Protecting your precious paint jobs is important. Even with just a moderate amount of handling, paint rubs off the edges easily. Thus, varnishing is essential. It’s surprising that it took Games Workshop so long to come up with a successor for their Purity Seal spray varnish. Munitorum Varnish is supposed to have “a semi-matt or satin finish that is very much like the natural sheen of the paint itself” – let’s see whether it lives up to its promise.
Like most of the other Citadel primers and spray paints, Munitorum Varnish comes in 400ml spray cans and is priced at £11.75/15 €/$19.75.
Before you use the varnish, it’s a good idea to give the can a good shake for about two minutes, especially the first time you use it or when you haven’t used the can for a while. The matting agents and propellants could have separated, and the shaking ensures a proper mixing. Make sure to spray in a dry, non-humid environment. Keep the can about 20 to 30 cm away from the model, and apply a couple of short bursts from all angles. As usual, it’s better to apply two or three thin coats than one thick coat. And it’s always a good idea to test the result on an old test model first.
Games Workshop created a handy video for using Munitorum Varnish, check it out here:
Old Purity Seal had a rather glossy finish, and there was the infamous batch that had a strong tendency to “frost” – drying cloudy and greyish. To put Munitorum Varnish through the paces, I prepared a test model.
The spear blade was painted with metallic paints (1), to see whether the varnish would dull the metallic pigments. The handle was painted with ‘Ardcoat (2), to see whether the varnish would remove the gloss. The hood was painted black (3), to see whether the black would become greyish after varnishing. The face was given a wash with Army Painter Dark Tone Ink (4), while the shield was washed with Nuln Oil Gloss (5). I wanted to see whether the varnish would react with the washes. The left part of the robe was painted with regular Citadel acrylics (6), while the right part of the robe was painted white (7). On the white area, we can see whether the varnish will yellow or otherwise discolour the paint job. Last but not least, there are areas of unpainted Army Painter Color Primer Uniform Grey (8). I once had a varnish who would frost on bare Pure Red Color Primer.
Here is the model after a thin coat of Munitorum Varnish. The model feels dry to the touch after just 15 minutes. As promised, it’s “a semi-matt or satin finish”. Pretty close to the natural sheen of paint ranges like Citadel, Vallejo Game Color or Formula P3. Definitely less glossy than old Purity Seal. It removed the gloss from the ‘Ardcoat and the Nuln Oil Gloss, while keeping the metallic effect intact. On the white robe, there is only a very slight yellowing noticeable (it’s hard to tell from the pictures, but I compared it to an unvarnished model).
On the back of the model, I sprayed on an overly thick coat of varnish. There was no frosting, just a bit of extra glossiness where the varnish pooled. But nothing another thin coat of varnish wouldn’t fix.
Munitorum Varnish is an excellent product that won’t ruin your miniatures. In fact, it will become my new go-to varnish, replacing the brand I used for years (a store brand by German DIY store Toom Baumarkt). It has a similar satin finish, but dries quicker and yellows less. With being easily available everywhere they sell Games Workshop products, there is no more excuse for not varnishing your models (looking at you, Garfy ;).
After a couple of times using my can of Munitorum Varnish, the varnish frosted on a couple of miniatures. When you spray multiple thin coats it’s fine, but take care to not apply thick coats. The finish is still nice, but because of the danger of frosting I can only give a limited recommendation. By the way, I removed the frost with a rubbing in olive oil.
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