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Wet on Try technique

Discussion in 'Oils' started by TERRYSOMME1916, Nov 27, 2018.

  1. TERRYSOMME1916 A Fixture

    Hi for years I have always painted figures using oils, shading, highlighting and blending while the paint was wet but this leads to prolonged painting sessions leading into the early hours in order to complete a face or a uniform and as one gets older one gets tireder and its less enjoyable.
    Since coming back into the hobby after a long absence and being a member of PF I have learnt that lots of painters use a wet on dry system so I have been trying this out on some of my recent work however I would be grateful if anyone could advise me on how they apply the shadows and Highlights over the top of the dried oil paint.
    The process I have used recently is to apply the base colour in oils over Vallejo acrylics and apply some of the shadows and blend these into the base, I then wait for a few days until the oils are dry and then apply some more shading around recesses, seams, deep folds to make these darker but the paint does not flow smoothly and when trying to blend it in I am getting small colour spots caused by the paint catching to the first coat. I guess if I thin the paint down that there is a chance of lifting the base coat or the new thinned paint looking more like staining than shadowing/highlighting.
    Just to complicate things I am using a matting agent and the oils are drying out really matt, exactly how I wanted them to be as I am currently painting a Young's WW1 British Soldier Bust.
    Any guidance will be helpful.
  2. DaddyO A Fixture

    Hi Terry
    Some oil colours can take more than a few days to dry dependent on brand and medium used and it may be that it the cause of the problem.
    As a rule I don't think that applying a fast drying paint over a slow drying one is good practice: It can lead to other problems although I have tried it a couple of times (The oil paint was left to dry for nearly a month before using acrylics on top and I didn't get any problems, but couldn't see any real advantage to the technique)
    Why not do the whole job in acrylics? You can add a retarder to give a slower drying time to use them like oils for the base coat and then go back after a few days to push the contrast if you want or simply add extra detail. You'll also find that you should get a perfectly matt finish without adding a medium. (Some brands are better than others in this respect. I'm just painting a dark blue using the Andrea blue paint set and to be honest it's so matt I'm having difficulty seeing the folds because the dark colour just sucks the light away) :rolleyes:

    One acrylic technique I use is to have a couple of brushes - Apply the base colour as normal and then add the shadow (for example) before the paint has dried use a slightly dampened brush to blend the edge into the background. Work on one fold at a time and you'll be surprised at how similar the effect can be to using oil paint.

    All the best
    Nap, Tonton and Tubby-Nuts2 like this.
  3. TERRYSOMME1916 A Fixture

    Hi Paul thanks for your input, all advise will help others as well, I have battled with acrylics and just cant get what I want out of them as you say some of them dry totally matt and then others dry with a sheen so that annoys me and creates an additional problem so I have resigned myself to oils as they are a little more forgiving apart from the drying times but I have manage to get them to dry in a couple of days by placing the painted items in a cupboard that is on the wall above a radiator. Saying that I have some retarder that I will mix into some acrylic and try the blending method that you have described, I look at the acrylic painters tutorials and they make it look so easy and needless to say that their paints no matter what brand they use seem to do exactly what they want them to do.
  4. Ronaldo A Fixture

    Hi Terry
    The wet on Dry works by applying your oil paint for the first coat slightly diluted with turps , just enough to get it to flow over an acrylic base of the same colour but not always. this is then dried in a light box or under a lamp to speed things up .
    Some shading can be applied with the first coat there after subsequent coats are added again with the paint thinned which allows the ease of blending , dried again and again and so on till you get the desired effect .
    Sounds a bit complex but it is not .
    I was fortunate enough to get Dave Mitchell to demonstrate this to me .and painted my two most recent posts here using this technique but still developing it.
    Nap, Tonton and Tubby-Nuts2 like this.
  5. TERRYSOMME1916 A Fixture

    Hi Ronaldo the process that you have described is roughly what I am doing although I am using Matt effect thinners and drying off a different way before adding further layers, its working to a certain degree but blending the wet oils, trying to feather them off into the dry is hard on the brushes and requires some of the original base coat mix to create a smoother transition, it can prove to be time consuming but with bits and pieces of advice from you guys I can experiment and develop a system while bringing the figure to completion.
  6. Ronaldo A Fixture

    Keep your original mixes in the freezer, you can use them ad -lib as they will stay workable a litte smidgen of turps will aid the blending.
  7. TERRYSOMME1916 A Fixture

    I laugh, the wife opened the freezer a few months back and found a sealable plastic container containing oil paint mixes and I got something like "your not happy taking over several cupboards in the kitchen with your C**P, (swords, helmets etc on cocktail sticks set into wooden blocks and drying figures) you've now moved into the freezer", dear love them they just don't get it and she thinks I have lost my mind.
    Landrotten Highlander likes this.
  8. Dolf Well-Known Member

    Hi Terry,

    "I then wait for a few days until the oils are dry and then apply some more shading around recesses, seams, deep folds to make these darker but the paint does not flow smoothly"

    Have you found an answer to your questions?
    I'm also new to oils, and am having some issues like yours, so would be grateful if you could share some methods you may have found to solve that.
    One thing we all know is that oil paints usually take quite a long time to fully dry. In my experience some can easily take several months, despite being exposed to direct sun light at least for a few hours a day. Often also under a light in the evening for a few hours.
    Even so, some are really hard to fully dry.

    I'm in the process where I'm trying to start applying some shadowing on a 120mm figure, knowing that the oils under this new shadowing tones, are not 100% dry... Hope it works and don't have to restart the whole uniform painting again...

    "I am using a matting agent and the oils are drying out really matt, exactly how I wanted them to be"

    Can you please share the name of the matting agent you use? I'm looking to try to get the same effect on this 120mm figure, and it will be useful for further paintings as a reference. Thanks.


  9. Ronaldo A Fixture

    If they are taking months to dry you are putting to much paint on I guess " a common fault with beginners in oils "or your base coat is to slick.
    You live in Portugal : a nice warm place so they should dry quickly, are you thinning down your first coat of oils .
    Dolf and malc like this.
  10. Dolf Well-Known Member

    Hi Ronaldo,

    Thank you.

    I believe you're right, I may have used too much paint on the overall uniform, which is where the paint is taking much longer to dry.
    The color is a mix of various oil colors in order to obtain more or less the tone I wanted.
    I may have thineed the mix with Sennelier "Green4Oil" thinner, which thins the paint but apparently doesn't help it to dry faster (it's not for that effect, as some other mediums are) .

    Now (today) I've kind of tried to "shadowing" the overall uniform, using a much darker color mix, also pretty much thinned, but this time I used Liquin Original (which apparently helps the paint to dry faster; I hope it will have the same effect also on the original paint under it) .
    Removed excess "shadowing" color from the upper relief pleats with the help of some cotton swab soaked into "aguarrás" (a kind of white spirit) .

    So far, as it dries under a lamp, it looks ok, will see tomorrow under the Sun light.

    The main body has been under Sun light exposure every single day for months now... And some areas are still not fully dry!


  11. Ronaldo A Fixture

    Keep away from all the fancy things like liquin etc , turps is your friend and all you need , turpentine substitute works just fine
    and will aid the matting of the paint . keep the paint thin and when you think you got it right lift even more off with dry clean brushes to you only have a thin slick of paint on .
    Dolf likes this.
  12. grasshopper A Fixture

    And try using two brushes..one for highlights, one for shadows as you go..and try not to overblend..it’s easy to lose depth by blurring the highs and lows into one blend..it’s darn close to dry brushing...
  13. Dolf Well-Known Member

    "Keep away from all the fancy things like liquin etc , turps is your friend and all you need , turpentine substitute works just fine
    and will aid the matting of the paint ."


    I fully understand your point, and agree concerning the "keep away from fancy things".

    But, the main reason I'm (only now, as I just started recently using some oils, so I'm just at the beginner's phase, so only now am realizing errors I may have already done, but which can still be dealt with & corrected) trying to figure out how to matt down areas that may have been covered with too much paint (and probably not correctly applied) and are a bit too shinny IMO (a clear Khaki uniform shouldn't look shinny I guess; on the other hand, a Mae West from that time period is supposed to be a bit shinny; on my case with this figure I got both the opposite of what it should look like! I'm now in the process of correcting both) .

    So the uniform needs (can't use a medium now, it's too late as the paint has been applied; unless I kind of dry brush some much darker, highly dilluted with "white spirit" color/shade, for shadowing the pleats and the overall uniform; that's what I've done earlier today on this particular figure; will try to post pics on the WiP sub-Forum later) to be matted down. Hence the only solution I see now is a final matt varnish (which I'll apply in a few months, when all the oils are fully dry and have hardened) .

    The Mae West, on the other hand, at least for now as it's still a bit wet and drying, it looks like I may have solved the matt tone on the oil paint (rather on the yellowish-orangeish), by using some Liquin (which not only accelerates the drying of oil paints, but also tend to give a final more glossy touch), which increased the shinny look I wanted on the Mae West.

    Funny enough, I don't have any turpentine, nor turpentine substitute on my bench now.

    I've been using a few thinners and brush cleaners so far.
    "Aguarrás" (which is a kind of "white spirit"), and also Sennelier "Green4Oil", and on occasion still a bit of an old thinner (believe from a local artists store), of which I do ignore the characteristics, as not really listed on the label (too old anyway, not using it any longer now) .
    More recently, since yesterday as a matter fact, I added some Liquin Original to my stock. Mainly to help dry the uniform faster, after applying a "shadowing" color on top of the older main uniform paint, highly dilluted with "aguarrás".

    It seems to be working...

    "keep the paint thin and when you think you got it right lift even more off with dry clean brushes to you only have a thin slick of paint on ."

    That's exactly how I've done with this last "shadowing" tone (y)


  14. Dolf Well-Known Member

    "And try using two brushes..one for highlights, one for shadows as you go.."

    Yes, I've been using a few at the same time, various "palettes" with various colors...

    "and try not to overblend.."

    I really need to go for the dictionary often...

    Guess it's "overbend" ("to bend to excess", or "to bend over") .

    "it’s easy to lose depth by blurring the highs and lows into one blend..it’s darn close to dry brushing.."

    Yes indeed!
    The cotton swab soaped on "white spirit"/"águarrás" is pretty useful to clean up any excesses, and restore the original paint color below. If need be, another palette with that original color is ready, with the appropriate brush, for being used.
    And yes, it's kind of "dry brushing", but not quite. I've tried doing it with a flat "hard" brush, a #2 or so, and I wasn't having the results I would get when doing it in the old days with enamels, and some occasional oil paints (Burnt Sienna and Raw Umber, and some Olieverf only) .
    So I changed to a regular #0, and on some spots a #00, soaking the brush on the very thinned (with "águarrás") paint and then "cleaning" it on a dry piece of cotton cloth, and then apply it on mainly on the lows. It's a kind of precision work at this scale.


  15. grasshopper A Fixture

    You will find the brushes best suited to acrylics may not be best for oils...need more stiffness usually as compared to acrylics..with acrylics the paint is being drawn from the body thru the tip, with oils it’s more carried and spread..don’t use too much thinner, just paint thin..and don’t try to take everyone’s advice as you will be confused..take a few basic tips, and just paint...there are so many ways to work with oils, so find what suits your pleasure
    Dolf likes this.
  16. Dolf Well-Known Member

    "You will find the brushes best suited to acrylics may not be best for oils...need more stiffness usually as compared to acrylics..with acrylics the paint is being drawn from the body thru the tip, with oils it’s more carried and spread.."

    I've never (with maybe one exception) used acrylics, only enamels (the typical Humbrol mainly), oils on rare occasions (and then only Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber and later on Oilieverf) and more recently (despite still ising enamels on other projects, non-figures modelling, as well as a base coat for figures before starting with the oils), so these are the two types of paint for modelling that I'm used to.

    As for brushes: mine are a cahotic mix of different sizes, old & new, flats, rounds, different manufacturers... so each time I want to work on something I go for the size, and the type of brush(es) I need, not the type of brush. I don't have any Kolinsky.

    "don’t use too much thinner, just paint thin.."

    I try to balance it, may add quite a bit of "águarrás", and if so, after mixing, depending on the fluidity I may wait a bit before I apply it if I have to wait a moment for the fluids to evaporate some, so I try to paint thin, now (haven't done so for the 1st step of this process with the uniform, hence having problems with that one now, as for the rest I'm in general more or less happy with the results), not "too much thinned down".

    "and don’t try to take everyone’s advice as you will be confused..take a few basic tips, and just paint...there are so many ways to work with oils, so find what suits your pleasure"

    Absolutely agree! On every point!

    Each one of us always tends to find his/her own way, even after listening to advice from the "elders"... And discovering new stuff is part of the adventure of life... IMHO.


  17. Landrotten Highlander Well-Known Member

    No, overblending is the correct term - as in blending two colours (e.g. highlight versus medium tone) over too large an area.
    hope this helps.
    Dolf and grasshopper like this.
  18. Dolf Well-Known Member


    Thank you L.H. (y)


  19. TERRYSOMME1916 A Fixture

    Hi Dolf lots of good advice landing in from the guys, since I put out my cry for help I have been trying out some of the suggestions and although I am not there yet I am getting some results and learning along the way so here are some pointers that may be of help.
    The Matting Agent is Abteilung 502 Matt Effect Thinner and I have been using it without any other thinners to thin the oils on my most recent bust, exactly how much to use is still under experimentation but it does create a matt finish although on some colours you can still see a very slight sheen and this could be down to maybe not using enough of the matt agent during the mix.
    I think that it is also important to have a solid matt acrylic or humbrol undercoat to enable the oils to soak into this that should help with the drying time and matting the oils down.
    I haven't tried using a drying cabinet or lamp but I place my work into a kitchen cupboard above a radiator which seems to help with the drying time.
    When I have painted a section of the bust and placed it in the cabinet I check it a couple of times a day and it can be a couple of days before you can actually see any sign of the paint starting to lose its sheen.
    I would normally leave this to dry for a week but I would be painting other sections of the bust while the others are drying so that the bust is still moving towards completion.
    I have noticed that on some colours that even after letting them dry for a week there is still a sheen present but I have just decided to move on and leave it like that then several weeks later I have noticed colours getting matter which would suggest that the paint is still drying.
    On the bust that I am working on I painted on the base coat of oils and applied the shadows in the darker mixed colour also thinned with the matting agent and blended the shadows with a clean dry brush removing paint from the brush using paper kitchen roll to keep it as dry as possible but don't clean the brush with White Spirit or any other brush cleaner during this process as it will remove the paint from the surface instead of blending it.
    The coat and first stage of shadow is left to dry and then I will go back and add darker shadows using small spots of paint to deeper recessed area blending these out immediately into the dry paint below, try not to over work this in case it does melt the paint below, I then mix a highlight colour and add it to the raised parts using the same small spots of paint blending them out onto the dry paint.
    Its just a matter of continuing to mix different colours of Base coat, Shadows and highlights and apply them as above method until you start to get the effect that you are content with and don't worry because when this dries out you can still go back and tidy up.
    Summing up when I started using oils I used to paint smaller scale figures and it was possible to complete painting a Tunic or Face in one 4-5 hour session while the paint was wet and the blending was really smooth but now that my eyes restrict me to 120mm or busts the areas of the figures are to big and involved to make it possible to do in one session using wet on wet so I have no choice but to go Wet on Dry, I am not 100% happy with the results that I am getting but many of the other PF members are getting excellent results so its just a matter of keep on trying.
    I have attached some pics of what I am getting based on the above system, the back pack was painted 4 days ago and still has a slight sheen, the tunic was painted about 6 to 8 weeks ago and is now completely matt, the ammo pouches were painted about 2 weeks ago and still have the slightest sheen but I still have to work on the shadows and highlights on these using very small amounts of thinned oils so hopefully this process will matt the pouches down further, then theres adding weathering to the entire figure that should also matten things even further.

    MATT THINNER.jpg WW1BUST1.jpg WW1BUST2.jpg WW1BUST3.jpg
    Dolf likes this.
  20. kagemusha A Fixture

    If I may.....I have been reading this thread....and am intrigued by how many problems and solutions are being thrown up.
    I know my particular technique with oils goes against the generally accepted norm for oil painting but.....the basic application of the medium remains the same.
    Primary to getting a good result is to not interfere with the make up of the paint itself....simply because...all you are doing by adding extra chemicals is to alter the structure of a well researched medium.
    Key to avoiding 'shine' is to apply a very thin layer of paint....this refers to the actual thickness of the layer....and not the need to add thinners itself.
    A lot of people fall into the trap of soaking out the oil on cardboard before applying....which then leads to the use of thinners....simply because it no longer flows/spreads.
    In doing this you have now weakened the pigment structure....which fools people into applying more paint because it doesn't cover as well as it should...which brings back the dreaded shine problem.
    Another point to consider is this...it is of great benefit to use a clean dry brush to take off some of the paint after application...to keep the layer as thin as possible....which aids drying times...and avoids the shine...but the trick is to wait a little while before doing this....this is to allow the pigment to stain/grip on to the undercoat....which in turn aids the perceived coverage/density of colour.
    Using matte sealers is obviously common among many....indeed...I use them sometimes but...for very different reasons...chief reason being for protection from the use of washes that require a thinner that would attack the oil paint.
    The above is only my personal opinion....based on my use and experience with oils for the past 40 years....and never having had to resort to such measures to achieve a good result.
    Tecumsea, Jeff T, Nap and 5 others like this.

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