Sunday, 4 March 2012

Curse of the Varnishing - Frosting

Original cloak, before varnishing.
Putting a layer of varnish over your finished model, the last and final step that should ensure your models paintwork is guard against little knocks and scrapes, while not affecting the colours of you have painstakingly applied to the model over the hours, days, weeks previous. Or, at least, that is how it is supposed to be. Sometimes these things have a habit of not always following the script, as I found to my horror a couple of nights ago.

Having completed my most recent model (latest post here) and after adding layers of snow flock to finish the base, it was time to varnish the model so it could be finally put to use at my local gaming club.

While waiting for the absolute perfect conditions to occur before spraying is probably the best advice, I do have an impatient tendency to just get models complete. Up until now I had never had any negative experiences with spraying in similar conditions to those used the other day. Even using a couple of test models first, everything appeared to be fine, so I moved on to the main event, placed the model down and passed the front side of the model with matt varnish spray, leaving this to dry before twirling the model round and completing the back.

Cloak after 'frosting'
Having left the varnish to dry for an hour or so, I returned to the model to find that the front of the model was perfect, but the cloak of the marine (pictured) and a couple of other little areas had frosted over. Having never had the problem before what could I do to rescue the situation?

I really did not fancy stripping the model down and starting from scratch for what would amount to less than 5% of the model being affected. Maybe I could paint over the affected areas? Maybe a could hope my salty tears could repair the damage? As in most situations in life nowadays, if you don't know what to do, someone on the internet will know for you. So after a quick search I found Pit of the Oni frosting article, which gave me some hope of salvaging what had happened.

Cloak after gloss varnish
Cloak after matt varnish
As soon as I could I picked up some Vallejo paint on gloss varnish and some Vallejo paint on matt varnish to see whether the frosting could be reversed or at the very least minimised.

Starting with the gloss varnish, I put a thin layer of varnish over all affected areas and left it to dry.
Once that was dry I then added a coat of matt varnish as I did not want the wolf cloak to be quite that shiny. The results can be seen in the pictures.

I feel that the frosted parts of the marine, while being quite a way off from where they were before varnishing, are now back to a level where I am happy with them. The frosting has by and large been cleared up and did not need too much work to get around it. I'd prefer not to use this technique again and avoid frosting my models in the first place, but if any frosting does occur I would not hesitate in using it.

If any of you guys have any other techniques for clearing up frosting from varnishing or have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment or drop me an email.


  1. Hi bud,

    Try Humbrol Clearfix, on any of the 'canopy' applying fluids.



  2. Sorry, should have said, followed by matt/satin varnish, it is a variation on your theme :)


  3. Man, that stinks.
    I've gone away from varnishing my models for this very reason. Of course I don;t play much though so it's not a huge deal for me.

    I collected a bunch of stories and tips once about this very thing.
    Ron, Avoiding frosting.

    Ron, FTW

  4. @CS - I shall bear that in mind for next time as I am not 100% happy with the fixing qualities of the Vallejo gloss/matt varnish on the frosting.

    @Ron - I did have a read through your links after I put up this post, very helpful and I believe the Pit of the Oni is the first link you have there.

  5. I've just installed iStripper, so I can have the sexiest virtual strippers on my desktop.


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