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Thinned Paint?

Discussion in 'Just starting...' started by Caitnah, Jul 27, 2021.

  1. Caitnah New Member

    I am new here and also new to WWII Figure Painting and have a question.
    Obviously one of the challenges for novices is painting faces and uniforms. Getting the blending correct is difficult.
    I mainly use Vallejo and Tamiya paints. When painting for highlights, I understand that you need to go slightly lighter and lighter and build up layers but the trouble I’m having is that my next layer of paint (although thinned) has too much of a sharp separation between the layers. I realize that it needs to be blended (which I can’t do yet), but it just seems to be to prounounced.
    I have read where they say to dilute it heavily…but when I do that, it’s almost like a WASH and all you see is a dab of paint AND water.
    I have read and watched many tutorials but still having trouble. Wet blend? Dry brush?
    Oda likes this.
  2. Kimmo A Fixture

    Blending is one the trickier aspects of painting for a beginner, especially with acrylics. There are two basic techniques, "colour mapping" and wet-blending. Mapping means progressively lighter and smaller areas of paint, and the other is pretty self explanatory. Both have their pros and cons. The idea with applying filters or glazes is to blur the hard edges of each shade to make the transition less noticeable and can be really time consuming and tedious. Inks and washes will give you similar results, but can overpower any shading you've done very easily. Wet blending tends to work best on larger areas, so if you're doing 1/35 figures, it isn't that great an option to be honest. There are usually so many details, folds and wrinkles that the effect is kind of wasted.

    I'd recommend watching Angel Giraldez's videos, he explains things very well and shows how simple mapping can be. The secret is to use thin layers and a soft touch, and gradually increase the contrast while reducing the area of the highlight or shadow. You can easily increase intensity by painting multiple layers, rather than lightening or darkening paint. He doesn't do WW2 figures, but the techniques can certainly be applied, I've adapted them to vehicles as well. He also covers all sorts of techniques, colour theory, NMM etc in an easy to follow way.


    You will notice two themes with his videos: thin layers, and unloading your brush. A common issue for beginners is to use way more paint than necessary. As you get better and more comfortable, then you can start to consider better brushes, a wet palette and so on.

    The Vallejo youtube page has plenty of tips and tehniques as well, Jaume Ortiz is well worth a watch.


    The best advice I can give is to fully understand whatever process you end up using and then practice that over and over again. Each time, look at your work and examine where you can get better without beating yourself over the head. It will take time and patience. Decide what level you want to get to and figure out what you need to do to get there. But be realistic about your goals, and have fun.

    Oda, DaddyO and Caitnah like this.
  3. Caitnah New Member

    Thanks! Yes have been on Vallejos pages and also AK pages. Great how-to’s. The hunt for brushes continues as I am acquiring a variety. I purchased a mini W&N #1 and it was horrible. Hairs split after one minute of use and couldn’t hold a point.
    Noticed your comment on building intensities with just more layers and not lightening/darkening. Will try that.
    Thanks for the videos.
  4. Kimmo A Fixture

    No problem. Check out this video on brush maintenance, sometimes the culprit is a stray hair.

    Oda likes this.
  5. Caitnah New Member

    Thanks again….Yep…been there done that. I am meticulous on keeping brushes maintained. What’s amazing is how sometimes a cheap brush will out-perform an expensive one.
  6. Kimmo A Fixture

    Yep, a higher price only guarantees a higher price;) Look into Rosemary & Co, really good brushes at a very nice price.

    Bob Orr and Oda like this.
  7. Steve Edwards Active Member

    Here's the cheat's method of blending Vallejo acrylics.

    You'll need a bottle of retarder and a bottle of glaze medium. The Vallejo ones will do nicely. A round ended brush (I think they're called filberts) size 2 and acrylic hair is fine. And some water mixable oil paint. Winsor & Newton Artisan is excellent stuff and you want some shading and highlighting colours. Let's say you want to highlight a WW2 British khaki uniform then their Naples Yellow is perfect. You can buy more colours if you like the technique.

    Let's get painting! Paint a couple of thin coats of British Uniform to establish your base colour. When it's dry, mix a bit of the oil colour into the khaki to lighten it and add a dab of retarder to the mix. This is to keep the paint open for a few minutes. Paint the highlights on the uniform. Only do a small area at a time. You have to work quickly because that mixture will start to dry. Using your round brush, feather the highlight shade into the base shade. Go round the edges of the highlight and gently drag the paint across the base layer to achieve a blend. Easier to do than it is to say. Allow to dry.

    When it's dry you can do an even lighter shade (a second light as some people call it). I call it a "bling".

    When all the paint is dry, we obtain a smooth transition between the different tones by glazing. Of course, you can do the whole uniform in one pass. Mix your base colour with the glaze medium. You'll have to do this a few times to get a feel for the ratio of paint to medium. Start with about 5 parts medium to 1 part paint. Paint a thin layer of your glaze over the uniform and when it dries you'll see the magic.

    Check all this out on a bit of scrap and see what you think. It sounds difficult but it's actually dead easy and it avoids all that hassle of painting successive thin layers etc.

    May the paint Gods smile upon yee...
    Oda likes this.
  8. Caitnah New Member

    Another “yep…” spoke directly to them a few weeks ago and then the US distributor. Unfortunately, the US one does not accept PayPal and that is the only way I pay online.
    Shipping from overseas is pretty high.
  9. Caitnah New Member

    Thanks. Will definitely try this method. I just watched a video on basic wet blending which seemed similar. My biggest problem is even thinned at 1:1, the paint starts drying within seconds.
  10. bigtodd Active Member

    I use one drop of water for every drop of paint for base coats. Then three drops of water for every drop of paint in my tray. Even if it is too thin, you still paint the highlights and shadows. It builds up slowly but keep adding coats. Patience!!!!! It can be a marathon instead of a sprint. It just takes practice. I have been practicing for 30 years and I still think I need to practice more. Also try what the others have suggested above.
    For brushes I use Raphael brand Raphael Kolinsky .
    Oda and Caitnah like this.

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