by Mig Jemenze
The wash is the wet technique by excellence, the most ancient of all
and, perhaps, the most used. Its accomplishment simplicity, its good results
and its versatility to be elaborated with different paints, have turned
the wash into the most popular technique in the modelling world. But in
spite of its extraordinary results and its simplicity.... it is far from
being a technique close to all of us as many times these emerge us tremendous
problems that ends ruining the model. But if we domain this technique...
half of a good work is already done.
What is it?
Of course it is not to wash the model with water and soap or to put a
detergent pill and insert it into the dishwasher. Maybe, the wash name
comes of its characteristic applying way, as like if we wash all the surface
of a vehicle but with a concrete colour. But that just anecdotal name
serves to call it and it is far away of the action of washing anything.
What does it symbolise?
The tremendous dirt, the added greasy, the own shade of the things or
even the mere caprice of emphasizing a volume, are represented by the
wash. This technique covers a wide effects range and achieves that a base
color model, flat and monotonous, takes life and shows an attractive contrast
in all of its shapes. But an excess in its use can finish in a typical
dark or overdone model, full of highlights and pronounced shades. Just
the balanced use of this technique will give us to our model an adequate
aspect and a splendid tapestry to work other techniques over it.
How is it Done?
It is easy to make a wash.... but... of what type?... What??... Did you
believe also that there is a unique way of wash? You are wrong!... neither
much less. And we are lucky as there are several types, for each moment
and each type of model. I will explain it with examples since it will
General wash: imagine we have a beautiful Renault FT, or a Crusader full
of nuts and bolts. We wish to make a wash to heighten all those details,
Ok? Well, in this case, and to make a fast work we can apply it a general
wash. Use some dark colour (brown, dark oxides or almost very dark gray)
of enamel -I use Humbrol- or mixing it with some oil colors. We diluted
it on a 70 or 80% of turpentine essence (not thinner), and we apply it
with a number #6 paintbrush (aprox.) with soft hair and round point, all
over the surface to cover. We will see how that mixture reflects quickly
all over the surface and begin to flood the corners and grooves, darkening
these quickly. We will give that wash to all the surface, but trying with
the paintbrush to accumulate that color in those grooves, around seams
or recessed lines, etc... We should let to dry well that first phase,
but not to go ourselves to have a cup of coffee!! We should monitor the
drying time to avoid those hate marks of dried turpentine. If these begin
to appear, the can go amending with clean turpentine and a paintbrush.
We must not to give too washes, since this will darken too much the base
color. We will attempt to make just one wash. Once dry, we will see how
all the details are slightly shaded and they have collected much volume.
Flowing wash: but this time, suppose that our model is a bright Panther
G, in which prevail the flat surfaces and very few details and volumes.
Here it is more appropriate to give some filters to the surface (already
explained in the Know How Series #1) and, after them, to apply smaller
and located washes. I mean, a 50% of the previous mentioned colours plus
a 50% of turpentine. With a rather small and fine paintbrush, we will
take that mixture and we will apply it to the smaller details and recessed
or raised details that interest us without wetting the rest of the surfaces.
We will see as upon supporting the paintbrush in a groove, how the colour
will flow quickly by that groove without extending to the other surfaces
(CAUTION!!, be sure that this is not applied over a MATT surface!!). In
this way, we will obtain an outline with more precision solely on the
wished zones. Now we let to dry a pair of minutes that wash. Maybe this
will remain us very hard and ugly, but be quiet!! Once just dried, with
a clean paintbrush and a little of clean turpentine too, we mix and stump
the wash hard edges so that remain more softened. But never do it immediately!!
Always when it has just dried a little. Once dried, I guarantee you a
surprising result. Make it with patience and step by step, do not try
to advance so fast.
Fresh wash: imagine that we have now a Pz III J in gray or sand colour...
We wish to give a wash to those typical fenders, full of small volumes
looking like small dots, the fenders holders... Ok. We can do the following.
We wet those fenders with clean turpentine. Before begin to dry, we take
quickly the color mixture to a 70% of this and just a 30 % of turpentine
and we let fall a drop over that wet surface. We will see how that drop
is expanded quickly and darkens the surface deeper but much smoothness.
Then we can go handling with the paintbrush, trying to accumulate more
color in some zones than others, even, we can take directly the paint
color and apply it in the surroundings of the fender holders, to contrast
more that zone. We let to dry monitoring the drying time. The final result
is different than the previous methods.
What is most important to obtain the best washes it is the use of an
appropriate turpentine, that it will be not too greasy. As in the paint
filters, we should test several trupentine brands until we find the ideal
one. More tips... the Humbrol enamel colours or oils are ideal for this
assignment, as acrylics dries excessively fast and become uncontrollable.
You do not have to use black colour directly, or you will obtain a pretty
"night" camouflaged Panzer. Do not care too much about the turpentine
drying marks. With the help of the following painting steps -drybrush,
rain marks or dust- those will be less evident. I believe that in more
than 14 years making models, those marks have been always present on my
models. They are so familiar that they are trying to have a dinner with
my wife and me!!. And if you cannot fight them... join them, so If at
last those marks remained on your model, try to give them irregular forms
that suggest stains in the vehicle or things like that.
Use it to...
...give depth to your model, to heighten forms and fine details, to give
volumes, to give an aspect of a very used vehicle, to represent working
motors or mechanisms... You cannot live without them!!
Be aware !!
Remember that a matt surface is your wash fatal enemy, just like a harmful
virus. Vaccine your model with a good satin coat medication mixed with
the base color of your model or with thousands of previous filters. That
will cause that your washes will be accurate.
As some details will be covered by the wash, do not worry. As you will
be monitoring it you will have time of bearing you and to arrange those
small mistakes that may have emerged.
Hhhmmmmmmm!...the smell of turpentine on saturday morning. There is nothing
like a wash to fall in love with modelling for the rest of your days
MIG - 2001