Sunday, July 20, 2014

Let's Paint with Oils

As the years go on I get restless every now and they to try some new approach to painting. I have to admit that Vallejo acrylics and a nice brush will turn out some pretty nice figures but there's always that desire to mess around and see what else is out there. My project painting toy soldier style Soldiers in Plastic was a fun experiment for example- using low levels of detail and lots of gloss varnish.

Flock those Minis!
I've been following the work of Stokes Schwartz through his blog and through various pieces he's submitted to Miniature Wargames/Battlegames. Stokes does a pretty stunning job on his 18th century armies and a lot of his work is done in oils. I've tried oils in the past but in short was using them wrong and they came out looking terrible. Then I read Mr. Schwartz's piece on using oils in Miniature Wargames #371 and decided to give it another shot.

The short form is that Stokes recommends diluting alkyd oils with a substance called Liquin before using them. I set up some Perry War of the Roses infantry, put down a white gesso basecoat, and set to work.

The Liquin dilutes the otherwise pasty oils up to a point where they resemble vaseline. If you dilute them only slightly they resemble acrylics and paint on in a familiar fashion. The main difference is that the oils don't dry as quickly and so you can't paint a layer, wait a minute, and then go back and add more color. If you do the first layer just gets pushed to one side. If you dilute the colors intensely they can be used as a wash of sorts, hardly as agile as Citadel washes or inks but still serving a similar purpose.

Overall I had a pretty positive experience. Acrylics are obviously faster in all ways- faster to mix, faster to paint, faster to clean. The oils are superior in the luster of their color. They really stand out across the table and for pretty armies they will do a terrific job. They also smell good, which is not Completely trivial.

I'm not going to use oils for dark ages or WW II figures. I could well imagine using them for Blood Bowl, War of Austrian Succession, or Successors. In the future I think I'm going to aim for more wash effects and less attempt at a solid and precise color. But overall, a nice experiment.

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