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I absolutely cannot grasp blending.


redpiano
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I'm trying to paint some horns on one of my models and I've been trying Three different blending or layering methods and none of them are working out for me at all.

 

So let's start with the "two brush" method. I've seen this just recently and immediately wanted to try it because it looked like a simple way to get a great look. So I've tried it let's say eight or nine times now with different colors on this same model and I cannot get it to work. So first problem I had was the paint would dry before I could get the brush down to blend the paint I had applied, which is like 40 milliseconds, so I was ending up with a big fat line or "tide" mark. So then I added retarder, I'm using Golden brand retarder, I add the retarder, thin the paint out again and apply it and start trying to blend again, but again I can't get it to blend like I see in tutorials and photos, instead of a smooth gradient effect I get an ugly looking thin film that just looks like I did a wash on half the horn instead of a smooth gradient. I've tried using saliva like so many people suggest and I've also tried water as well as liquitex flow aid on the blending brush and none of them change the result.

 

Wet blending also turned out horribly but I don't like using this method so let's ignore that.

 

And the method I've had difficult with every time I try to do it is glazing, I cannot do glazes no matter how hard I try, I've tried using Liquitex flow aid as well as Vallejo glaze medium, I just cannot get glazes to look decent at all, I end up with the exact same problem as I do with two brush blending where the horn just turns out to look like I've done a crappy wash on it.

 

 

This is the style I'm trying to get close to with the horns.

 

m1820635a_99810201005_LordDaemonicMountC

 

 

and I'm using Vallejo game color paints. I've watched a dozen tutorials on all these blending methods and I absolutely cannot grasp any of it for some infuriating reason, up until now I felt pretty good about my ability to paint minis. So any advice or tricks to getting that look would be greatly appreciated because I'm out of patience.

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Those horns aren't really blended - just drybrushed with thinned paints.

 

What makes you say that? Because the grooves in the horns look like they're molded into the model? Well they aren't. The base of the horns look blended to me.

 

 

A few pictures of what you have done will help

 

The armor under the horns was an attempt at "glazing" metallics, I wanted sort of a sunburst effect where the center of the plates of armor are flat black or a dark green and the outer edges are shiny.

http://img17.imageshack.us/img17/9049/us5b.jpg

 

These horns were an attempt at glazing as well, the brownish hue is what I get when I try to do two brush blending, just imagine it at the base of the horn instead of on the entire thing, I got a little frustrating and just started trying random crap.

http://img607.imageshack.us/img607/9189/twky.jpg

 

And an awful attempt at wet blending the horn.

http://img7.imageshack.us/img7/202/w4ji.jpg

 

if you need better examples I'll try it again tomorrow and take pictures.

Edited by redpiano
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Yeah for me it just doesn't fade the way I expect it to, maybe the results I'm getting are what's expected and the videos I've watched are just low quality so I can't see how crappy it looks... I doubt that but hey maybe.

 

I'm going to try again now and I'll update with pictures.

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So they "blended" the horns from a brown/black to a medium brown/tan, and then put some ivory over the top.

I've seen a lot of GW stuff up close - it's not nearly as smooth as the pictures make it look.

 

*edit* but that's not what you asked. I haven't tried two brush blending myself, but I have recently had success with wet blending. As you've already noted, using an additive to help slow drying times is key.

Edited by trystangst
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What kind of brushes are you using? I find that I have the same problem as you when I use my cheaper brushes for blending, also the paint pigment when thinned can have this effect. I find using paint retarder and water with a tiny bit of dishwashing liquid soap best for glazes but I sometimes get bad results from my cheaper paints because of the lack of pigment.

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With wet blending you're blending two paints together while they're still wet correct? With two brush blending you're laying down a shade color in a recess, or a highlight in a raised section and then dragging the paint off of that and making a transparent layer over your base coat so it looks like a smooth shade or highlight, at least that's how I've been seeing this.

 

The problem I run into with wet blending is the paint always gets too thick on me and I end up with a rough finish and my paint never blends all that well so it becomes a ton of work.

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What kind of brushes are you using? I find that I have the same problem as you when I use my cheaper brushes for blending, also the paint pigment when thinned can have this effect. I find using paint retarder and water with a tiny bit of dishwashing liquid soap best for glazes but I sometimes get bad results from my cheaper paints because of the lack of pigment.

 

I was using my 00 Windsor and Newton brush to apply the paint and I've tried using a reaper brush as well as a vallejo brush to do the blending, I suspected this may be the cause as well but I don't have the money to drop on bigger windsor brushes right now, people generally recommended #1 and #2 size brushes in all the tutorials I've seen.

 

I've heard of using dish soap, I might give it a try. The Liquitex stuff I use actually smells like dish soap so maybe there's a correlation here.

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Sometimes paints are the issue. I am not a great painter but here are some tips from my experience.

 

If no-one has mentioned this, if you're trying to wet-blend or glaze horns, DO NOT USE A PURE WHITE. Your "white" should be a very warm bone colour, and you should be blending down into a soft, warm brown. Using a bright yellow or a pure white will mess you up. White is troublesome because it is very intense and covers very well. That makes it a right bugger for wet anything techniques, IMO. You want to work with colours that will blend smoothly into each other visually.

 

When I was wet blending I would do it in stages. Don't try for perfect coverage in one coat. This may also apply to 2-brush, which I haven't specifically used. I would wet blend for a base coat and to lay out the transition, then wet-blend a glaze or two over top, then pick out the most intense highs/lows and just manually paint them. EDIT: this sounds slower than it is!

 

Has anyone pointed out to you the "drag and drop" characteristics of paints? Especially when thinned, they will drop more pigment at the point where you lift the brush, but where you're dragging the brush along the pigment will tend to drag with it.

 

Your work on the metallics looks good to me. I would suggest that you now carefully, very carefully, drybrush a little bit. (One method is: Using a very dry brush that you hate and want to kill, you can get a little metallic paint, mash the brush dry, then put it in place and gently twirl it between your finger tips to add a tiny bit of extra shine.) I would use that or your preferred technique to shine the mid-tone and midtone-to-highlight transition a little, then either edge-highlight or drybrush the highlights. I like to use a tiny bit of Vallejo Metallic Medium to add point highlights to metal, and it might respond well to being put on in a glaze (it's a clear metallic). Then very carefully paint in your deep shadows with a green-black, blue-black or brown-black depending on what you think will work best.

Edited by smokingwreckage
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I can't see your pics, but as someone who has struggled with blending, and seen all the methods (and tried them!) you are mentioning, these are some pointers:

 

- As smockingwreckage says, knowing how paint behaves is crucial. I over-thinned my paints because all those tuts say "thin your paints!". The 2-brush one at handcannononline, for example, the guy says at one point: "if your first layer looks like crap, then you are thin enough". THAT doesn't work for me. I overthinned.

 

And this is a big issue because paint consistency breaks down very easily, and the 2-brush method relies in a certain... elasticity of the paint layer so that it thins on its own when you pull the paint with a wetted brush. For this to work, you paint needs to be thinned (as in, NOT paint pot consistency) but definitely NOT a watered down tinted consistency! So my first advice is: try thicker paint and experiment.

 

This is also a pointer about the glazes. There is a moment when your glazes are truly too thin, and you need to learn to judge it. It will dry with rings, borders, all kind of crazy things and NOT smooth if the paint is too thin. Again, even if it seems counter-intuitive, try thicker than what you are using now.

 

You want transparent layers, not thin ones. This one confused me at the beginning. 

 

Thin layers behave weirdly until you learn to work with them. Transparent layers let you see through, but are not that "thin" and the amount of paint/binder allows the pigments to settle (when they dry) in an uniform layer. 

 

Also keep in mind that colors with more white pigment cover a lot; white in particular is very difficult to make transparent layers out of it. I found that the more I thin the white, the more "chalky" it gets (I know, common knowledge, but it doesn't really stick until you try it), so the best way to do blends of light colors is going back and forth with the white, the midtone, the shade... until it all smooths out eventually. Keep the amount of paint in your brush small, to avoid flooding, and use a wet palette so you can go back and forth between colors. Smooth blending in one color "go" is, for me, impossible.

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I have always had problems with blending outside of very similar colors (darker to lighter).  All I can say my friend is patience and practice, I still haven't gotten it down, but I'd be lying if I said I worked painting anywhere near as much as I'd like. 

 

To quote a very famous fish, "Just keep swimming."

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