Now I've used the Army Painter dip method before when I first started out painting trying to save time by having a decent tabletop standard paintjob, but the problem was I wasn't really learning how to paint. I think the painting in general is the cornerstone of the hobby. So after I dipped a few miniatures and hit it with the Anti-Shine Matt sealant, I wasn't that happy with the finished product and I ultimately decided the only way I was going to really learn is by actually putting in the time and effort via trial by fire. Thus two years later, my painting is rather decent and I have a display case filled with various levels of my painting prowess. With every miniature you paint, you can only get better and I've come to respect that.
Onto the topic at hand. So I've never once sealed anything I've ever painted. Playing in last weekends tournament and watching my mini's get thrown this way and that (didn't really notice anything at the time), I packed all my guys up and headed home. Now I'm not someone who leaves my mini's in the case, as I like to place them back in glass cabinet where I can admire them. So I'm putting them back in the case, only to notice that on my fresh new Minas Tirith troops, the black paint around my cast bases was flaking off. Now I wash my bases with soap and water after I cast and then brush prime them with black primer, but this is a problem.
After doing a bit of research, I realized that out of all the tutorials on painting and everything associated with miniatures that I've ever come across, not one tutorial have I ever come across on proper sealing. Sure, I've heard of different affects you can achieve by gloss varnishing and matt varnishing thru passing, but nothing crazy definitive.
So all over the interwebz, everyone has they're own crazy way of varnishing and sealing. Some use the cheapo brands from the local DIY hardware stores, others specific model brands, and even others who use 5 different types of glosses and varnishes on from various sources on they're models. Most swear by they're tryed and true methods while other complain of disasters of the dreaded "misting" effect after using propellant sealant in inadequate conditions. I took what I had laying around, played with it and took some pictures.
So I decided to go for Games Workshop (old) Gloss Varnish and Army Painter Anti-Shine Dull Matt. After reading a few places, it seemed the consensus was that a gloss varnish start is the way to go since it has the best protective properties. After applying it and letting it dry, it gives your miniatures a nice protective coating. I did a 1:1 ratio of the gloss and water and applied it to a broad cross section of miniatures I own to give this trial a full go.
It's hard to see, but it gives you a really nice hard shell after it dries, but leaves you with a hideous sheen (it is gloss after-all). After I applied 2-3 coats, I went looking online to find how long I'm supposed to wait for it to fully cure before I hit it with the Matt. Well, the consensus is still up in the air on that, so I decided to let them sit over night and hit them after work the next day. And I did just that....
I have to say, I really like the flat Matt look on the mini's. It really gives them that finished/professional look. Now the down side is it does mute your darker colors depending on how much you apply, but I think that's one of those things you can control with experience. Here are two examples of the difference between just a paint job and my new method with the gloss and matt side by side.
|Same exact mini, one on the left was just painted, one on the right was painted and sealed using gloss/matt|
|Same scenario as above picture|
Take note that each model in the set was painted around the same time as its duplicate using the same techniques on both miniatures, so its not like one is painted better than the other. When you twirl the mini's on the left side, the parts that aren't supposed to be shiny (like cloth/skin) definitely have a glare on them, while on the right, the only slight glare you get is from the metal parts and even that is extremely limited (which is the effect of what I'm after). In the first picture you can definitely see it while in the second picture, its more subtle. You be the judge.
All in all I like this method and I'm planning on incorporating this into my regular painting routine. The down side is that its time consuming. Two layers of watered down gloss, a night to cure, then 2-3 sessions of Flat Matt before you can even place static grass or any tufts. I guess I'm just used to finishing painting, tossing a little glue on the base, sprinkle a little grass here and there and maybe a tuft or two, then tossing it in the case. Also worth note is the fact that I'd like all my miniatures done this way, which means I have multiple armies to do as well as various touch ups that I always tell myself I'm going to get to someday. Well, I guess someday is here.