Washes are probably the most important part of painting wargaming miniatures and wargaming terrain. Shading minuatures with multiple layers the old-fashioned way can be a very rewarding but also a time consuming undertaking. Everyone who ever tried to build a horde army knows what i am talking about. Although some people consider washing a “beginner technique” it will get you great results with little effort. Especially big terrain pieces require you to put in a lot of work when shading. Using a homemade wash will help you to get great results in no time.
We both know, why you are here: you feel, regular washes by companies like games workhop are too costly for too little content. Especially when working with terrain, tanks or planes you will need a lot of wash. And that can become expensive quickly. I’ll tell you what: The washes we will be making are not only cheap and easy to make but you will be amazed by the quality of your self made wash!
What is a wash?
Washes consist of these three main components:
- Pigment – The paint / ink that hold the color for your wash
- Wash medium – The medium makes up the bulk of the wash (e.g. water)
- Surfacant – This reduces surface tension and allows the paint to run into the crevices of the model
The most direct approach many painters take to make a custom wash is to combine paint with water and a bit of dish soap. Granted this is probably the easiest recipe you will find, as it includes all three main components of a wash and you will definitely have all things needed already at home. If you are used to using quality Citadel washes though, you will not like this approach. The dishsoap has the qualities of a surfacant – we all learned that in school – but it also has other properties you will not want in your wash like the tendency to be bubbly and smell like heresy. Let me show you the easy way to make a lot (500mL) of cheap, fast, custom washes.
Homemade wash recipe
You will need the following:
- Dropper bottle or Pipette
- An old paint pot or container
- Liquid matte acrylic medium
- Distilled water
- paint of your choice
The hardest part of this is to get the matte medium and the distilled water. Don’t worry: you will get distilled water in the dollar store or a supermarket for less than a dollar. The matte medium will cost you around $15 for 250mL, and it will last you a very VERY long time. I recommend using the liquid matte medium by windsor & newton, as it has worked wonderfully for me. You could use any other brand, and that might be better or cheaper, just make sure you get the liquid medium and not the “gel” medium. You could also go for a glossy medium, but for washes the matte medium will get the best results (Shadows are usually not that glossy).
For the paint you can use any old or new paint you have available. Just make sure it is dark enugh since we use it to shade darker areas. For Example: I use Mournfang Brown and a dash of Abaddon Black to get a shade that looks a lot like regular old Agrax Earthshade. However you could use any color you like to create all sorts of self made washes.
To make the wash the recipe is:
Thats it! just drop the contents into an old painting pot, give it a shake and youre good to go. You will notice the wash is not as transparent as you’re used to. Dont worry, it will dry perfectly clear! The next step is to test your wash on a model. The best way would be to take a freshly primed model and just apply the wash to see if it flows right and has the right color for your application. You can always add more color if the hue isn’t right or add more of the medium and water if it is not flowing well enough. If it is flowing too well, just add a little more paint to your wash. You will quickly see how easy this process really is.
- 4 parts distilled water
- 4 parts matte medium
- 1 part paint
Now that you know how to create “liquid skill” cheaply in large quantities you can waste all that good wash on terrain without the guilty feeling. Want to paint epic Chaos Demons terrain that looks like it is centuries old? Just drown it in dark brown wash.
With and without wash applied. In the left picture you can still see the flow of the liquid wash.
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