Monday, May 30, 2011

38. My Nerve Fails Me....

A while back, I shared with you the fact that I had bought a whole lotta Arab-type opponents for my French Foreign Legion (you'll have to scroll down to the bottom to see it).  I explained that in order to paint so many figures, I was going to "dip" them, or "magic wash" them, depending on which method I used.  I bought a bottle of Future Floor Care as well as a container of Minwax's Wood Stain.

Most of the information I've read about the Minwax dip method said to use their Polyshades (stain & polyurethane in one step) line.  Most recommended was their Tudor color, or Bombay, or lastly Antique Walnut.  However, I personally have an aversion to anything that can't be cleaned up with water.  It simply makes things far more difficult than I would like, so instead I bought a quart of Minwax's Water-Based Wood Stain, which can be tinted to almost any color at the store.  I chose to have it colored Classic Black, which, if you carefully compare the color samples, appears to have some brown in it.

Naturally, Minwax does not have the exact same colors in both of its lines of stain.  That would be too easy.  However, to the best of my ability, I compared the Tudor and the Classic Black samples, and to me they look very, very similar.  So I went with Classic Black, as I said.

I also have a bottle of Pledge Floor Care with Future shine.  I am given to understand that you can tint it any color you wish, using either acrylic paints or acrylic washes.  My plan was/is to tint it to a dark brown if necessary, something more "muddy" than the Classic Black if it turned out I didn't like that result.

My intention was to try one method, and if it was horrible, to then try the other method.
There were a few projects that I wanted to finish first, so I am only now getting around to trying this out.  I have painted up 10 Arabs (from Old Glory), in basic flat colors as my guinea pigs.  I have tried to be neat, but not unduly so.  I know that the dip will cover most seam lines, and will darken the whole miniature, so I used lighter colors overall.  I did no highlighting or shading at all; merely a one-step process of a few colors for variety.  Ten men took me about 1.5 hours to paint to what you see here.

I did take a few pictures of the process, so I could compare how dark they are before and after the dip.

And then...the moment of truth came.  I opened up the can of Classic Black.  And by golly, it's black, alright.  I tested a brush stroke or two on paper, then on a primed mini.  It's black, alright.

And then...I lost my nerve.  I couldn't go through with it.  I'm second guessing myself, in that I should have gotten either the actual Polyshades, or a more brown Water-based stain.  I realized I haven't actually put that much time and effort into my ten men, but I still don't want to have to go back and repaint them.

I realize now that what I should have done was prep a true test figure or two, one that was never meant to be played with, so I could try both methods without fear.  Alas, I didn't think of it in time.  I told you, this is my first time with this method.

I'm away from my table for a few days, and when I get home I have to address this.  I either have to go buy another can of Minwax with a more brown color, or try the Classic Black, or try the Magic Wash method.

Indecision is a terrible thing.  I'm actually rather embarrassed about this, that I should be so concerned over the color of the wash.  But I want to do this right the first time, and not wish I had tried something else 100 figures later.

For those of you in the know, what color would you recommend?  In my mind's eye, I see a dark brown shading, representing the dirt of the desert.  As for the Magic Wash, do you color it with regular acrylic paint or do you prefer adding a wash to the mix?

Thanks for reading, thanks for your patience and thanks for any tips.

(And you know, there's a litte part of me that says, They look pretty good as is, just finish off the bases and they're tabletop ready....)


  1. While not using either method myself, I've used watered down inks to finish figures . . . and browns work far better than blacks. The later do NOT look right, while browns do.

    The blacks do not look right over warm colors (such as flesh) . . . so go with browns would be my suggestion, sir.

    -- Jeff

  2. I understand your concern and indecision. I was intent to go the Pledge route but lost my nerve at the last minute, because I was unsure of the "magic formula". I cracked and bought a tin of Army Painter Strong Tone and never looked back. Here are some similar figures to your own, done with Army Painter. Good luck with the venture.


  3. Personal favorite: Jet Dry (any dishwasher 'rinse agent') and one drop of the acrylic paint of your choice.

  4. @Jeff: One way or another I'll be going with brown.

    @Furt: Thanks for the input, and by the way, your Supply Train figures are gorgeous. If that's what dipping can do, I'm all in.

    @Drew: One drop of paint in the Jet Dry bottle? Or mixed to some other specification? I haven't heard this style before, so I'm interested.

  5. Three words: Polyshades Tudor Satin. A nice dark brown.

    I know you said clean-up was an issue but it really isn't. Swirl your old brush in a bit of mineral spirits afterwards and it's done.

    I've used the Tudor effectively several times and on the colours you've chosen for your figs it'll look great. Brush it over the bases and it'll stain the sand nicely, as well.