Monday, 22 September 2008

Recurrent problem (and big tamtrum)

Shit happens. Everybody knows. But some things really drive me nuts.

Imagine that you’ve just finished painting a model you want to use in your games. You may have invested a lot of time and effort on it (specially if it is a relevant model on a table, like a commander or so) and you don’t want your finely painted model to be damaged during a battle (battle damage is cool when painted on a model, not when suffered by it). So what can you do? The answer is simple: protect your model. How? Well, you can use different methods, such as glass covers and stuff (seriously, I’ve seen it!), but for miniature gamers the most broadly extended method of protecting miniatures is varnishing them.

Varnish. The sound of that word gives the creeps to most of the top miniature painters I know (and I know several Golden Demon winners). They keep reminding me not to use it, and I keep telling them that apart from painting I also play with the minis, and therefore varnish is essential to keep them in good shape and avoid as much as possible those eventual scratches that come with the use, touch and falling (ouch!) of the miniatures; so it is a must for me. By the way, I have to congratulate Nano for his well deserved Slayer Sword in the last UK’s GD, your painting really rocks man. Keep up the good work!

Now back to our subject. There are plenty of varnishes out there in the market, lots of different brands and types, and in different formats (mainly intended either to be applied by brush or by spray). Personally, I don’t like a gloss finish on a mini, I mean, I DON’T LIKE IT, because in my opinion it ruins all the careful work of layering, blending and glazing a miniature giving it a completely different look. Even with miniatures to which I haven’t dedicated too much time (such as typical core troops – for example gaunts in my tyranid army) I really hate having a glossy finish on them. I think that gloss varnish should be used only for really glossy surfaces, such as watery or bloody ones, for example, but not for faces, clothes or even weapons.

Ok, no problem – you can think – just use a matt varnish. Matt varnish. Hah! As if it were so easy to find a REAL matt varnish! Most of the “matt” varnishes I’ve checked are not real matt, but satin varnishes. Crap! And as far as I’ve checked through the interned and talked with loads (and loads, and loads…) of other painters, I’ve discovered that there is just one real matt varnish in the world: Testors Dullcote. And I’ve also discovered that it is impossible to get it outside America or the UK, due to shipping restrictions on the product. Super crap!

So in the last years, I’ve trying different brands of varnishes available in my local stores (not only GW stores). I’ve found that GW’s “Purity Seal” is a satin varnish that luckily suits quite well the look of my nids (in the future I’ll post here some pics of them too), but is unacceptable for other minis (like high elves). I tried several other brands till I found the one that, although not completely matt, gives a minimum satin effect to my miniatures: Vallejo’s Matt Varnish. Currently I’m happy with it, but I use it only in my gaming minis, not the display ones.

At this point, everything was more or less wine and roses with my minis and the varnish, until yesterday I made – again – a mistake when varnishing a mini: I oversprayed it A LITTLE. I’ve done this too many times, but I find it impossible to control when applying varnish with a spray. The result? First, a super glossy surface in my carefully-painted-with-all-my-love weapons platform; then, some round circular spots with a white borders; finally, cries of anger of the painter (yes, that’s me).

Luckily, it has only affected a small area (the back part of the brightlance), and it wont take me more than two minutes to fix it, but it could have been much worse, and that's really annoying.

This problem happens to me not really very often, but yes every now and then. I spray the minis from a reasonable distance, in an open environment (the balcony of my flat), and quickly. And even that, this shit keeps happening. Guess I’ll have to live with it, but I’d kill for a can of Testors, or for some good advice on varnishing miniatures with spray…


MasterDarksol said...

I don't use varnishes, and for the very reason pictured. I'm no Golden Daemon winner, I do use my models on table. The occasional bit of damage does still occur to the models, but it's rare, and generally only takes 5 minutes to touch up the damage with paint when I get it back home.

I hate glossy effects on anything not fluid, and hate even more the random "fuzzy texture" effect that can come from an aerosol can.

SketchbookGaming said...

For what it's worth, I use a spray varnish (as matte as it gets...) to protect my models for gaming.

I spray in rian, shine, high and low humidity, and everything in between.

The number one thing I found that needs to be done is to make sure you shake your can thoroughly before spraying. If I don't mix the contents completely, the results are disastorous.

When I do shake well before using, I never have any problems.