to any painter is stepping back from your work when ever you can, even for a bathroom break or a snack... I like to do, having a building/sculpting project to work on nearby. "Cleaning the eyeballs, as well as the brushes" as the aforementioned instructor would say. The guy had an awesome Lithuanian accent too.

So according to the Traitor Legions Codex, Warpsmiths are all the rage. Or at least a necessity if you want to run some of the formations.  Well, I'd been at a bit of a loss on how to procede with Spumegut (or whatever they call him) so here we go.....

I added an old arm to the gribbies I already had on him, as he lingured on the ready-5 desk for the past few months.  Then I needed a few breaks to let washes dry and this happened.

I'm at the "He might be getting a bit busy" or "Go big or go home" decision point with mechandrites and such. He still needs a forearm too.  Sculpting something like this is not unlike the wash painting. It involves planning, layers and a bit of "here... hold my beer" The next couple of days are busy for me, so I'll have some time away from him to look at him with fresh eyes.

Cheers Ya'll!


  1. Loving the washes.

    The gribbly guy looks about done.

    Gotta go, 'plane to catch !

  2. Great write up on using washes, and those wings look really lovely. I've just started to branch out from wash-everything-brown and even paint whole minis with just washes. It's a fun practice in brush control and colors

  3. Experimenting is the best way to find out what works, Joe. You can do some cool things with regular thinned paint too. FWIW investing in a bottle of Acrylic Medium is some of the best painting money you'll ever spend. You can make quick "shades with most any color. paint/water/medium mix... of even portions or you can thin the color further if you want a glaze. I'd done that many years ago painting with acrylics on illustration board (which can warp if you hit it with too much water) I'm not sure what reminded me of the technique- most likely sleep deprivation at 4am- but it works great for nice subtle effects on minis too. Glad you are expanding your painting base. I hope maybe some of my ramblings can help. Feel free to ask anytime.