Sunday, April 1, 2012

Matt Varnish Trials & Tribulations

Oh woe is me, yet another matt varnish folly. This time however, I was able to spring back from what could have been yet another tactical squad tossed into the rubbish bin.

I’ve settled on a new way of painting my Ultramarines. It’s a combination of airbrushing, zenithal highlighting, oil washing (though my method of doing this step varies from traditional.) and edge highlighting, Quite a few of these new (to me) techniques were observed from watching the AwesomePaintJob, YouTube videos, but of course there’s a slight learning curve; one which I stumbled on today. Before the wash/inking process the model is covered in gloss varnish to create a better capillary action for the wash/ink to travel into the recesses. After this process is finished, dried and cleaned up the model is matt varnished to lock in the wash/ink, remove the gloss look and create a surface for which other paints can adhere to. 


This post is specifically focusing on the AV Matt Varnish in the above picture. Everyone in this hobby either has their own varnishing horror stories or has heard someone else’s. Here’s my own if interested… Clicky. Varnishing your models can be quite difficult or impossible if conditions aren’t perfect. Heat, humidity, spray pattern and distance all can have an effect on the end result. Frosting… Clouding… Is there any matt varnish product that is safe and fool proof? I thought there was and I had thought the AV Matt Varnish was the salvation to the otherwise ‘roll of the dice’ aerosol varnishes. Well, I’ve come to find that this stuff is not without its own issues.

I spray this stuff on with an airbrush; I originally used it right from the bottle, but ended up having a milky white glaze over the whole model once dry. Hmmm… I thought this stuff would be void of the issues the aerosol varnishes are plagued with. I thought perhaps I was putting it on too thick, so I watered it down and tried again.  NOPE! Same issue resulted.

Well, thanks to a gent over on Dakka Dakka, he mentioned something that I hadn’t taken into consideration… Spraying in on too dry. In other words the varnish is dry or near dry by the time it hit the surface. This would be akin to frosting. With nothing left to lose I put the concentrated varnish back into the airbrush and hosed them down, I mean they were just bathed in the matt varnish, it pooled in the recessed and collected on the surface… I thought for sure they were done for, this was the last desperate attempt to salvage them.


When dry… Amazing! Saved! So this stuff apparently needs to be put on like it’s going out of style, but most importantly much like an aerosol varnish, spray distance for this stuff is also very critical in getting it right. So, beware readers, even matt varnishes applied with an airbrush can have issues. Thanks for dropping by, I know I’ve been slacking, but hope to turn thing around and star posting my progress on a more continual basis. Cheers!


  1. I've said it before, I'll say it again:

  2. @ Dave: Thank's for the input. I considered the Liquitex matt varnish as I use some of there other products, all of which work incredibly well. I think that the AV Matt Varnish and the Liquitex are actually pretty similar. My issue, as my post explains in a round about way; my assumption in that the AV product should be applied in the same manner as the aerosol varnishes is completely wrong and almost led to disaster.

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