After assembling 500pts of Warhammer Orcs and discussing dipping for speed painting with Dustan and several site visitors I thought I’d give it a try and found an Australian supplier of Army Painter ‘Quick Shade’: Battleline Scenics. However instead of resorting to $38AUD + shipping for tin of Quick Shade, I went to the local hardware store and picked up a couple of wood staining products on Dustan’s recommendation: Wattyl Colourwood ‘All in One Stain – Dark Mahagony’ and an tin of ‘Charcoal’ oil based stain from the same manufacturer. That set me back a total of $26NZD.
The ‘All in One Stain’ is a satin varnish that has been pre-mixed with an oil wood stain. ‘Dark Mahagony’ is the darkest product colour, and is a red-brown tone, very similar to Games Workshop’s Chestnut ink in the tin. I test dipped a primed Tyranid Spore Mine from my collection of unpainted miniatures and unsurprisingly found it a little red for my tastes. I typically mix GW’s Chestnut ink with a little India ink just to move it to an earthier tone, so thought I’d try the same with the stain. Mixing in a small amount of the ‘Charcoal’ oil stain into the tin darkened the tone to my tastes and I test dipped my first Orc.
Here’s the figure prior to dipping. The base was covered with a mix of kitty litter and model railway ballast, glued down with PVA. The whole figure was then white primed and a simple base coat of colours painted with Games Workshop paints in an evening.
Then holding the figure by the base with a pair of pliers it was test dipped into the well stirred tin. I let the excess dip drip back into the tin until I was satisfied with what was left on the figure. It was then given a few quick flicks into an old cardboard box to remove even more dip and then I let the figure settle for a few minutes before touching up various areas with an old modeling brush. The stain tended to collect pretty heavily into deep folds and undercuts, particularly around the figure’s legs and base. I just used the brush to remove the excess in these areas, as well as a few minor air bubbles.
The figure was left to dry overnight, the base black edged (I do this to all my figures, I forget why I started) and the lot varnished with Moana Matt varnish. The ‘All in One’ is a varnish too of course, and it really seals the figure very nicely once it’s dry. However it’s satin and not matt, so the Moana was just used to cut the shine down on the final figure.
Initially I wasn’t that impressed with the results, but now it’s been a few days the effect is starting to grow on me. The stain has really worked well on the metal surfaces like the weapon blades and plates on the Orc’s armor, as well as treating the wood and leather toned surfaces too. It was primarily the skin and base I didn’t like originally, but for the amount of painting effort involved I can live with them. I think my results are comparable to the Army Painter Quick Shade product too, at around half the cost – although their figures are better photographed.
Now I just have to factory line a handful more Orcs to finish a rank and see how they shape up. I notice the Army Painter figures have been base coated with fairly light tones. In fact it looks like they’ve mostly been left primed before dipping! This is something I’ll try on a few figures I think since it will obviously cut down the painting time a lot. Finally I have to say thanks to Dustan for his Wattyl suggestions and other dipping tips, and to Monty for directing us all to the Army Painter system.
Update Jan ’15: I’ve since discovered that Wattyl make that ‘All In One Stain’ in a colour called ‘Kauri’ which is actually the darkest tint it comes in. The Kauri tint is almost exactly the shade I mixed the ‘Dark Mahogany’ down to. Now I just use Kauri straight out of the tin, without altering the tint.