Sealing and Protecting Miniatures

After putting in hours of hard work on your miniatures, the last thing you want is for handling to wear or chip off bits of paint.

Most miniatures painters use acrylic paints. These paints are not very durable, but have the advantage over oil-based paints of being less expensive and easier to clean up. However, acrylic paints are not very resistant to handling damage. To protect your miniatures, apply a thin coat of sealer.

The sealer I recommend is Testors Dull Cote. It is available at most of the better craft stores. If you don't find it there, check to see if you can find a hobby store specializing in model trains. They usually have it.

I choose Dull Cote because, as its name suggests, it keeps a dull, or "matte" finish when applied in thin coats. I will warn, however, that if you apply it in thick coats, your miniature will develop a sheen or even a shine on its surface.

For this reason, if you feel that your miniature will be handled a lot, especially for roleplaying or tabletop wargames, such as Warhammer, consider applying several thin coats of Dull Cote.

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I love Testers Dull Coat for it's non-reflective matt surface.

How To Know if Dull Cote Miniature Sealer Is Applied Too Thickly

As you apply each coat of Dull Cote sealer, avoid spraying it in coats which leave a wet or cloudy look to the miniature. This often can indicate that you have applied it too thickly for a single coat.

Ideally, the miniature will continue to look dry after each coat of sealer. Again, if you want to avoid the shiny appearance, sometimes called an "English look," apply one or more thin coats of Dull Cote, rather than a single heavy one.

The Second Function of Miniature Sealer - Creating Vibrant Colors

Many sealers have an additional feature. When applied, they may richen the colors, making them more vibrant. I have noticed this less with Testors Dull Cote than with other sealers, which tends to retain the colors exactly the way you applied them.

miniature paint demon dragon red orange shiny

Notice how the demon above has had a lot of sealer applied, giving it a shiny look. I wanted this miniature to look wet and slimy, so this provided the perfect effect for it, though it would be too much for other pieces.

The Toughest, Most Durable Miniatures Sealers

To give the best protection against handling and damage done by miniatures falling over and chipping, consider using an artist's grade of sealer. One I've used in the past is called "Clear Acrylic Sealer" by Plaid's Patricia Nimocks line in a matte finish.

If you resort to these more durable sealers, you will probably want to limit their usage to areas of the miniature where you anticipate they will receive the most handling.

Those areas which protrude and serve as the most convenient places to pick up a miniature tend to receive the most wear. You can apply more coats of Dull Cote or a more durable sealer in these areas to protect the miniature from handling damage, while maintaining as much of a natural look as possible to the rest of the miniature.

One Final Benefit of Sealer - the "Undo" Function

Here's an unusual way in which I sometimes use sealer. When you have completed a portion of your miniature that you're happy with, apply sealer to those areas.

When you paint adjacent areas, if you accidentally get paint on the sealed area, you can often "erase" the mistake while the paint is still wet. Here's how.

Erasing Paint Which Has Been Sealed Load a brush with just water. Rub the wet brush against the paint which accidentally got onto the already sealed area. The brush waters down the paint on the surface of the miniature in the area you want to remove.You can even apply sufficient water such that the paint drips off as diluted drops. If you are worried about the diluted paint dripping onto painted surfaces below, don't load the brush with as much water and lightly scrub the paint off. This is best done with an old brush, as the scrubbing can damage a fine brush if you scrub too vigorously.

Next Topic: Putting a Base on Your Miniature >>

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Plaid's "Clear Acrylic Sealer" works great, and may be cheaper than Dullcote per fluid ounce, since it's a much larger can.