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Swatch Sticks- a quick painting tip

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Hey folks!


Just going to pass along a quick technique that I use when I am not sure how well a color will work as a highlight or shade on a figure I am working on, I call it 'The Swatch Stick'.


Basically, all it is is a craft stick, tongue depressor etc that has had a small hole drilled in one end to allow a paper clip to be put through it. The stick is then primed with whatever primer you use on your minis, I tend to use white P3 spray for over all coverage, and Reaper White brush on to fix things that I have had to file, scrape or putty after I have started painting.


Here is an example that I made the other night with a tongue depressor while finishing up my Barbhast Devils:




I was looking at what colors to use to highlight Scale 75 Old Copper (OC), Pure Copper (PC) and Victorian Brass (VB), each of which I painted on the primed stick straight from my palette, the same dilution I used on the minis. It took 2 coats of each....


I then painted a thin strip of Scale 75 Moonstone Alchemy on each color swatch, then a strip of Amber Alchemy. The 3rd strip on the Pure Copper is a 50% mix of Pure Copper and White Alchemy. Again, the strips were painted with paint from my palette.


After everything is dry, you can now see which color you like better, or if you like it at all! There is space to try other colors as well....


(Please do not think that these are good representations of the paint colors used! The camera made a hash of the colors, but the idea behind the concept is still there)


I guess you could paint each stick with one color, and test a lot of stuff with it if you like... But these are for me, pretty much one use things. After I use the Back side of that tongue depressor, it will get thrown away, since I will know which colors in this case, I want to / need to use.


So give it a try! It just costs a couple spritzes of primer, a stick and some time!




PS I am about to use the back of this to test Reaper Pumpkin Orange against Polly S Goblin Flesh, and Scale 75 Kalahari Orange, and likely some other Oranges to find a good highlight for my Ral Partha Goblins!

Edited by knarthex
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Actually this is a good idea, but keep them for reference instead of throwing away.


Write on the back what the colors are.


Or, get smaller sticks, color the ends with one color and overlay one on the other... I may start doing this.

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So here is another way to do / use this technique,


Top horizontal Strip is SC75 Kalahari Orange, the shade tone of my goblins skin .

The bottom horizontal strip is Polly S Goblin Flesh, their mid tone.

I am looking for the highlight...




Each vertical strip has a code next to it, IDing the color.




Those are the corresponding colors for the vertical strips.


So now, I have an idea of the way the different oranges interact, and I see what may be a replacement for Goblin Flesh down the road when my supply of Polly S ends.... :down:



Edited by knarthex
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I'll steal that idea, and use it to test how different basecoats interacts with metallics.

(Just begun watching the Goddess of paint and her friend on the Dark Sword DVDs, and saw her use a 'Ruddy Red' as base for Tarnished Brass, and she mentioned using other colours... )


I think I'll try to find some plastic strips to paint on, though. Wood can do stuff to paint.

Or design something to print.

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I use the wooden sticks because I have tons of them....


Personally, I think it is the primer that makes it work, not the material the primer is on, buy YMMV



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The big difference between Bonesium/Resin/Pewter and wood is that wood is porous, while the others aren't.

Wood will absorb at least some of the moisture instead of letting it evaporate like the others does.

So the drying is different, with the possibility of moisture trapped on the inside.


I guess it all depends on which primer you use, really.

By using plastic strips I remove a possible variable in the equation.

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By using plastic strips I remove a possible variable in the equation.

I have never thrown away plastic sprues. Now I know why.


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That's a fantastic idea. I've been painting separate swatches for each colour on a page for comparison, but this way shows you how they interact with each other. And like TGP, I keep my sprues as well. They help a lot, especially when painting Bones.

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Found some of that plastic band used on large cardboard crates, and cut it into 10cm strips.

For now, I've coated a few of them in 1cm wide areas of different primers to see how different metallics looks on top of them.

(I have Vallejo: Black, Gray, White, Metal, Blue, Leather Brown, Pure red and Bones. But didn't use the Bones)

Later I'll prime a few pieces, then cover them in different reds and browns an test the copper/brass/bronze and gold colours on.

(I may try some greens and yellows also for those)

And a set with different grays with steel metallics on top.

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My wife uses swatch sticks for her nail polish.  She has a ton of them that look like fingernails at the end and she paints on them with her latest polish and labels them for later.  She has 20!  I never thought of doing the same thing with paints to help find something that would work with another color quicker.

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