Home Forums General General What Spray Clear coat Do You Use?

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    Avatar photoirishserb

    I’ve just gone through a bit of a debacle with spray clear-coats.

    I started using a Krylon product about three years ago.  It didn’t noticeably alter the color and left the miniature dead flat, much like Testor’s Dullcoat. About a year and a half ago, I ordered another case (all of the local stores had quit carrying it by that time, and didn’t realize that it had been reformulated until recently, when I had older miniatures and more recently painted ones together, and  though they were painted by paint from the same bottle, the more recent models had a slightly darker and distinctly colder (more blue) coloring to them.  In the last month or so, I discovered that I could no longer order Krylon product, and was offered a “direct replacement “, a Rustoleum product, which when dry, makes the miniatures look much darker, almost as if they were wet. They also had a distinct sheen.  I then contacted Krylon, and  discovered that the old product had a new product number, got some, and miniatures sprayed with it come out a little darker then the last Krylon product, and still have the blue cast and now a slight sheen, they no longer end up with a flat finish.

    So, I switched back to Testors Dullcoat, which is about four times more expensive.  My old supply of dullcoat worked great, no visible change to the paint underneath, dead flat finish.  When those cans ran out, I went to the local shop, and bought their entire supply of one can (turns out that Rustoleum (who bought the Testor’s line) is making getting Testor’s paint a challenge for them).  The finish of my miniatures sprayed with that can, came out much warmer (more yellow) than the Krylon products, but still much darker than the original paint, making the miniatures look like it had been sprayed with water, and they had a slight sheen.

    I bought another new can of Dullcoat from another shop in another city, but had the same results, darker, and a little shiny.  These last two cans smell like the old dullcoat, but are not yielding a finish similar to my cans bought prior to the Rustolrum purchase of Testor’s.  And (for example), I have 37 1/285 scale M60A1s with at least 7 different finished and or colors, despite all being painted with the same bottles of paint.

    In addition to these, I have recently tried several other Rustoleum, Valspar, and other flat, matte, and lusterless clear spray finishes, with the result being that none of them were flat, and all of them noticeably change the final color of the miniature.

    Note that I sprayed all of these in a climate controlled environment with little change in temperature or humidity, that I shake all of the cans for the same duration and use the same method of application.  I do this in my job as well, where repeatability is a big issue.

    So to the question… What do you use for spray clear-coats, and how does it impact the color and finish of your miniatures?







    Avatar photoEdward

    I use Army Painter Anti-shine Matt Varnish spray.  I’ve never had any problem with it – just don’t spray in high humidity.

    Avatar photoAlan Hamilton

    I use PlastiKote spray varnish and primers.  They cover well and have a soft spray that does not blast plastic figures all over the place.  It is sold locally by Hobbycraft, B&M and The Range

    Avatar photoMcKinstry

    I also use Army Painter for dull coating although I still use Testors gloss coat as an undercoat when I can find it.

    Armory dull coat also does a good job for me.

    Where I live humidity is almost never an issue so I can’t comment on that becoming a problem.



    The tree of Life is self pruning.

    Avatar photoRadar

    Another Army Painter user.

    Can go cloudy if you are a bit over eager spraying and put too much on.

    Avatar photoGeof Downton

    Winsor and Newton Professional Artists Matt Varnish. 2 coats, about an hour apart. Doesn’t seem to affect the colour.

    One who puts on his armour should not boast like one who takes it off.
    Ahab, King of Israel; 1 Kings 20:11

    Avatar photoTruscott Trotter

    Winsor and Newton Professional Artists Matt Varnish is great and I used to use it but now the Australian wholesaler has dropped it!
    Testors has always caused problems with colour IMHO although it usually ends up very matt but washes out any highlights
    Army painter works OK for first half of can then goes satin for next 25% then stops working with 25% still left – has happened to 3 cans in a row now

    Avatar photoBuck Surdu

    I use Army Painter for terrain pieces.

    I use Model Master dull coat for figures.  Sometimes I give them a thick coat of Army painter and then a light coat of Model Master to really dull down the paint.

    Avatar photoEdward

    I’m in Maryland and humidity is an issue throughout the summer.  I learned the hard way that if humidity is too high it will fog up the miniature.  I don’t spray unless the humidity is around 50% or lower.

    Avatar photoJavier

    I use Vallejo sprays, satinado and then mate.

    Avatar photoA Lot of Gaul

    Another very satisfied user of Army Painter Anti-shine Matt Varnish. Like others above, I am careful to spray only under the temperature and humidity conditions listed on the can, to shake the can well, and to apply the spray in light, even coats. Under those conditions, the only effect is to create a great matt finish.

    "Ventosa viri restabit." ~ Harry Field

    Avatar photoShahbahraz

    Tamiya flat clear, seems to do the job reliably every time.

    --An occasional wargames blog: http://aleadodyssey.blogspot.co.uk/ --

    Avatar photoJonathan Gingerich

    [Pictures or it didn’t happen! Pardon the skepticism, IrishSerb, but it’s an odd tale. Have you considered the paint? It’s the common element and any issue with mixing or age (given you are comparing green tank models) would show as more yellow or blue.]

    I had my own mishap last week. I pulled Maidenhead Miniatures splendid Woolly Rhino out of the case and discovered to my horror a peppercorn sided chip in the tail. The primer had detached and nothing but bright metal showed. I can’t recall what primer I used and the model is quite heavy and the tail might have seen more finger prints than usual, but yikes! The failure of adherence might have extended further, but I didn’t press my luck by investigating. Instead I researched primer, bought some Tamiya from a local shop, and set up repairing the damage.
    Then I dabbed some Dullcote liquid on it and BLAM stripped the paint off immediately. Now in fairness the Vallejo Burnt Umber I was using has always been a bit dicey – perhaps a bad batch or just a difficult pigment. Anyway, it was back to the web and as far as I could see, the bottom line was that friends don’t let friends use liquid Dullcote.
    In fact, just about every finish out there has its fans and any number of rabid haters. To confirm I took a quick look at the last product recommended – Army Painter Anti-Shine. Ooh the Amazon customer ratings have a good chunk of “Don’t use this stuff! It will ruin your work!” – Which I’ve seen for just about every product out there. I think it’s the nature of the stuff. Too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, too agitated, too settled, too close, too far, too old, too windy, you are screwed.

    Avatar photoNorm S

    Winsor and Newton Professional Artists Matt Varnish (rattle can) sometimes

    Vallejo Matt varnish, thinned and passed through an airbrush sometimes.

    Avatar photowillz

    I know you are asking about spray varnish but as spray varnish has lots of imponderables when using,  I never use spray varnish, always use a paint brush “Daler Rowney Acrylic soluble matt varnish”.  Always stir well using a wood coffee stirrer placing varnish on a clear tray ( I never use the last 20% at the end of the jar).  Then brush minimal amounts of varnish over the figure, better two thin coats than one thick.  Taking care that there is no build up of large amounts of varnish.  This method is time consuming compared with using spray varnish but it negates all the problems and I get good results.

    The left over 20% at the end of the jar is used for varnishing bases where any whiteness is hidden by flock or paint.


    Avatar photodeephorse

    Another brush-only varnish user here.  Vallejo seems to work fine for me.

    Play is what makes life bearable - Michael Rosen

    Avatar photoirishserb

    I just want to offer my thanks to everyone who replied.  I wasn’t even aware of several of the products mentioned.

    While I haven’t taken pictures yet (lol), I did pick up some of Windsor and Newton spray mentioned above (it was locally available and much cheaper than most of the other suggestions), and it has worked beautifully, drying very flat and causing no detectable color shift.  Assuming that it holds up to handling, it will be my new go-to.  Otherwise, I will try some of the other suggestions.  Again, many thanks for the input.


    Avatar photoMr. Average

    I use Rust-O-Leum Clear Matte, which is the best balance for me, but I’ve heard people have a lot of success with airbrush clear coat media.  I’ve used a lot of different clear coat products and found that the method of application matters more than the product itself.  Ensure that you apply coats from no closer than about 12″, and do so on a day with moderate humidity (60% is about optimal).  Too close and it goes satiny, too far and it goes dusty.  Too dry a day and it gives you a weird, frosted look.  To damp and it is sticky and will ruin the model.  It’s a totally bizarre thing, but you kind of have to roll with it.

    Avatar photojeffers

    I stopped using spray-on varnish because I always got some problem i.e. glossy matt, yellow gloss etc. I now just brush on using Vallejo for gloss or satin and Windsor & Newton for matt. I only do one thin coat, too, because the primer is more important and for that I do use sprays (the most suitable Army Painter colour, but metals get an initial coat of Baufix metal primer from Lidl). Soft plastics get no varnish at all as the acrylics form a protective skin anyway.

    More nonsense on my blog: http://battle77.blogspot.com/

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