Washing And Dry Brushing
by Chuck Theidel
After painting your models with its initial coat, a lot of the fine detail isn’t visible until weathering is completed. As a general rule of thumb, the “wash” technique is used to bring out the detail on recessed parts, and dry brushing highlights the raised detail. In the process, washing is done first, and dry brushing done last.
“Washing” Your Model
To make a wash, start with a desired color and add thinner to it (about a six to one ratio of thinner to paint.) To apply a wash, use a large flat brush. Take the brush with the wash and gently brush over the model allowing the wash to settle into the recessed areas. Do not overwork an area: you can always go back later when it has dried. The reason for doing a wash is to bring out the surface texture of the model. This will add more realism to your models.
I have had people tell me about their problems with doing washes on their models: Problems such as having the base coat lift off or attacking the plastic itself. I have found that even applying a couple of clear flat coats before doing a wash does not work most of the time. My suggestion to this problem is to use water based acrylics instead of enamels. If you are using water-based acrylics as your base coat you can still use water-based paints for your washes. When acrylics dry, they seem to be more durable and do not reactivate when applying a wash to them. The Tiger tank shown (built by Joe Marcal) is an example of how a wash looks. It was applied over zimmerit that was made from putty.
After you finish your wash, dry brushing is used to bring out the raised detail, and to contrast the dark wash in the recesses. When dry brushing, it best to use a flat, non-pointed brush. The reason is that you want to lightly highlight the raised areas only.
To start, choose a color that is lighter than the base coat. Apply a small amount of paint to your brush and then use a rag or paper towel remove most of the paint. Lightly pass the brush over the areas that you want to highlight, touching only the raised areas. Try not to work on one spot too long: in dry brushing you do not need a lot of paint on your brush.