Why I Think You Should Stop Washing

Tyler Provick

Tyler Provick is a writer and a gamer that likes to combine his two interests and share them with the community.

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7 responses

  1. Thor says:

    I agree with your premise. If you solely rely on washes to do all the hard work for you – by shading, then it’s not going to be accurate. Still, for those just wanting a tabletop standard to play games with, I think it’s used to great effect.

    Now, for more advanced painters, I still think washes are great. The trick, as you pointed out, is recognizing the mistakes a wash makes, and then going back in to fix it. I’ll wash something, and then come back in and blend up, or layer, where it’s wrong.

    Drying times to bother me much either. I’m usually working on a handful of other things, so I set aside that piece to work on something else.

    I just love washes. Sure, they have their problems, and you don’t see Golden Daemon winners using them, but with a little extra work they can still be used well.

  2. Some good points. I have certainly seen some people getting excellent results with washing. Personally, in the time someone washes, waits for it to dry and then goes back to fix wash issues I can completed the same section of the miniature by painting in highlights and shadows.

    Some texture, like panel lines, are an exception.

    • Thor says:

      Washing isn’t quicker, that’s for sure!

      The biggest reason I like washes is that it creates your shade. Obvious, right? But, it creates levels of shading. You have your deepest areas with the darkest color, but then it fades out the further from the recess you get. So, with one paint/wash/technique, you can achieve multiple levels of shading in one step, if done well.

      That’s my big thing with it. If I were to replicate in paint what I do with a wash, I would need around 3 layers of shading blending up to the base coat. That’s of course variable, but you get the idea.

      If you do it well then you create some nice shaded blending with minimal effort. You can’t slap it on there of course to do that, but it’s something you learn over time.

      To each their own though. That’s the beauty of painting, it’s art and thus subjective. Every technique has value; it’s just a matter of using the right ones to convey what you want.

      • Yes, having the gradient that a wash provides is a benefit. It’s somewhat lost, in my opinion, if your highlighting doesn’t match the same level of blending.

        My point is that the nicely gradiated shadows of a wash don’t go where shadows should go. Image a simplified shape where you have a vertical surface kick out at a 45 degree angle then turn 90 degrees to return back at a 45 degree angle and turn back into a vertical surface. Where is your wash going to go? At each 45 degree turn, right?

        So, you have a shadow on top of a vertical surface at the edge where it starts turning _more_ towards the light. Due to gravity it is more on the 45 angled surface than the straight up and down surface. If anything, there should be a highlight there because the curved surface collects more light and is transitioning into a situation where it is collecting more light.

        Your second shadow will be where the downwards 45 surface connects to the vertical surface. Again, this should probably be collecting more light (all concave and convex surfaces capture more light than flat surfaces) but definitely shouldn’t be a shadow.

        Yes, washes will create properly positioned shadows some times but generally you are sacrificing quality for speed. I believe that the position of the highlight and shadow is more important than how well blended they are so you are sacrificing the wrong quality. Spend more time getting your shadows in the right spot and less time blending them.

        I really should have made diagrams.

  3. Thanks for the comments, btw. I really appreciate receiving them.

  4. Octavian80 says:

    I totally agree with you. I don’t really like using washes either, but I’m also trying to improve my painting. Sure, washes are nice for beginner painters to get something out on the board quickly. But it’s not true to how light falls on an object. That’s probably what newer painters should learn sooner than later: light and shadows. I’m just now starting to get the hang of it, and it makes sense one you get your head around it. And I like painting my shadows in by hand. Gives me more control and I can intensify the shadows as much as I want depending on the effect I want to portray. Thanks for your article! I hope more painters will read it and think twice about washes.

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