Monday, 27 February 2012

De-'mist'ing figures - the solution

So, it came to pass that about a year ago, I had my first game of Warhammer ECW, for which I wound up painting all of a Warlord Pike and Shotte Battalia box in about a week. As (unfortunately) seems to have become something of a habit, I based them on the night before and was spraying varnish on the figures in my open office doorway at about 6am on a surprisingly chilly April morning.

The inevitable happened - as you can see in the close-up shot from the Battle of Powick Bridge, and the banner image at the top of this blog, the varnish dried all misty and grey.

There's a whole load of solutions rumoured for this: it's clear, for example, that slightly wetting the figure makes the mist go away, but only until the moisture evaporates. Some folks suggest revarnishing with gloss and then again with matt, but the solution I found, which really surprises me, and works? Olive Oil.

 Don't believe me? Watch.

So - here's one (slightly out of focus) Warlord Games Royalist cavalryman, with that soul-destroying grey mist all over him. (I cannot tell a lie: the first time it happened I swore - a lot).

Usual causes? Overspraying (done that: check); spraying when it's too cold outside (done that: check); spraying when it's too humid outside (done that: check); bringing figures in to dry in a warm, damp room (not done that yet!)

And here's a jar of perfectly ordinary, non-extra virgin, not garlic-infused or anything else, kitchen grade olive oil, acquired, with permission and even blessing (she's is a gamer and role-player, and sometime figure painter, and was, I think, intrigued as I was to see if it'd work) from 'Er Indoors.

Just visible bottom left is a cheap and cheerful large brush from Hobbycraft, which I was quite happy to ruin (in fact, it's one of a rolling stock of three or four I use for dip).

Yes, I missed a bit.
Yes, I did go back and fix it after I noticed it.
Ok, thinks I. Let's give it a go. Dip brush. Paint on.

Wow. Certainly works as well as wetting the figure. Even better, leaving it to dry, and then wiping off a little with a tissue, does actually seem to fix the problem permanently.

It gets better! Turns out that that brush load did about 8 figures - the thinnest smear of oil is all you need. For the next one I loaded the brush and wiped it off on the inside of the jar before starting, and still managed to do about 5 cavalry with it. From then on, I actually just ran the brush over the inside of the jar to pick up a smidge of oil and used that each time - it's amazing how little it takes. It's worth a quick wipe of the excess, but you can pretty much dry-brush them, and the oil does tend to flow and wet the whole surface. It does, though. dry to a slightly oily, satiny sheen.

And before you ask? No, I haven't revarnished them. By the time I was done oiling just over a hundred figures it was 7pm, and quite chilly outside.

And contrary to what my wife may tell you, I do learn from my mistakes.


  1. You might want to look in the kitchen accessories section of a Robert Dyas or similar for an oil spray-mister thingies (the ones you use to get just a thin sheen of oil into cooking pans). Even if it doesn't work for demisting varnish, it will still be useful in the kitchen.

  2. Wife has one. It was strongly suggested it was a kitchen item and should remain as such, and certainly shouldn't be used for spraying olive oil around on the kitchen table :D

    But yes, good call - at least one of the links I found suggested a spray.

    And welcome aboard! Been enjoying your blog.

  3. That's a great tip, Mike. Misting's happened to me as well a few times. The other solution which I've tried, and which gets posted sometime, is to revarnish the figure in gloss varnish, and then re-matt varnish again. There were lots of helpful (and slightly depressing) descriptions on TMP when I last looked as to exactly why misting happens!

  4. oo - thanks for the pointer - I have googled and found, and posted to the most recent TMP thread with a link :D

    I've seen the gloss then matt idea, but that involved more spraying than I wanted at 6pm on a Saturday :D

  5. Thanks for the tip. I was not even aware about how many potential varnishing-disater situations exist... I'll try to be more careful in the future

  6. Brilliant. I have loads of Olive Oil. I use it on my hair, my skin and to cook with.

  7. I use it as a salad dressing to kill the greenfly


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