So by now, I'm sure that everyone has heard of the Citadel washes. They are similar to inks, except they dry with a very soft satin finish, rather than the annoying gloss finish of the old inks. They only require a small amount of thinning to use in most cases, and they are almost exactly the right consistency for detailed painting. All in all, they are one of the few GW products that are genuinely worth every penny of the cost!
But what do you do in those cases where you want a wash that isn't in the range? Well, here is how to create your own "Citadel washes"! Unfortunately, it does require the purchase of some specialised paint items, specifically:
- Liquitex Flow Aid.
This is an additive that stops the formation of "tide marks" (well mostly). It also extends the drying time of acrylic paints.Please see later for a correction. I paid about £8 for a 110mL bottle. That will be enough to last me a long time. Make sure you read the safely warnings, and only add a tiny amount. Ill talk more about amounts later
- Liquitex Glazing Medium. This, again is another additive for normal acrylic paints.
Essentially it is the medium that normal paint is suspended in. In a normal acrylic paint you have glaze medium with particles of paint suspended in it (that's why when you mix water with paint, sometimes it will split - the paint particles become suspended in the water rather than the glazing medium).Please see later for a correction. I paid about £10 for a 230mL bottle. Again enough to last a long time. One thing to remember is that by itself this glaze medium has a very satin finish (its almost gloss).
- Vallejo Game Color Glaze Medium 69. This again is another Glazing medium, but with slightly different properties from the Liquitex one. It almost acts as a drying retardant in my experience. Don't add too much! You can pick this up pretty much anywhere for usually a pound or two.
- Revell Aqua Color Clear Matt Varnish 361/02. This a bog standard matt varnish. I just happen to like it's consistency. This is the only varnish that i have used in this technique, so i can't vouch for any others...
So here is how the technique works. First, take the colour you would like to turn in to a wash. Remember that the final colour will be slightly darker than the original colour. I also usually find that strong colours work the best for washes (Orange or strong yellows are good, but colours like Bad moon yellow generally don't work as well). After a while of working with this technique you will find that you learn intuitively which colours are going to work and which wont!
Once you have your base colour you can begin to mix your medium. The first thing to do is to decide how much you are going to make, then make a mix in the following proportions:
- 4 parts Liquitex glazing medium
- 0.0001 part Liquitex flow aid (basically it should be a tiny spot of flow aid. For me that would mean if I was making 3 drops of glaze I would add one pin heads worth of flow aid. Its not a total disaster if you add too much, but your paint will be wet for a long time - The first time I experimented with it, I added it to black, 50% mix. The black stayed wet on my palette for about 3 days!)
- 2 parts Vallejo glaze medium. This is purely to tone down the very satin finish of the Liquitex glaze. Experiment, because in certain circumstances this satin finish can look very nice
- 1 part Varnish. Again, this just adds a toning down to the final result. Be careful adding the varnish. Too much and the glaze will pool in an ugly way. Less is more in this case.
Mix that concoction with your paint. I normally aim for about a 50:50 mix, but depending on what I'm painting that can change. You should be left with a lovely thin mixture that flows in the same way a glaze does. I would always recommend thinning your final mix 75% with water (that is 75% water, 25% paint / glaze mix). It makes it flow nicely from the brush and makes doing blending very easy, as the paint has a nice transparency.
Whilst playing with this technique, remember to experiment with the ratios above. They are not hard and fast rules, but merely a jumping off point. In the same way you learn how much paints need to be thinned intuitively you will soon learn how much glaze / varnish etc. to add for the effect you want. The only thing i would recommend keeping to a minimum is the Flow Aid. Unless you like waiting for your model to dry, that is!
Edit: AoM Posted this in the comments section, and I thought it was important enough that it should be included in the main text. It includes corrections for sections that i got wrong. Many apologies for getting this info incorrect...
"Matte medium is uncolored binder, not glaze medium. while flow aid helps the paint flow smoothly off the brush, the glaze medium is much more useful in avoiding the drying rings with washes.
They each have their uses, and work nicely together, but they are for different things. For regular painting, try a drop of flow aid with your paint, and then thin with glaze medium instead of water. I think you'll like the results."