Lately, I’ve been experimenting a lot with varnishing models with an airbrush. But all the ultra matte and matte varnishes I tried were either TOO matte or TOO glossy. Don’t fret, here comes my solution for the perfect matte finish.

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The problem

My problem was that I tried various airbrush ultra matte varnishes, but they were all a bit too matte and too easy to scratch, and also too matte compared to my models varnished with Mr Hobby Topcoat Premium Flat spray can. But when I tried regular matte varnishes for airbrushing instead, I found them too glossy.

As far as I know, the idea for the following hack goes back to Vince Venturella. One of my Patreon supporters, or YouTube commentators, I’m not completely sure, drew my attention to it. Post in the comments if it was you!

Stahly's perfect matt varnish recipe

The solution

The solution is to mix 3 parts ultra matte varnish with 1 part matte varnish. I used AK Interactive Ultra Matte Varnish and Vallejo Mecha Color Matt Varnish. Both products have the perfect airbrush consistency, so you don’t have to dilute them and are water-based, so they don’t dissolve delicate paints like The Army Painter Speedpaint. Instead of AK Interactive Ultra Matte Varnish, you can also use Green Stuff World Maxx Matt, which I find slightly more resistant and easier to apply evenly. However, I still had a bottle of the AK varnish left and wanted to use it up.

Hive Fleet Kraken Tyranid Warriors Leader painted by Stahly

You can see the result with this Tyranid Warrior. Nice and matte, but not totally flat, the colours have depth and even metallics don’t become completely dull. The finish also goes very well with my other models, which I varnished with my favourite spray paint Mr Topcoat Premium Flat.

By the way, you can find a list of my top recommendations for varnishes here:

I hope this ToP tip has encouraged you to try varnishing with an airbrush yourself. The advantages of spray cans are better control and a finer spray pattern. Feel free to write in the comments if you have tried my mix or if you have your own experiences with airbrush varnishing. See you next time, and happy hobbying!