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Start with three Goblins, painted (poorly) with MSP.  (Reaper bones Goblins 20024)




Then give two of them two coats each of Liquitex Gloss Varnish - Artist Acrylic 6208, with 3 hours between each coat.



Shiny! They're dry, but don't look like it. The spearman is the Control (unvarnished).


Next, the Matte sealers. The Spearman is still the control.

The archer was given a coat of Liquitex Matte Varnish - Artist Acrylic 5216.

The Liquitex Matte goes on just like the Liquitex Gloss, its milky and tranlucent, and prone to bubbling. I have to give it a good coating, then go back over it with the brush and basically pull a bunch off where it's pooled or turned into foamy wierdness.

The Mace guy was given a coat of Testors Dullcote Lacquer 1160.

The Testors goes on clear, and maybe a little thicker, but it starts to dry out and/or turn matte fairly quickly - you can see it starting to happen by the time you finish one mini. It's really easy to just slap on a coat and not worry too much.


Three hours after the first coat of matte, the Liquitex looks kind of greasy. Still shiny, and thick. The Testors looks waxy. Like it's not wet, but there's a layer of something mostly translucent that you can see, dulling everything down.


Both are still too shiny, so a second coat of matte is applied. Three hours later:










Pretty darn similar. Both still waxy, and shinier than I'd like. Compare to our friend the Control:


So a third coat of matte must be applied. This time I remembered to take pictures of what the Liquitex is like!

slathered on:

and with the excess brushed off:
That's still wet, it's just really hard to get the stuff on the mini in a reasonable fashion, and I'm trying to avoid the nebulous 'over-brushing' which can cause fogging, or so the products tell me.

Three hours later, here's coat number three:





The testors looks shinier in the pic, but they're both about the same in person.

Speaking of looks, see how terrible the sealed ones look next to control:

What am I doing? I'm ruining them.

One thing politics has taught me is to never admit you're wrong. Stay the course. Keep on keepin' on. So I put on a fourth coat.




It's not getting any better. Furthermore, I don't really see a difference between the two matte sealers, all I can focus on his how much better the unsealed one looks, and how bad the other two do.

Look at the bases!

Same photo but zoom/crop:

Unsealed (left), then Testors (middle), then Liquitex (right)


My sloppy drybrushing, mostly undone by liquid evil.

So what I was originally trying to find out was the difference between the matte sealers. Why? Because it's too cold/wet outside to use my spraycans. I originally used a couple coats of Krylon UV-Resistant Clear Acrylic Coating, then one coat of Testors Spray Lacquer Clear Coat (which is actually Dullcote, but just labeled incomprehensibly). This combo worked GREAT. But in winter (and for some reason, I find myself painting more when I'm trapped inside for months at a time) the sprays aren't so good, hence the brush-on sealers. I noticed my brush-on minis were not as nice as the spray ones. Maybe it's liquitex's fault, maybe their matte isn't good, etc. When I found out Testors made a brush-on dullcote, I had to give it a try.

And I think what I've found out is that Liquitex doesn't suck, I do.

I think my problem is the initial coat. Or all the coats. Too thick, too much. The reason it looks like it's covered in waxy stuff is because it actually is covered in waxy stuff.

So what to do? I noticed the Testors bottle says to "ONLY" use Testors brand thinner to thin for brushing. Am I supposed to thin this stuff? How much? It just says "apply generous coats"! How thin? Doesn't thinning it mean it's not fully sealed? Argh!

Also, I don't have gloss Testors. My only gloss is Liquitex, and it's VASTLY different (see: milky foaming bubble mayhem). Can I use the "Lacquer Thinner & Brush Cleaner" on the Liquitex? It says not to thin with water. Does that mean don't thin it, or do thin it, but with some thing else? It's "varnish" is that the same as Lacquer? Or are they different things? If so, what can I use to thin the Gloss Varnish, if anything? Would thinning it make things better? It's a "Acrylic Polymer Emulsion" but I don't know what the Testors is actually made of.

It's too late for these poor mistreated goblins, but hopefully I can figure something else out. Maybe I just need to be (far) more careful, or maybe there's a different product I can use, but I've got a lot of bones, and very little Summer.


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Model Master makes both gloss and flat brush on sealers that I've had pretty good luck with. Through using them, I have discovered that it is possible to put on too much. I don't know of any way to 'fix' this, other than to strip the figure and start over, though.

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I think you are putting it on waaaay too thick.


I just got the Liquitex Gloss and Matte Varnishes myself but have not tried them yet.

However having worked with similar clear finishes on woodworking projects I would never put this type of product on that thick.


These are the brush on instructions from the Liquitex site for the sealers you have and they recommend multiple thin coats to prevent clouding.

1. Use a wide, soft hair brush or paint pad (vacuum the pad prior to use to remove lint). Size of area to be varnished will determine the size of the applicator. The smaller the surface area, the narrower the brush. Generally, a 1-4" flat brush is used.

2. Apply Liquitex varnish in 1-3 thin coats, rather than 1 thick coat. A thick coat will take longer to dry, may dry cloudy, may drip or sag during application and has a greater chance of showing brush strokes when dry.

3. Horizontal surface application is best with less chance of varnish running. After varnishing, the surface should be shielded with a protective "tent". This will prevent any dust or airborne particles from settling into varnish as it dries.

4. Apply Liquitex varnish in slightly overlapping pattern that covers entire artwork. Apply in horizontal and vertical brush strokes, so that entire area is evenly coated.

5. Do not rework areas you might miss as the brush could pick up partially dried varnish and cause clouding. If areas are missed, wait until the varnish is dry and apply another coat.

6. When applying Liquitex Matte Varnish or Satin Varnish, apply no more than 1-2 thin coats. A thick application may result in cloudiness when dry. If more than 2 coats are desired, first varnish with Gloss Varnish until desired thickness is achieved, then final varnish with matte or satin varnish.


Acrylic paintings must be completely dried and cured for 48-72 hours before varnishing.

Caution: Acrylic paints and mediums become increasingly brittle in cold weather. Do not apply below 60 oF.

They also say not to thin it "as it will weaken the varnish film and adhesion" but it says they are water based so they can probably be thinned with water.

I don't know what effect that will have on the coat you get though.

Edited by arclance
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Yeah.  I have noticed some sheen, as compared to an unsealed paint job, but that's the nature of the beast.  That said, you're going way too thick.  Much like polyurethane over sealed wood, you want absolutely the least possible to be applied in each coat--you may need a different brush or an airbrush even.


Can't say I've tried to thin it, but maybe that's what you need.  I've not yet tried the dullcote, but have heard good things about it.  So far I've tended to spray (Krylon or artist's matte sealer) seal my minis with little ill effect.

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I don't have any experience with testors brush on, but Liquitex matte works better the thinner coat you use. Putting it through an airbrush and barely putting any on at all and it does an amazing job of killing the shine. It is much harder to put on this small amount using a brush. You might have better luck if you try vallejo's matte varnish. It is pretty much identical to liquitex for killing the shine but seems to be a little more forgiving for brush application (and a little harder for good airbrush application.)


The big key though is just use much less matte sealer. Most gloss sealer can be slathered on with abandon and will turn out still being clear (although it won't protect as well as multiple, thin coats would.) Applying matte in the same way, as you've seen, can end up with all sorts of poor results, with either a semi-gloss sheen with a matte sealer or kind of a hazy look being the biggest two issues if too much is used. Your first images of the matte applied show these problems :(


The druid on the left has a very thin layer of liquitex matte applied through an airbrush over a gloss coat, the troll on the right just has a gloss coat.



Edited by Splurch
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Any matte varnish can go satiny or glossy if applied too thickly or over a previous coat that hasn't fully cured.


As others have suggested, apply a very thin coat: wick away most of the matte varnish from your brush on a paper towel before lightly brushing the varnish onto the mini.  If you get any accumulation or bubbles, you're probably putting on too much.


I also suggest waiting even longer between coats to make sure that the previous coat has truly dried and cured.  I prefer roughly 24 hours between coats (but I live in a relatively humid area).


I have found that not diluting my favored Lascaux works better than diluting for killing shine.  I'm shooting through an airbrush, but the same theory should apply to brushing on the Liquitex.



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Golden also makes this type of Varnish, "Golden Polymer Matte Varnish with UVLS" and "Golden Polymer Gloss Varnish with UVLS".


They cost about twice as much per ounce as the Liquitex ones but that is probably because of the UV protection in them.

They are another thing to try for anyone not satisfied with what they use now.

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Attempt number 2. Start with Reaper 77015: Bugbear Warrior, poorly painted. Let it sit overnight to dry.


Then apply a thin coat of Liquitex Gloss Varnish, and allow 12 or so hours to dry. Being careful to try to put it on very thin and carefully.

Then apply a 2nd thin coat of the same, and 12 more hours. Again, carefully.


Not much of a difference, other than the photography being worse. But it's there!


Lastly, a very careful thin coat of Testors Dullcote Lacquer (1160), somewhat thinned with some Testors Lacquer Thinner & Brush Cleaner (1159).



A little but of dulling, some spots I obviously missed, but overall, a vast improvement over the goblins.

So I guess the lesson learned is despite being done painting and being all impatient and tired, don't just slather on the sealers. Vutpakdi's suggestion worked really well, loading the brush then blotting off some of the excess onto a paper towel (like for drybrushing, just not as extreme) seemed to really help prevent it from pooling up in all of the cracks.

Overall, I like the Testors better than the Liquitex, but only because of working with it, not from end results (it dries so quick you can mostly see where you put it, and it's easier to apply without it bubbling up and stuff). I don't know how much of a difference the thinner made, honestly.

Thank you everyone for your comments and suggestions!

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Golden also makes this type of Varnish, "Golden Polymer Matte Varnish with UVLS" and "Golden Polymer Gloss Varnish with UVLS".61Djc%2BTfClL._SX522_.jpgThey cost about twice as much per ounce as the Liquitex ones but that is probably because of the UV protection in them.They are another thing to try for anyone not satisfied with what they use now.

That stuff is solvent based. You need something like turpentine or odorless mineral spirits to use it.


I am working on testing several different types of finish, including these. Once I've done that I can report back whether they are worth it or not.


Meanwhile, I concur with the advice to keep protective coats thin.

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That stuff is solvent based. You need something like turpentine or odorless mineral spirits to use it.

This product "Polymer Varnish with UVLS" is water based.

Maybe you are thinking of the "MSA Varnish with UVLS" which has a similar name and is mineral spirit based?


Golden's instructions for using the "Polymer Varnish with UVLS" line says to thin them with distilled water.

Thinning: required prior to use. Start with a ratio of 3 parts varnish to 1 part distilled water for brushing; and between 1 and 2 parts varnish per part water for spraying.

I like that Golden specifically says this can be thinned since that makes it easier to brush it on without getting the coat too thick.


It also recommends applying a "Isolation Layer" before the varnish to help with interactions between the varnish and the paint or painted surface.

This is their recommended "Isolation Layer".

For brush application, the appropriate isolating medium can be made by diluting Golden Soft Gel Gloss with water (2 parts by volume Soft Gel Gloss to 1 part water).

If a spray application is desired, a 2:1 mixture of Golden GAC-500 to Transparent Airbrush Extender can be applied with an airbrush, touch-up spray unit or commercial spray equipment.

That might be useful for decreasing the chance of Bones reacting with the varnish.

It also means you can remove the Matte Varnish with ammonia without damaging the paint if you don't like how it turned out.


I am working on testing several different types of finish, including these. Once I've done that I can report back whether they are worth it or not.


Meanwhile, I concur with the advice to keep protective coats thin.

You may want to test the Satin as well since Golden says this about their relative matteness.

Polymer Varnish (Satin) offers moderate reflection, similar to most matte varnishes. The Matte is exceptionally flat.

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You are correct. I mistook the Golden Polymer Varnish for the Golden MSA Varnish. My apologies for the error.


Just as a word of caution, it was specifically the Golden Soft Gel Gloss (recommended in their materials for use as an isolation coat) which I found to cure to the stickiest film.

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I typically use Reaper brush on sealer, brushed quite thin. It has never given me any issues.

That's good to hear, because I just ordered a bottle for my bones minis I've been painting.


Any truth to the 'add a touch of water and it dries matte' claim? And how much water that would entail?

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Just as a word of caution, it was specifically the Golden Soft Gel Gloss (recommended in their materials for use as an isolation coat) which I found to cure to the stickiest film.

Thanks for the warning.

Have you ever tried the Golden GAC-500 on Bones?

That was their recommended airbrush isolation coat.


I was looking at Varnishes on Blick and there were several more types of acrylic polymer varnish there that you might want to try in your tests.

They had the Lascaux varnish I saw someone mention using on the Reaper board before.

Edited by arclance
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