Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Matt Varnish Frosting... A solution ?

Aaaarrrgggghhh the Wargamers greatest fear, having spent several hours paintng up another unit for my Egyptian Project, I thought I would give them a coating of GW Purity Seal to protect my time and effort only to find the Matt Varnish has left a frosting effect all over them....
Reading several websites,forum boards and checking in with guy's at my local club the Evesham Wargames Club.
I am led to believe that this can be caused by high humidity, overspraying from to far way or a bad batch.



I could put it down to weeks in the Egyptian desert but I would like to find a solution to this or at least a remedy to lessen the effect.

I have tried Testors Dull Coat, GW Purity Seal and Humrol Matt Varnish and all at one time or another seem to have the same effect so this "frosting" does not seem limited to one brand and none of my research seem to have a clear answer despite many people experiencing the same issue.

Advice prior to spraying seems to come in a varienty of guises.

1. Warm the figures prior to spraying.
2. Warm the can.
3. Shake the can vigorously at least 5 minutes.
4. Spray at room temperature.
5. Spray far away
6. Spray lightly
7. Spray a few at a time

Ditch spraying and revert to Brush on Varnish.

I am tempted to try Krylon Matte Finish (if I can get hold of it in the UK?) or Army Painter Anti Shine Matt Varnish to see if they deliver a better result.
None of the above solve my issue so I set about exploring the solutions available.
1. Over coat with a second coat of Matt Varnish.
This appears to be a popular solution but in this case had little or know effect on the colouring, it did start to lose the depth of the figure. I suspect though this is due to the lack of actual casting depth in the plastic model.


2. Apply a coat of Thinner or Nail varnish remover.
This did not work, I applied it with a cotton bud and rubbed the effected area, it dried only to return the same effect as before.

3. Apply a brush coat of Matt Varnish.
This had the impact of dulling the effected area but the colour still suffered some discolouration.

4. Apply a brush coat of Gloss Varnish.
Having never been a fan of this type of finish, I need to pay a visit to the habby store for a can of this, it appears reading other blogs and forums that this has a mixed impact working for some but not for others.

5. Apply a ink wash over the figure to lessen the effect.
This did lessen the efect and was easy to apply given the type of figures effected, but I can see this being a problem for more detailed figures or where the desired effect is for bright uniforms, such as the Napoleonic Period.


6. Apply a coat of Olive Oil
Now this I dismissed out of hand as one of the those crazy ideas a kin to repainting the whole figure or dropping in paint thinner over night. But I had little to lose as none of the others seemed to be having the desired impact. But it actually worked!!!!
I applied it with a small soft paint brush and left it for several hours and it maintained it's colour depth, I rubbed the figure on the flat areas to try and wipe it away and it still retained a sheen and not trace of the frosting.
You will need to do this to also remove the excess oil.

I thought it might leave the figures a little greasy but it does not appear to, I even wiped the figure in a cotton rag to see if it picked up and traces of the oil nothing or at worse no different to the oil left on figures from your own hands after extended gaming, I even rubbed the flat areas with my fingers to try take of the coating and it still retained it's brightness.

So for me this solution seems to work and after 25 years of gaming it's the closest yet to return them to their original finish... Thay have a slight satin finish to them but blend well with other figures in my collection.

Could Olive Oil is a solution that has plagued wargamers for several years.... Try it for yourself.
Thoughts and comments welcome.


  1. You just can't beat natural solutions, lol!

  2. Well done that man! I have experienced the same problem, being a fan of the quick fix solution a matt spray brings. Due to the ridiculous length of time it takes me to paint a miniature I've stopped using the spray for fear of frosting. I might now be tempted to return knowing that there is now a possible solution if it all goes wrong; thank you.

  3. Don't tell the chefs!!!

  4. I think the real test will be over the long term as the material decays. You might end up with some stickyness to them after a while.

  5. Interesting but I think that anon has hit the nail on the head ..it will eventually go sour but light and oxygen (Photo-oxidation)will make it go sour quickly. Sounds similar to the use of linseed oil.
    As I said it is very interesting, I´ll have to test it myself.

  6. PS; Have you tried the wood stains from Ikea??
    They come in a variety of colours and dry matt gloss.

  7. Paul I think the challenge is to remove the excess with a rag. I have given them a quick wipe over removing any pooling. For this latest batch I effect dry brushed them with the oil, so I am hoping so little will not create a sticky finish. In any event they look far better than the frosted look they started out with.
    Cheers Stuart

  8. Interesting solution to the problem. I hope it works over time but I share Paul's reservations. I myself have never had a problem with Testor's Dullcote spray, but all of your points above, such as using it at room temperature, apply.
    Thanks for sharing.

  9. You learn something every day.


  10. Was it Extra Virgin or just regular olive oil? :-)

  11. Al regular. I almost grabbed the stuff infused with garlic. Now that would have been a mistake............... :-)

  12. I had this same problem. I chalked it up to overspraying. I found if I rubbed my fingure on the mini it removed the frosting. I did assume the natural oils on my hand helped more than rubbing it off.

  13. 8 months later and no smell stickiness or change to the colour, so far so good.

  14. Replies
    1. 3 years on and still no mold Addum - must be the virgin's :-)

  15. Good luck with the olive oil. I've used Army Painter Strong Shade, the varnish not the ink. It worked well on my WW2 Russian 15mm. The possible advantage is that it may last better than olive oil.

    The problem I had was spraying in a cold garage. Now I'm careful to warm the figures and the spray can. My preferred Matt spray is Coat d'arms, otherwise it's brush -on modelcote.

  16. I remember years ago someone telling me about using olive oil, but was too scared to do it at the time. However after reading about it here, I've just tried it and unbelievably it does work. Thanks.