In praise of Army Painter Strong Tone wash

I have probably mentioned several times in the last that I am something of an enforced painted – I paint because I really don’t like the look of bare plastic and metal on the tabletop. Painting isn’t part of the hobby I would necessarily choose to do – I would much prefer to be playing games.

However, since I also think that I should paint the models I have bought to put on the tabletop, I find myself looking to use what techniques and skills that I can find to make painting as quick and painless as possible. My goal isn’t to paint models that will win awards, but rather to get models onto the tablet that look decent from “wargames range” – the range you see figures when actually playing with them. This is typically 3′ – 4′, so if a model I have painted looks good at arm’s length, I am usually pretty happy.

One of my favourite ways of painting is to use a dark wash over a figure to provide contrasting shades and highlights. It is a technique that usually works well, and I have had some decent results using it.

Up until recently, my dark wash of choice was Games Workshop Declan Mud, and its successor Agrax Earthshade. This wash has tended to give me the sort of result I am pretty pleased with.

You have a tendency to stick to what you know, so I would have probably carried on using Agrax perfectly happily. However, my visit to Glenbrook Games in December, which started this new spree of painting, also gave me the opportunity to try out some new paints and washes, one of which was the Army Painter washes.

I was immediately impressed with the results I achieved with these – especially the Strong Tone, which gives a dark brown colour (much in the same way as Agrax Earthshade does) but seems to give a warmer tone, and have used it several times since to generally good effect, especially on my latest batches of models for Rangers of Shadow Deep.

These pictures give examples of ‘before’ and ‘after’ the wash has been applied.

Probably one of the most dramatic effects I have achieved were on these zombies from Mantic Games


A word of caution – whilst  I have had good results, I have also had the odd disaster. These villagers from Gripping Beast for example. The result of applying the wash here has been a dark mess – I would have probably been better off applying the Soft Tone wash due to all the lighter colours. I can recover these somewhat by applying some highlights, but I am very glad that these are not models I will be using often.


In conclusion, I have become a fan of the Army Painter washes and will probably end up using them in preference to Games Workshop washes in the future. However, there are times that I will certainly proceed with caution!

6 Comments on In praise of Army Painter Strong Tone wash

  1. David Smith // March 24, 2019 at 09:17 // Reply

    I to am a fan of the dip as it does give better results than GW washes – I also find Strong Tone awesome on white. I never dip but brush it on and take extra care on the whites where brush most of it off, especially the highlights which then leaves a nice off-white finish. It is especially good on
    white furs where you want the dirty look.

  2. I love agrax but have heard great things about the army painter dark tone

  3. I do like the Army Painter washes, and Strong Tone especially is an important part of my ‘painting’ these days. I noticed recently that as well as the Soft, Mid and Strong tones they also have a Flesh Tone, which I’ve not used yet but am going to try for faces going forwards. I think that could be a little less harsh on their skin surfaces.

  4. Soft Tone works a lot better than Strong Tone for white.

  5. I picked up some Vallejo black wash and some Minwax #340 Walnut to test out for dark tones…

  6. jimmylogan0916 // March 27, 2019 at 21:15 // Reply

    This is not a comment on the washes, but on the first couple of lines you have above. 🙂 I have two miniature games I’m playing now, and only one of those on a regular basis and that’s X-Wing. The stuff comes pre-painted, but I like the look of my personalizing them with MY paint jobs. In addition to that it’s good therapy and relaxation for me to paint, so I’m not a ‘forced painter’ at all.

    The other game is Gaslands. Bought into that cause my non-gamer wife said she’d play it. She did. A few games. LOL It’s hard to get motivated to paint and mod cars when they aren’t hitting the table AT ALL.

    But I do agree that I’d rather be PLAYING than painting on ANY day of the week. 🙂

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