Monday, May 1, 2017

WIP: Seraphon - A Case For Oil Washes

For some reason I strayed from oil washes, trying to use the official GW recipe for a little while. Forget that. Oil washes are better. I'll show you why.

On these Lizardmen, I decided I wanted to try to follow the official GW paint formulas- well, really just try to get similar results knowing perfectly well that I'd be using some non-GW paint in the process. The "proper" recipe for Lizardmen uses Carroburg Crimson washes on the reds, and Drakenhof Nightshade on the blues. After trying it out for a bit I found myself just getting grumpy. There's times when GW washes are great (a Reikland Fleshshade wash over gold for example), but I don't think using them over deep bold colors works well at all. You might be able to build it up over many layers, but why when there's a better way?

Here's my first pass at red washes using the Carroburg. This is washed on the left, unwashed on the right:

It did a nice job darkening the overall color up, but after it dried? Nothing much down in the creases. And the places where I really slathered it on it came out cloudy when it dried.

Here's the oil wash in application:

You can see how it does...well, what you want a wash to do. It goes on fantastically, dropping down in the creases, jetting around to fill all the gaps through capillary action, and leaving the tops pretty clean. You can thin it to exactly whatever consistency you want at any point- thick for deep color like this, or thinner if you want a subtler color. That really helped on the blues of the skin and scales. Because I used the same color with different consistencies but they unified everything but didn't overpower the skin. 

The beauty of oil washes though is that you can be totally sloppy with it. It doesn't take much care because it basically comes with its own eraser. The mineral spirits (white spirits) you use for thinning also let you wash off any mistakes. It's workable while still wet so you can smear off the big drops with your brush, and if you let it dry for an hour or two you can use a Q-tip with more spirits to completely wipe the tops of everything clean.

Here's the lot washed, dried, and cleaned. So much freaking better, and way less work than multiple wash layers. 

So here's the boys where they stand now. I'm pumped to have them finally assembled. I've just got claws, faces, and some highlighting left to do.



  1. That oil wash makes all the difference in the world!

  2. I really need to start in with oils, as you show here it can really be a huge improvement.

    Although maybe not as easy as popping open a pot and getting a few brush loads for smaller jobs?

    1. Well, depends on how you look at it. If I'm just throwing some nuance on skin tones, yeah it's a little more work with oils. A little. Like, I have to break out thinner instead of water level of difficulty. If I'm doing anything heavier, I can accomplish a wide range of results in one pass, ranging from heavy deep color to super subtle and everything in between.

      Really, the only downside of oils is that you need to let it dry overnight before you start working on the piece again. That's really it. I'm a slow enough painter with just little snippets of painting time and enough models being painted simultaneously that it's not an issue.