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I've found a method of producing extremely cheap, but effective inks for washing your miniatures! It involves stuff you can find for very cheap at your local dollar store, so here's hoping this helps some people.

 

WARNING: Please, only use this stuff if your miniature is properly layered with paint. Do not use this if you paint in thick layers as the alcohol will strip a few layers of paint before it drys completely. If layered properly, the paint job will not be affected noticeably. Make sure before using this stuff your paint is 100% cured. When in doubt, wait a day.

 

Step 1. Go to your local dollar store. You have a small shopping list of stuff to get.

a) A bottle of isopropyl alcohol. Usually it is 50% here. Do not get stronger than this!

b) Empty pour/spray bottle packages from the beauty supplies area of the dollar store. The ones I bought came in a 4 pack, 3 spout bottles and 1 spray bottle.

c) A few (3-4) packages of color markers. These have basically everyone color you would use to ink a miniature.

d) You're done! Return to the battle station to begin prep!

 

Step 2. Now take each bottle and fill it ~50% full with the isopropyl alcohol You can add more, just make sure you have enough pens on hand to use with it (you'll find out soon). Make sure to dilute the alcohol a bit to ensure it doesn't strip any paint, but enough to suspend the ink properly.

 

Step 3. Divide up all of the colors and group the same colors together across all sets. you should have at least 2-3 of each color if you bought enough markers. Two of every marker is the minimum here.

 

Step 4. Now, crack open each marker and extract the ink-filled cotton inside. It should be inside of a small plastic tube. Remove the cotton carefully (try not to get ink everywhere, but it happens. My colorful hands can attest)

 

Step 5. Pre-label each bottle for what color you want to be in it. Many of the dark colors, if properly dense in pigment, are going to look blackish and would require testing to see what color it is. Just use a sharp and a piece of masking tape to label what color each bottle is so you know at a glance.

 

Step 6. Put two ink swabs of the desired color into a half-filled bottle of alcohol. I've found that about 2 in half a bottle makes for a fairly dense ink without it being overpowering. You can add more alcohol to dilute it more to your liking. These numbers are based off of 3 ounce bottles while using thin markers. If using fat markers (~15mm thick) try using 1 swab first. If it isn't dark/bold enough, add another.

 

Step 6(a). If you want to create some variable colors, feel free to mix ink colors. Want a blue-green? Throw 1 to 1.5 of each into the bottle! It's quite easy to make a few odd, but useful, shades if you care to.

 

Step 7. Let the ink swab soak in the alcohol overnight and the following day, it should be safe to remove the swab (if you want. It's not necessary)

 

The final result: Each bottle will have great ink for washing over your miniatures. In total, I now have about 12 useful colors of ink and it cost me less than $10! Hope someone finds this useful.

 

Thanks for reading ::D:

 

EDIT: I went ahead and did a bit more testing and it seems to strip the paint off of other things quite easily (the miniatures I've tested are unharmed). I used it on some painted stone and painted clay. Both of them lost paint in places. Only use this on a miniature! Avoid use with other sculpt crafts!

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That is lovely! I'm just getting ready to start back painting after years and years away from it, and I never knew half these techniques. With the 2 paint sets I chose from the Kickstarter and this trick, I should be well set. Thanks to Loim's advice about looking into wet palettes and finding out you can make them yourself, I feel like I have a lot of cool new things to try. Also, not gonna lie, my son is only 4 and has been given quite a lot of markers that are not age appropriate, being entirely too hard to wash off. So he's about to get raided!

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I already use alcohol as a paint stripper for acrylics. You have to be careful with it.

 

My chief concern about this is the permanence, or rather lack thereof, of most of the dyes used in felt tip pens. If a marker drawing on paper fades, how long will it last as a color on a mini?

 

I hate to be a party pooper, especially since this idea is so cool. I just don't like to think of someone's gorgeous work faded away in five or ten years. I come from an art background and the longevity of materials and colors is a big deal there.

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I've also been reading that using koolaid can be a functional color additive. There are a lot of very... creative.. ways to color a mini! Although, I still feel like buying a genuine wash, or watering down some real mini paint is the best medicine.

 

@ Pingo: I don't doubt it. But then, if you are trying to create a display piece, my understanding is that washes and inks aren't really good for that because you can't control them well enough. Tabletop minis get handled so much that touchups are bound to happen either way.

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