Thursday, October 28, 2010

Zoanthropes: more oil-based washes for really hot weather

After last week's experiments with oil paint and Turpenoid washes, I was eager to try the technique with larger, more detailed models. Enter the brain bugs:

Aside from a few foolish errors, especially in the flash-removal and don't-drop-the-model-on-the-tile-floor departments, I'm ecstatic about this project. If you haven't experienced the frustrations of painting washes in the desert, you may not understand how satisfying splotchless transparent color can be. When I finished wiping away the Payne's Gray, I literally did a little dance of joy (for those of you who know me, I apologize for the mental image, the giggle-fits and the nightmares). Tyranids didn't just find a place on my project list, they climbed all the way to the top.

Here's what I liked
  • I don't have to rush. Because the oil paint dries quickly but cures slowly, there's no time pressure. Once I paint on the wash, I have 2-3 hours (or more) to wipe it down and bring out the details. I don't have to rush to cover everything and wipe away the excess before the heat makes my top layer unworkable.
  • Oil paints are highly  workable. With a little practice, I can get smooth surfaces, sharp edges and even gradients.
  • Layered colors are richer. Variations in the transparent top layer give me a wide range of hues and values. Sure, I can get them with other methods too, but they take more time, mixing and adjustment.
Alas, this causes a few problems too. Here are the things I don't like about oil and Turpenoid washes:
  • It takes a lot of curing time. Out here, it takes just a few minutes for the Turpenoid to evaporate, but several hours for the oil to cure. The same thing that eases my time pressure also makes me wait for 24-36 hours before finishing my models.
  • The finish is very dull. Once it cures, the finish is almost chalky. and chalky colors are generally paler and less vibrant. Before I photographed these models, I actually used matte varnish (aka Dullcoat) to add a little bit of shine. I may go back with some satin varnish to add a little bit more.
  • I have to paint outside. Even though it really is odorless, Turpenoid still has a lot of the same liver-destroying effects as other paint thinners. Since I love my liver, and would rather destroy it with alcohol than solvent, I do all of my oil painting outside.
Next up: Raveners. The good camera's going on vacation. But I'll try to dig up another one and take some step by step photographs of this project.
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