Tuesday 13 September 2011

An Experiment with Dip

Over the last week or so I have been experimenting with Wood-stain as an alternative to Quickshade as a fast shading medium on miniatures. I've never used the Army Painter Quickshade before so I'm really unsure whether to give it a go or not. At nearly £20 a tin I wan't to make the right choice before parting with my cash. The problem is made harder by the fact that there are three shades to choose from; a wrong choice could prove very costly. So while I decide I have been experimenting with some wood stain as an alternative.

I had a half used tin of rosewood stain (a dark shade) in my shed and decided to play around with it to see if it could be used as a shading medium. This is where the original concept came from, before Army Painter developed the idea with their Quickshade range. Although the stain I was using is oil-based it seems to mix OK with water up to about 50% dilution. Beyond that the mix separates very quickly.

I base coated two 15mm infantry figures as my test subjects and applied the wood-stain to each. The first figure got undiluted stain on it and the second had a 50/50 mix with water. The undiluted shade gave excellent detailing and definition but made the resulting figure look very dark indeed. In fact it was so dark it was hard to tell any difference in colour between the Brown Violet (887) helmet, the Khaki (988) shirt and US Field Drab (873) trousers. The 50% mix gave better results but still resulted in a dark figure even after dry-brushing strong highlights on the model prior to shading.

So will I be using the woodstain or splashing out on the expensive Quickshade product? To be honest I'm still not sure. I'm painting the figures in base coats with the intention of using a shading medium of one kind or another, I just can't make up my mind which to use. I'm hunting round the internet for ideas and advice specific to 15mm miniatures but so far I have found relatively little. Any suggestions folks?


  1. Lee, Reject Richard experimented with ink and such many moons ago, as a result we all now use Windsor and Newton, Peat brown ink, on our 15's, water down 2/1. Take a look at my and Fran's figures on our blogs, that's the effect you can get. I splashed out on a pot of the quickshade when it first came out a couple of years ago and its still sitting on my shelf in the shed unopened!!

  2. I like the figure on the left better but Windsor and Newton is the way to go, I don't add as much water as Ray though.

  3. I think that a few "post shade" highlights are required; they will lift the overall figure.

    Martin Stephenson

  4. Lee, one of the guys at my club does all of his 25mm WW2 figures (US and British) in woodstain. They're a nicely uniform tone throughout, and the stain works well on faces, but I did think when I saw them that the stain had muted all the colours into one tone. Like Fran and Ray mention, I'd give inks a go next and compare on a test figure. Also, have you tried Citadel washes ? - I find them quite thick and gloop-y, but they give some interesting results.

  5. As Ray said, before all this pricy Quick Shade stuff, you just diluted down some oil paint and applied that.

    Very simple a far cheaper.

  6. I like the figure on the right, but Ray and the Lurker have it with the W&N suggestion... I use a very watered down black though I find the chestnut/brown a bit wishy washy...... bought some Vallejo Brown stain this weekend at Colours - going to have an experiment with it....

  7. Interesting to see these woodstain results.

    I use the strong tone version of Quickshade, and although it is expensive, it does seem to last forever. Both myself and Justin's figures at Model Dads are all quickshade and we are pleased with the results.

    The only thing is, on first application, it is very scary as the guide video encourages you to apply very liberal quantities and then gently lift out any deep puddles in the recesses.

  8. I was thinking of using quick shade but at £20
    a pop the price puts me off.
    I am painting my figures with base colours then washing with citadel washes and then painting on high lights.
    I am going to mix up my own.

  9. Well I've just gone and bought a small pot of GW 'Devlan Mud' Wash. At just £2.30 for a small pot it's not breaking the bank and thought I'd give it a try, just for comparison purposes you understand. I couldn't get any Winsor Inks in lakeside (waste of space that shopping centre) but I'll buy a pot online if I can. Then I'll do a big comparison to see how they compare. Should be interesting!

  10. Done, ordered a bottle of W&N Peat Brown Ink from Amazon for just 50p plus postage.

  11. All the really good painters in my game club swear by Devlin Mud. The best painter puts her highlights on first, then washes, then goes back to highlight again. How much effort do you really want to do?

  12. I think you will be pleased with the W&N inks. I ma looking forward to the comparison.

  13. I'm really close to being ready to shade my current platoon of figures, but I'll hold back and wait until I have done the comparison. In the meantime (while I wait for the W&N to arrive) I'll paint up a series of single figures ready for the test.

    I'm actually looking forward to doing this now. I've had lots of great advice, both here and on TMP and other forums, but all for different products! I guess most of these inks/washes will produce good results and the advice given comes down to personal preference based on a)availability and b)familiarity. Hopefully I can cut through that with my test and come up with an impartial choice.

  14. I've been tempted to get the a dip product from Army Painter but the price has kept me from it. Instead I bought a pot of GW 'Devlan Mud' wash like you mentioned above. I use that on all my figures on my blog. I am happy with the results and it helps hide my lack of painting skill. Just be warned it can darken your figures a bit but I try and paint the figures a bit lighter to begin with. I also like the almost dirty look it ends up giving some of the figures. Especially for my Dark Age gaming it makes them look like they have not bathed in months :)

  15. I've managed to find four identical German infantry figures for the test which should make a direct comparison a lot easier. I'm currently looking at comparing the following:

    a) Woodstain - Diluted 1:1 with water
    b) GW Devlan Mud - As mixed in tub
    c) Vallejo 'Smokey' Ink
    d) W&N 'Peat Brown' Ink

    These last two I'm not sure of the dilution needed yet so I'll test them out before settling on a mix for the comparison test. All four products have different characteristics and density of pigment so I expect a variety of results. This should be very interesting.

  16. By the way BL, Justin published some work on applying Quickshade in our guide here - if this is still on your radar


  17. Chris, already checked that guide out. It's one of the best I've been able to find online and has gone a long way to convincing me to keep an open mind about Quickshade. I've not ruled this product out, but I want to see what results can be achieved with other products.

  18. Nice one. Would be interested to see what option you settle on.

    By the way, does anyone find that GW Devlan Mud particularly smelly? Or has my pot gone off? lol

  19. Chris - my pot of Games workshop Flesh Wash (the old one) has always smelt as well.... :o)

    Lee - happened to read this this morning as well..you wait for ages and all of a sudden the topic pops up everywhere... :o)


  20. Lee,

    You've seen what I think on my blog, but my main reservation about inks and the various woodstains is that, generally speaking, shadows are lighter or darker shades of grey, not brown, hence my original use of Ivory Black oil paint solution. I don't think colours like, say, blue look right shaded with dark brown. BUT it's got to be ivory Black, NOT Lamp Black which obliterates everything.

    I took a chance with the AP Dark Tone and I'll persevere with that for a while. That's not just because it cost me an eye watering 17 quid and I'm tight as the proverbial, but because it's oil based and I find that these stains hold their pigment tighter and can be diluted more than water based equivalents - maybe they have finer ground pigment; I dunno. They also have less surface tension so flow more easily and collect in the right areas without too much staining of the highlights.

    Nevertheless, I've got two woodstains to play with too and they'll be going on the next lot. The dark brown stain (can't remember the shade now) will probably go on some 15mm Dervishes I've had for a while because of my grey/brown shadow thing, but I'm knocking out a couple of battalions of the Legion du Midi at the mo (brown coats) so I might be tempted to give it a go on them.

    As regards the strength of the staining medium, I never use it full strength and always dilute it because it gives a finer 'etched' finish(no floods of dark stuff) and because, if it's too light, it's easier to put another coat on than to remove a coat which is too dark.

    BTW I think the chap on the left looks better.


  21. I still find inks in Klear (floor polish) the best for 15mm

  22. The follow up post - my experiments with alternative shading products - can be found here


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