What varnish for the figures head sculpts?


I want to apply varnish to my figures head sculpts for further protection. I don´t know what kind of paints are used to paint them nor if different manufacturers use different kinds of paints, so I don´t know if it has to be a varnish for acrylic paint or any other kind of paint. Neither I know if a should use flat or semi-gloss varnish. I guess I will have to cover the eyes with Maskol cause they are glossy/bright.

Can someone in the forum answer my questions?

Gloss or semi-gloss if you want them to look sweaty, but flat should be good for most situations. As for actually applying it, I’d use either a spray can or an airbrush to keep everything even. For eyes, brushing the varnish on should suffice.

You’ll also want to use hobby grade varnishes, since those meant for larger projects can leave a somewhat grainy finish on your heads. There would be a bit more latitude in regards to paint, and in theory at least even cheap acrylics from a standard supermarket. But again I would recommend hobby grade paints, given that those would be made to work well with plastics. Those you could get from hobby lobby, or from online retailers that sell Gundam model kits.

Out of curiosity, are the headsculpts in question pre-painted from the manufacturer, or did you paint them yourself? In either case giving them a protective finish wouldn’t hurt, however in my opinion modern headsculpts from companies like DAM, E&S, or Soldier Story have durable enough paintjobs as they are, provided of course you treat them with the proper amount of care.

Thanks for the reply weskerfan,

I want to repaint some figures hair and eyebrows colour, and in many cases beard too, indeed. There are not many pale yellow (wheat or champaign colour) blond or intense orange to red redhaired figures out there -I can think of Prince Harry or actor Ewan McGregor as redhaired examples and Dragon figure Sepp Kiefer as a blond one-. Most figures have dark brown hair today. Even in the case of the Hot Toys Obi Wan head hair is too dark and brownish if you look at actual pics of Ewan McGregor.

I just want a little more diversity in my kitbashes. I have bought too several African bodies and head sculpts of French footballer/soccer player Paul Pogba (Kodoxo brand) and NBA Afroamerican players. I am buying too some of the Chinese DAM heads for Asian American servicemen kitbashes.

It is funny too that most figures today are heavily bearded, Seems like not only special forces soldiers but even regular armies units grunts never shaved at all. (And PMCs in the Green Zone or Bashra or Kabul or elsewhere had easy access to a daily shave). There are even pics of Delta, Seals and SAS and SBS and Spetsnaz operators perfectly shaved out there in the wild. Fortunately DAM KSK and French special forces figures are beardless. Not that I have anything against beard but all figures head sculpts look too much alike.

The issue when painting hair and beard and specially eyebrows is that my hands are not very steady, and I want to use oils rather than acrylic paints for oil paint is very easy to wipe out of the skin of the face, forehead, lips, eyes, etc. with a clean fine brush, when I am not very accurate with the brush and exceeds with the paint the line that separates hair and skin. I have tried acrylics on some old spare heads and they sticks to the surface very hard, so it is very difficult to wipe out the excess of paint. Understable for it is a paint made to dry very fast.

I have been advised at my fine arts store that oil painting uses turpentine as thinner and it can melt plastic or affect badly the paint of the heads, so they have told me I should use a clear varnish to protect the head sculpts before repainting them.

Now the problem here is what varnish I must use -for acrylics maybe?- according to the kind of paint DAM, Soldier Story, E&S, etc use for the heads. I have been told too that some brands varnish (namely Vallejo) gets opaque or clear yellowish after some time.

So any info about what varnish I can use will be wellcome.

Happy to help. I agree that there is a lack of modern headsculpts with those hair colors, although when it comes to choosing headsculpts for most of my figures, hair color isn’t as significant of a factor as facial structure. The only exception would be the Viking figure, which will need Scandinavian blond hair. I’ve never considered actually repainting the hair on an existing HS, mainly because I’m afraid that I won’t be able to cover the original color well enough, and because a molded beard might interfere with whatever headgear I put on it.

Instead I usually plan on rooting in new hair, which be an option worth looking into. You’d need either a HS without hair, or carve the hair off one that does, as well as fake hair in the color that you want. For this you could use acrylic yarn that’s been cut and unraveled, or faux fur. You then arraign them into wefts on the head in layers. After that is done you let it dry for a while then moisten it with water, either through a few spritzest from a spray bottle or from a bathroom sink. After that is again dry you can now trim and style it as you desire.

Now this is certainly not an easy process, but if you can’t find an existing HS in the style and/or color that you want then it is the way to go. I will warn that shorter styles may be harder to do than the longer, swept back ones that I prefer. But personally I think that when done right it really improves the look of a figure. Which is why on both my current and future bashes I plan on adding hair and a beard to some of them, and a least a beard to all of those whose HSs don’t already have one.

As for why most figures these days have beards, it’s because the majority of them are American, and their Special operations units, such Army special forces, Marsoc, Seals, and Delta force, are known for and likely still have grooming standards that are much more liberal compared to those from more conventional units. This is because since those units preform at a much higher level, the type of standards meant to instill discipline into comparatively more neophytic soldiers from the conventional military are seen as being not as necessary for them. There is also the fact that many of them have been deployed to areas where having a lot of facial hair is not only common but even socially mandated, like in Afghanistan where those beards are seen as being more mature and trustworthy than those without. So it’s only logical that operators should grow beards as well in order to blend in better and make tasks that require socializing with locals easier. Another major reason is that much like the “gucci gear” that they often carry, beards allow operators to flex their special status over other conventional troops.

Thanks again for the advice, weskerfan,

Yes, you are right about the appeareance rules of the US Special Operations units, and it´s not only them who are treated so lightly in terms of discipline. I have a friend that is a Spaniard like me but works for a British Non-governmental Organization and was in Afghanistan twice and had a British SAS scort once. He told me, full of admiration, the SAS guys were more scary than the Talibans and that, as we say in Spain, (in terms of appeareance and diversity of equipment and gear and when some people break all the rules) “They looked like the hordes of Pancho Villa”, (the Mexican Revolution Leader).

It is just that in the Spanish, French or German Army, (as I saw them on maneuvers a long time ago during my service time), they look or at least looked more obssesed with hygiene. When I served in Spanish Army we could not have a longer than 5mm hair, nor wear a beard and our fingernails were cut so short at a bus in Madrid an old man told me “My grandaughter bites her fingernails too” These rules were also applied to Special Forces at that time. When I asked a Lieutenant about such strong discipline he told me Alexander the Great died young from typhoid fever in campaign due to the lack of proper hygiene praxis in that era. (Though the cause of Alexander´s dead is not that clear, some modern doctors think it could rather have been malaria or he could have been poisoned)

I guess this discipline was too exaggerated.