Monday 4 July 2011

Working With Inks

Hi, All.
There's a new Croc in town!

I thought as a bit of a change, I'd do a quick post on my inking techniques. I tend to work mainly with ink washes, rather than paints - and although they are a little harder to get the hang of (mistakes are not so easy to correct sometimes) the results can be very nice...

Anyway, while work continues on the HMSW Gargantua, (rivet count: 1103!) I have also been making a few changes to my Croc army for Hordes of the Things. One change in particular is the replacement of my Lizard Wizard with a new Croc Shaman from Privateer Press. I thought I might as well document the process... Hope it's of interest!

1: bare metal. 2: white undercoat. 3: brown wash. 4: highlight.
The key to the whole inking process is the undercoating technique. I start with a couple of washes of thinned-down white acrylic. Next, the whole model is washed with brown ink. I use a colour called 'Earth Brown' from Magic Color. This is a fast-drying, semi-tansparent, colour-fast ink. (You need to be careful when selecting inks - fading over time can be a problem, so be sure they are colour-fast. Yellows are particularly susceptible.) Following the brown wash, the whole model is dry-brushed with a pale colour. I favour 'Just Right' from Resene.

Note that I am using shades of brown, rather than black, white, grey, etc - the end result is warmer, with nicer blending and less starkly-contrasting shades.

Undercoat and a single wash of colour so far - and most of the shading is done already!
The next step is the flesh colour. A single thin wash of golden-brown and green ink is applied to all areas of flesh. By watering this down a little, the shading achieved with the 3-stage undercoat shows through. At this stage, the flesh could almost be considered finished.

Top left: the whole model is highlighted with off-white. Top right: soft flesh parts, underbelly and tail are highlighted with white. Bottom: all green areas are washed with yellow. 
Next, the flesh is highlighted. All areas are drybrushed again with 'Just Right', then the underbelly and other soft-flesh areas are gradually highlighted up to white. Finally, all areas of flesh intended to be green are washed with watered-down yellow ink. This really brings out the colour and warms up the whole model.

Details are added. Large areas of colour are ink-washed, then highlights picked out with paint.
Once the flesh is done, the mouth is washed with red ink. Teeth can then be picked out in white. For all of my crocs, I have added a yellow stain to the teeth as well.
Other details follow much the same procedure as the flesh. All the shading is already in place, so the head-dress just requires alternate washes of red and blue ink. The leaves of the shaman's skirt are just a darker green than his skin.
The staff and wooden mask are washed with walnut woodstain, then dry-brushed with a sandy brown. The bones and croc-skull on the staff and the various other bony adornments are highlighted up to white. Details are picked out in gold and a few runes painted onto the skull with neat red ink. Ropes, straps, etc. are picked out with neat brown ink.

Wonder if the little helper likes his new boss any better than the old one?

Finally, a few scales are picked out with watered-down black ink and the model is given a coat of Testors 'Dullcote' varnish.

That's about all there is to say! It's a very simple way of achieving nice results. My whole Croc army and most of the occupants of Leadwood were coloured using this process. If anyone has any questions, please feel free - ask away!

Well, I suppose I should get back to my other projects now -
  • HMSW Gargantua
  • Modular multi-scale wargames table
  • VSF British Army
  • Sci-Fi Tank
  • Japanese Goblins
  • 10mm Fantasy
Perhaps I should quit my day job...?

All the Best!


  1. Very nice work, beautiful result, and an intriguing process.

    I have used similar techniques when doing large areas of reptilian skin; like Dragons, and also on my Warmaster trolls.

    But I hadnt thought of doing it on more 'regular' models, like your Leadwood characters.


  2. Very interesting technique. I have never tried it before but might just give it a try.

  3. Thanks, Scott!

    Rodger - let me know what you cme up with!

    All the Crocs and lizards in my HOTT army (see "What A Croc" were done the same way.

  4. I havent tried inks b4 but I agree that the brown wash over a white undercoat works a treat. I use this for any khaki clad figs or linen such as dervish loin cloths or mahdist turban etc. Huge fan of your work Sir. So much talent yet so little time to indulge it...

  5. Thank you, Sir! I am honoured!

    Yes: It's a cruel world in which one has to work hard to earn the money to indulge one's (somewhat expensive) hobby, only to find that one has no spare time anymore!

  6. No spare time. Ah! That is why I love being (mostly) off the clock! Kids grown up, 25 days vacation, 12 paid holidays, unlimited sick days... and I am not even in a union! Sorry I disgress. Please define "thin" ink wash. Two coats of acrylic white primer - brushed on? I would love a description of this technique on an Old West figure. I am starting to play with inks and chalks. I did one figure with art quality felt tips and she came out pretty nice but I am concerned with fading over time. Have you tried that?

  7. I recognize in you a kindred spirit Colonel. Long may the golden rays of hope and enlightenment shine upon Her Britannic Magesties Glorious Empire. I shall be following your exploits with relish... a pint of Speckled Hen and a sausage roll to go with said relish of course.

  8. And tally-ho to that! God save the Queen and pass the HP, Sir!

  9. Corr, Speckled Hen - that brings back fun memories of proper ale drinking in the UK,...sigh!