How to Apply a Wash

"Washing" is a very simple model finishing technique that you can use to apply great panel line markings as well as weathering effects on your models. Here's how to do it:

First, you need to use an enamel paint to do the work. For most kits, black or dark gray gives the best results, but in some cases browns or tans work as well depending on the effect you are trying to achieve. Also, make sure that you have plenty of enamel thinner for the brand of paint that you will be using. It is very important that you use enamel thinner for doing this work; If you use a lacquer thinner or other type of oil thinner by mistake you may end up dissolving the paint or even the plastic of the kit itself the you have already finished!

Washes should be applied after all primary assembly and painting is completed. Personally, I like to use lacquers to paint my models, but using acrylics works too.

When you're ready to apply the wash, placed a few drops of enamel paint of the color you want to wash the model with into a shallow paint dish. Now, use the same brand of paint's enamel thinner to thin out those few drops of paint into a very watery consistency. You will use more thinner then you will paint, by a ratio of at least three to one, or four to one. The paint should be much, much thinner than you would ever consider using normally with a brush. It should be more like "colored thinner" than paint. This is important in order to get the paint to flow down the panel lines properly.

Now it's time to actually apply the wash. Dip a small paintbrush into the colored thinner you've created; it should soak up a good amount of the thinner. Now, touch the tip of the paint brush to one of the panel lines on your model. Capillary action will cause paint to be drawn from the brush and run down the panel line of the model, coloring it. Don't worry if some of the paint runs outside of the kit's panel lines, or if you get any of this enamel paint on any other incorrect locations, such as around the point where you touched the model with the brush. You will be able to wipe this excess paint off later with no problems. Continue applying paint in this way until you have finished all of the kit's panel lines, corners and joints, and other places that you think will look better if they have a dark accent applied to them.

Once you've completed applying the wash, let the model dry for at least one hour. Then, using cotton swabs or tissues that have been dipped in enamel thinner, gently wipe away the areas of the paint that have gotten on parts of the model that you do not want to be colored. The enamel thinner should not affect the previous paint that has already dried if you have used lacquers or acrylics. Only the recently applied enamel portion will be wiped away.

If you wipe away too much of the color that you have applied, or if after drying, you decide that some areas should be darker, you can reapply more enamel in the same way, repeating the above process until you are satisfied with the final results.

This simple technique should allow you to finish your models with much more realism than you have previously been able to accomplish, and in a way that is almost impossible to make mistakes. We hope you find this information useful.

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