Oil Painting

Oil is one of those items that you don't really need and most can do without, but it can really improve your finish. The advantage of oil is the control you can get from it; if you screw up you can redo the area immediately. If you made a mistake with airbrush, you can only layer colors on top of each other trying to wipe out the problem, which can be a real hassle depending on your techniques. The advantage of oil is also its disadvantage, which is the slow drying and curing time. It typically takes days to dry and cures in weeks. However there are ways to speed it up.

To oil paint you may consider the following items (again you don't need all, but each serves their purpose):

Best grade artist oils (Winsor & Newton, Old Holland, Rembrandt, Gamblin etc.)

Oil paints are more expensive than many other types of paint, and there are usually two grades, one low priced student grade and one higher. They differs in the amount and fineness of pigments. I recommend getting the higher priced ones because the price difference is usually not much, but the difference in quality can really affect your work. Oil paints can last a long time so it is good investment. My most used colors are Mars Brown, titanium white, naples yellow light, ivory black, napthol red and ultramarine blue. There are many different colors available, but the basic idea is get yourself a red,yellow,blue,white and black tube. The Mascot Models article below has different suggestions.

Paint brush The quality of brushes can affect the effect you create, and blending is smoother with good brushes. Expensive brushes tends to give better performance (duh) and if you take care of it, can last much longer than the cheap ones. The Series 7 Winsor & Newton Kolinsky Red Sable brushes are among the finest. I got myself a 0 pointed brush, size 2 and 4 flat, and a Grumbacher filbert blender which is a flat brush with rounded edges.
Palette Go to your local supermarket, get some yogurt, eat the yogurt and keep the lid. Pringles chips work too :)
Brush cleaner Using thinner to clean your brushes will remove the natural animal oil on the bristles and damage the brush. There are brush cleaners that do not dissolve the paint like thinners does, but rather stick to the paint particle and remove them from the bristles. There's a brand called "Old Master" which makes a soap-like cleaner for this. I prefer a liquid form such as Delta Ceracoat. You pour some in a bottle, and just soak the brush in it and rinse with water after wards. The liquid will be an emulsion at first, but later you see the paint residues sink to the bottom, and the liquid is good as new.
Odorless Mineral Spirit (OMS) Used to thin paint. It is much less toxic than mineral spirits.
Cold wax A matte medium. I found this from Grumbacher, but Gamblin also offers its version in a tin can. Oil has a sheen that's a little bit glossier than satin, and when you mix drying agent and OMS the paint tends to turn glossy. Cold wax is used to kill the gloss, and it can also give texture to your oil. I love to use it for drybrushing. Cold wax isn't a very common item and can only be found in larger art stores, but you can buy them from online art stores such as dickblicks.com.
Drying agent Used to speed up drying. Mix a little and the paint will dry in hours rather than days. If you mix up to 1/3 with OMS, the paint will start turning into something very much like glossy enamel paint. There are many different kinds such as Liquin from W&N, or Grumbacher's.


Oil is one of the most versatile paints. I use it for drybrushing, washing, glazing, panel lining, skintone, or just handbrushing. The paint dries so slow that if you thin it appropriately and give it more body with the drying agent, it's guarenteed to self-level.

There are a few different techniques you can do with oil, and I'll mention a couple here. Books authored by Shep Paine has more complete coverage which I highly recommend, and you can find them from Amazon.com. In the following I use the word "hue" very loosely.

First, you can do shading with blending - lay a patch of unthinned oil on a painted surface, and start to spread the paint out with a flat or filbert brush. Use a very soft touch. The patch don't need to be big at all, even a small spot will go a long way. Tap the edges to blend the paint into the under coat - takes some practice but is not difficult - until the paint almost disappears, but you can tell the area has a different "hue" than others.

You can also "drybrush" the shading in. Take some oil on your brush and wipe it a couple of times on a paper towel - unlike drybrushing in other places, you actually want more paint to stay on the brush. Otherwise the shading will be too weak to notice. Then lightly land the brush on the paint surface and you'll notice a hue change due to the oil.

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