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Inks vs Washes

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I have been painting for a while, but my painting has been for purely "table top" purposes sufficient to have a decent looking largish army on a table. Of late I have become more interested in the finer points of painting am trying to hone my skills. Can someone explain the difference to me between an "ink" and a "wash" and generally what one would be used for vs the other?

 

Thanks in advance.

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Just waiting for someone with actual experience to answer, but I'll post that I thought a "wash" was just a very thin layer of whatever -- paint or ink mixed with a lot of water. Maybe I'm wrong. Like I say, I have no experience, just reading up right now.

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A wash is a mix of paint pigments and water. An ink is pigment dissolved in a medium, such as water or alcohol. Inks tend to have much more pigment in them, and more finely ground. The result is that when mixed with water to think them for washes you can thin ink a lot more than paint and still have color to it. Also, I think inks are more transparent than paint. For that reason I tend to use washes when I want a "dirty" effect. Brown wash over silver armor leaves it looking muddy. Brown ink over silver armor gives it more of a tarnished and aged look.

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Here's my two cents: my understanding is that an ink is a colorant (usually a dye, but sometimes pigment) in a transparent base. Most inks are not "permanent" or colorfast and may reactivate/redisolve when exposed to the right liquid.

 

A wash is the application of a diluted liquid (could be paint or could be ink) that is applied with the intent of having the liquid mostly settle in recesses and low spots in order to mainly shift the color of those low spots. Especially among the older wargammer hands, using an ink (hobby origin, in the case of the old GW inks or artist origin (Dr. Maartens, Winsor & Newton, etc) as the color component of a wash is pretty common. Most of these washes would use Future Floor Polish as the non ink component in order to fix the ink. But, using just water would also work (for inks).

 

GW (and Reaper now) have come out with premixed washes. The idea is that you slop the washes on pretty heavily over a (dried) base coat, and the wash settles in the recesses and low spots to provide quick shading. I haven't tried the Reaper washes yet, but the GW washes work pretty well but end up being relatively expensive. You can do something similar with matte medium and water.

 

I will use two types of washes for quick and dirty painting:

  • For quick lining and dark shading, I use a "magic wash" formula which gives results similar to the future floor polish and ink mix: 1 part liner (usually brown liner), 3 parts matte medium, 3 parts water. The areas where the wash settles can end up being quite dark nearing black. The wash effectively "lines" the figure, placing dark lines in between disparate types of surfaces (say skin and clothing) helping to better define the areas.
     
  • For quick shading (but not lining), I use a darker shade than the base coat, but not too much darker and mix varying degrees of dilution, but usually at least 1 part paint, 2 parts matte medium, 2 parts water.

Just to muddy things up a bit, you may also come across "glaze" as a term. A glaze is a very thin, mostly transparent coat of very diluted paint that is applied evenly over an area and is designed to color shift the entire area. Unlike a wash, a glaze is applied very thinly and evenly without allowing it to pool in low spots. A common is as a finishing step over a highlighted and shaded area in order to unify the area and smooth out the transitions.

 

Hope that helps,

Ron

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I don't know much about inks...but I use washes quite a bit. I always use the premade GW ones, mainly devlan mud (brown) and badab black (black). To give an example of how I use it, for silver armor, I will basecoat with a dark silver (GW Boltgun Metal) then once dry I will add black wash in a fair amount, letting the black pigment pool around rivets and in the holes in chainmail, in creases etc....this adds a very quick shade over the top of the basecoat. I then go over the armor again with Boltgun metal again, but leaving the black in the recesses and places I want darker. Then I highlight with the next lighter silver metallic (GW Chainmail) This I apply over a smaller area and toward the light source and also for chainmail I will either drybrush or sidebrush to hit the chainlinks, but leave the black wash in the holes/recesses. At this point for more weathered armor you can wash with black again to darken a bit, then I take and highlight the extreme highlights with the lightest silver (GW Mithril Silver) I use this only on the most extreme highlights. The same process can be ued for gold. Washes are incredibly useful for quick painting, but I am starting to move away from using them the more and more I paint. They work great for easy shading though.

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Thanks everyone. I tend to use "magic wash" that I got from the Warstore for shading.I mix in a varying amounts of the black version of the wash in with the brown depending on the desired effect. If I need to make a wash with another color, I add flow improver. I haven't tried GW's washes, but have heard mixed reviews. I have started experimenting with a bit more layering and blending, but am not very good at it yet, so I still use washes. I will likely continue to do so with the units that I paint, but have tried upping the detail on the centerpiece models. The whole highlighting based on a light source is way out of my league, maybe someday...

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Just practice the highlighting with an overhead lightsource, makes it much easier to pick out where the highlights could be. It will take practice, but you will get it. I bought a 24 pack of GW Lord of the Rings dwarven rangers and used them for practicing shading and highlighting techniques. The black and brown washes from GW work fine as far as I can tell, the other colors, red, blue, green etc I have been less than pleased with, they just tend to add tide marks even when carefully applied.

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The whole highlighting based on a light source is way out of my league, maybe someday...

 

 

My guess is that you are probably selling yourself short. While object source lighting is probably not something you want to dive into right away, basic highlighting and shading is fairly straight forward and can provide a huge leap in your skill level.

 

The best way to determine where highlights should be placed on the mini is to think about where you would be wet if you had been caught in the rain, like the tops of your shoulders and the tops of your boots. Conversely, shadows belong on the underside of fabric folds, underarms, etc. Those are the areas that would for the most part remain dry in that rain storm. Neutral areas that are vertical like the fronts of your legs should stay a midtone color, or your base color.

 

Experiment a little! It's not as difficult as you think it is. You might surprise yourself...

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Thanks everyone. I tend to use "magic wash" that I got from the Warstore for shading.I mix in a varying amounts of the black version of the wash in with the brown depending on the desired effect. If I need to make a wash with another color, I add flow improver. I haven't tried GW's washes, but have heard mixed reviews.

I've seen very good results from the new GW washes. Haven't used any myself, because I can't bring myself to buy any more pop-top bottles (wet palette + dropper bottles = positive feedback loop), but the painting guru at my FLGS is enamoured of them.

 

I have started experimenting with a bit more layering and blending, but am not very good at it yet, so I still use washes. I will likely continue to do so with the units that I paint, but have tried upping the detail on the centerpiece models. The whole highlighting based on a light source is way out of my league, maybe someday...

The advice you've gotten so far is great. On the principle that the right explanation can make something "click", I'll suggest a couple more ways to approach highlighting:

 

- Look at your figure from above. The bits you can see should be highlighted.

 

- Pick up a suitably bright LED flashlight. Periodically hold it directly above the figure you're painting and shine it straight down. That should give you some idea of how to highlight it.

 

- I write computer graphics code for a living, so this works for me and probably nearly no-one else on this board: Lambertian surface.

 

Good luck!

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I've seen very good results from the new GW washes. Haven't used any myself, because I can't bring myself to buy any more pop-top bottles (wet palette + dropper bottles = positive feedback loop), but the painting guru at my FLGS is enamoured of them.

 

I've put the GW washes in some Reaper dropper bottles, more chance they'll last more than 6 months before drying out.

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Okay, here's the science behind it. ::):

 

A wash can be created with either paint or ink, mixed in a base that is water or solvent or acrylic lacquer. In the case of the new Reaper MSP washes, they are paint in a mixture of acrylic lacquer and water, with various additives mixed in to make them function better.

 

The color in paint is created by adding pigments, usually to an acrylic base (often with vinyl or latex mixed in). Liquid pigments, like we use, are ground finer than the human eye can see (less than a micron). They are particles, which stay suspended in the mixture they're used in.

 

The color in inks is created by adding dyes, usually to a lacquer base. Dyes are not particles; there is no "pigment grind" to dyes. Instead, they fully dissolve in water or in whatever fluid solution you add them to. As pointed out above, they do not fully "set" so they can be reactivated by further wetting (when you try to paint over them and they bleed their color into the paint layer you just added, that is what is happening).

 

Pluses to dyes: more intense color, transparent.

Downside to dyes: bleed through layers of paint added on top of the dye. Are often shiny, due to the medium they tend to be mixed with (lacquers).

 

Pluses to washes: do not bleed, are usually matte.

Downside to washes: not as transparent or as intense as inks.

 

Other than the bleed-through, ink and paint washes are used in exactly the same manner.

 

The bleeding issue can be ignored when working with metallics, as the shiny flake used in those paints is immune to it. This is why you will more often see inks used over metallics even if they are used nowhere else on a figure.

 

--Anne ::):

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Anne,

 

What colors of inks does Reaper produce? I saw all of the different paint colors online, but not the inks. Doc Bedlam and I were experimenting with some he had (purple, blue, red, black) today, but I'd like to know what other colors are available.

 

Briathel

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Reaper does not produce any inks. The washes Anne talked about are paints thinned to a wash consistency They are 9255 Black Wash, 9254 Brown Wash and 9253 Flesh Wash.

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If you check the MSP Core paints, you'll find three inks hiding in there (9208 Black, 9209 Brown, and 9210 Red). There were three more at one time, but they were chopped (9211 Green, 9212 Blue, 9213 Purple) to make room for new paints, if I recall correctly.

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