Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Glaze, Ink, Wash.... Dr What?

Or How I Stopped Worrying About The Brand and Learnt to Love to Paint.

Before you start.... Yes this is a wall of text, I will have something more photo filled next time.

It has been been on my mind for a little while now and after listening to a lot of bunk I wanted to throw down my thoughts. Games Workshop has had their new line of paints out for a couple of months and I have seen everything from glowing reviews to blind, often meaningless, disdain without any grasp of the facts.

The fact is that yes GW have a new line of paints and regardless of if you approve of the company, their policies (or anything else about their practices), there are things that they have done right...
Wait, did the Embittered Veteran Gamer just say GW did something right?
Yes, and you can quote me on that later.

Once upon a time GW produced Glazes and Inks, way back in the 90's in fact. A lot of people will remember that Justin "Booster" Keyes had a special love for Chestnut Ink. More importantly some of us remember how much easier it was to paint with a selection of Glazes available.
Now we once more have Washes and Glazes, considering how popular the Washes were in the last few years since they were released it was a given that the new paint range would have them. Of course we have a wider range of choice when it comes to washes than just Games Workshop. With other companies Such as Secret Weapon Miniatures, MIG etc. offering an excellent range of choices when it comes to washes. If you want something particular you could also browse their range of pigment powders to make your own colours.

To understand what makes these three products useful we need to look at the differences between them.

Glazes -
Traditionally Glazes are a mixture composed of tint (often a thin ink), and a pigment. The point of a glaze it to blend together and enrich the underlying colour. It is most comment to see this used to blend highlights together without changing the overall colour it is used over. If the tint and pigment in a Glaze are rich enough the Glaze can be used to give a different primary tone colour to another. E.g. layering a yellow glaze on a blue base colour will result in a green tinted item..
From the interwebs we get the following:
"Acrylic paint glazes are often used to create more depth in an image. These types of paints are light enough when brushed onto canvas to show the layers underneath. This technique is commonly used to create more realistic images. Light colored glazes also have softening effects when painted over dark or bright images. Artists can mix glazes themselves, or can buy pre-mixed acrylic glazes.
It is best to wait for each layer to dry thoroughly before apply another coat. This will prevent the paint from smearing or leaving unwanted smudge marks. After the application of several layers, rubbing alcohol can be brushed or sprayed on to reveal colors from earlier layers."

These are usually pure tints or an heavier amalgam of dyes and heavier pigments. They can be used straight to re-tone or re-colour an underlying layer, but often they will be a more gloss finish and do not have the smooth coverage of Glazes due to not having pigment grains that evenly settle. Thus Inks tend to pool on flat surfaces and be blotchy if not carefully applied. Inks can also be added more readily to other colours prior to painting to enhance or subtly change their tone.
From the interwebs we get the following:
"Ink is a liquid or paste that contains pigments or dyes and is used to color a surface to produce an image, text, or design. Ink is used for drawing or writing with a pen, brush, or quill. Thicker inks, in paste form, are used extensively in letterpress and lithographic printing.
Ink can be a complex medium, composed of solvents, pigments, dyes, resins, lubricants, solubilizers, surfactants, particulate matter,fluorescers, and other materials. The components of inks serve many purposes; the ink’s carrier, colorants, and other additives control flow and thickness of the ink and its appearance when dry."

Washes are designed to be liberally applied to enhance shading as the pigments naturally settle in the recesses of a miniature. Usually they consist of pigment powders and carrier medium, in acrylics this tends to be a browns of demineralised water and matte medium. Commonly they have a much lower pigment count than Glazes and the carrier medium is usually colourless. Many younger hobbyists would be most familiar with the recently discontinued GW Wash range, replaced by the new range of Shades. Note that the new Shades appear to have a higher pigment count (making for more settling and a less is more approach approach to some techniques).
From the interwebs we get the following:
"A wash is a painting technique in which a paint brush that is very wet with solvent and holds a small paint load is applied to a wet or dry support such as paper or primed or raw canvas. The result is a smooth and uniform area that ideally lacks the appearance of brush strokes and is semi-transparent. The drybrush technique can be considered the opposite of a wash.
A wash is accomplished by using a large amount of solvent with little paint. Paint consists of a pigment and binder which allows the pigment to adhere to its support. Solvents dilute the binder, thus diluting the binding strength of the paint. Washes can be brittle and fragile paint films because of this. However, when gum arabic watercolor washes are applied to a highly absorbent surface, such as paper, the effects are long lasting. This is the reason why watercolor is the medium most often utilizing washes....
With water-based media such as inks, acrylic paints, tempera paints or watercolor paints, a wet brush should be dipped into a pool of very wet and diluted paint. This paint pool should be evenly mixed and dispersed to prevent uneven pigment load on the brush. The loaded brush should then be applied to a dry or wet support. Washes are most often applied with large brushes over large areas. The areas in which a wash effects can be controlled with careful application of the wash, and with the use of liquid frisket or rubber cement."

So as you can see these three different mediums can be used to generate similar effects, with subtle differences that enhance your painting. The importance of these three types of medium is that they allow you better freedom when adding subtle nuances to your painting. In many cases they can make the task easier as you can see from Ron's articles on From the Warp about painting "White/Bone", and also "Replacements for Devlan Mud and Badab Black".

However the thing I need to make perfectly clear is that GW paints are easy for many of us to get hold of. Some of us are not lucky enough to have a hobby store nearby that stocks washes etc. from other companies. So for this reason GW products are widely known. 

The GW range also is designed to allow painters, even those new to painting, an excellent entry level medium to paint armies. When combined with the new "How To Paint Miniatures" book they are a great foundation upon which people can really engage with painting armies.
Other companies do have an excellent range on offer when it comes to these three products and, just like with paints, through the internet and independent retailers you have choice. You also make the choice to follow or use what you want to. But never buy into the train of thought that one companies product is better than another's simply because of your disagreement with some other policy they have. 

Always use what works for you!
I use a range of products from across the world, from Citadel Colour, Reaper, Army Painter, Villejo, Tamiya and Privateer Press to name a few.
Painting is a form of expression, an art, and often done because it is something you do for your personal enjoyment.
So don't waste your time worrying about what paint is better or what company is better, just get out of the rut and paint.
Finally, if you need to colour match take a poke about online before you shop to get and idea and then take a swatch, or old pot, of the colour you want with you to your FLGS.



  1. Well said. It can be tough for folks to move past using one brand of paint (for whatever reason), but once you do, a whole new world opens up to you.

    I am fortunate that my FLGS stocks a huge variety of paints I can choose from.

    Ron, FTW

    1. Cheers Ron, I hope it didn't come across as too much of a rant. Admittedly it was a little bit of one but yeah I wanted to point out a few things that people seem to get stuck on without trying things themselves.

  2. I truly appreciate the content of your blog. I agree with your conclusions and looking forward to your coming updates. Thanks for sharing


    1. Thanks mate :D
      more on the way soon