Our hobby can be very expensive, and as nice as it is to have large collections of paint, it is usually easier and more financially doable to mix paints together to get the colors that you want. Here are some tips and tricks when it comes to mixing paints.
Always mix with clean tools- whether that is a clean paint brush, tooth pick, silicone tools, etc.
When adding water to your paint make sure it is clean. Even if you rinsed your brush in your paint pot once and the water still “looks” clean there is still paint pigments in that water that can contaminate your work. Clean water only. I like to have a pot of clean water at my station that is used for only clean water for mixing.
When mixing paints use the same tool for measuring. This means if you are using your finger for water drops use your finger for paint drops as well. If you are using the end of your paint brush, use that same paint brush (cleaned) or same sized paint brush for all the mixing steps.
When I measure “dob/dot of paint” I usually use half of my paint brush bristles or I use the last 1/2 inch of my paint brush handles.
When mixing it’s great to know how much paint you’re going to need, but if you are unsure how much you are going to need always make a bigger batch. It’s easier to have a bigger batch and end up having paint left over than it is to make a second batch and try to have an exact color match.
Mixing paint isn’t an exact science and will be different for everyone based on your personal paint’s consistency. Some people will like washes that are more watered down. Make your paint to your preference if needed.
Sometimes you don’t want to make your own paint or you don’t have the color that you would like for a wash. You can purchase washes and thinner glaze like paints from many paint companies. I prefer to make my own just because I have more control over the colors/constancy but there is nothing wrong with purchasing them as well.
Glazes Vs. Washes
Both Glazes and Washes are paints that have been mixed with an amount of water or paint medium. I would consider both of these paints types of paint you would use for detail work on a miniature.
Glazes are a paint that I say you “Paint with a purpose.” You will use a glaze to highlight areas and where you paint the glaze with the brush is where it will stay. These are usually my highlight or “light source” layer of paint. The glaze is more saturated with paint pigment than the washes. You can use glazes for tinting things or small work areas. Glaze can change the hue of paint already on the layers. I tend to make glazes using colors that I have dry brushed on to give that color a little more brightness in specific spots, or make a glaze combining dry brush colors to blend everything together.
Washes are a paint diluted with water and the water will take the paint into the creases, cracks, dimples into your miniature. Usually washes are a darker color to add shadow or a “skin tone” wash to mellow out paints to make it look more realistic/alive. I use the skin tone washes on wings or bags to give it a more leather based look. I also Like using black washes on bases to bring out the definition of stones and use it on hair/fur/feathers to get the natural shadow look that comes with those types of textures. Washes flow more and will not necessarily stay where you paint it. The wash is very much for shading and used usually in larger areas. You can add wash into smaller areas, but you will need to be careful that the wash doesn’t run as it is more water based. Some people also use the runny ink options as a wash paint layer.
I have had the best luck making glazes that are a 1 to 1 ratio of paint to water. This means if you are mixing paint colors for a glaze you will match the total number of drops of water to the total number drops of paint used. Example: 1 drop of red +1 drop of yellow would be mixed with 2 drops of water.
Washes are mostly water. It is a 1 to 10 ratio of drops of paint to water. Example: 1 drop black + 1 drop dark grey would get mixed with 20 drops of water. Washes take a while to dry as they are mostly water.