As a younger model maker I could never figure out how they highlighted the panel lines on airplane models. I tried a thin black pilot pen with horrific results. I then tried a mechanical pencil with a bit more success. I never thought of a wash back then.
After coming back to the hobby in 2007, panel line detailing was one of the first things I set out to accomplish. Washes were all the rage and most of it was home brew. At that time the “sludge wash” was becoming passe and the oil pin wash was what the cool kids were doing.
So I tried them too. Yes, much better than pilot pen ink. However, I found oil washes to be hit or miss. Sometimes I would get that nice thinned colour that would flow nicely into the panel lines. Most of the time that ideal state would last for a limited time. Then the pigment would break down and separate. I also found that cleaning the model after the wash was applied was time limited and there was always residue left behind no matter how careful I was. That characteristic can be good for some applications but not ideal for others.
The most consistent panel lines I could get was with Flory washes and I still use them depending on the application. Since these are water based, they are as fool proof as you can imagine. There is no worry about leaving them on too long. They are a good product despite having a limited colour range.
I was the first to buy the Tamiya panel line washes and one of the many to discover they are excellent for bringing out detail in complex parts like engines or cockpits. I still use them for these applications and there are no substitutes. The marketing literature had me thinking they would also be great as a pinwash for panel lines. However, I could not get the results I saw in the pictures. These washes were difficult to work with and they always left stains where I did not want them. I imagine with practice they could work fine but given their formula, they are very unforgiving if you are not careful.
Then in around 2015 I heard of these new washes made by Mig Ammo. I read a few reviews from builders known for being particularly harsh on bad products and guess what: they loved these washes. I threw the dice and got about a dozen bottles. The reason for this is I like panel lines to be accented but not be stark so I wanted a range of colours to help keep the panel lines from being too dark.
I hear what some of you are thinking: why pay for something that you can make yourself? Well there are a few reasons why I recommend doing so:
- Convenience – you don’t need to find a mixing palette, thinner, dropper etc. Just shake and go.
- Consistency – no thinking about ratios and adjusting,
- No mess – well, you only need to wash the brush when you are done
- Ease of use – a big plus is that it works as it is supposed to, every time.
- Ease of cleanup – this is the biggest plus for this product. There is something in the wash that keeps the wash from completely drying for a long time. Cleaning up the ‘spots’ can be done an hour after application. And no residue will be left behind.
I did a very quick video showing how easy it can be. It is also embedded below: