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Wash Techniques

Windshield Wiper Fluid
This is the ubiquitous liquid we pour into our automobile washer reservoir. Media flows freely with it as a medium. Note that guache dries with a "crackle" effect.

Model Paint Washes
This is how common artist's products behave as washes with ammonia, vinegar, Future, or windshield cleaner. How do these mediums behave mixed with model paint? I chose Tamiya and Polly Scale to demonstrate. Both paints’ washes behave much like the water-oil, guache, etc. However, vinegar does not dissolve the paint, rather isolating it and depositing it in globs, leaving unique patterns when dry.

Traditional Wash
Finally, how do these methods compare to traditional washes? Those of you who use washes can compare them with your own effects and experiences. For those who have not use washes, I present as the final example the common wash of oil paint and mineral spirits (white spirit). For contrast I applied it right over the dry Tamiya/Polly Scale washes. My example dried rough and choppy, pulling the pigments away from the center of the puddles. This mimics many of my vinegar washes.

Conclusion, Caution, Disclaimer
In conclusion, allow me to offer some caution and disclaimer. Vinegar is a weak acid and ammonia can irritate your eyes and nose. My disclaimer is that I am not a chemist, nor even well-versed in the interactions / reactions of any of these chemicals and products. Use at your own risk. I can only report that I do not feel that I've suffered from them. Also, I have noticed no ill effect to my enamel, lacquer and acrylic paints by my washes. Depending upon the finish I seek, I often apply all of these types to my models, as needed, both before and after the pre-decal gloss coat, and before and after the flat coat. I gloss with either Future or Polly Scale Gloss, with Dullcote, Polly Scale Flat, or Floquil as my flat finish.

Another caution is that ammonia dissolves Future almost immediately (see my example Ammonia VS Future ) Thus I have not applied my ammonia-based wash over a gloss coat. Alcohol will fog Future just as it will Dullcote. Some windshield cleaning fluids contain ammonia and/or alcohol. Plan your weathering with that in mind, lest you ruin your masterpiece. Of course, one of the beauties of Future is that if you mess it up, strip it with ammonia and re-apply - simple!

Enjoy your hobby. I hope that these ideas will be as helpful and enjoyable to you as they are for me.
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About the Author

About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...


Fred did a lot of the tricky experimenting for us, so we can get right to the good stuff. Nicely done!
DEC 12, 2017 - 07:59 PM