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Painting wood? Or tinting it? Or staining it?


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Ever since I built my Corel-kit 'Half Moon' (which contained about half a dozen bright-blue-tinted planks), I've been wondering about the idea of tinting-and-varnishing model ship woodwork as an alternative to painting.
The first question that arose in my mind was, what does one use to colour the wood?

I did find this link

 

https://www.educationsupplies.co.uk/art-craft-and-design/paint-and-inks/powder-paint/brusho-174-concentrated-colour-powder-paint

 

which seems to suggest that it's basically powder paint that you soak the planks in before cutting/shaping/sanding.  But would it be better to dissolve the powder in water, or spirit?  And would it work?  How deep would it penetrate in (say) 2mm-thick basswood?

Is this how ordinary wood stains work?  Should I refer to it as staining rather than tinting?

I can't believe I'm the first to think of this approach to colour on model ships.  Has anyone got any thoughts to offer on this, or do I just have to shell out £18 and devote a few planks from my basswood stash to experimentation?

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Woodworker's supply stores carry dyes for wood.  Some are diluted with alcohol some with water and some with either.  Dyes have been used for a long time.  I am sure you have similar products on your side of the pond.

Kurt

https://www.woodcraft.com/categories/dyes-pigments

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Brian,

 

    I have dabbled with this for awhile.  I prefer natural wood with some colour highlights as well as black for wales, etc, so the area is not large.  Dyes are available in many colors and can be purchased in liquid or powder, as indicated above.  I prefer to use the stuff that can be dissolved in alcohol...it penetrates better.  Another option is ink.  I have used black India Ink for wales and a blue ink for fancywork.

 

    When all is said and done, I have settled on paint because I have more options and flexibility...but those others are still good.

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I gather is boils down to the question, whether you want to present your model as a piece of craftwork or how it may have looked like in reality. Then also the period and type of ship are relevant. At some periods and for some types of ships and some parts, the wood was preserved by applying a solution of (Stockholm) tar. This is translucent brownish. On a a model this can be represented by either dying the wood and then applying a protection such as shellac, or you can apply washes of say acrylic and seal with clear acrylic varnish. Parts that would be painted on the prototype one would paint on the model as well.

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Thanks for your input.

Paint lies on the surface of the wood.  It rounds off corners.  No matter how thinly and carefully applied it can spoil intricately cut detail by flowing into it, or it can jump over cracks and joins that you would prefer it to conceal.
On occasions I've been disappointed to see how a carefully crafted item like a capstan can be spoilt because I've had to paint it red or black.  I've made hatches that (to me) looked pretty good as naked wood and brass, but looked quite shoddy once painted.

Maybe it's my own painting technique that leaves a lot to be desired.  Or I'm using the wrong brushes (never could get the hang of airbrushing).  But paint, by its nature, is a 'coat of paint') so it will always wrap itself over a structure rather than simply colouring it.

That, plus those blue-tinted planks in my Half Moon kit, is what prompted me to ask about dyes and stains.

I'm aware that some brightly-coloured woodstains can be bought in USA, but my search for similar products on the UK market hasn't brought up anything useful.  DIY stores usually offer a range of oak/pine/walnut effects, but if I ask them for bright reds, blues, greens etc I just get blank stares.  I did find just one supplier offering a limited range of bright colours, but I'd have had to buy a litre of each.

That's why I was looking at that £18 set of twelve 15-gram powder paints.
I suppose their ability to penetrate and colour wood would depend on the particle-size, and the medium in which it was dissolved.  OK, I'll try sending an email to educationsupplies.co.uk (the supplier) with a few questions.

I hadn't thought of using ink though.  That ought to work, and the same supplier is offering a set of ten exciting-looking 25-ml bottles of drawing ink for under £15*, including tax and delivery.  I think I might give that a try ...

Edited by probablynot
* Reason for edit - forgot about the tax!
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Does Behlen do business in the UK? Or Mixol  Or Homestead Transfast?  Transtint? Arti Toymaker's Dyes?

 

Can you order from Woodcraft , Highland,  Peachtree  and have the super charges still be reasonable?

 

Dissolved in alcohol, dyes do not penetrate as deeply as when dissolved in water.

Alcohol does not affect the wood and dries quickly.

Water - on first application, will swell the surface fibers.  If using water, the trick is to

apply just water - with 10-20% PVA - to bind the fibers - when totally dry scrape or sand

the surface again and then use the dye solution. 

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These are rather surprising observations - to me.

 

I would have thought that alcohol-based dyes would penetrate wood better than water-based ones due to the lower viscosity of alcohol and the fact that alcohol is a non-polar solvent and a solvent for any resins that may be in the wood.

 

Likewise, filling the wood-pores with diluted PVA should make it more difficult for any dye to penetrate. I appreciate, however, that it reduces the swelling and raising of fibres.

 

On the German market at least there are dyes in basic colours, such as yellow, red, green, and blue. One brand would be 'Clou'.

 

I am not very good at paint brushing, which requires a certain dexterity I don't have. However, airbrush guns and compressors have become so cheap and ubiquitous that almost everyone can have one these days. It requires little practices, but some care, to get acceptable results. The key is to use little paint and several coats, if there are delicate surface details. I use acrylics diluted air-brush ready.

 

Incidentally, these airbrush-ready acrylics can be used as brush-on washes on (primed) wood to good effect.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 10/5/2018 at 10:35 PM, probablynot said:

I hadn't thought of using ink though.  That ought to work, and the same supplier is offering a set of ten exciting-looking 25-ml bottles of drawing ink for under £15*, including tax and delivery.  I think I might give that a try ...

I received the inks a couple of days ago.  I'm itching to experiment with them, but a host of other projects (not all of them model-ship-oriented) are keeping me busy right now.  When I get the chance, I promise I'll tell you how I get on.

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  • 2 months later...
On ‎10‎/‎5‎/‎2018 at 6:40 AM, wefalck said:

At some periods and for some types of ships and some parts, the wood was preserved by applying a solution of (Stockholm) tar. This is translucent brownish.

It is "translucent brownish" for a short while. Dirt and additional coats turn it progressively darker. In times past, what was known as "boat soup" was applied. This concoction was primarily Stockholm tar thinned with turpentine and colored black with lampblack. The thinner made it easier to apply and the lampblack provided a barrier to UV degradation of the lower coats, making the tar last longer. In practice, and certainly at model scale, the color of a tarred hull would have been black. The Galway Hookers are entirely black, a tradition in their case going back to the days of tar and lampblack in (at least) the Seventeenth Century.

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On ‎10‎/‎5‎/‎2018 at 2:35 PM, probablynot said:

Paint lies on the surface of the wood.  It rounds off corners.  No matter how thinly and carefully applied it can spoil intricately cut detail by flowing into it, or it can jump over cracks and joins that you would prefer it to conceal.
On occasions I've been disappointed to see how a carefully crafted item like a capstan can be spoilt because I've had to paint it red or black.  I've made hatches that (to me) looked pretty good as naked wood and brass, but looked quite shoddy once painted.

Maybe it's my own painting technique that leaves a lot to be desired.  Or I'm using the wrong brushes (never could get the hang of airbrushing).  But paint, by its nature, is a 'coat of paint') so it will always wrap itself over a structure rather than simply colouring it.

Yes, it's your own painting technique that leaves a lot to be desired. I wouldn't mention it, except that you said it first. :D

 

It sounds almost as if you are painting models with house paint. (Or with "model paint" that may as well be house paint.) Proper paint for modeling must have very finely ground pigment and be thinned properly. (A lot thinner than you've been using it, if your description is any measure.) What you need is thin paint applied in successive coats. You don't want to build up any more than you have to. It is entirely possible, although somewhat tedious, to produce the same results with a brush as with an airbrush. It has to be the right brush for the job, of suitable quality, matched to the right paint.

 

Painting is a craft that requires a certain amount of study and experience. If you don't have somebody to mentor you until you get the hang of it, fortunately, there are many posts on YouTube that should be helpful. Once you learn to "condition" paint properly and to apply it properly, you will save lots of money over buying expensive "model" paints that dry up in the bottle in short order and produce poor results in the hands of the unwary. For openers, see:

 

 

 

 

 

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It is interesting to note that in the 19th century smaller vessels in the Baltic that did not venture out into terredo navalis-infested waters had their bottoms coated in Stockholm tar, while the work above the water was painted, usually in black. Whether this paint was pigmented Stockholm tar or the classical lineseed-based oil-paint is not known. The effect is that the bottoms appear brownish, much lighter than the rest of the hull.

 

Personally, I would apply paint whereever possible using an airbrush and for this I prefer pre-thinned acrylics. The same acrylics are also good for washes. For instance, the Stockholm-tarred appearance can be built up from successive layers of raw umbra-washes of acrylics.

 

There are very high quality artists' oil paints, but I am not too fond of using oil-paints on models due to the long 'drying' times required. It also difficult to apply several layers of washes, particularly when wanting to work fast, as the solvent (turpentine) tends to re-dissolve previous layers. Something that cannot happen with acrylics.

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28 minutes ago, wefalck said:

There are very high quality artists' oil paints, but I am not too fond of using oil-paints on models due to the long 'drying' times required.

A bit of Japan dryer, or the paint manufacturer's proprietary dryer, should speed up drying appreciably. It's true that there is the tendency for thinners to dissolve oil paints, but generally only when the oil-based paint hasn't fully cured, but if "time is of the essence," the oil color can be sprayed with a clear fixative which would insulate the earlier coats from damage in the ordinary course.

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I would be cautious with 'fixative'. Oil-based paints shrink to some degree when curing, so the fixative can shrivel in the process. In general, it is wise to not mix too many different types of paints. Artists' acrylics these days are of such high quality that one does not really need to bother with the complications of oil paints anymore. Also, when applying oil-paints as washes, you apply them 'lean', meaning that they will have little binder (the lineseed oil) and thus their adherence is less good compared to when applied 'fatter'.

 

One exception, were oil-paints on wood may be better than acrylics is, when you have a very 'oily' or resinous wood, such as teak. However, I think teak is rarely used in model-building.

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11 hours ago, wefalck said:

One exception, were oil-paints on wood may be better than acrylics is, when you have a very 'oily' or resinous wood, such as teak. However, I think teak is rarely used in model-building.

I always prime bare wood with clear ("white") shellac before painting. That prevents a multitude of problems. If staining, I'll stain and then prime with shellac. I remain partial to artists' oils for the moment. I've found some acrylics problematic when used for spraying, although I've had good results with those that can be thinned with alcohol, which evaporates quickly and is a workable solvent for spraying purposes. I've never applied oil-based paint on a model so thickly that shrinkage upon drying would ever be a problem.

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I am working on my third ship, and never used paint. I have had great success with Saman water based stains. They come in many colors, and can be mixed to get the color you wish. Since it is water based it soaks into the wood without hiding the wood pattern, or creating a coating look. You would have to apply between 3-5 coats though, but it produces a beautiful finish. After it has dried for a few days, you can use an oil based clear to seal the finish so it does not mark. In general all my ships are colored with Saman stains, and Minwax oil stains, where a particular finish is needed.

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  • 5 months later...

OK, you go for an artisanal typ of model, not a representation of what the ship really looked like then.

 

Beware that applying any paint or ink that uses water as a solvent will raise the fibres of the wood due to swelling, unless you have water-proofed the wood with some sort of sealer or varnish.

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Inks (mostly) and stains are coloured molecules dissolved e.g. in water. They are meant to penetrate the wood (or paper), effectively colouring the fibres.

Paints are particles of coloured material, suspended in a solvent, e.g. water or oil. The particles stay on the surface to which they are applied. If the surface is water repellent, you cannot use water-based paints, if the surface is hydrophilic, you usually may use either water- or oil-based paints.

 

I don't know, how you treated your wood, but if the varnish is being rubbed down e.g. with steel-wool, it should provide sufficient key to apply washes of acrylic paint. Otherwise, you may need to resort to washes of (artists) oil paints.

The advantage of using acrylic paint washes is, that the following layer does not dissolve the previous layer and one can work fast until the desired effect is achieved. Using oil paints, you may have to wait sometimes several weeks until the oil is sufficiently oxidised, so that it does not dissolve quickly, when applying the next wash.

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Wood should be treated, otherwise it will work and accumulate dust/dirt in the pores.

 

A 'wash' is nothing else, but a thin layer of very diluted paint.

 

Any paint can be diluted infinetely until virtually no particles are left. However, the binder would also be diluted, so there are practical limits. In the case of acrylics, the acrylic polymers stick well to most non-oily surfaces, so these paints can be diluted to a very large degree. One can use either artists acrylics from tubes or some of the many formulations for modellers.

 

 

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In principle not, but washes on bare wood are likely to be more difficult to control, as the paint will soak quickly into the wood and cannot be distributed with more water, as one would do under normal circumstances. I would be better to first apply a shellac or nitrocellulose based sealer, rub it down with steel-wool and then apply the washes onto this. No further varnishing would be required.

 

I never applied acrylic varnish to bare wood ...

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Howdy

 

I am an artist who works on canvas with oils... you may be suprised to know that a base coat of acrylic white as a base coat actually helps the colors applied over it to be crisp and true and not dulled by the material it is painted upon.

 

Alternatively if you want to try different shades of say yellow, you can try painting another color as a base layer and then see how a coat of yellow over the top responds to that once the base coat is dry.

 

Building up thin coats will give you a deeper, richer finished color. Acylics are thinned with water... oils thinned with spirits.

 

I prefer working in oils as the colors are simply alot more vibrant and rich in my opinion.

 

I'm planning on trying stains on my HMS Victory build, using yellow ochre  over a limed wood and japanese black over natural wood. Just waiting for my kit to arrive so it will be a while before I reach the painting / staining stage :)

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