Oz Painters

blending through translucency - using ‘juices’
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Author:  automaton [ Tue Oct 24, 2006 2:38 pm ]
Post subject:  blending through translucency - using ‘juices’

A point just came up on WAU, and I thought maybe it would be useful to speak about it here as well, in more detail.

With painting, one of the things that is most talked and asked about is the consistency of paint, and how it should be applied. Many people - including me - do a lot of their painting, particularly the shading and highlighting, using many successive layers of very dilute paint to gradually build up the colours in certain areas of a mini. Very thinned paints used in this way are often called 'glazes'.

But I have been very unhappy using the term 'glaze' like this for quite a while: talking about a 'glaze' implies the painting of a very thin layer of paint over the whole surface, to slightly tint the whole area. So for example, if you were painting a red robe on a mini and the highlights became a little too light and chalky, you might use a glaze of a deep red colour, to paint over the whole surface of the robe and bring back some of the richness to the colours. It's like adding a thin filter of colour over the top of the whole surface, to change the appearance of the colour underneath. Inks are good for this, because they are very intense in colour, are also maintain their translucency indefinitely - inks will remain 'see-through' no matter how many layers you use.

So, this is why there is a problem, because when I am talking about 'glazes' I am almost always NOT meaning a glaze as defined above; rather, I am talking about using successive layers of dilute paints in certain section only, not over the whole surface, in order to build up shading or highlights.

And neither am I talking about a ‘filter’ to tint the colours underneath: although the paint should be very dilute and translucent at first, the objective is to build up its opacity with many successive layers, to achieve a smooth transition between colours. This is why it is best to use paints rather than inks for this technique, because the opacity of paint will gradually build up with multiple layers, even if very dilute, whereas inks maintain their translucency. The key is to use only a small amount of paint – just enough to cover the surface. This gives more control and prevents the graininess or ‘tide marks’ that can occur when too much paint is used.

This means that we can’t call it a ‘wash’ either: a wash floods the whole surface so that the paint will collect in the recesses naturally and provide shading, but the technique I am talking about is more controlled than that.

So what on earth should we call it?!

When you read French painting articles, the word they use to describe this technique translates as ‘juices’ – they talk about applying a ‘juice’ of bestial brown, say, to parts of the surface in order to shade them. Calling it a juice may be a little amusing for us haha, but I think the term is actually pretty good – what you should be aiming for with your paint is a juice-like consistency, very watery with a hint of colour. So maybe we should start calling them juices from now on! :)

I always find all this so hard to explain when writing – my language fails me! So here is a diagram, hopefully it will make this easier to understand:


Example A shows how a glaze should work. On the left we have a surface that has been highlighted. If you felt that the end result was a little to light and chalky, and you wanted to bring back a more ‘green’ aspect to the area, you might apply a glaze over the whole surface. In this example, I have put a layer of a dark green glaze colour with an opacity of 20% over a surface identical to the one on the left – as you can see, the result gives a richer green colour while maintaining – and sometimes even smoothing - the transition from dark to light. A glaze should be painted with very dilute paint – you can always do more layers if you want a stronger tint of colour, but you can’t erase layers if the colour is too strong.

The important thing to remember is not to flood the surface as you would with a wash, because this will result in an uneven spread of the pigment as the paint dries. Instead, you should try to use just barely enough paint to cover the surface, which will prevent the pigment from flowing into the recesses and creating a patchy effect.

Example B shows how the application of ‘juices’ for shading and highlighting is supposed to work. The square on the left has had a mid-tone base colour applied. Then, an identical square on the right has had a series of 5 or 6 juices – very thin layers of paint – applied over the base coat, in order to shade and highlight. The colours of the juices are shown at the top. A dark, more blue-ish green for the shading colour, and a light, more yellow-ish green as the highlight colour.

The juices had an opacity of 20%, so the colour built up to be stronger – more opaque – as the layers were painted on top of each other. Looking at the shading part at the bottom, that I have numbered, you can see that layer 1 – the part that has been painted by the first juice only – has only had a slight darkening in colour. The paint is very translucent so the surface in that section has only been tinted slightly. The second layer is darker, because it has had two layers painted onto it – so the juice colour has become more opaque. And so on with layer 3, 4 etc.

The gradual transition between the base colour and the shading or highlighting colour is achieved by slightly withdrawing the area that is covered by each successive layer of paint. I tried to show this with example C. The red layer at the bottom represents the base coat – pretend you are looking at the surface of the mini horiztonally, from side on. The blue stripes represent the layers that we are going to paint onto the surface.

Let’s say we wanted to shade this surface, so that it gets darker as you move to the right. The first blue stripe represents the first layer of paint. It covers most of the surface, but because it is a dilute ‘juice’ it only slightly tints the area that it covers. After it dries, we paint the second layer over the top, represented by blue stripe number 2. But this time, we don’t paint over all of the area covered by layer 1; instead, we draw back a little, covering less area. So, only the area covered by stripe 2 gets a step darker, and we have created a more gradual transition between the base coat and layer 2, by having some of layer 1 left in between. Then the same for layer 3 – it withdraws a little more, getting a step darker, creating a gradual transition. And the same for layer 4 and 5. So, you can see that the right side of the base coat has had 5 layers of paint applied on top of it – so this area will be the darkest. But then the surface steps down to 4 layers, 3 layers, 2 and 1, making a transition from dark to light.

Well, I hope this makes sense to people – the language is still so clunky, but maybe with the visuals you will understand what the hell I am talking about, if you haven’t understood previously. This is of course very simplified – but the important thing to understand is the concept of what you trying to do with the ‘juices’. To obtain super smooth transitions, you can apply many, many layers…I have heard of people painting 70, 80, 90 layers in this way. But because the paint you are using is so dilute, it won’t build up and obscure the detail – most of what you are painting onto the surface is water, which will just evaporate away.

If I have been utterly confusing to anyway just ask me to try to clarify things and I’ll do my best!!


p.s. everyone start calling them juices - we have to convert the English-speaking painting world!!! haha

Author:  weisern [ Tue Oct 24, 2006 6:28 pm ]
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what about calling it 'selective glazing' instead of just glazing? you know, like selective hearing :wink:

Author:  automaton [ Tue Oct 24, 2006 6:39 pm ]
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haha yes weisern, that is like jordy's term he suggested on WAU - 'regressive glaze shading'

haha so scientific and lifeless! But accurate.

Anyway, that is a name for the actual technique perhaps, but it doesn't mean we can't still call them 'juices' - huice is referring to the consitency of the paint, which is a different issue. So we could talk about 'following the regressive shading technique by applying selective glazes using a juice of bestial brown'!! hahha :lol:

haha next time we're talking about this let's all use that terminology and confuse the hell out of everyone! ;)

but remember, I already supplied a general term for what this technique aims to do, in the title of this thread: blending through translucency.

Author:  arjay [ Tue Oct 24, 2006 6:53 pm ]
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I have also seen it referred to as "coloured water" (by Cyril if memory serves)...

Author:  weisern [ Tue Oct 24, 2006 8:16 pm ]
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automaton wrote:
... So we could talk about 'following the regressive shading technique by applying selective glazes using a juice of...

jolly good, spot on. hahaha :P

Author:  scottlar [ Tue Oct 24, 2006 9:25 pm ]
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Well, thats getting complicated, so ill just stick with when i get asked "what technique did you use?" I just applied the paint and it turned out that way, :P nar, some pretty good analysis's of the techniques definition. Painting is getting so complicated these days that there needs to be new names for some techniques...

Author:  automaton [ Wed Oct 25, 2006 10:48 am ]
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well it's not really meant to be complicated - the concept is very simple I think! But it's just difficult to explain well, the idea doesn't seem to get through to a lot of people.

So I hope this doesn't just make it all more confusing@! Don't worry about the names of things, just try to understand how to do it. I think most of us already know all of this stuff anyway - this is nothing revolutionary, just going over old ground for the people who are learning. Hopefully there is something useful in it for someone!

Author:  Greenmonkeydishwater [ Wed Oct 25, 2006 1:06 pm ]
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Following the artice in WD definately opened up my eyes to glazes and what they can do. I had used them before but not to much effect. I though 'finally I can use something different to Tamya smoke' :P :lol:

Author:  weisern [ Wed Oct 25, 2006 8:32 pm ]
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i just bought 4 bottles of tamiya smoke the other day! hahaha :D
to try out dipping methods for TTS paintjobs, like how Ghostpainter did his Dasyatis and Nefarius clone. Still haven't had a chance to use them.

Author:  KyleM [ Wed Oct 25, 2006 9:02 pm ]
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Tamiya Smoke is really good for blood also. Just add red ink, then yellow for dried parts and purple for fresh parts. I think it looks more realistic because its thicker then paint and dries semi clear. Just a tip. :wink:

Oh, and Fantastic article Sebastian. Now let the juices flow! :P

Author:  weisern [ Thu Oct 26, 2006 10:10 am ]
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or just use Tamiya clear red. i think FW Remy used Tamiya red for the bloody bits on his pyramid head.

Author:  Quoth [ Mon Jan 22, 2007 8:03 pm ]
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I too first came across the idea of glazing through the recent WD article, which is good for mettallics, and I found a few other colours it works especially well on after experimenting on a couple of peices.

I came across this article when Jamie said he was using the juicing method - so I guess its stuck :D and its cute, what can I say.

This is is a great technique for very smooth blending, and I will have to do some experimenting. Thanks for the straight up explanation, its a well done article :D

Author:  VMartin [ Tue May 29, 2007 6:55 am ]
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I hope it's not too late to ask a question. :)

Okay, basicaly I'm falling in love with this technique. :wink: It opened a whole new world to me as a beginner. But one thing I'm still trying to figure out: How much to dilute the color? Currently I'm using something like this as a 'matt medium : water : color' ratio - 1 : 3.5 : 1. If I dilute it less, the transition I get is too obvious and not smooth, but with the ratio above I get a somewhat good transition but it sometimes leaves 'tide marks' from the brush. I'm not giving it any special time to dry, though - usualy half a minute or so? Could that be a problem?

From your experience, what would be a proper diluting ratio for an area of 1 cm x 1 cm if the goal is to blend a color on one end with a color on the other end?



Author:  automaton [ Tue May 29, 2007 1:12 pm ]
Post subject: 

hi martin, it's good to hear you have been trying this method :)

It's hard to talk about exact ratios of paint and water, because it is always different depending on the paint colour you are using, or what you are painting...and really, the exact ratio shouldn't matter, because if you are using the technique correctly, the paint can be super dilute and it won't matter, it will just cause an even more gradual build up of colour with millions of layers.

I can tell you this: if you are getting those sort of 'tide marks', it means that you are using too much paint - too much paint on the brush, too much being put on the mini with each layer. The tide marks are caused by the pigment spreading unevenly throughout the paint liquid as it dries - it happens when the paint is pooling on the mini. With this technique I have tried to describe, the aim is to use such a small amount of paint that it cannot pool - it should be jsut barely enough to cover the surface of what you are painting, but should be such a thin layer that it dries very fast, almost straight away. Using such a thin spread of paint means that it can't pool, and the pigment does not have the chance to spread unevenly and cause the 'tide marks'.

This is why you should have some sort of paper towel/kitchen paper or something absorbent like that next to your palette when you paint. After loading the brush with paint, I wipe if off again and again on the paper until it seems dry - almost like drybrushing. But there will still be sufficient paint remaining on the brush to paint a thin layer on the mini.

Author:  torm3nt [ Fri Jun 22, 2007 10:44 am ]
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In reading this article, I'm assuming that most highlights/shades are then done using "juices" (i like this term, I think it fits the bill perfectly)? If that's the case, it may help me in smoothing out my highlighting. I have a lot of trouble over large surface areas like beasts of space marine armour. What should be recommended for highlighting in these circumstances?

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