I found this post very helpful in illustrating the different types of weathering effects in a simple graphical form.
This has always been a headache for me: white colored paints have coverage issues. Most paint brands need to be diluted: with white it is very, very, VERY essential to get the dilution just right. If it is too dilute, it will be runny, if it is too thick it will splutter in the airbrush. (The reason for this post is the Amusing Hobby Ferdinand: ran out of Tamiya Flat White.)
Small areas can be done using a grey base (easier to paint), and then painting it over with Vallejo’s white primer, diluted somewhat, but not too much using a brush. It is much more forgiving than most other white paints as it looks extremely dense in pigments.
I have not managed to paint large white surfaces with hairy sticks (it is doable), yet, so it will be only airbrush here.
Larger areas- such as you can see on warhammer miniatures or tank interiors- however are a pain to paint. You are supposed to fog layers upon layers of white mist on the surface, with infinite patience, but let’s get real. I need something fast.
The best method, so far has been using Tamiya’s flat white. Normally I use a dark primer (pre-shading), and it is hell to cover with white. Not so if you use Tamiya. The method is simple: dilute it just a bit, so it stays thick but not too thick, add some retarder, crank up the pressure on the airbrush, and just have a go at it. You still have to be careful not to swamp the model with paint, so use lighter coats, but you can go back and forth without having to wait for the paint to dry. It works like poweder coating -the paint immediately dries as it hits the surface, so it will not have time to pool.
There is some experimentation needed, because if it is too thick it will splutter, but the method is a flexible, if a somewhat brutal approach to painting. With this you can cover larger areas effectively in one go. If you need off-white or ivory you then just mist it over with the appropriate color – much easier to create effective covering. (The same could work, I suspect, with flat white primer sprays, but I never had luck with those, either – the coverage was terrible, so it had to be applied in many layers, which caused paint buildup, and was not very easy to control the paint coming from a big spray can.)
That is it, basically. Thick Tamiya Flat White at high pressure – instant white surface.
Well, I have not used either of these brands of paint before, so I was curious how they work.
After some serious shaking, the results were less than stellar, as you can see.
However, I was unperturbed and undeterred, since the reviews were generally good, and people tend to like this brand a lot. Not to mention my experience with AK’s primer taught me something important: if you think you have shaken it up, shake it some more…
So that is what I did. I bought a nail polish shaker, and used that for a minute to mix up the paint.
The results were great. The paint sprayed very nice straight from the bottle. (I painted up the leftover hatches and whatnot from the Takom Panther and the bottom of a leftover hull for the purpose of this post.)
To quickly do a side-by-side color comparison, I sprayed AK’s cremeweiss and the MRP cream next to each other onto a panzer IV hull . The AK paint is really nice, and as this paint is not pre-thinned for airbrush, so some water was necessary. (I have been using this paint as a base color for the Panther interiors, so I did have some experience using it.)
As you can see the AK paint has a more yellowish hue, while the MRP paint is more off-white. I am not sure which one should be used for German interiors. As you can see from the photos of the Tiger 131 restoration, the color is a somewhat yellowish/brownish white, but not as white as the MRP one, and not as yellow as the AK one. (And then there is the million-dollar question about the accuracy of the paint colors the restaurators used…)
I suspect, considering the scale effect, the real color is somewhere between the two; the AK paint is way too yellow in 1/35 scale. It is probably spot on if you put it next to the real vehicle, but with the scale effect considered, it is too dark and too yellow – some lightening with white is required for sure. (Which is something people usually do anyhow, since most paints need to be adjusted for the scale effect.)
Regardless, both paints are great. They spray great, they cover well, which is a big thing when you are discussing whites, and I found no problems using them. Overall I will be happy to buy from either of these paint ranges in the future. I am quite set on Tamiya right now, as experiments with other brands left me sticking with what worked before. Now I am a bit more open for trying more brands.
So. AK Interactive’s Still Water.
The AK Interactive webpage has the following to say about it (bold mine):
Still Water is a liquid crystalline product specially designed to reproduce the effect of clear still water on dioramas and vignettes. Still Water is self-leveling and capable of flowing over uneven surfaces; apply thin layers, no more than 3 mm at a time. If depth is desired, build up thin layers. When applied on non-porous surfaces, such as glass, this product can be lifted and cut to desired shape. High quality acrylic product.
This product can be tinted with acrylics offering many possibilities. No toxic
Let’s see. I did not try to eat it, so I can’t comment on toxicity. It does stay crystal clear after hardening, which is great, and according to the description. Let’s see how the other properties function.
Coming out of the bottle it is relatively thick, yet it flows very easily out of the tip; be careful not to flood the surface.
NOTE: my aim was not to recreate a large body of water, such as a stream, river or lake in a diorama setting. That will be the topic of a separate post. I wanted to depict stagnant pools of water, either collected on abandoned vehicles, or puddles on the ground. I took a look at this product through this lens, which obviously colors my perceptions of it, however, the points about its properties are valid in any settings.
I took out two dioramas: the STALKER one with the T-62, and the Zrinyi II. I wanted to add water to both, which was the main reason buying this product. The non-toxicity and water solubility was the selling point.
I added small puddles under road wheels, in crevices on the ground, on the surface of the T-62 wreck. The product came out thick -it kept the convex, bulging form of a liquid with very high surface tension; it did not spread easily, even when encouraged with a brush. This made it extremely difficult to apply in thin coats, as the instructions suggested; the product does not spread easy. I thought the self-levelling part comes when it cures.
After hardening, I found that it did not self-level in the was I was expecting it to. The surface was not level in most cases -only where the product was applied in a thick layer.
The importance of surface
The nature of the groundwork was also extremely important: for the Zrinyi I used actual soil/mud hardened with plaster. This surface was torn up by the product, as it shiveled (dried) out, the edges curling upwards, tearing the water product away from the surface.
The T-62 diorama was done using only Tamiya textured material for ground mixed with pigments; it served as a much better basis for the water effect. The product could not peel off the surface while it was curing. Apparently you need a strong bond between the particles of the groundwork for the product to stick to, otherwise as it cures, it will shrink on its surface, and this will peel off the whole thing.
Lesson one learned.
How about being self-levelling? (Also a big must.)
Well, not exactly self levelling. When fresh, the product behaves as a liquid with a high surface tension. It does not spread out, as a liquid resin would, but it forms smaller or bigger blobs, droplets, like a somewhat thick soup would. You can help spreading it with a brush, but it has its limits, since it does not “wet” the surface it touches easily (due to the high surface tension).
This is how it looks when fresh and after curing.
As the product cures it flattens out, but it also has the tendency to wrinkle, and to follow all the irregularities underneath – so at the end you get an uneven surface. It simply cures onto the surface underneath in an even thickness. Applying multiple layers will not solve this problem: you simply increase the thickness of the product, you do not even the surface out. I wanted to put puddles onto the mud guards and the splash guard (the spillway being blocked by detritus), but as you can see regardless of applying the product in several thin(ish) layers, it refused to form a nice, even surface over the model. The leaves and other surface irregularities show through even after four layers. It looks a bit like water in the process of being frozen…
Weirdly I found bubbles that were present within the cured product, even though there were none when I applied them -or at least none visible. The high surface tension means that if you manage to trap air inside, or worse yet, manage to foam it up, it will not be able to escape. So be warned.
OK, so it does not spread well, even when helped with a brush. What happens if you use some water and a brush? (Genius idea, eh?) So apply a generous amount of product on the groundwork, and add some water (about 1/10th of volume). It did make the product easier to spread. It did not foam so easily. But come next day, and…
…this is what happens: it becomes milky. The surface kind of looks like if it was mud saturated with water (which is nice), but the effect is not perfect, and the milky discoloration is very much not welcome. This also underlines the issue of tinting. The manual says you can tint this product with acrylics, but there is a limit of how much you can add.
Mixing with inks/paints/pigments
Since it is water soluble, it is a quite simple matter of mixing inks or water-based paints into the product. I used chestnut ink by citadell, since it was brown -although not exactly mud-brown, as we can see. It is for experimenting, anyhow; I wanted to see what it does when mixed with color -and perhaps salvage the foggy water effect on the Zrinyi diorama. I also applied a few drops onto the base of a space marine figure to see how it looks as a puddle. Without any staining the water effects did not show up very well; it merely looked like if the ground was shinier in patches.
With staining, it still formed an uneven, shiny surface after curing. (The first photo shows how it looks like fresh when applied.) I added three drops of ink – in retrospect it was too much. It might have given a more realistic result had I added only half a drop, instead of creating a chestnut colored slurry.
On the Zrinyi it may not have levelled the surface out, but on the bright side, it did look like fresh -and somewhat weird colored – mud. Success – I guess?
So what happens when I add pigments instead?
Well, it kind of looks as churned-up mud. The chestnut colored mud underneath even gives a slight color modification wherever the new mixture was thinner, giving it an actually quite pleasing looking mud effect. Overall, it looks like water-saturated, churned up mud that would suck you in if you stepped into it. I would call it success, although it was not the effect I was going for. (I wanted big puddles of brown water.)
Let’s see if we can make radioactive sludge, lava or something similar out of this thing…
To make radioactive industrial waste, we just add a little bright, light green paint. Applied to the base of a few miniatures, the effect is actually quite nice, both applied thick (into the crevice of the base of the daemonhost), or thin – to the ground next to the boots of our Thousand Sons terminator. As an added effect I also put some more on top stained with a tiny bit of yellow ink. I have to say it is a pretty good effect.
The lava is a different matter. I added red ink to the product, and it formed a somewhat blood-looking pool at the foot of our Rubric Marine… so blood it is.
What happens if you prepare two different colors, and carefully blend them into each other? I can’t show the results, because I placed -rather carelessly- the instructions of the Armory Walker Bulldog I was building into the mix, but placing drops of the two colors next to each other to allow them to mix, resulted in, well, the two liquids mixing together completetly. I was hoping to create nice swirls and whatnot, but the liquid flows easily enough for it to mix completely.
Possible ways to use it
Well, small puddles on miniature bases were kind of successful. Without coloring it looks just shiny, somewhat inconspicuous. (It is difficult to see what the intended effect is if the product is not colored.) With some ink mixed in, even with a somewhat unrealistic color, it looks better -not as a puddle of water, but as a puddle of some sort of thick liquid. The issues with self-levelling are not as apparent in small scale.
If the base was suitable it produced a somewhat convincing effect, although it is visibly not level… You need a flat surface to create large puddles to begin with. (The track-marks on the Zrinyi actually have somewhat convincing puddles.) Creating larger bodies of water were so far not successful, and neither was creating a smooth surface over an uneven base. One thing to note: once the product cures, you should stain the surrounding groundwork with a darker brownish color to represent the wet ground around the water.
You may be more successful applying the product to wet surfaces -although the groundwork, as we have seen- must be very well bonded, so you cannot apply it while the groundwork is still hardening. (It would make it simpler if you could just add the puddles at the same time as you build up the terrain.) As it is, if you pre-wet the surface, it might be possible to spread it more evenly.
Probably in dioramas, where you prepare a hard and even surface specifically for the water, it would work well (in a relatively thin layer) as the surface of a lake – we will see when I get around making a crashed Schwimmwagen diorama I have been planning a while now. For those ad hoc puddles I was trying to create it is less than perfect.
In short: it does not work the same way as the non-water soluble resins do: these resins do not lose their volume during the curing process, and they do tend to float easily, with very little surface tension, which makes them very effective in creating level, smooth surfaces. This product does shrink while curing, and it forms an evenly distributed layer over the surface it is applied to- meaning that any irregularities below will show up on the surface. In other words this product has a learning curve – a lot of experimentation is needed. The upside is the non-toxicity. (The resins, on the other hand, give off heat while curing, so they can actually melt the plastic if you apply it too thick, plus they are toxic as hell.)
Mixing in pigments, and applying it to an uneven surface will result in a very convincing, extremely wet-looking surface – just make sure you use multiple layers and multiple colors. For fresh mud, it is excellent. For bodies of water -not so much.
Overall, it will not be the go-to solution for all your water needs, even though the non-toxicitiy and the ease of use makes it sound very attractive. It is absolutely true further experimentations will be required to master this product. I am planning to use it in a crashed schwimmwagen diorama to see how I can use it to form larger surfaces of water; I’ll post the results.
I think as with some other weathering products, the water solubility is its biggest weakness – the surface tension simply does not allow it to spread as easy. I found the liquid resin products (which are not water soluable) give much better coverage, and they are actually self-levelling – and as mentioned also highly toxic, and give out noxious fumes. Difficult choices -or perhaps not. Personally I would choose the non-toxic version even if I have to work harder to get a comparable result.
We talked about the issues of gear acquisition… I can’t help myself, apparently. (OK, chalk it up to natural curiousity; it is not as bad as if I bought the entire range of both products on a whim, right?) While I am still trying to finally apply some paint to the Markgraf, I can do smaller projects. (Seriously; getting time to do some airbrushing is impossible… and since smaller projects will end up at the stage where airbrushing is required, it is getting more and more impossible as models pile up on the “to be sprayed” pile.)
So I have Vallejo’s dust wash (which I was playing with before), and I bought an acrylic pencil by AK Interactive, to see how it compares to my “normal” acrylic pencils bought in an art store.
What I did was to first apply the dust wash on the fenders and wheels, then adjusted the effect with a wet brush. This I did several times until I got a nice blend. Then I used the pencil (wet the tip, first), deposited some on the tank (only on a small area), then adjusted the effect with water. Sometimes I found it was better to make a “wash” in situ by adding a lot of water; sometimes I just feathered the edges to form a natural-looking dust deposit (on the sides of the fenders on the T29, for example.)
Here are the comparison photos -the before and after shots.
The dust did improve the look of the tank… It made the stark contrast on the lower hull and the fenders much better looking.
The pencil has a very light color, and it does produce tide marks when used with a lot of water (problem with all water-based products; the high surface tension drags the pigments on the side), so there is definitely a learning curve there. Just keep adjusting it as it dries, and it should be OK. It did make some very nice dust streaks on the vertical surfaces.
A little bit browner, darker color might be better for dust, but overall, not bad.
Well, the photos definitely need some improvement (the new light box does not seem to be very good), for one.
Let me know what you think of the results.
Acrylic weathering products, while being very attractive due to not being hazardous, tend to have a big issue: surface tension. Solvent-based products, washes spread much better, and they do not leave “tide-marks” like water-based products do; therefore I was pretty interested in how Vallejo’s dust washes perform.
In short: very well.
(OK, you can stop reading the review if this is all what you wanted.)
I used the road wheels of an old Panther build I left unfinished (but will finish, I promise) to see how these washes perform on a complex surface. I simply applied them with an overloaded brush, and let them dry. It spread nicely, just like a solvent-based wash. (Perhaps Vallejo used a surfactant.) The results are nice: subtle, dusty look.
The second and third photo shows the difference between treated and untreated road wheels (one of the reason I chose this as a test-bed: to have a control group right next to the treatment group), and the last photo shows the differences between heavy application (1), light application (2, somewhat diluted with water), and nothing (3).
I also tried three consecutive, heavy applications with the following results
It might be a good look for a vehicle in very dusty, dry environment, but probably not the best way to use it the product like this. The best way to use these washes is to form a subtle accumulation of dust in crevices, not flooding the surface with them. As a general rule: using more than one technique with a light touch to achieve a certain look will more likely create a realistic finish than using just one technique with a heavy hand. This means that these washes will not provide a single step solution for creating dusty-looking surfaces, I am afraid.
I also tried the washes on a piece of scenery a Witcher figure will be walking on, to see if they can be used on the groundwork for good effect. (The paint on the resin base is by no means finished; I was just testing some paints on it.) Regardless of the underlying paintwork, I think I can safely say that these washes can add a little more realism to the soil both in tone and in texture -see the above rule.
Overall, these washes are pretty neat; worth checking out.
Well, this thing gave me the hardest times for a long time… it just did not come out right out of the bottle. It is supposed to be a primer you can spray right out of the bottle, and even after extended shaking, it came out all runny and thin; hardly something you would like to have with a primer.
But last week I gave it another go. I shook the bejesus out of the bottle, and tried it again.
The results were quite satisfactory. In fact, they were great. Unlike the Vallejo primer, which forms a thin membrane of paint over the surface (kind of like the Mig Ammo paints), this goes on like “normal” acrlyics, more like a Tamiya paint, and dries absolutely flat. Both are great, it is only a matter of preference.
Since the post about the gear acquisition syndrome I thought I might as well make a more conscious effort to write short reviews of the stuff I bought. (There are a few, but they were never the main focus. Nor will they become the focus, but I might as well write about them in a more organized manner.) I do not intend to write long reviews; just my impressions with a couple of photos included. (If you have products you want to have reviewed, just contact me.)
Let me know if this idea works…
So. Vallejo Primer.
What can I say? It’s great. So far I had no issues with it; it works like a charm. It is a thick liquid, which can be applied straight from the bottle by brush or airbrush -a big plus, in my mind. Simple, no chance of mucking up the dilution, which is a great plus. (It matters a lot, especially with primers.)
It forms a really tight gripping surface on the model for paint to stick on, and can be used for pre-shading in one step. Several colors are available; I only have this one. The German Grey can be used as “scale black” in many cases, by the way. I also use it as a chipping color when I don’t feel like adding rust browns to the model; if you use the hairspray technique with it, the results are pretty convincing.
It dries quickly, but you really should wait a day before applying further coats of paint.
In short: recommended.
Well, I am making a slow progress with the Nautilus and with the Panthers I am building, but need some time to take photos and whatnot.
Meanwhile a useful tip for the paint jars.
As we know, paint settles, and it is quite difficult to properly mix it. So people use agitators.
No, not this guy. Other type of agitators. Normally stainess steel balls, dropped into the paint jar. You shake the jar, and the ball mixes your paint. (Professional advice: you can buy nail polish shakers for peanuts on aliexpress, so you don’t even have to do it by hand.)
This can be an issue since even stainless steel can actually rust in acrylic paints -it happened to me before. (I guess it is a matter of how good the steel is.) Regardless I found a solution: lava beads.
They come in different sizes, they are tough, they do not flake, splinter or rust. The perfect solution for agitating your paint.
(Another great option is using an electric milk frother.)
I’ve done a couple of experiments/tutorials on how to do rust, and left the easiest to the last: you can use rust you can buy as pigments.
Rust -iron oxide- comes in different colors; in fact it is used very widely as cheap pigments in a lot of applications from food coloring to arts and makeup.
You can buy these pigments (essentially powdered iron oxide) online. They can be mixed with each other, or with other pigments; they can be added to paints, and, if you’re brave enough, they can be airbrushed mixed with some sort of carrier or varnish/paint. If you mix them with paint or varnish, they will obviously stick to the surface; if you only mix them with a carrier (like white spirit, alcohol, even water) nothing will hold them onto the surface, so they will be quite easy to remove.
The method is simple: once you primed the surface with a dark primer (preference), you dab your brush into clear, matte varnish, dab it onto a paper towel to remove the excess, dab the brush into the iron oxide powder, dab the whole thing into a paper towel again, and now you have a brush loaded with a varnish/rust mixture you can use to gently deposit onto the model. You need to do it in several layers, and slowly build up the effect you are going for. You should start with the darker rust colors, and only use the bright reds/yellows sparingly; just check photos of rusted equipment for reference. (Come to think of it, you can go the other way around as well; just keep in mind that the bright rust colors tend to be somewhat sparse, limited to thin metals, edges and protrusions.) The surface you get this way will be suitable for depicting a very, very rusty metal surface: the metal plates of a derelict, burned-out vehicle, for example. (If you are going for mild, light rust, painting is your best bet.) Obviously there is always going to be a combination of rust effects that will bring you the best, more realistic results.
These pigments can be used suspended in white spirit or other carrier solutions as washes as well; they form a thin film on matte surfaces behaving more like filters, and they run into crevices on glossy surfaces behaving like traditional washes.
The colors can be further modulated using oil washes and paints; a dark wash will obviously darken the overall hues, and tie the different rust colors together.
The T-62 is a good example of the results.