The Comm Guild Maelstrom's Edge

Painting Tip: Quick-painting with Wood Stains!

Posted on Thursday Aug 20, 2020 at 05:00pm in Tutorials

- by Iain Wilson

Back in the dim, dark times before Army Painter Quickshades were a thing, gamers seeking to paint their armies quickly had to find other resources to achieve results. One discovery by a hero whose name (so far as I'm aware) is sadly lost to history was this: You can use timber stains as a wash!

Like most 'get'em painted quickly' methods, this likely won't get you a paintjob that is going to win trophies, but if your aim is to get a force painted up as quickly as possible with reasonable looking results, here's an easy way to go about it:

I'm running through this tutorial with two different models, to show the effect over a 'bare metal' model, and one with a multiple-colour scheme - my guinea pigs here being a Karist Trooper and a slightly converted Epirian Contractor Drone. I started out by spraying the drone with Army Painter Platemetal, and the trooper with Army Painter Wolf Grey. Over the grey, I gave the armour plates a coat of Vallejo Emerald, and the straps, pouches, and the strip down the middle of the facemask a coat of Army Painter Ash Grey.

Now comes the magic ingredient: Wood Stain. The particular brand here isn't particularly important. These stains come in a huge range of different colours and finishes, so find one that gives you the effect you want - a black or dark grey stain will give you a dark, shadowed wash, while a dark brown will give an effect more similar to Army Painter Strong Tone or Citadel Agrax Earthshade. I chose a charcoal here, because I thought it would go well over the metal on the drone, and went with a water-based stain to make cleaning up simple. This also made it easier if the stain wound up being too dark and I needed to dilute it, but this turned out to not be necessary in this case.

You can brush the stain on like a regular miniature paint wash, but for the super-speedy option, give the wash a stir to make sure the pigment is all mixed through properly (this is better than shaking it, as it results in fewer air bubbles), and then grab the bottom of the model's base with a pair of pliers or tweezers and just dip it straight in the tin, up to the base. Ideally, don't do this at the kitchen table, as the next bit can get a bit messy...

After dipping the model, pull it out and turn it the right way up to check how much stain is sticking on there. If it looks a bit heavy, give it a shake (I did say this bit can be messy) or blow on it to disperse any big puddles of stain. You can also use a brush to add a little more stain if there is anywhere that looks like it needs some more - use an old brush for this, as the stain can be rough on them. Then set it aside to dry.

It can take a little practice to tell how much stain is 'right' as it settles (gravity works!) and fades slightly as it dries. As mentioned up top, if the end result is too dark, you can dilute the stain - just make sure you check whether you have a water-based or oil-based stain, and thin with the appropriate liquid!

Once the stain has thoroughly dried, you can go back and add any highlights or final details that you want. For my test models, I've added in some pale pink and white on the trooper's eyepieces and the power cell on his gun.

The drone received a light drybrush of silver before I painted in its lenses and insignia. I also painted up a second, tracked drone, which was painted exactly the same way, but also has a layer of Strong Tone over the tracks.

And there you have it! The dipping is slightly less precise than applying a wash by brush, but it can save you a lot of time if you are batch-painting a force in a hurry. A tin of stain also potentially winds up being considerably cheaper than an equivalent amount of bottled washes!

To build your own speed-painting strike force of doom, you can pick up the entire Maelstrom's Edge model range from the webstore here.

For other building ideas, modeling tutorials, army spotlights and conversion walkthroughs, check out the Hobby section of the Maelstrom's Edge website here.

What are you working on? We would love to see your models and terrain in the Comm Guild Facebook group!

Find the Maelstrom's Edge rules and the full range of models at

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I remember when this technique was new and exciting! Move over, Future Floor Wax; it’s wood varnish’s World now. I used the same stuff to ruin some Tyranids and coat my homemade wizard wands in time for the 7th and final Harry Potter story. Thanks for this nostalgia trip!

Posted by Brian Sinclair on August 25, 2020 at 05:42 am BST #

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