Wargaming Tradecraft: Translucent (Not quite clear) Paints

Translucent (Not quite clear) Paints



In my recent post about Fire Effects, I used some translucent paints to create fire. Now, if you don't want to buy something that fancy, paints and washes can be used as well. In this post, I'll show you some examples of different effects and how they turn out.

It's worth noting that sometimes you might not want it to be translucent. Intense colours are great as a first layer, or in certain areas. Flames lick upward in different patterns, water swirls and muddies up, spells flicker and flash in random ways. The photo to the left shows some examples of this.

But if you want nicely blended and layered colours, here are your options...

For the tests, I've used some paints and washes for the baseline.. the Martha Stewart Liquid Fill paint from the Infernal Pyre Troll and for fun, added some varnishes and gels.

The top row was painted very thick.
Moving to the middle and bottom rows, the paints have been thinned with water, while the other mediums were just painted on thinner.


Once these dried, I took a pictures from different views to show off their differences.


Translucent paints with a background

Translucent paints, distant background, focus on foreground

Translucent paints, distance background, focus on background

While you look at these, you'll see some differences.

  • Thinned paints end up blotchy as they dry unevenly.
    • The GW paint kept its pigment longer, but didn't become translucent until it was quite thin.
    • The P3 paint dried more splotchy and was tricky to get translucent.
  • Washes flow better and will work in most situations, but still have some more obvious transitions.
    • The GW wash lost its colour quickly as it was painted thinner
    • The P3 wash kept its pigment, but had to be applied really thin to be translucent.
  • The Liquid Fill paint dries very smooth and see through, but you can't put it on too thick.
  • Varnish, when applied even thinly, can dull colours.
    • They're usually paint on safe, but this is why I prefer to airbrush matte varnish on my models.
  • Gels add texture and really impair seeing through them.
    • When you layer it over colours, the gel also helps blend colours because of its cloudiness.


Worth noting, is the Martha Stewart Liquid Fill paint says it takes 21 days to dry... maybe if you use it for what it's intended for (glass) but for hobby purposes, it dries like any gel.. so maybe 30 mins or so. (Don't quote me; never actually timed it)

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