Sunday, August 15, 2010

Base coating and highlighting in one step

As anyone with small children knows... there is no time for modeling. Faster is better. So I come up with ways to speed up the painting process yet still (hopefully) achieve a good result. Otherwise I'd never get any models done.

This trick works for more 'organic' models. I don't mean models grown without pesticides, rather Tyranids or models without a lot of hard armor lines. I've never tried it on Space Marines and I'm not sure it would work with power armor.

First, prime with a light color - white or a light grey work best for me. See Lictor ----->

Next, take a dark color paint you would use as a base coat prior to highlighting with a lighter shade of the same color and water it down greatly. You could use a watered down ink if you want.

I highly recommend you use an acrylic paint flow release as well. This will help the paint get down into all the tiny details in the model. You can purchase flow release in many craft stores OR I have heard of people using dish soap. Proceed with caution on that one though... I've never tried it.

Finally, slather the whole model in this ink. Don't take too long, just make sure you get the whole thing. If you spend more than 2 or 3 minutes on the operation you are probably missing the point of this process. Speed! When I attack gaunts with this method I probably don't spend more than 30 seconds per gaunt.

The paint will pool in the recesses and lightly coat the high points, creating a nicely highlighted model. If you'd like a darker overall look, wait for the model to dry and repeat the wash. You can mass-coat gaunts very quickly with this technique yet it looks good on bigger models as well.

In this second picture you can see an almost-finished lictor with 2 coats of a purple wash.


  1. Looks great!

    I can't quite tell from the picture, but does this technique give a slightly glossy sheen? That's been my experience with washes in the past. It's a pain when you're doing armor (unless you're Nurgle...), but it could be a boon for 'nids.

  2. That's probably the spray matte finish I used. I like that finish because it's not glossy but does add a little sheen to the model which does look nice on 'nids.

    I still have to touch a couple of parts up... which unfortunately I realized only after I used the finish. Sigh...

  3. Looks good, Splinter. Agree, I'm not sure it would work so well with power armor, but would likely work good with things such as banners, capes, etc. Probably depends on how many recesses they have to hold the color.

    Question: How do you guys flock your bases?

  4. On large bases or character bases, you can start by super-gluing a few pebbles or other debris onto the base.

    Once that's dry, I use an old brush to paint Elmer's glue directly onto the base. Then I cover the entire base with flock (I have a green/tan mix) and let it sit for an hour at least. Once that dries, I shake off the excess, and use a large, dry brush to remove stubborn bits.

  5. I have a mix of very fine brown flock and a much larger particle tan flock. This gives is a three dimensional look.

    I generally coat the model base brown then use a mix glue water to coat the base afterward. Then I dip the base in my flock can and shake off the excess. When I hit the model with the spray finish it seals the flock in.

  6. D'oh. Yes, I forgot to mention painting the base in an earth tone. I also use brown for that.

  7. Great tips, guys. Thanks! (and sorry for the hijack)

    Back on the original topic...I have a set of the GW washes. What is the main difference between them and watered-down paint? I've tried to use them for shading to minimal effect. On my models with the Mechrite Red as the primary color, the black wash only gives it somewhat of a "used" look (kinda dirty, not really shaded).

  8. A wash is a mix of ink and paint. Water and paint doesn't really work - it looks good wet, but once it dries, it leaves an uneven film over the entire model instead of concentrating in the recesses of the model. In the olden days (cue the sepia-toned silent film reel) we had to make washes by mixing ink and paint. It gave less consistent results, but more flexibility.

  9. To make the effect work consistently with water and paint you really have to use a paint flow release. As I understand it, the flow release greatly reduces the surface tension of the water, making it much easier for the mixture to spread evenly and get into the details of the model.

    The difference really is dramatic even with only a drop of flow release diluted into a (relatively) large amount of water and paint. I use Golden Acrylic Flow Release and it works very well.