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
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 SYMBOLIZE?
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 result easier.
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
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
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