This was originally posted on stgm's blog on October 14, 2005 here and here.
I use Future (yes, the floor wax) as a clear coat and also to give the miniature a coat of strong sealer. Future is VERY glossy, which is great for lining with Micron Pigma pens and for applying decals — the glossy surface makes it easy to correct mistakes.
Some people like their finished miniatures to look glossy and shiny. I’m not one of them. I usually go for either a satiny (semi-matte) or a completely matte appearance.
An Experiment with Tamiya
Here is a in-progress Tau Fire Warrior that we’ll use as our experiment subject:
I use Tamiya’s excellent line of acrylic paints primarily as my airbrush paint of choice. They don’t tend to paint brush as well, at least in my experience — they dry out fast and need constant thinning (to be fair, this is before I discovered acrylic retarder; perhaps that would make a big difference). Here is their Flat Base agent; to give glossy paint a flat appearance, you simply mix a bit of the agent with the paint before painting.
My experiment was to see if I could achieve a clear flat coat by applying this Flat Agent, mixed and thinned with distilled water. Sure I can use spray cans to flat coat the minaitures, but 1) I tend to work late at night, so it’s not really convenient to grab a can of spray paint/sealer and go outside and work on the miniatures; 2) I’m a big proponent of safe and environment-friendly hobby. You should try reading the warning labels on the spray cans sometime!
OK, the experiment went horribly wrong. After I applied it, as the coat dried, it looked great — the glossy surface became dull and flat, and at first it looked like the flattening agent was doing its job right.
Whoa — not so fast! A patch of white appeared here and there as the figure dried, and soon, the entire figure looked as if someone had dropped it in a jar of flour:
I’m sure there is a scientific explanation to this, but that’ s beyond me right now. All I walked away with was: This Does Not Work.
Now, being a stubborn fellow, I’m going to repeat the same experiment with Testors Flat Coat and see if I get any better results with that. Stay tuned.
Future to the Rescue
Added November 14, 2005:
Following David’s comment on this article, I tried to see if I could get rid of the winter camouflage look by brushing with Future. It worked amazingly well. As soon as the brush touched the white areas, it instantly cleared up to reveal the original paint and ink job underneath. I also tried it with plain water, and it cleared up the white coat as well, but as soon as the water dried, the white returned.
Future (yes, the floor wax!) is quite possibly one of the most versatile and useful non-hobby product ever used for the miniatures hobby. It produces durable and glossy finish, can be tinted with inks and paints, and is non-toxic. The latter point is very important to me, as I like to keep this hobby as safe as possible for me and those around me. I’ve long ago discarded my inventory of enamel/lacquer paints, have moved on to non-toxic glue, and have been trying to move away from spray cans for priming or finishing.
Anyway, when Future is used on a figure, it produces a super shiny finish. Now, some people like that. Not me. I prefer a semi-gloss/satin-y finish or a completely matte finish. So I’ve been looking for a brush-on flattening coat.
Testor's Flat Brush-on Acryl
Now, perhaps you’ve read my experiment with the Tamiya Flat Base elsewhere on the blog. That was a disaster! I then tackled the same project with Testors Flat Clear Acryl, from their Model Master Acryl line:
Mmm… “water wash-up” and “non-toxic,” two of my favorite hobby phrases…
Another Experimental subject
Here is our volunteer Tau Fire Warrior, all nice and shiny in Future glory:
… and here is the same figure, after the solution of Flat Clear Acryl had dried! I mixed it 1:1 ratio with distilled water, and used a brush to apply it.
The bright spots are the flash glares. The miniature in person is quite flat.
Here’s a close up of an area along the gun barrel where I missed applying the solution:
Obviously, this worked a lot better than the Tamiya Flat Base. Heck, this worked, period, and that one didn’t! The only difference I can think of is that the Testors Acryl is a flat coat, whereas the Tamiya Flat Base is designed to be mixed with paint. Perhaps the pigments and opacity in the paints would “hide” the whitening effect.
This is perhaps just as well, as the Testors lines are more readily available here in the States than the Tamiya lines. Pretty much every hobby store I’ve ever walked in stocked Testors paints, and the same can’t be said about the Tamiya paints.
P.S. By the way — checking the Testors website shows that this particular sized bottle may have been discontinued. The one I have (that I bought 4-5 years ago) is a 1 fl. oz. bottle, part no. “FM02015 Flat Clear Acryl”. However, a search turned out an enamel flattener under that stock number, and the Acryl line clear coats they list now only come in 1/2 fl. oz. bottles. I would venture to guess that the latter is the same formula as the one I have, only in a smaller bottle.