Painting With Inks and Washes

My favorite supplies in my paint arsenal besides my oil paints, are my inks and washes. Back in the day when I started painting in the 90’s, washes were primarily used to create shadow or add a second color into the recessed areas of the figure. If you think outside the box, there is actually a lot that you can do with washes and inks especially since they come in so many colors and brands. On miniatures and models, you can use inks and washes made from acrylic or oils.

Wash brands/ inks that can be used on miniatures and models:

  • Privateer Press- P3
  • Games Workshop/Citadel- Shades, Washes, and Technicals
  • Holbein
  • Golden Transparents and Highflow
  • Vallejo/ Game Color
  • Warcolours
  • Reaper Master Series
  • Army Painter
  • Badger- Ghost Tints
  • Scale 75- Inktensity/ Oil Washes
  • Andrea Miniatures- Inks
  • Secret Weapon
  • Daler Rowney- FW inks
  • Liquitex inks
  • Windsor and Newton
  • P.H. Martins Bombay India Ink
  • Amsterdam Acrylic Ink

Of course there are probably other brands all over the world, but this should be a good list to start out with for products to check out. If you check out the Metalhead Minis YouTube Channel, we have demo and review videos for Andrea Miniatures Inks, Scale 75 Inktensity, and Scale 75 Oil Washes. There are also Twitch stream videos that were uploaded of me painting with inks and washes. You can find them here:

A Prerequisite, or a primer, if you’ll pardon the pun

A good pre-requisite article to look at that ties in with painting with inks and washes is the previous article on this site that I wrote about Zenithal Priming. There is a video on the Metalhead Minis channel about how to zenithal prime as well that you can check out especially if you prefer video demonstrations. The reason that I mention zenithal priming, is because it makes the process quicker, easier, and look even better. Here is a photo example of a recent model that I painted of Gale Force Nine’s Firelfy, Mal. The photo on the left is the model zenithal primed and the photo on the right, is straight inks and washes over zenithal priming.

The benefits of zenithal priming

The benefits of zenithal priming, is that it does some of the work for you in terms of putting in a shadow and highlight undercoat. When applying washes and inks, depending on how highly pigmented they are, you might need to thin them down first. A good example of this, are the P3 inks. Their colors are highly pigmented and vivid. It is also best practice to layer the colors on. This helps the colors apply smoothly and makes your paint job look neater and cleaner.

Painting with washes and inks

Painting with washes and inks can also be a lot of fun as you can blend colors and create awesome color effects. I find that if you are trying to do 2 or so colors where one is light and the other contrasting color is dark, paint on the light colored ink first in the areas where you want the lighter colors. Here are a couple of photo examples of some Infinity the Game Symbiobeasts that I did last year with P3 inks over zenithal priming.

On both models shown in the photos, I started out by painting in the yellow ink on the areas that I wanted yellow/ highlight color, after that I added in the midtone colors that I wanted, then I added in the darkest colors in the areas that I wanted dark color and/or shadow. Since ink is a higher pigmentation than a wash, this technique seemed to work out well. Also when adding in the darker colors, they did not completely cover up the lighter colors.

Hue getting all this?

If I kept layering the color over the yellow, it would just change the hue. For example, the photo on the right shows the highlight colors as a lighter green instead of straight yellow because I kept layering on the green ink. In order to achieve that blended look, you want to apply the colors together while they are still wet. For example, if you wanted to have yellow and green to have a blending gradient, then you would first apply the yellow and then add the green onto the parts where the yellow ends while the yellow is still wet so that it blends together when it dries. Mind you, this part does take practice and some trial and error.

The total time I typically spend on a model that I paint this way is 1-2 hours. This is a good time frame for tabletop painting and demo armies/ units. Depending on the model and amount of detail, you can sometimes spend even less time. Here are some photo examples of some Deep Wars demo game models that I painted for an event that were also painted with inks.

In closing

Hopefully, these pictorial examples and explanations have helped you and inspired you to give this type of fun painting a try. Don’t forget that there are videos on the Metalhead Minis YouTube channel that demonstrate me painting the Deep Wars models on Twitch streams with inks and such that can help give a better understanding as well if you prefer video demonstrations.

If you have additional questions about painting with inks and washes, feel free to contact us on our website

Stay crispy in milk and keep on painting!

–Lyn Stahl

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