Sunday, October 31, 2010

Raveners: Step by Step Oil and Turpenoid Washes

Here's my latest experiment with oil and Turpenoid washes: a trio of Raveners. This started out as an experiment in hot-weather painting, but after an 80-degree weekend of painting (woohoo!) I can say that it works well in cool(er) weather too.

Oil paint has an odd reputation among modelers. Most people think of it as an advanced technique, but once you learn the basics it can be easier than acrylics. I think the toughest part is getting over the intimidation and finding that basic information. So I took a few notes and photographs while I was working, in case you want to try it for yourself.

Tools and supplies:
Turpenoid or High-quality turpentine, the kind you get at an art store
Payne's Gray Oil Paint

At full strength, Payne's Gray is nearly black, but when it's thinned out you can see a lot of blue hues. Several companies make this color. There may be subtle differences, but they're largely interchangeable. If you want a different color, anything significantly darker than your base coats would do.

A large, stiff brush. I used a cheap size 12 round nylon sable brush from the local art store.
Two cups for the Turpenoid. One for dipping and one for rinsing the brush.
A cup or palette for mixing the wash.

Cosmetic sponges, bits of old t-shirts (I like 3"x3" squares) and paper towels to wipe away the extra oil paint.
Rubber/Nitrile gloves.
A spot with good ventilation. I like to work outside.

Brush soap. If you wash and condition your brush when you're done, it'll last for years. Oil paints are much easier on brushes than acrylics are.

Step 1: Apply the base colors
This is the most labor-intensive part of the process, and it's the same as it is for any model. For these 'Nids I used Liquitex Chromium Green, Liquitex Pyrrole Red, P3 Menoth White Base, and Citadel Ice Blue. A single color for each area worked fine. The process does a good job of creating its own highlights.

I also added some texture on the carapace to see how it turns out. The wash knocks down some of the contrast, so I made the spots brighter than I would if I was painting them on a nearly-finished model.

Step 2: Apply the wash
I thinned the paint to a heavy-cream consistency. Here's what it looked like:

 Then I painted it on thick and dark, making sure I reached every crevice.

Step 3: Let it dry

At this point, you gotta walk away. Let the Turpenoid evaporate. You know it's ready when the surface looks a little chalky and all of the shiny spots have vanished. In my experience, 35-45 minutes is ideal.

This is a great time to wash your brush. I've used The Master's Brush Cleaner and Preserver for years, and I love it. But I also have friends who swear by ordinary bars of moisturizing soap, like Dove.

Step 4: Wipe away the excess paint
Think of this as "painting in reverse", you're removing paint to get shadows, highlights and gradients. Even though you're using large tools, like rags and sponges, you want to work in small patches, like you're using a small brush. Don't just grab the model and roll it around in a towel. It's mostly a matter of touch, so pictures won't really help. You have to get in there and feel how the different tools work on different parts of the model. Once you've practiced on a couple models, you'll learn how much pressure is required to get different effects.

Before I start with a sponge or bit of t-shirt, I like to dip it in Turpenoid and then wring it out completely (paper towels are too fragile for this). The slight residue of solvent helps lift the paint off the high spots, without dissolving stuff that's in the crevices.

This is the trickiest step, but it isn't too difficult. Work carefully, don't be afraid to experiment and you'll do brilliantly.

It took about 10 minutes to wipe each Ravener clean.You can see that they aren't perfect, but the level and variety of detail is pretty good. If you're a more careful painter than I am, don't worry. the paint will stay workable for hours.

Step 5: Let the oil paint cure
Set the models aside and let the oil paint cure for at least 24 hours. Oil painters like to talk about "working thin to fat". This is an odd way to say that the bottom layers should curebefore the top ones do. If the top layers cure first, they'll crack and peel. so give your oil paint plenty of time to cure before you paint over it with quick-curing acrylics.

Step 6: Finish your models.
Once the paint cures, finish basing and paint in your final details, if you have any.

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