Friday, May 14, 2010

W&N Matte Varnish

Greetings! A while back I ran out of my trusty bottle of Dull Cote Lacquer. Needing a replacement, I dropped by several stores to see if I could pick up a new one. Yet while I found the spray can version at a couple places, nobody was carrying the brush-on version.

Why did I care? Because there's certain things you can do with brush application that just don't work with spray. You can hit (or avoid) specific parts, control the thickness of coat, and get a LOT more coverage for your buck. On the downside, it requires a more time to apply and can be fiddly. But I figure that after I've spent *mumble mumble* hours on my average fig, what's an extra 5-10 minutes to hand apply the lacquer?

Eventually my quest washed my up at my local fine art store. Alas, they did not have what I was looking for. However, they did have a 75ml bottle of Winsor & Newton Matte Varnish. At only $5 after my university discount, it wasn't that much more than a spray bottle.

So here's Before:And After:About 5 minutes work and an hour or so of drying. Interestingly, my camera saw a large difference in saturation and muddled some of the colors... especially on the lighter yellow tones.

I've now done several figs with this product and have been very happy. It applies smoothly, tones things done VERY well, dries in a reasonable amount of time and doesn't leave the "grainy" feel that I've seen with sprays. It also thins out quite nicely.

However, do NOT mix it with other varnishes. The glossier a varnish is, the tighter and stronger a coat you get. Thus a gloss is much less likely to chip or flake compared to matte version. I normally do a base seal of gloss and then matte over that to the desired veneer. A couple days ago I started applying a bit of the matte to a fig when I realized I'd forgotten to do the base gloss. So I switched over, not thinking of what might happen... Yeah, it turned milk white. I should have taken a photo as it would have been an excellent example of what not to do.

Other than that, I have been quite happy with this product. I expect you'll see (or not see, as it is clear) this product on my figs for many, many posts to come.

Cheers and see you later!
***I'm sure the starter image is W&N's, but the others are my work...***


  1. I liked the armour better without, actually...

  2. Did you use the varnish on the entire model? I like parts of both pics equally, and it seems that the biggest benefit of brush on varnish is that you can matt some areas and gloss others.

    Either way, I do like the way you've painted his force weapon. Kind of a cool effect you've got there...

  3. I'm guessing the second photo looks more like the model does in person.

    I've been using Vallejo Game Color matte varnish selectively over a semi-gloss polyurethane. The polyurethane protects, and I put it mostly on the outer touch points of the model. The varnish takes off the shine.

    Thanks for the tip on the W&N varnish!

  4. @TKE: Sadly, the super-gloss photoed really well but didn't look as good in person. The dull coat really looks better.

    @Warhammer39,999: I varnished most of the model, but left the force axe and gems in gloss. I may go back and re-gloss the metal pieces too as they've lost a certain luster.

    @Mike: Yep, you'd be right on the money. The second pic is almost perfectly true to how it looks in person. The gloss coat seems to really up the saturation values when doing properly lit photos.
    How have you liked the VGC matte? I've been curious, but only a few places in town carry Vallejo. I was about to the point of ordering online when I was pointed to the W&N. Have you tried mixing it with other varnish or paint?

  5. I've been vacillating between full gloss and matte varnish for some time. I guess for me, doing models by the dozen, spray has bee the way to go. But, as you've said, you can pick and choose parts simply by doing the whole thing via brush. Semi-gloss has been my compromise, but... sigh