How To Make A Wash For Model Painting

One of the best ways of creating a watercolor effect on your painting is by using a wash technique.

The natural versatility of mediums and acrylic paints gives them a broad and different range of uses.

For example, water will cause rusting if allowed to pool a given vehicle or run down it.

Therefore, you will get an enamel or oily wash if the model is painted using acrylics.

When learning how to make a wash for model painting, it is essential to learn some techniques like ready-made enamel wash and traditional mix-it-yourself oil paint wash.

Here's how...

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How To Make Your Model Wash

The working principle in model painting is to color a wash lightly thinner but not thinned paint. 

Motorbikes and cars are likely to rust right through, which is different from the armoured and robust vehicle that will only rust on the surface.

The effect required will guide the exact proportions to be used, but a mixture contains 95% thinner and 5% paint on average.

To have a fine and perfect color wash, you can use approximately 5-8 ounces of paint in a model.

Therefore, you will get help in adding realism, artistic influence, and character to your model.

The results will be more of an original scale representation of the subject and less of a replica toy.

The wash usually is darker than the base color, but a filter will have nearly the same tonal value.

When washing a painted model, you can add a surfactant to reduce water surface tension; hence water-based wash will not eat through the lacquer.

Steps in making a model paint wash the correct way

• The first thing you need to avoid is wiping in a circular motion. You should always work in the airflow direction to prevent the cotton bud from soaking.

• Wash should be applied to a gloss surface to avoid sticking. After the wash has dried, it is vital to add a duller topcoat in all wash types.

• Patience is an important virtue when carrying out a model cars washes. You need to give the wash some time before applying a dump cotton bud. You can give it approximately 20 minutes but keep a record to know the exact time to leave your wash.

The trick in paint wash is to use a different type of paint than the base coat.

Therefore, there will be no effect on your base coat paint in the presence of a thinner.

An example of the best combination of wash paint is an artist’s oil paint thinned with an excellent thinner like Turpenoid.

The combination works in all base coats. 

There are many stores you can buy washes, but it is better if you can make your own.


Pin wash. The technique uses a tiny brush to dot on the panel line and allowed to flow into the lines. Excess wash is wiped off to obtain a clear model airplanes.

Sludge wash. You will use a big brush and slop all over the model. Give it time, depending on the type used, then wipe it off.