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why choose acrylics rather than oils for faces and other vital blending areas ?

Discussion in 'Painting Techniques' started by DBenz, Aug 9, 2019.

  1. DBenz Member

    I am interested to know why, given oils ability to be blended to the most superb can't see where one colour ends and the other begins transition, that almost all modellers, and certainly 99% of articles and videos on the internet, are going with acrylics, and I see anything but the transition just described in acrylics shadows to midtones and highlights to midtones. Its as if I expect when asking a modeller why use acrylics, they reply well others do so, or I go to shows and all I can see for sale are acrylics, other reasons seen on forums are I like to lick the brush, I want it to dry quick., or even I see only acrylic tutorials so need to use acrylics. Licking brushes and dry time are no reason to ditch what gives the best realistic blending of all.
    To achieve a superb correctly blended transition from one colour to another with acrylics requires skills amounting to high stress and a white knuckle ride whilst doing so, when someone using oils could do the same transition with half the stress or even less.
    Darren_Han manages to achieve oil paint perfection with acrylics with https://www.puttyandpaint.com/projects/21853 also see his Monty and the heads, but that is the exception to most of what I am seeing, an average modeller could achieve such blending with oils far better than acrylics so why go the hard route, why dismiss oils ?
    To advise a newcomer on what to use I find myself saying oils as acrylics will see something far less blended for your first few figures if not more, resulting in the usual acrylic look with tide marks between colours. I also dont understand the over exaggerated contrasts between highlights midtones and shadows, a caricature rather than realism and flesh colour with little yellow in it, the very pink look, or looking greyish and desaturated as if the subject of the model is on the mortuary table ! Heavily tanned shadow areas under cheek bones and on foreheads yet with bleached out noses etc as if factor 50 is applied to the latter. Anything but flesh colour when compared to a caucasian. If placed in a real scene would it look real, some would, thats realism, but many wouldnt.

    Geoff Charman, Jed, Nap and 1 other person like this.
  2. Viking Bob PlanetFigure Supporter

    I have tried to paint skin tones in acrylic's but I have now gone back to oil's. I find it much easier to blend and if I make a mistake, it's easier to correct. At least with oil your not tempted to lick the brush.
    Geoff Charman, Jed and Nap like this.
  3. valiant A Fixture

    Im certainly no expert with using acrylics and I am still learning, but painting with acrylics is a completely different technique and discipline to using oils. When I made the transition from enamels to acrylics, I attempted to use the same style, but quickly found that it doesnt work. Comparing oils to acrylics is like comparing apples to oranges!(y)
  4. JasonB A Fixture

    The only thing I think that could be considered an advantage is fast drying time allows you to work faster, though the slow drying time is oils advantage when it comes to blending and smooth transitions. Maybe the cost of paint? Though a $20 tube of oil paint will last me the rest of my life at my pace of painting... Otherwise, I have never really understood the attraction. Maybe its the existence of specifics colors and people not having the ability or knowledge of how to mix different tones. I repeatedly see people ask for the mix of this tone or that. In my method, its always a little of this mixed with a little of that until it looks right. Not ratios of one specific color with another. Maybe that's what is difficult for folks to master about oils?

    As far as the exaggerated highlights, etc, I have said it before. In the beginning, true masters of acrylic painting could almost match the results of oils. As more and more people tried it, and achieved...lesser results, it actually became a style and "accepted", for the want of a better term, to have harsh contrasts and less blended tones. As in most things, once it becomes widespread and accepted, it becomes the norm. That's not to say there aren't some people that have truly mastered the art of acrylics for skin tones, but it just seems like using a fork to eat cereal. It can be done, and if practiced, is probably not too messy, but so much less effective than a spoon...:hungry:
    theBaron, Jed, Nap and 2 others like this.
  5. DBenz Member

    Valiant, why did you go over to using acrylics ?
  6. valiant A Fixture

    I used to use Humbrol enamels, but latterly, they became inconsistent. Poor coverage, patchy drying, generally poor quality and a shadow of what they used to be. I dont have much modelling time and it used to take too long to wait between coats and jobs took inordinate amounts of time to complete. I binned all the Humbrols, I had and bought a set of Vallejo and started to learn how to use them and still am!

    Ive used oils for painting on canvas, but never got on with them for painting figures, due to excessive drying times and poor durability when handling whilst painting and basing. Im sure there are those out there who may say try this, or try that, but Im happy with what I use now - and acrylics dont smell!!(y)
    gothicgeek, Jed, Nap and 1 other person like this.
  7. Kimmo Active Member

    I don't use oils because I simply don't have anywhere to put them while they dry, and if I did have space, I wouldn't like waiting several hours to apply another layer. I appreciate you can blend far more readily with oils, but it's not like you can't blend with acrylics. It's just a matter of technique and each to their own.

    gothicgeek, Jed, Nap and 2 others like this.
  8. Alex Well-Known Member

    I use oil on canvas and acrylic on miniatures.
    I did use oil paint in the beginning but found out that for the kind of work I was aiming for, acrylic were giving me a better result :
    - no need for solvant
    - no need to dry the paint in the oven
    - way faster to do freehands with acrylic paint where the fast drying of the paint layer is a real must
    - the thing is that it is not that complicated to obtain perfect transition with acrylic without needing to overthin the paint, it is just a question of practice
    - but the most important point is that imho, obtaining the perfect blending looks artifical to me.. what material out there is perfectly smooth besides a young woman skin ? leather, hair, linen, old metal, wool, etc.. all these materials do not need a perfect smooth paint job.. in fact it is just the opposite and that's why, I think that acrylic paints are such in favor these days.
    Jed, Nap and harrytheheid like this.
  9. Nap Forum Moderator

    Hi Guys

    A very interesting question from DBenz ( apologies not sure of your name ) on a subject much covered but with good responses here as well

    Personally I use Acrylics and a blending medium along with Water Soluable Oils , mixing to achieve the results I AM happy with

    Have a set of the new Kimera colours so that will be a step learning curve

    It's what ever YOU feel happy using ...all mediums have their positives and negatives of course

    Happy benchtime

    Jed likes this.
  10. DBenz Member

    To me its essential that whatever paint is used, the transition from a highlight to a midtone and midtone to shadow is a well blended airbrushed type effect as in reality. In this video by , so it says, a master painter I expect to see him blending the edges of such colours together at 18 mins but instead he goes onto the helmet, and knowing that its not oils and he wont return to it later on, I see him do what a lot seem to do and leave them with defined edges. How should those edges have then been carefully blended in, a clean brush with retarder perhaps ? Is the midtone too dry to blend into ? Would a damp brush with retarder or thinners eat into the midtone ? All these problems when oils have none, and drying time, why does one want it dry when it needs to be workable for blending ? It can be dried easily enough with a heat box afterwards.

    I also wonder if modellers dont know what colours to mix to get a certain colour so prefer to buy a pot of german uniform green or US army helmet green, also such then allows for replication of the colour. I am uneasy about being able to replicate a colour or even store it for another day with oils, so I could understand that aspect of acrylics. Just need to know how to blend them as well as oils can be perfectly blended. What time scale is there from painting on the midtone to finishing off the colours that need blending in on a face, 5 oclock shadow etc probably being the last colour to go on ? A few hours or is it 30 mins or what ? It seems as if the midtones and shadows are going on as a wet runny paint but onto a dryish midtone , its lost its sheen so seems to have dried out as early as 3m 30 secs so no chance of being melted together with the wet highlights and shadows going on even at 3m 35s and thus no control over the distance of the blend.

    advantages I have seen folk say of drying time and matte finish, matte finish can be added with varnish afterwards and drying time done in a heat box or warm airing cupboard, but need it wet for blending, not dry. Counter productive otherwise. The Rommel painting video is bang on when it says about cloth is matt, leather is sheen, etc, such need applying as varnishes, vital to correct look.

    Tecumsea and Jed like this.
  11. hypertex Active Member

    The biggest advantages acrylics have over oils is 1) drying time; 2) matte finish; 3) drying time.
    I've been experimenting with Gamblin Fast Matte oil paints that dry faster and more matte than regular oils. There are also slow-drying acrylics available from Golden and Atelier. It seems to be that either of these solutions could bridge the gap between oils and acrylics, but I seem to be the only one who is willing to try them--I don't know why.
    Jed likes this.
  12. theBaron A Fixture

    I've heard some folks call it "kabuki" style. I've also heard it said that it photographs well, and since many of the top painters in our hobby also paint box art examples, that helped to spread the style, too. I prefer more natural colors, myself, except when the painter is doing something for an effect.

  13. theBaron A Fixture

    And people use methods and additional products, to tweak those characteristics of acrylics and of oils even further. People use lamps or other sources of gentle heat to accelerate oils' drying time, and media like wax to achieve a better matte finish. And with acrylics, people use retarders to slow their drying time.

  14. MCPWilk A Fixture

    I tend to block in large areas with acrylic and use enamels for shading and oils for all flesh. I find I can get a better finish using oils for white.

  15. samson Well-Known Member

    Just throwing my 2 cents in the ring i still consider myself a beginner by all means . And i did start with acrylics because of the usual fast drying no smells easy clean up etc but i think the biggest reason for me was buying close to the color i wanted for fear of mixing my own colors and buying colors already mixed . I haven’t been in the hobby for a while and that was my view when i stopped the hobby . But hopefully getting back to the hobby reading and watching in my time off I’m gonna give oil painting a try at least for all skin leather and wood for starters. Having this website help me to get over my fear of mixing I think i might even enjoy it LOL . It might be the thought of getting back in the hobby but i think everyone is looking for a quick out myself included it might be time to take a step back and enjoy the whole process including the drying time LOL
    Tecumsea likes this.

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