Layering, Glazing & Wet blending.

26 November 2017


Layering, Glazing & Wet blending.

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.


  • Use glazes between the layers to improve your transitions! Flameon made a great tutorial on this, you can find it here (clicky!)
  • Layering is very useful to plan your paint job and know where the light should be : )
  • Layering is really handy in achieving intense colours, as layers have more pigment than in wet blending or glazing


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:

  • Starting from the left – the first element has around 3 glazes of an  light orange glaze
  • The second element has around 7 glazes of orange – at this point I started adding red paint to the mix
  • Third element has around 10 glazes, the two last glazes were done with almost pure red
  • Fourth element has around 13 glazes – with the last two with pure red

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:

  • The layers of glazes need to be thin, otherwise the transition will look bad. Hence add water to the point the paint is clearly transparent. (I found that a good value is around 1:1:5 / paint – medium – water)

Below you can see what was the consistency I used to the sample picture from above.

  • Don’t overdo with the amount of paint on the brush! After you dip it into the paint on your wet palette – dry it a bit on a paper towel – thanks to this you will have the control of its application!
  • CLEAN WATER – usually you will use the same water you have to clean your brush to add to the glaze. Don’t do this – always use clean water when creating glazes
  • If you want to do a transition between for example – yellow / red, don’t glaze from start with red, make couple o earlier glazes with orange. The shift will be smoother
  • It is easier – in my experience – to start with a lighter colour and go to the dark
  • Before applying a glaze, wait for the previous one to dry! This is crucial, if you apply it to early you will ruin the previous one
  • Watch out for surface tension, as it can screw up your work. Add an acrylic paint medium to have this sorted out
  • To make good glazes, you need good paints – the quality and size of pigment is important. Hence glazing with some paints is nearly impossible. This can be addressed by adding either a thinner (which dissolves pigment – something water doesn’t do) or by using a glazing medium
  • It is worth to use an acrylic medium – to better understand those, here is a small article about them
  • GW paints are the hardest to glaze with (at least in my experience). To work with them effectively I use Tamiya paint thinner / it adresses the problem by dissolving the pigment, which helps in application of the paint. The problem with it is that it also dissolves a bit the paint beneath it. So, the layers painted must be extremely thin

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 ligher 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.

Wet blending:

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.

Few tips:

  • Use a retarder to slow the drying time of the paint (Glaze Medium from Valleyo works great for this)
  • When working on the transition between two colours, use a clean but slightly damp brush
  • There is a lot of variations of this technique – for example  – Ben Kommets, when painting uses so called: “loaded brush”; which simply is another variation of wet blending(clicky)

This article took a bit more than I anticipated, but hopefully you will find it useful!

That’s all folks!