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How do I make a good acrylic and/or enamel wash?

March 17 2004 at 5:17 PM
Brian Kidwell  (no login)
from IP address

I want to do some detailing to a M1A2 painted in a nice sand color. What do I need to do to make a wash with both acrylic and enamel paints. I mostly have acrylic model master and polly scale paints. I also have the acryl thinner from model master. What ratios do I need to get a weathered/non-factory paint look?

Thanks for the help.


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Dave Foster
(no login)


March 18 2004, 1:38 PM 

Looks like no-one is helping you again Brian!

I am sure there will be some info on washes on this site somewhere if you do a search. If not you will find info at other model sites.

I paint my models with enamels so I use an acrylic wash. This way there is no risk of a reaction between the paint and the wash.

Some people recommend a coat of Future/Kleer before washing to make the wash 'run' more easily. I do not bother myself.

An acrylic wash should be about 10% paint /90% thinners, but it is best to experiment. I err on the thin side becasue it is easier to add additional washes than to try and remove a wash.

Usually a wash is applied to localised areas using a fine brush, ie you just hold the brush against a panel line and the wash will run along the line and highlight it.

However I also apply washes over areas with a wide brush to simulate accumulated grime. For instance the Chieftain has a particularly oily engine, both exhaust and leakage, so I washed my BATUS example with a black wash over the rear hull/engine decks to 'dirty' the paintwork and then applied another wash to highlight the details.

I approach washing as a slow process, applying light coats, allowing to dry, checking for appearance and then mixing darker or different colour washes. Very much 'suck it and see'.

To stick with the Chieftain example the camo is sand/green, the ref photos I had showed dry dusty conditions at Suffield, so the wash I used was Tamiya XF-64, red brown. When I started applying it I was not sure of the result on the sand areas but did not know if it would work on the green. In fact it left a nice dusty look on the green so I was quite relieved!

You will find you can also use a wash mix to simulate oil/fuel spills around filler caps, and of course oil leaks.

Good luck!

Regards Dave

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Brian Kidwell
(no login)

Thanks Dave

March 18 2004, 6:24 PM 

Dave thanks for the tip. I did spray my base on this particular model in enamel, so your tip will work great. Do you use thinner or plain H20 for the diluting agent?

Thanks Brian

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Dave Foster
(no login)


March 18 2004, 7:42 PM 

I use Tamiya acrylic and Tamiya thinner X-20A over Humbrol enamel paintwork.

Because I have Scottish ancestry (and model on a tight budget) I mix the wash in a small screw top container so I have enough to re-coat. This also allows me to darken it if the first application seems to thin, simply by adding a little more paint.

Because I only brush paint I dont use acrylics for anything except washes so I have not tried any other thinners. I assume that water would slow the dry time which I dont think would be an advantage for a wash.

Regards Dave

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