Tutorial - Working with glazes

by Roman aka jar

posted by roman, jarhead, kong

Glazes, thinned colours, dillution, etc. - let's talk about it in here. A basic information, which for sure is only from my point of view and there is no promise for its full explanation. You know my brain is sometimes some kind of swiss cheese.

Don't use the colours straight from the pot – always add a part of water. To get a better hold of my instructions in here I have provided a small introduction to glazes in addition what I mean personally by a glaze.

Don't use too much colour from your pot when starting, you won't need as much as you might think in the end, like the same when being hungry and grab for bananas.

What is a glaze?

A glaze is a water-thinned Colour whose watery substance contains the original colour pigments of the tone. I mix up my colours by using a wet palette.

You can use every normal colour as a glaze by adding water to it (not washes and inks, they are already some sort of glazes but always with their unique side effects). Glazes created by normal colours, for example from GW's Citadel range dry out matt again, sometimes inks and washes don't. Put your brush in the glaze and when you are able to see the ground of your mixing ground or your wet palette while moving it through the thinned colour you are doing right.

You also may see how thin your glaze is while moving it over a tissue:

How to use a glaze?

Now if you did mix up your glaze bring in your brush and get some of the watery-colour up. Don't go straight on the miniature with that. The water in your brush will flood your miniature. To work against this just dry the brush a bit off from the water by pulling it over a tissue or your thumb skin. The exact amount of dried off water is for sure a part of practice - my tip is: better more dry than too wet. Thrust me you'll get a feeling of that while doing and only by doing - only reading this won't help.

After this you can safely bring the  paintbrush with the glaze to the miniature, the colour pigments are still in it. Start from a bright basic colour with your glaze. I really love to bring shadows in by using glazes. But i guess everyone will make different experiences with that on their own.

The first glaze brings a simple colour change to your area. A soft tint. The second one makes it stronger and the third makes it much stronger. You can paint up to a hundred of glazes to intense a shadow, bring some darker colour in and so on. Here is a graphic (thanks to Raffa) which shows what i mean... it is like layering from dark to bright only in the complete other direction - from bright to dark:

How to use my brush while working with a glaze?

I use a Windsor & Newton Serie 7 long seize 2 brush for most of my painting. This isn't the smallest brush as you may see when getting one maybe.

Small brushes i only use for the detail work on a miniature. I love 'em BIG :)

A bigger brush can save up way more water and liquid pigments than a small one. Painting some small areas with a small brush and you shortly have to refill your brush with colour because it is gone. With a bigger brush you can paint much longer moments without having it to move away from the miniature. And a good big brush can also have a perfect tip. Also the moving of a glaze over an area of a mniature works better with a bigger brush. I did get used to not to bring up a glaze with the tip of a brush - i am using it with the broadside. Therefore you can reach a way bigger area with a big brush instead of using a small one. 

You have to think of your colour pigments in your glaze and your brush like cleaning out the backyard with a broom. Your brush is the broom and the colour pigments are the dirt you move in front or your brush.

When moving it with the tip you have to set do more tracks of glazing next to eachother, this will always make a dirty looking area instead of using the long side of the brush were the results you can achieve with a bit of experience can come out way cleaner in the end.

I always try to bring my pigments in while moving them in front of my brush over an edge or in a deeper place on the miniature to avoid them drying on the area, which always makes the area not as clean as wished.
Therefore i guess a explanation picture could make my blabla from above a bit clearer to understand - again muchas gracias to Raffa:

Where to use glazes? What can i do with them?

First you can use a glaze to shade down a colour tone, darken it down as described above. Try to move your shadow glazes in to your shadow areas, bright glazes into the light areas, try to move your brush like this:

Second you can use a glaze to intense a special area with some colour difference, like this nose, click to enlarge (older WIP shot):

That is what i love glazing for. Making areas interesting by bringing in different tones in skin for example. Here are some more areas where i have used glazes to intense a shadow or change the colour transition - i guess you see what i mean now clearly:

You can find more inspiration here:
Some people always ask me about my thumb. My left hand thumb is mostly full with colour. When i go outside for a short walk to go to the supermarket my thumb always has some colour left on it... like this:

Let me try to explain - as i am always thinning my colours with water i found out for myself that i don't want to look away from the miniature while working when i have to clean the brush on a tissue. So i have started to use my thumb of the hand holding the miniature. So i have no time loss, haha. Additional to this i feel how the glazes will work on the miniature when i bring them on. You can feel the condition of your colour through your skin. I do this now for several years, my thumb is still there - you can clean it easily with warm water and soap. I am not sure if this is healthy, so please if you are scared don't do it. Attention while using colours that are not based on water, like Tamyias or other evil smelling stuff - i am not using this method with dangerous colours. Choose for yourself and try if you like it - i couldn't paint without anymore...

I hope this Tutorial helps a bit clearing the point of view on a glaze of mine. In fact the combination of glazing the shadows and glazing the lights brings out the so called blending in the end. The more thinned glazes you'll do in the end the finer the blending will be - but this is worth another Tutorial...

So... what to say - Happy Painting to you all! Let your brushes dance!


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