Good news, everyone! I no longer consider myself a painting coward.
It came about like this: After my failure at the tree, er, sorry, my failure to man up enough to "dip" my figures, I was faced with the option of what to do.
Because the whole point of dipping is to save time and money (but mainly time), I decided to throw money at the problem. I went right out and bought another can of Minwax's Water-Based Wood Stain, and this time I very carefully considered the color samples in the store. Here are a couple of pictures I took with my phone, using ambient lighting.
You can see that the Classic Black has some brown in it (which is why I went with it the first time); the American Walnut is less dark and more brown, and the Coffee is lighter still. I opted for Coffee.
Here are the results of my first attempts.
I was afraid that it was still too dark. I began to wonder if there was something even lighter brown than Coffee.
However, before I spent another $11 + change, I decided to try the Future Magic Wash.
Here are the results of my first attempts.
|After washing in Coffee stain, no highlighting.|
|Left: washed with Classic Black stain; Right; washed with Coffee stain. You can really see the difference in colors this way.|
I took the darkest brown paint I have, and liberally added it to the Magic Wash. I then washed this mixture on the two figures on the right (picture below). The two on the left are washed with Coffee stain.
I added what I felt was a sufficient quantity of paint, but it barely even stained the figures, as you can see. Apparently I need to add a lot more paint.
|Left: Dipped in Coffee stain; Right: washed with Magic Wash.|
So I got to thinking: the point of using either Polyshades or Future is to both wash and seal the figure in a protective clear-coat layer all in one step. That is part of the time-saving feature. However, I don't like Polyshades and the Future didn't work for me, so any time advantages I might have gained I would have to give up.
I realized that I am less interested in the time-saving aspect than I originally thought. I still want a good-looking figure, but I could just as easily have taken my brown paint and washed the figures instead of diluting it in the Magic Wash. I still don't like non-water-based agents, which is a shame because you can get a pint of Minwax Polyshades for around $7 which is more than enough to cover all the minis I have; instead I had to buy a quart (because the color is custom mixed) and it cost me around $11. So now I have two quarts of two different brown stains, plus a bottle of Future floor polish (mostly unused) which originally cost me around $5. In other words, I've spent roughly $27 plus tax, and for $30 I could have had one of The Army Painter's Quickshades (although, again, they're non-water-based and only about a pint in size).
But, y'know, sometimes I enjoy the discovery process. And I like to be reminded that more often than not, time-saving shortcuts are not.
Therefore I finally committed to the Coffee stain, and through trial and error on the amount of stain-on-brush to use I got the following results.
In the end, I ended up
going back over the figures with a quick dry-brushed highlight, then
spraying a clear-coat protectant like I do for all my normal painting.
I'll have to double-check my records when I get home, but these twenty men took me (I think) about 10 hours start to finish (that is, from first paint application to finishing the bases; it does not include filing the metal).
That works out to 1/2 an hour per figure, which for me is pretty darn fast. I expect it will go even faster on the next group, and the next, etc. Unfortunately, with 6-8 more groups of twenty to go, and the ability to paint only 10 days out of the month (and spread out, not ten in a row), it will still take me forever to finish....
|Washed with Coffee stain.|
|Simple drybrushed highlight over the wash.|
|The two on the right are the same two that I earlier Magic Washed.|
Still, I persevere!
Thanks for reading. Here are some pictures of the first group of 20 men completely finished. You can click them to enlarge them slightly.
|Red turban for Leader, light purple/blue tassles for Second in Command.|
Update: It's taken me so long to even get around to posting this, I have almost finished my second group of 20 figures. The good news is it's still averaging around 30 minutes per figure. I had hoped to finish them before I had to leave for work again, but I wasn't able to. Pictures will appear when I am next home! I do think the dipping is a time-saver, but I might be slightly biased into believing it because I want to believe it. But after this group, I am going to take a break from Arabs and "have a go" (as the English say) at some zombies. I think the dipping will help with them as well. Will report soon!