Dipping: a cheap technique or a useful skill?

A year ago I attended a master’s level painting class in Chicago with Meg Maples, award winning model painter and former staff painter of Privateer Press. We practiced two-brush blending for two days straight. Two-brush blending requires hours of practice and is used by many professional painters. To master two-brush blending would be an amazing feat. Dipping on the other hand requires very little practice and is not used by professional painters.

Until recently I looked down on dipping as an inferior technique because I know enough about painting that I don’t need a jar of goop to do it for me. However, with Adepitcon nearing I found myself desperate to get my Warmachine army painted so I gave it a shot.

Dipping is simple, just base-coat a model and apply Army Painter Quick Shade by either brushing it on or literally dipping the model. Here is a before and after photo

Before and After dipping

You can see the difference dipping makes. The base-coated model on the left is pretty boring without any shading. However, the dipped model on the right is too glossy for my liking so I will need to spray it with some matte coating.

Flameguard Cleansers

I was pretty pleased with the finished product so I continued the process on more Menoth models.


Daughters of the Flame

After having dipped myself I can say that my opinion of this technique has changed very favorably. Dipping models will never improve my painting skill but it will definitely get me a good looking army quick!

7 Responses

  1. Thundernuts says:

    They look great! I’m a big fan myself of dipping. Like you, I’m a dedicated painter, but sometimes I just need something done quick. After I dullcoat from the dip, I go back and highlight. Then dullcoat again.

    • midwestwargaming says:

      Do you have any pictures of a model dipped twice? I never even considered that.

      • Ian Davies says:

        I think Thundernuts means matte varnishing when he says dullcote, not double dipping. So basecoat, dip, matte varnish, highlight, matte varnish again.

  2. Steven Groom says:

    Miniature painting is such a strange hobby. So many practices have fallen in and out of favor in the almost 30 years I’ve been painting models. It’s very strange to hear a painter talk down about how a model is painted.

    To me the fact that a model is painted at all is a good thing. Today’s painter that dips an entire army can easily become tomorrow’s painter that masters two brush blending. We all start somewhere, right?

    My own style of painting developed very organically. When I started out when I was 14 or so, there wasn’t an internet to look up tutorials on or even to read articles on. I got a brush and some paints (my first paint set was a set of fabric paints that my grandmother gave me) and I tried to stay in the lines.

    My only real education was from issues of White Dwarf and their ‘Eavy Metal articles.

    What I’ve learned is that painting a model is very different from painting an army. For a convention like Adepticon where models are required to be painted, dipping is a very effective way to ensure that your lists can be played.

    But dipping doesn’t have to be the end of the road for the model. You can always go back and spend more time on the models you’ve dipped. You can also dip *most* of your models and really focus on the models that you want to really look good.

    For me, I try to stay as consistent as I can and I try to paint the models I have rather than letting a lot of unpainted models back up on my desk. This gives me more time to spend on the models I’m painting rather than feeling like I have bust out 40 or so models in a week or two.

    In the end, though, I’d much rather play a game with someone that’s put any amount of effort into painting their models. It enhances the game play for me immensely and to that end I’ve found it’s far better to encourage painting, including dipping, than it is to criticize it as a method.

    After all, everyone has to start from somewhere, right?

    • midwestwargaming says:

      A agree, playing against an opponent that put in some amount of effort with their models enhances the overall game experience.

      I’ve seen your models and always appreciated the uniformity of them. Every model looks like it belongs to the army. This was something I struggled with but dipping has helped give my army a more consistent look. But you’re right, this doesn’t need to be the end because frankly, they are pretty flat.

  3. Jordan LeGros says:

    I use brush on deck varnish. It’s cheap, comes in many colors, is water soluable (no fumes AND easy clean up) and it’s made to provide an all weather seal to wood that gets walked on…hard wearing stuff. Like you, I hit it with matt spray as a finishing step. I block in my base colours add one highlight, then brush on the varnish. I use a brush or pointed cotton swab to wick away excesse or get a lighter finish on upper surfaces. In terms of the highlight, I tend to go brighter than I would without a wash of varnish. The varnish tends to mellow this and smooth out harsh transitions well.

    • midwestwargaming says:

      I tried two different types of wood varnish because I heard it was essentially the same as army painter quick shade but it definitely wasn’t the same result. The wood varnish the consistency of a slightly thicker wash and it acted almost entirely like a wash. Army Painter quick shade is noticeable thicker and I feel like that viscosity is part of why the product works so well. It gets in all the detailed grooves and unlike a varnish or wash it stays there.

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