Saturday, March 13, 2010

To Varnish or not to Varnish...

Back in the day I experimented with varnishing my miniatures. After seeing gloss finishes on some miniatures, I knew that was something to avoid, so I decided to try a matte polyurethane finish. I sprayed it on an old genestealer, and it came out ok. The miniature definitely felt like it was well protected, but I wasn't entirely happy with the satin-like finish. So I decided not to varnish anything else. Since thing I haven't varnished anything, and the result is that every so often I have to go and touch up a miniature or two--after every game there's a couple "casualties" that I put in a repair box to touch up the paint that's rubbed off, or reattach the piece that broke off when I dropped it.

If I've worked particularly hard on a miniature, I want to protect it so I don't lose the work, but I don't want to ruin it in the act of protecting it! I've heard lots of opinions on varnishing. And lots of horror stories...like this one from Admiral Drax.

I haven't had to deal with miniatures frosting, or turning white or what not, and I never want to.

I've heard lots of people recommend various sprays (Krylon Matte Varnish seems to get good marks), while others stay away from sprays like the plague. Also Testors Dullcote (brush on) seems to have some fans as well.

Basically the effect that I'd like to achieve is a varnish that will protect the miniature, but also be completely flat, and essentially invisible. In short, I really dislike "glossy" miniatures, as I think it makes them look more like toys or game pieces. Yes, I know that they are both toys and game pieces, but in my pride I like to think of them as little works of art and "models" rather than merely toys/game pieces.

So what are other people's opinions?

7 comments:

Jonathan said...

Krylon Acylic Crystal Clear spray in the Flat finish is the way to go. It's cheap, available everywhere, and you'll never even know it's there after it dries (which is within about 5-10 minutes). Do not spend money on hobby brands.

Col. Corbane said...

I'm exactly the same mate, I've never varnished because of the horror stories but I'm getting to the stage where I think I'm going to have to start.

One thing I have noticed is that all the horror stories are about spray varnish, never paint on, so I might go down that route.

The Inner Geek said...

I've not been bit in the bum by sprays... yet. I use the Dulcoat from Testors. It's very flat and seems to protect pretty well. I've had no problems with frosting or anything else personally.

Darkwing said...

It sounds like if I go the spray can route, I'll just make darn sure that the temperature and humidity are optimum, so as to avoid any nasty surprises...

stratagizer said...

I have and still do use both Testor's Dulcote and Krylon's Clear Matte Finish (1311). Both in Spray form. I live in Central California (where the weather is mild relative to the rest of the country) and have never had any troubles with either. I have noticed that the testor's knocks all of the shine out on one coat. The Krylon isn't as effective at making things matte.

The closest thing to a horror story that I have is I used teh dregs of a Krylon can last minute on a dread. I didn't get an even coat and there was some spotting that is only noticeable on the large flat surfaces of the body.

scdarkangel said...

+1 for Testors Dull Cote #1260 flat lacquer Overcoat in little spray can.

I use it on everything and it has never failed me, it is a bit smelly, and you will want to spray outside.

you will not be disappointed.

John
Santa Cruz Warhammer

suneokun said...

I use a cheap enamel clearcote. It's glossy as hell (nice and bright ... so bright my retinas burn!) ... but protects the models from anything shy and a nuclear attack and only frosts in sub-zero temperatures...

And then I transport my mini's in a plastic bag ... all jumbled together. No injuries (apart from the odd arm falling off so far)...