Blending - Pro\'s please tell your secrets!!!
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Thread: Blending - Pro\'s please tell your secrets!!!

  1. #1

    Default Blending - Pro\'s please tell your secrets!!!

    I been reading up on how to blend. I read the tutorial article but that is great for large areas, maybe for small but I can\'t seem to make it work without leaving brush marks. I read alot on how not to drybrush cuz it leaves it chalky. But I also read how not to wash too much cuz the paint gets caked on thick. Now I look at these profressional models like on the Top 10 and can\'t help but wonder \"How do they do that?\". I mean, it\'s blended so well that it looks like there is only one coat of paint on it and you don\'t see that chalkyness from drybrushing.
    I don\'t know about you guys but I would absolutely love to see a tutorial on a blend that actually shows what each layer looks like (if wash blend is used), the size brush used, what type of brush (flat, round, spotter, never seem to find that out), the ratio of the wash or at least how the pro\'s do it. I know that there has got to be some secret going on. Maybe they have tissue there to sop up moister on a wash? Maybe an airbrush is used? Maybe they have some magic lamp that created a pegasus hair brush that leaves no brush marks?
    I know it takes practice but I look at these figures that rate a 9.6 and I look at mine with just one wash and notice that mine just looks like paint is caked on. So I wonder how quickly the pro\'s learned it.
    It would be nice to see pics of a figurine painted by a pro step by step. I don\'t mean to be so selfish but I would let others know how if I was that good. :D
    Also, don\'t the pro\'s answer these forums too?
    I blabbed long enough, so hopefully this will become a productive topic cuz I\'m getting all confused and frustrated on learning the best way to blend. :)

  2. #2

    Default I\'m not a \"pro\" but...

    I\'m not a blending pro, but I can give you some starting points.

    First, there\'s two types of blending, wet blending and layering. Wet blending is when you mix the paints on the miniature, usually with the help of some sort of retarding medium to slow the drying time of the paints. This is hard to do without leaving brush marks, but can be done. The second way is using layers of thinned paints. If they are properly thinned, they should NOT be caking on.

    I use the layering method, and the real key is having your paints nice and thin. Never ever use paints straight out of the bottle. Thinner paints also make it easier to not leave brushmarks. As for the type of brush, I use a Vallejo 0, I think it is a round or spotter, but not really sure exactly what \"type\" of brush is, all I know is it has a decent amount of bristles and comes to a great point.

    Basically the step by step would be hard to do for a tutorial - it would throw off my (and likely the true \"pros\") timing to try and take pictures at every step, since sometimes you\'re sort of making it up as you go along type of thing. For example when I am layering I often use a mix of paints for one layer, then add more lighter color for the next layer on up through multiple layers trying to make the transitions as small as possible. Kind of hard to stop and take pictures at this point, as my paint would dry :P

    Anyways, hope this is somehow helpful...
    --Katie G.

  3. #3

    Default layering...

    when you thin the paint, what do you use.. i bought some dilutant from vallejo which thins it and keeps the adhesiveness quite well. water tends to make the paint run off. and do you use black or white primer? i find it harder to get the effect of shading using the black primer. also, I never see actual pics on how \"milky\" the thinned paint should look and how the first layer looks on a figurine. It just seems like the best way to learn is for someone to show ya rather than be told.

  4. #4

    Default layering..

    what about using a tissue or cottonball to sop up some of the excess paint when applying layers? Is that something people use or is recommended?

  5. #5


    Yeah, KatieG\'s points are similar to what I would say. Still going to put in my two penneth though. :D

    I use the layering technique as well. The two secrets are to try and keep the gradations between the different layers subtle, and to keep your paint thin.

    Initial layers can be blocked in pretty quickly, but subsequent highlights really need to use thinned paint. Just use water for this. When you begin getting towards painting what I might call the mid-tones, the paint should be nice and fluid, not quite milky. When you apply a layer, quickly rinse and dry your brush afterwards and use it to blend out the still wet edges of the highlight layer. Doing this removes the hard edge of the layer and creates a very soft gradation of highlight (perfect for skin tones!). When you begin to actually highlight the area, the paint should be quite milky, other than that just keep on with smoothing the edges out with your clean brush. You may need to paint the same layer two or three times to build up a strong enough colour. When all that\'s done I like to give the area a quick ink glaze to unify the highlights.

    Check out Harbinger magazine when it hits the shelves (about 9 weeks time!), that\'ll have plenty of this kind of stuff in it!


  6. #6


    If the surface permits, I always use a flat brush for layering, except for small details of course. But for clothing for example this works fine. The brush I use is a 0 JR Production Flat \"Echt Rotmarter\".

  7. #7


    Something people almost always forget to tell, is that when you are working with those very dilluted paints, there should NOT be a lot of paint on your brush. If the brush is loaded with paint, you will flood the surface of the figure and you will be unable to control the flow of the paint.

    When I started blending, my biggest problem was that I had far to much paint on the brush and no one ever told me that it wasn\'t supposed to be so. :o

    Hope this helps :bouncy:

  8. #8

    Default That\'s cheeky!

    Originally posted by Jenova

    Something people almost always forget to tell, is that when you are working with those very dilluted paints, there should NOT be a lot of paint on your brush. If the brush is loaded with paint, you will flood the surface of the figure and you will be unable to control the flow of the paint.

    When I started blending, my biggest problem was that I had far to much paint on the brush and no one ever told me that it wasn\'t supposed to be so. :o

    Hope this helps :bouncy:
    A good point, but I\'d like to know if you ever caught up with those people who didn\'t tell you about excessive paint...did you kick the crap out of them for misleading you? lol

    Rev :innocent:

  9. #9


    KatieG is right on!

    I also use the layering method - I\'m within a week of posting a bunch of examples. For once I\'m going to do a detailed \"how I did it\" statement on it. Keep in mind I only have 2 minis in the 7\'s so I\'m not so good but it might be helpful . . .

  10. #10


    A good point, but I\'d like to know if you ever caught up with those people who didn\'t tell you about excessive paint...did you kick the crap out of them for misleading you? lol

    Well I didn\'t actually. Since I have only gotten advice online it would probably also be a little difficult. I think they meant well btw, the just forgot to mention that little (important) detail......

  11. #11


    I\'m not a pro and I\'m still trying to perfect (hah! try \"attempt\") blending as well, so I really don\'t have a leg to stand on here in terms of my abilities.

    BUT what I have been aiming for in my own work goes all the way back to a trip my family and I took to colonial Williamsburg, Virginia when I was 12. I watched a silversmith make a chalace and asked him how he was able to get the surface so smooth, and he said the trick was to \"hammer out the hammer marks and scratch out the scratches\".

    This really blew my mind, since it shows that EVERYTHING that has a shine or a gloss to it is just eye tricks - There will always be scratches in your car\'s paint or unblended areas on the mini\'s surface, but your goal is to just reduce them to the point where the eye can no longer distinguish.

    Just a little story that everyone already knows.

    - Otter
    \"Never send a ferret to do a weasel\'s work\"

  12. #12


    I don\'t think of myself as a pro, either.. yet. But I have noticed some things. when I work with a bit of Vallejo medium and water in paint, it thins out better. Also, if you are getting tiny brush strokes, you can apply a really thinned down mix of one of your base colors and it makes it smoother.

    Cyril (who IS a pro) once gave me this advice: Thin your paints down when painting, never work with old paint, always mix up a fresh batch.

    It\'s true that even in a wet pallete things get grody, but then how are you supposed to mix up the same color every time?

    Whatever, I sleep now.. (Thunk!) Zzzzzzz...

  13. #13

    Default layering...

    Ya, I seem to notice how some people tend to leave out important information, though I think it\'s cuz they forget.
    But I would like to see some of Flashman14\'s pics on layering when you have that \"how I did it\" done. :)

    I do see some pics on layering but, in the end, they end up like a 7.0 figurine blend, kinda like on the Clinic webpage. I think I\'ll just have a figurine on the side to test out my mix before I apply it on my actual figurine I\'m painting. I don\'t use a wet palette though.

    One more thing, does anyone think that people are doctoring up their pics to make it look like a smooth blend?

  14. #14


    I\'d like to see someone try and accuse me of \'blending\' in Photoshop!


    I don\'t think I\'ve seen anything that would suggest that people are doing this. If you know what you\'re doing you can get very smooth results. Just ask Reverend!

  15. #15

    Default layering...

    well... I tried this. we\'ll use stonewall grey, cold grey and dead flesh on a zombie for reference.

    1) I washed on a basecoat of cold grey at 2:1 (thinner:paint).
    2) I washed on a lighter coat stonewall grey and cold grey 50/50 thinned to 5:1:1 (thinner:stonewall grey:cold grey) and washing it on but making sure not to get in the cracks.
    3) I washed on stonewall grey at 2:1 and covering less of the zombie.
    4) I washed on stonewall grey with dead flesh at 5:1:1 respectively and covering less.
    5) I washed dead flesh at 2:1 and highlight just the high points.
    6) I washed over all the zombie with stonewall grey, cold grey and dead flesh at 6:1:1 to blend in the gradations.

    doing this worked pretty well. I just have to master it now.. hehe. I used black primer with I think I would have better results if I used white primer.
    Needless to say I think everyone\'s advice is helping. :)

  16. #16


    A lot of washing there! :D

    I don\'t know if you were trying to do a layering technique or not. If you were, then perhaps the idea of using thinned paint has been misinterpreted. It\'s not so much a matter of washing the paint over the model; more control is required.

    For example: I\'ve just painted an elf with quite a bit of flesh on show. For the base coat and first few layers of highlight, the paint was simply kept nice and fluid. This helped me to quickly block in the initial highlights. Though the gradation of highlights was still kept subtle! The next few highlighting layers were done with a slightly thinner mix of paint, just a bit more fluid than previously used. This was still applied in a controlled manner, no washing. As has been said, you don\'t want to flood the model with paint here, so don\'t overload the brush. The paint may appear a bit too translucent, but that doesn\'t matter as a second coat will strengthen it. The best thing about using thinned paint is that where you would normally get a \'hard\' edge from painting the highlight, with thinned paint you can blend out that edge with a clean brush. Thus giving a smoother appearance. With the final layers of highlight where I\'m perhaps moving towards using more and more white as in this example, I like to thin the paint down to an almost milky consistency. Once again, this is NOT a wash. As before, don\'t overload the brush, don\'t flood the model, blend out the edges with a clean brush, and perhaps do more than one coat per highlight. When you\'re highlighting areas such as noses, eyelids, fingers, toes, etc, you don\'t need quite such thin paint. The small surface area doesn\'t require such subtle blending. Also, if the paint\'s too thin it\'ll just run into the detail (between fingers and the like). Your final \'wash\' to blend all the gradations together is what I do with a glaze. Only difference is that I use ink for that job. It\'s natural translucency enables you to tint the paint work without dulling it down as can happen with paint washes and glazes. There\'s another thread somewhere on the forums about glazing.

    Never mind help folks with painting, all this is helping me get to grips with writing articles! :D

  17. #17

    Default washes and thinning

    I always thought that washing really IS thinned paint. so what is the difference between the two? Is it just the way it is applied to the model?
    In my previous reply, I didn\'t go over the entire figure after step 1. Just on the very last step I did.

  18. #18


    If I understand you correctly, then even your last step isn\'t a wash. Theres been an interesting thread somewhere on this forum about washing and glazing.

    Basically washing means that you use a very dark color, thin it a lot (or use (thinned) ink), and paint it all over the model, allowing the paint to go in all the recesses...

    Just applying thinned paint isn\'t called a wash, it\'s a normal paint layer.

  19. #19


    sturmhalo - what do you use as a final wash for skin? is it a wash or a thinned paint? also, i\'ve tried this before and i\'ve got it to work quite well for things like fabric etc. but i can\'t seem to do with skin. what shade do you use - is it the base/shade/highlight colour? \'cause if you apply a highlight wash, it\'ll lighten the shading and a shade wash will darken the highlights and a basecoat wash would do a little of both???

  20. #20


    When blending with thinned paints you also can get the benefit of wet blends, that is, you can move the paint around with a damp brush. Some folks here use future floor wax in their water, which has the effect of lengthening drying time a bit and making washes flow where they should. What they don\'t always say is that the \"extender\" effect also helps to wet blend their layers while they brush.

    I tend to wet blend without extenders and \'push\' the layers where I want. The thinner the paint the easier it is for me to do, but only just after the paint is applied. Some paint brands take longer to dry also (Vallejo model color, liquitex gels). For skin on display models, I use gel paint as it dries pretty slowly and is super smooth.

    So I guess my equation for smooth blends is

    thin paints + wet blending + some slow drying paint = smooth blend

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