In an earlier post, I wrote at length about matte medium and what it did for me. Whilst I was pleased with the subtle shading I’d achieved you might recall that I was blighted by a white residue where the mix pooled.
I’ve spent the last few days trying to wash over the residue lurking on my Marines with varying levels of success using different variations of the same formula. At the same time – inspired by photos I’d seen of pilots on board USS Nimitz - I’ve also been painting one of Peter Pig’s Downed Pilots:
Trouble was my downed pilot was getting darker and darker as I attempted to blend and wash my way out of trouble. Before I knew it I was locked in an miserable cycle of washing and re-painting over and over again as the ink darkened the base coat and the white residue remained a persistent NAGGING THORN <coff, ahem > in my side…
I woke up this morning and realised this was because I’d fundamentally misunderstood the purpose of matte medium. Matte medium is primarily used to produce a glaze rather than a wash.
Now, as I understand it:
- a glaze is a highly transparent layer of paint that subtley changes the colour of the base coat. Matte medium facilitates this by thinning the paint and lowering its viscosity.
- a wash is a more opaque but highly fluid mix of paint intended to flow in to the recesses darkening the base colour in a simulation of light and shade.
Whilst matte medium lowers viscosity it will leave a white residue where it pools because the stuff that makes the matt matt (chalk?) is left behind when the medium dries. Whilst matte medium is a great for subtle shading (or glazes), particularly on light colours, I had to accept it was not going to work as the basis of a wash.
Now, if I wanted a really fluid wash that ran off the highlights and in to all the nooks and crannies then what I needed was a flow medium. Whilst there are many commercially available, I found the answer sitting next to me on my work surface: Vallejo’s Airbrush Thinner. This stuff works a treat with the Army Painter Quick Shade inks I’ve been using, doesn’t leave a residue and gives a wonderfully smooth result when mixed on a 1:1 ratio.
With this aide memoir typed I should now have a recipe I can follow for predictable results everytime… (yeah right).
How did the pilot turn out?
Well, not so bad. He’s darker than I would have liked but I guess I’ll chalk that down to experience (groan…). I’ve painted the figure wearing US Navy flightgear c. 2009, including a tan CWU-27 flight suit, a green CMU-33 type I survival vest and a pair of Belleville M790 tan boots. And before you ask: No, I couldn’t face the agony of painting the ace of spades on the back of his helmet :)