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Washing Bones: Am I doing it wrong?

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So in keeping with one of my '2014 goals', I mixed up some wash last night, and went to town on the wings from the Bones shadow dragon, which I had previously basecoated. One problem...By the third or fourth 'layer', the only thing I was 'washing' was the wings themselves, taking the base coat right off!

 

Where am I going wrong? Should I have primed first, since I'm using RPP? Should I have mixed it thinner? Used something other than water to thin?

 

I'm lost...and have seen how this technique can be awesome, once I know how to not screw it up...

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Well, for starters, paint really shouldn't be coming off your Bones. Let's start with that.

 

Did you clean them thoroughly beforehand, with soap and water? Did you scrub the soap and water with a stiff toothbrush or similar cleaning substance? Were they dry when you started painting? What type of paint did you use for the basecoats?

 

It's become common practice around here to undercoat (or "prime") Bones with a layer of MSP Brown Liner; the stuff is nearly bombproof on Bones. On the other hand, colours like MSP Walnut Brown are discouraged because they can easily rub off naked Bones plastic.

 

When you wash a mini with a colour, you usually only need one pass (as Inarah said). You usually don't need anything other than water to thin, although matte medium and flow improver are often added to washes to help their handling. Ideally, your wash will be thin enough to gather in the recesses and crevices of your mini (the flow improver can help with that), rather than spreading over the entire surface like a glaze.

Edited by Last Knight
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You also might need more drying time. And like Last Knight said, some colors have a harder time sticking to bones. I've had no end of trouble getting red to bond with my little Flit dragon.

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You also might need more drying time. And like Last Knight said, some colors have a harder time sticking to bones. I've had no end of trouble getting red to bond with my little Flit dragon.

 

Huh. What red are you using? I used Army Painter Dragon Red on my Flit and Pathfinder Red, and had no issues...
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Sounds like not only am I doing it wrong, I'm also scrambling my techniques. Thanks guys, I'll try a thicker mix when I get home tonight.

 

To answer questions:

 

Did you wash?

Yes, I did wash the mini first, and make sure it was dry; that's something deeply ingrained since starting to paint pewter ages ago.

 

What colors?

The basecoat was RPP Purple Steel. Going overtop was RPP Lavender, thinned to where the edges of a drawn-out puddle were clear...and due to being flaky (insert rimshot here for bad metallic joke), needed stirring before every application.

 

How was it painted?

All painting was done 'with the grain' of the wing; going the same direction as the crevices.

 

Did you let it dry?

Drying time was successively increased with each failure, from 5min up to 20min. The basecoat was left for 45.

 

Lesson 1: Using a wash-consistency paint for what should be glazing [building up successive layers to create a fade effect] is a dumb idea.

 

Lesson 2: Find something that sticks to Bones better for the basecoat, instead of working with the desired color first.

 

I knew this was going to be a learning experience; I'm finally starting to expand my skillset beyond making up for flat colors with insane detail [such as coloring belt buckles, bottle caps, strings, etc], and have never done these techniques period, let alone on a bone. Thanks for everything so far guys, keep it coming!

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You should let the first coat of paint on the figure cure for an hour or more; most spray on primers suggest 4 hours or more, but I'm not sure that's neccessary here. However, I do know that just because paint seems dry to the touch that does not mean it is properly cured. Applying more layers of paint, especially very wet layers like washes and glazes, can re-desolve the base layer.

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I'll give that a shot when I do the other side, Doc; normally I leave my primers overnight, but there have been times I've left primers for 3 years or more. Moving and losing a box of WIPs sucks.

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Given that Bones does seem to be a little finicky and these sorts of posts seem common - maybe they really should be primed first? Would that fix the issue?

 

I haven't tried painting one yet; though I did step into that big Kickstarter late last year, so come October I'll be swimming in them.

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There are some sprays in the FAQ for primer that might work. I didn't have much success using brush-on primer on my first Bones so I never did it again since. If somebody was inclined to use a brush-on primer, my recommendation now would be to use one of the Reaper liner colours instead. They not only have the advantage of being a different colour than the mini so you can see where you put it, so far they seem to be nigh indestructible basecoats.

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To speed dry time of a base coat, you can use a hairdryer on the low setting. You can also do this with a wash, but you want to let the wash dry naturally for a little bit so you don't risk blowing it out of the crevices that it's supposed to settle into and darken.

 

Paint does take upwards of a day or more to really truly cure, but acrylic paint should be dry to the touch within a few minutes, a little longer as the first coat on Bones. Usually it will be fine at that point to start applying a second coat, a wash, layers, etc., though it is not unheard of to have issues crop up if you apply a sealer not long after painting something. You can use this property to your advantage - if you paint outside the lines or get a drop somewhere else, you can often scrub it off with a clean damp brush if you notice it not long after it happens.

 

It's also worth mentioning here that people regularly paint entire miniatures within an hour, so it's not like you have to leave paint to dry for hours between every step or anything!

 

Inks are a different story, and I have heard of ink being reactivated by later coats of paint even after being left for some time. You don't mention ink here, so I'm passing that along merely as info, not because I think it's related to your problem.

 

One thing I was wondering is how you were apply the wash. Were you scrubbing at all? As I mentioned above, it is definitely possible to scrub off fresher layers of paint, so for drybrushing it's helpful to apply a few coats and give them a little time to dry. Usually all you need to do to apply a wash is gently run the brush over the surface texture. You want to coat the area with enough paint that it pools in the recesses of the texture, but not so much that it's literally dripping. If it doesn't seem dark enough, let it dry and then change your mix and apply a second coat. (Partly become some paints dry darker or lighter than they look wet so you can't really tell if a wash was too light until it's dry.) If you start putting on more paint or touching the area with your brush once it's started to dry, you'll lift up some of the wash and create streaks and light parts.

 

If you were really putting a lot of liquid onto the mini, it's possible that it could be getting up under the edges of the paint and starting to lift it, particularly if that was combined with a scrubbing motion. That would still seem a relatively unusual result (I've had areas flood with water due to drops I didn't notice on the ferrule or when doing the scrub off mistakes move above, and have very rarely had problems with paint lifting.)

 

I'm not saying you were doing any of those things, just pondering possible issues. Every now and then someone seems to run into a weird issue like this with a Bones. I have not as yet, so it's hard for me to know exactly what's going on. One thing I'd say is to maybe try something similar on another figure if you have one, maybe using different colours, and see if your experience is different.

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Lesson 2: Find something that sticks to Bones better for the basecoat, instead of working with the desired color first.

 

This.

 

Not all paints will stick to Bones like they will to primer. The good news is that it's not hard to find a "first coat" technique for Bones that works, and, more importantly, can be superior to your typical primer colors of white, grey, or black. Myself, I paint to tabletop, so will slop on craft paint thinned with Les's Wash (50% matte medium, 50% water with additives). Not only can I choose which color paint to start with, the raised part of the mini will be whiter and easier to highlight (at least on larger models). To do the same effect on non-Bones, I would use zenithal priming (black primer, grey primer, white primer) optionally followed by dusting in white and pre-inking -- that's three to five steps I'm saving right there with Bones and I haven't even colored it yet.

 

Anyway, try painting a different Bones miniature with a different basecoat and same wash techniques and see what happens. fwiw, I also use QuickShade Ink and haven't had problems. Good luck!

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To speed dry time of a base coat, you can use a hairdryer on the low setting. You can also do this with a wash, but you want to let the wash dry naturally for a little bit so you don't risk blowing it out of the crevices that it's supposed to settle into and darken.

 

Paint does take upwards of a day or more to really truly cure, but acrylic paint should be dry to the touch within a few minutes, a little longer as the first coat on Bones. Usually it will be fine at that point to start applying a second coat, a wash, layers, etc., though it is not unheard of to have issues crop up if you apply a sealer not long after painting something. You can use this property to your advantage - if you paint outside the lines or get a drop somewhere else, you can often scrub it off with a clean damp brush if you notice it not long after it happens.

 

It's also worth mentioning here that people regularly paint entire miniatures within an hour, so it's not like you have to leave paint to dry for hours between every step or anything!

 

Inks are a different story, and I have heard of ink being reactivated by later coats of paint even after being left for some time. You don't mention ink here, so I'm passing that along merely as info, not because I think it's related to your problem.

 

One thing I was wondering is how you were apply the wash. Were you scrubbing at all? As I mentioned above, it is definitely possible to scrub off fresher layers of paint, so for drybrushing it's helpful to apply a few coats and give them a little time to dry. Usually all you need to do to apply a wash is gently run the brush over the surface texture. You want to coat the area with enough paint that it pools in the recesses of the texture, but not so much that it's literally dripping. If it doesn't seem dark enough, let it dry and then change your mix and apply a second coat. (Partly become some paints dry darker or lighter than they look wet so you can't really tell if a wash was too light until it's dry.) If you start putting on more paint or touching the area with your brush once it's started to dry, you'll lift up some of the wash and create streaks and light parts.

 

If you were really putting a lot of liquid onto the mini, it's possible that it could be getting up under the edges of the paint and starting to lift it, particularly if that was combined with a scrubbing motion. That would still seem a relatively unusual result (I've had areas flood with water due to drops I didn't notice on the ferrule or when doing the scrub off mistakes move above, and have very rarely had problems with paint lifting.)

 

I'm not saying you were doing any of those things, just pondering possible issues. Every now and then someone seems to run into a weird issue like this with a Bones. I have not as yet, so it's hard for me to know exactly what's going on. One thing I'd say is to maybe try something similar on another figure if you have one, maybe using different colours, and see if your experience is different.

 

Amazing write-up, thank you! I feel like such a rookie for painting this long [~10 years] and am just now getting around to what's considered rudimentary techniques. Oops!

 

Thanks for the heads-up on inks; I'm not that far along, but will keep that in mind when I do. I'm using a hand-mixed wash [going by the old Craft article; paint is opaque, glaze is translucent but solid, wash is clear at the edges of the bead], and mimicking the motion I'd seen in a how-to video; touch the brush at the start of the 'run' [i found out earlier in the thread that I was trying to glaze with a wash, dumb idea], work towards where the color should be thinnest, pulling the moisture with short strokes.

 

I did really like the effect I got out of accidentally not realizing I had a clump of paint at the bottom of the basecoat pot; it was a little thin, and after vigorous shaking a bit frothy. It went on the bone like staining a piece of wood...changing the color, preserving just a bit of the underlying shade, but looking like it was pressed that way, rather than painted.

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Update:

 

Over the weekend, I put the advice in here to good use.  A longer curing time worked wonders; I haven't tried any real abuse like vigorous rubbing, but letting them go overnight instead of simply dry has kept the basecoat from rinsing off while working with the follow-up runs.

 

Changing the consistency of the paint worked nicely as well.  The previous one was too thin; I think even the one I was working with was too thin.  I get the feeling that's going to be the hardest part of this learning experience: learning to 'feel' what the right consistency is for the various techniques.

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