Saturday, May 12, 2018

Frosted Sparkle Varnish fix

I love/hate Army Painter Products.  

I really like the Army Painter Quickshades.  It adds shading and protects the model, and fits my painting style of doing a larger bunch of miniatures at once; making an effort to make each miniature decent but not painstaking.  There are some tricks to it, but overall it's pretty forgiving.  It's only big draw back is of course, it leaves the model looking very shiny.  Requiring you to apply a matt varnish to model.  Enter the Army Painter Anti-shine Matt Varnish Spray.

I really dislike the Army Painter Anti-shine spray.  I love it when it works, but it does seem SO super finicky and sometimes ends in disaster with the dreaded frosted effect where it looks like the model has a layer of ice on it like it just finished giving Princess Elsa a hug.  Or the frosted sparkle look from the Twilight movies with the sexy vampires (or so I've heard; it's not like I watched the movies or know what I'm talking about but I was team Edward all the way.)

Edward and I had the same haircut

There's almost too many things that can go wrong with the anti shine spray, leaving your miniature with this terrible glassy effect: it can be too humid, too cold, too hot, sprayed too close, sprayed too soon, sprayed too heavy, or the can not shaken enough...  in other words lots of room for human error.  I am very prone to human error.

My recent project with the ACW limbers suffered this (see previous post):  I had a new can, it was 81 degrees outside, Humidity was 33%,  but maybe I didn't shake the can enough in a counter clockwise motion while singing the national anthem long enough before I sprayed the miniatures because they all came out frosted like they were all made of stars (remember that song?)

Quiet Moby, Nobody remembers your music.


I sprayed the miniatures after letting the quickshade dry, and saw the whole bunch start to frost up.  After some cursing the world and drying my tears, I took some pictures for examples but not a single limber escaped the terror;   can you see the frosting?  

Limber looks like it's covered in snow

glazed horses, check out the the dark brown one

really bad on the tail


"We are all made of Stars"
I just put that song in your head.
From 15 years ago.

This has happened before, but in smaller numbers and not to this degree; this was the worse because it was significant and on all the miniatures.  I might need to re-evaluate how I mat varnish my miniatures.

But the Solution was Actually Simple.

I did some internet searches and read some stuff on TMP.  Now that I know what to do, if this happens again then I doubt I'll have as much angst as I did.  The solutions I read were all basically this:  let the stuff thoroughly dry and then basically try it again. Except one person stated that you rubbed the miniature with Olive oil, which seems like a strange thing to do; and I have a hard time imagining a thought process that would lead to such a conclusion.

So a few hours later I tried to mat varnish again, but not trusting the spray, I found my little bottle of brush on Vallejo Matt Varnish.

As you might surmise:  I use this small bottle of Matt Varnish when I'm doing a small number of figures and I like the spray when I'm in a more productive phase...

I painted the Vallejo Matt Varnish over the sparkly-frosted miniatures and was pleased to see that it did the trick ad significantly damped the damage.  I took some pictures of the same miniatures after the Vallejo so one can compare and contrast....These are in the same order as posted above.

Notice the dark brown one again.  

Now that the frosting effect is gone, one can really see the mediocre paint job.

All better now; brushing on matt varnish over the frosty spray varnish seemed to do the trick.
So I went ahead and repaired all the frosty sparkly miniatures and no one would of ever been the wiser except for this post and my own big mouth.

Those that did not see the previous post can see how the completed miniatures turned out by looking  HERE  <--link to previous post.

This frosty / sparkly effect from spray varnish is an issue I often see on TMP.  Sometimes I question the utility of using it at all.

Overall this turned out to be a fun little adventure in miniature hobbying.
Hope you might of found this post useful and a little humorous.  


  1. Looks very nice...even if I cannot see something "mediocre" here!

    1. Thanks Phil. 😀
      Let’s agree that at least it’s mediocre photography skills. 😀

  2. For several years now, I have been having issues with Dulcote. My hunch is that the formula changed a few years back and the flat finish is no longer reliable. I only recently stumbled upon a better solution.

    1. I would love to hear about it, as after this I am thinking about changing my ways 😀

      And you get so much painting done that it must be a good method. 😀

  3. Not funny at all the thought of painting stacks of stuff then having it ruined. I have found that spray vanish is just too risky so I use a simple brush approach. It works for me 😀

    1. I was lured to the spray because I thought it be more cost effective and quicker, but after this and the previous times might go to the brush on technique. Because obviously fixing it took more time. Plus if I used a brush I could do it inside and not have to wait for the weather.

      Is there a brush on Matt varnish that you would recommend?

  4. I push Vallejo Matt varnish through an airbrush with Vallejo thinner and have always had a good result. For brush on - I use Winsor and Newton, Galleria Matt Varnish, it is an art product, but for brush on, I just do a quick strike so that I don't re-activate washes that I have on the figure.

  5. Thanks Norm. I could consider a varnish from an art or maybe hardware store, as that would probably be cheaper than buying the little Vallejo bottles over and over.
    Great tip about the washes, I hadn’t considered that. 😀

  6. We were talking about this at the club on Wednesday night Stew as I also mentioned that I thought Dulcote was not what it looks se to be. Big Chris, our resident professional, world class full time figure painter mentioned that the formula had changed in recent times due to some alleged issues and guidelines within some US states. For me it is no where near as effective as in the past (semi glossy, grainy) and I am now in the process of trying to seek a solution ready mixed in an aerosol can or a bottle that I can use a brush out of.

    1. Thanks Carlo, good luck on finding a solution and then, don’t forget to tell me about it. 😀

      For such a persistent problem thatbghis is, I’m surprised there isn’t one product that’s been declared the best already.

  7. Nice frost finish for winter warfare!
    Im rubbish at getting around to varnishing,I keep saying Ill do a big spray and so far it hasn't happened, could be worse, you could have sprayed them with black primer, it's happened,no that's really bad!
    Best Iain

    1. Ha! Could be a useful technique for vehicles in the snow. 😀

      I’ve never done that with black primer but did do it once with white....there was a moment where I debated trying to paint over the white spots or just keep spraying and start all over. 😀

  8. I "finish" figures so infrequently that I rarely make it to the spray sealer phase, although I use Testors for that, and have not had any "sparkle". Then again, I use a ink and future mix as the step before that, so everything seems significantly less glossy anyway!

    1. Time to start finishing figures ! 😀
      I’ve heard good things about doing ink in future but haven’t tried it myself.

  9. Nice recovery.
    Need to keep an eye on that as I'm using the same spray on my 15mm figures as at this scale I base and then varnish the whole assembly. My 28mm figures I brush varnish individually before basing.


    1. Thanks Anthony,
      I do the same thing, and often several bases at once. A spray is just more convenient, as long as it works! 😀

  10. I'm a Testors Dulcote fan thru n thru. So far other products have just never been matt enough. The frosting issue only really happens on wet days and a coat of gloss over that usually does the trick, allowing for a 2nd coat of matt on a drier day.

    1. Thanks Dai

      Shouldn’t be too many wet days in the near future as it becomes summer. I actually found a can of Testors in the back of the hobby desk. I’ll probably use that next.