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"dipping" stain & varnish

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Joined: 09 Jun 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 6:50 am    Post subject: "dipping" stain & varnish Reply with quote

G'day guys,

By way of community service announcement, I thought I'd post this message. A few of you may have seen our 40mm AWI game at yesterday's club meeting. A couple of guys liked the look of the minis and asked about the stuff Ray and I have used for the fast painting / "dipping" technique on our figures. So here is the info:

Everyone has probably seen ads on the various wargames websites (TMP, TGN etc.) about the "Army Painter" products. Ray and I ordered some tins of their dipping stain to try out. Whilst the AP products are very good, when it arrived I suspected it was basically a re-badged tin of some other commercial product, so I set off to search at Bunnings. And sure enough, I found what I was looking for. After testing, I can tell you that the following products do the same job, but for a lot less expense! Very Happy For what the AP guys charge for a 250ml tin, you can buy a 1 Litre tin at Bunnings.

The "Wattyl" brand combined "Stain & Varnish" products for Interior Furniture and Woodwork in the "satin" (ie. semi-gloss) finish are virtually the same as the Army Painter stuff. As the name suggests, these are a combined pigment (stain) and varnish. They are great to use for the "dipping method" often talked about on various wargames sites for rapidly painting minis.

To paint, the minis are undercoated, then blockpainted on the areas requiring colour (ie. flesh face and hands, uniforms in whatever colour, armour in silver etc.). We use white undercoat, as this means that any white gear (eg. trousers, shirts, slings, cross belts etc.) doesn't even need painting as the stain will shade it nicely. Then the mini is literally "dipped" into the stain (or it is brushed on), shaken off and left to dry. The stain shades the mini very nicely and the varnish protects the mini as well. And that's all there is to it. Some details can be picked out after dipping to improve appearance, but the steps abovve produce a surprisingly good looking mini.

A couple of tips I've learned:

1. If actually dipping the minis, make sure to shake them vigourously afterwards. Otherwise a lot of stain 'pools' (ie. the excess) and makes the mini too dark. Even better I found is actually not to dip at all, but rather to get a large brush (eg. GW 'Tank" brush) and brush the stain / varnish on instead. This does the same job, but with a better and more even coverage, and no need for messy shaking.

2. With base coats, go lighter rather than darker with your colours, since the stain will darken the colours a bit. The degree of shading / darkening depends on the stain colour chosen. The army painter range has three shades (light, mid, and dark tone), whilst the Wattyl ones actually have more variety (6 shades I think). The Wattyl ones that match most closely to the Army Painter equivalents are: "Baltic Pine", "Teak" and "Walnut" respectively.

3. The "satin" (semi-gloss) finish after dipping is still a bit gloss-shiny for my liking. So hit the minis with a spray matt varnish after they dry if you want a matt finish.

For detail and pictures on how to use the products (either AP or Wattyl!), go to the Army Painter website:


To see how they painted an entire Roman Army of 240 minis in one weekend, see:


Anyway, I can vouch that this is a quick and easy method of turning out large numbers of troops. And as the guys who saw them will attest, they look pretty good when finished. Very Happy

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