Surviving the Heat
Seeing as one of my first Quick Hints from back in January was all about the cold I thought it might be a good idea to follow with some hints on surviving the heat (as I write this Southern England is roasting in a heat wave).
The biggest problem with heat is drying times. From paint on figures and paint on palettes to spray paints, everything is going to dry faster than usual. So here are a few tips on how to avoid the problems.
Basic Paint Techniques
As we all know one of the easiest ways to ruin the finish on a model is with brush marks. These are often caused by a layer of paint that dries before it can settle, leaving a ridged finish. This can be a real problem in hot weather as the paint will be drying at an accelerated rate.
There are two basic tricks to avoiding this problem; put on the paint thinner and make it dry more slowly. At first sight it would seem that one solution will fix both these problems, i.e. water your paint down more (that was easy :)). But wait…there is a better way!
A quick hunt around your local art store and you should be able to find Acrylic Drying and Acrylic Flow Enhancer, you should be able to find them at a reasonable price (the size of the bottles, these will last me for years).
Drying retarder will greatly extend the drying time of your paint allowing you to work with it both on and off the figure. You really don’t need much of this, so go easy on the application.
Flow enhancer is something I use less often (mainly for washes) but it is also helpful in reducing brush marks. It works by breaking the surface tension allowing the paint to flow across all the surfaces of the model rather than gathering in the folds and creases.
As both of these mediums only need to be added in small quantities I pre-mix them into a small dropper bottle with my regular water I use to thin my paints ( have four bottles each with a combination of water, flow enhancer and drying retardant). This makes using the additives a quick and easy process.
Don’t worry about only using these in hot weather either, I use both all year round and consider them an important part of my painters toolkit.
Use a Wet Palette
Making a Wet Palette is something I cover previously. Whilst this is a good way to keep paint wet and usable for some time, it doesn’t help with drying time on the figure and so is less helpful as a solution during hot weather. But it will keep that carefully blended colour alive and usable for days or even weeks.
Spraying in the Heat
Spraying anything whilst it’s hot can be a problem that you want to avoid at all costs. Those little particles of paint are prone to drying in the air on hot days and leaving a layer of dust on the figure instead of the liquid coating you intended.
But at least there is a bright side to all this . Warm paint is thinner and flows more easily. Meaning that if you can find somewhere to do your spraying it should give you a better finish.
Warning!! Do not leave your spray cans in direct sunlight on hot days. They can buckle and in extreme cases rupture or explode. This is obviously not a good thing so please be careful (don’t be tempted to put them under an overturned bucket either!). Remember when spraying follow the instructions on the can, they are there for a reason.
The biggest problem with spraying undercoat in the heat is that you will cover your figure with a powder layer that won’t adhere properly. Just try rubbing the model gently with a finger and you will see what I mean. This has three bad effects; the undercoat doesn’t adhere properly so your paint will lift off the figure more easily once painted, details will be obscured by the powder layer as it won’t flow like normal liquid primer, the surface can have a coarse finish making it hard to achieve nice smooth paint finishes.
Varnish sprays run into a similar problem. The spray will dry in the air leaving the figure with a foggy layer that doesn’t protect properly.
Luckily there is a solution to spraying on hot days and it’s easy and low cost. Simply wait until the late afternoon or early evening to do your spraying. If this isn’t possible find a nice shady cool place in your garden, such as under a tree or in the lea of a wall.
Well I hope these ideas are useful and if you are lucky enough to live in a hot climate (something with temperature above 20°C for more than 5 weeks per year is a hot climate in my book) and you have any other hints please let me know.