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  • Feathering

    Feathering is a fine painting technique that helps achieving a subtle transition of colors from light to dark and vice versa. The key is to make a visual blending of colors by applying a succession of “feathers” – semi-transparent layers to the miniature. Each subsequent layer should occupy a smaller area in comparison to the previous one. Feathering is not tricky to master and can give very nice results.
    First, you need to apply a moderately thick non-transparent layer of one color to the surface you are working with. You can also go with a few thinner layers – it is up to you. As a rule, this base color should be as dark as you would want the most shaded parts of the miniature to be. Let the base layer dry well.


    On a palette, thin down with water a lighter shade. For the best results, the dilution rate has to be at least 1:3 or even higher. Apply the thinned-down paint to the area where you want the highlight to be.

    Now the trick is to spread some of the paint of the new layer onto the darker surface to make a smooth switch from a light color to the dark. What you need to do is quickly wash the brush, slightly wipe it just to leave it a little damp. This has to be done really fast – until the upper highlight layer is still wet. Then draw the brush into the highlight layer and with quick, light-as-a-feather, motions drag the still wet paint down to the dry surface of the previous layer. The dampness of the brush will dilute the paint on the miniature surface and eliminate the rough edge between the two layers, smoothly merging them into one another.


    Feathering can be done on two levels: basic and more complex. On the basic level, you can have only one or a couple of layers to make a distinctive highlight. It will still give you a smooth transition, yet it will be not as fine as with many layers. The more complex way to do feathering is to use many layers – not less than a dozen. This way you will be able to achieve a stronger contrast between the shaded and highlighted areas and a smoother transition of shades. It is crucial to let the previous layer dry before applying the next one – otherwise you’ll end up doing wetblending.

    Feathering is easier to do than wetblending for there is no need to mix wet paints on the surface of the miniature, which a lot of people find difficult and sometimes impossible to do. Yet feathering helps achieve an even transition of colors absolutely identical to the outcome of wetblending, if applied correctly.

    Another benefit of feathering is that it is very flexible in terms of making it work with other painting techniques. For example, you can easily combine feathering with wetblending.

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