26 November 2017
During the last couple of years, I have been struggling to find tutorials online to explain the basic techniques of creating transitions between colours. It took me some time, but I believe that I have some understanding of all of them. Hopefully this tutorial will be helpful for you.
Starting from the beginning: Layering, Glazing & Wet blending – these are all methods of creating transition between two colours. Worth mentioning is that glazing can be used in a much broader spectrum.
Each of those approaches has its pros & cons – some are faster, some look better. From my experience: I strongly believe that it is good to know each of them, as you will achieve best results mixing them depending on the effect you want to get.
Bear in mind, that there is also a technique called dotting – this will be tackled in a different article.
All of them will be showcased on a piece of paper – as a bigger scale will allow me to show them in a more understandable way.
In this technique, the transition between colours is accomplished by painting layers of paints, in which each subsequent layer contains more of the colour you want to achieve. To put it simple – you start with one color and then add additional “layers” of paint over that leaving a little bit of the previous layer showing along a predetermined edge with each pass.
In layering we use the (more or less) same consistency of paint in all stages.
Layering is considered a beginner’s technic, as it is “simple” in execution. The big problem with it, is that to achieve “smooth” transitions you need to use a very large number of layers. This takes time and requires good brush control, as correcting mistakes is a rather difficult process.
Below you can see a model I painted using only layering:
This can be addressed quite easily, by using glazes to smoothen the transitions, or by incorporating wet blending. You will find examples of this, further in the article.
This technique bases on painting glazes – which are numerous layers of translucent paint (basically watered-down paint), which partially shows through the next one. Those additional layers build up to create to create a smooth transition of colours.
Glazing is considered an advanced technique – it provides probably the smoothest transitions. But is very time consuming – as you paint up too few dozens of glazes of paint. Moreover, in most cases correcting mistakes is almost impossible – you simply need to start over…
Below you will find a sample that showcases how a transition with glazes looks like:
Below you can find the a sample of each glaze I used. Please notice, that it is clearly visible the paints are transparent.
Few things – that you need to remember:
Below you can see what was the consistency I used to the sample picture from above.
Glazing works wonders when used together with layering – the general idea is to paint few layers of paints (for example 5-6) then use glazes to smoothen the transition between them. This much faster than traditional glazing, but still takes a lot of time. The results are probably the best, if you compare it to all other techniques.
On the picture below you can see how this is done.
Apply the lines, as you would do with standard layering approach (second element in the image above)– leave a bit more space than you would to usually between them. Afterwards, using the same colours start doing small glazes along the layers (last element). Worth to mention the glazes should be done from darker to lighter colour.
This much faster than traditional glazing, but still takes a lot of time. The results are probably the best, if you compare it to all other techniques.
Below you can see model painted in this exact approach (I used here also a blue midtone glaze).
Glazes can also be used as mid tones. Mid tone is a very thin layer of paint, which is painted over transition between two colours. For example, my favourite mid tone is blue painted over the transition between black and white. It gives a lot of depth to the surface. Other good example is applying red or blue glazes to faces, to make them more natural looking.
Pro-tip: the glazes for mid tones need to be really thin. Use an acrylic medium to make sure pooling paint doesn’t occur. In my experience – glazes work best to tie some colour together, or to improve a specific area your work.
In wet blending a transition between colours is achieved by mixing two paints, on the model itself, while the paints are still not dry.
To be precise, after applying the two colours, clean up the brush in your water pot and wipe excess water from it and start “pulling away” the paint towards the other colour. This will break the surface tension on both colours and cause the pigments to mix between each side. Thanks to this you create a blend between those two colours directly on the miniature.
Sounds simple? It is, but you will need some practice before you will see really great results.
It is quite difficult to explain wet blending using static images – hence I recommend this video tutorial done by Adrien Leloup – who showcases how this is done.
Wet blending provides some of the best results when applied correctly, moreover it is probably the fastest way to achieve great outcomes. But to do that, you need great brush control – and know know your paints – as the time window to that correctly is limited.
This article took a bit more than I anticipated, but hopefully you will find it useful!
That’s all folks!