Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tools of the Trade: Different fixers for Weathering Powders

Hey you guys,

a few weeks back I posted my thoughts on the uses of Weathering Powders. Since then I had the chance to experiment further with them and I found three different fixers for applying them wet and the pros and cons of using them.

1. Water as a fixer

Rust pigments with water

Water is the most basic medium to use when you apply your pigments wet. Just mix and apply, that's all there is to it. The working time of the mixture is average and can be extended if you add more water.

The mixture takes quite a long time to dry, depending on the water to pigment ratio, but doesn't change the look of the weathering powders in any way. The best way to apply them this way is in more than one layer, using a fan to dry the model quickly between coats. This way, you have the best control.

You will need a separate agent to fix the pigments permanently to the model, because the water doesn't have any special qualities that help in this area.

2. Alcohol as a fixer

Ash pigments fixed with alcohol
And dried in a few minutes

I tried 96% proof isopropanol alcohol as a mixing medium. The working time is very, very short when using this with your pigments. Think minutes. On the above pictures I used ash pigments to weather the smokestack on one of my Warjacks. Using the same amount of alcohol as I would have used water to mix the pigments, the pigments where bone dry in a matter of minutes.

The upside is, that they dry amazingly fast - so they are perfect if you just want to apply a quick layer of pigment. But there is a drawback. Because they dry so damn quickly, they get kind of "gunky", right before the are dry. This can add a nice little effect for mud or ash, but is far from subtle.

Weathering Powders are more resilient to wear if applied with alcohol, but should also be fixed permanently with some kind of varnish after you are done, if the figure you paint is expected to see a lot of handling.

3. Vallejo Pigment Glaze as a fixer

Vallejo Pigment Glaze
The third option for mixing your pigments is the Vallejo Pigment Glaze. It extends the working window considerably - think hours instead of minutes. It also is very controllable, because of its thicker consistency than water or alcohol. You just need a tiny amount.

Because of this extended working window, the drying time is the worst of all three ways to mix your pigments. When I first used the glaze, I found that the pigments where still wet to the touch after more than one day. To fully dry, I think you can estimate 2-3 days per coat, if you don't speed things up with your blow-drier.

The glaze also makes for the most resilient finish of the three methods. Because of the formula of the product, the pigments adhere fantastic to your minis and even withstand scratches with your nails. All in all a very hardy finish.

After more than one day - still workable

 4. Verdict

All these methods have their uses, as they all have upsides and drawbacks. For overall use I would suggest the Pigment Glaze, because it gives you the best working time. Alcohol is great for a quick bout of weathering and water can be used as a viable and cheap alternative. In the end it comes down to your own preference.

As always, enjoy and have fun,


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