Friday, May 10, 2013

Reliability of Primers and Dull Cote

Over the decades of figure painting, I have tried a number of spray products for the first and last steps in the painting process. At some point in time, the product is discontinued, formula is changed, or I am otherwise unhappy with the results. Sometimes this change is infrequent while at other times it seems like I'm bogged down into a cycle of product swaps and experimentation. I may be emerging from one of those annoying cycles now.
For the undercoat, I typically use a flat black primer (when I can find it) or flat black enamel.  Over the last two years, a number of spray enamels have been used.  The ones I recall are shown below.  




I have had problems with nozzles clogging with some brands, terrible smell with others, coarse spray with some, and a tendency to get cans that spray a gloss rather than flat black.  In particular, the Rustoleum Ultra cover 2x went on too thick and too glossy.  Sometimes, the product works for awhile and then I get a satin or gloss finish rather than flat.  I often rationalize the gloss coat as related to variations in either humidity or temperature.

During the winter, I typically spray in the garage and then bring the figures inside to dry in a well-ventilated storage room.  Often that works to cut down the gloss finish; other times not so much. 

On a trip to Home Depot this winter, I spotted the Quick Color brand.  It was only $0.97 a can vs $3.50 - $4.00 a can for the products above.  I brought it home and the result was a dead flat finish.  Cheap and effective.  Hope that result continues.  The Greek hoplites are sprayed with Quick Color and the result is a flat black finish.
For the final topcoat, I spray a flat, clear sealer.  I have tried Krylon products but have never had satisfactory results.  I know painters who are satisfied with Krylon but for me, it never produces a dead flat finish.  


The product most used is Dull cote whether it is from Testor's or Model Master.  At one time, I could only get the Testor's brand but now both are equally available.  Both products appear to be the same formulation.  Again, temperature and humidity seem to affect the results so a quick spray in the garage and then into the storage room reduces the tendency for glossy results.  



The problem with Testor's dull cote is the recent change to the can and formulation.  No longer can I find the black and yellow can.  The white and blue canned product still produces a flat finish but reliability issues have been frequent.  Reliability issues?  Yes.  Every third can seems to ooze the dull cote liquid from the base of the nozzle while spraying.  This liquid pools up in the lip and then liquid dull cote runs down the can and either onto the garage floor, my hand, or onto the painted figures.  The can still produces a spray but I usually put the can aside once it begins oozing from the base.


What are your favorite flat black and flat clear products that are readily available? 

10 comments:

  1. Good post! Army Painter colored primers when I want a shortcut; overpriced but reliable. Armory for black, white and grey primers. I had a couple of bad cans but lately, they've been good. I'm using Army Painter matt finish because I can't find Testors lately. All over the map!

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    1. Thanks for the suggestions, Monty. I have not tried either Army Painter or Armory. If they aren't carried in a hardware store, I doubt I'll find them unless my search expands.

      I really hope the Quick Color continues producing good results. It is dirt cheap!

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    2. Good point, they're not. I buy them at the gaming store we play in. Its one of the few products they carry that I can put to use and I do try to support the B & M store where I can. I need to branch out and try some of these others!

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  2. I use a relatively cheap matt artist spray to varnish my models. It is not exactly matte but I don't mind a slight sheen on my models. For undercoat I use an automotive undercoat - white or black depending on what I am painting. I have found the same thing as you did - that some flat undercoats are quite glossy. I usually haven;t spent much so if it is crap I toss it and try something else.

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    1. Thanks for the comments. Have you figured out if the 'flat as glossy' phenomenon is triggered by temperature, humidity, amount of time spent shaking the heck out of the spray can or just a bad can?

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    2. Haven't found a common factor. I am no expert painter so I guess it doesn't really matter too much the way my minis turn out anyway:)

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  3. Most of my 6mm figs are done with armypainter basecoats. The leather brown is a godsend for doing cavalry at all scales. The armypainter dull coat is the best I have ever used. It knocks down the sheen without looking like their is a topcoat.

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    1. Do you purchase your Army Painter supplies locally? On occasion, I've used a ruddy brown for priming horses but usually stick to black. I'll try brown again.

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  4. I also use armypainter base coats but also Vallejo white though with the price increase I may stop.

    I still prefer Vallejo matt varnish over anything else. The fear of seeing painted figures go milky will keep me away from cheap alternatives. I also use Armypainter when I can't find Vallejo

    Ian

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    1. Hi Ian, with all of the positive recommendations for Army Painter, I ought to give it a try.

      As for clear coat 'frosting,' I had that occur only once during my 20 years of painting. That one time was due to temperature and humidity. That lesson taught me not to dullcote and then leave the figures out in the garage during the depths of winter.

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