My blog about my wargaming activities. I collect a lot of 15mm miniatures for the American War of Independence and so collect a lot of rules for this period. I started miniatures with Napoleonics, so I have a number of armies in 6mm and 15mm figures for skirmishing. I have15mm WW II figures that I use for Flames of War, Memoir '44, and someday, Poor Bloody Infantry. Finally there is my on-again, off-again relationship with paper soldiers that I sometimes write about.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Liquitex Matte Medium versus Matte Varnish

Liquitex makes two matte products: matte medium and matte varnish.  Both products are designed to flatten the finish of your paint, but they actually produce different results.

Matte Medium lists that it:
  • Creates a matte non-reflective finish.
  • Dries translucent and matte.
  • Increases translucency, adhesion, and paint flow.
  • Provides a permanent, non-yellowing, flexible, and water resistant coat when dry.
Note that some of these properties (increased translucency, adhesion, and flow) come about by mixing the medium with acrylic paint, not by covering a painted, dried figure with medium.

Matte Varnish lists that it:
  • Provides a permanent varnish to protect surfaces.
  • Establishes an even, non-glare matte finish.
  • Protects against UV damage.
  • Reduces color intensity.
  • Provides a permanent, non-yellowing, flexible, and water resistant coat when dry.
The language between the two is similar, but the results are not. The Matte Medium has a greater tendency to whiten (ever so slightly) after drying, and will have a slightly shiny finish than the Matte Varnish. The Matte Medium is also much thicker, so does not flow as well, causing it to pool more readily in creases (which probably accounts for its increased tendency to whiten).

The photos below show two stands. Both have been block painted then washed with Magic Wash (a mixture of paint and Future Acrylic Floor Polish). This creates a shine over the figure, which is strongest where the wash's color pools. The figure on the left has received a single coat of Matte Varnish, while that on the right has not. Although it is hard to see (because the camera tries to take out the reflection and shine), the white dots in the dark pools of wash are reflections, indicating shiny spots in the paint job. The figures on the left show a large reduction in those reflections, including toning down the darkness of the wash itself. Looking at the second figure from the right on both stands gives you a good representation of how the Matte Varnish helps mute the shine and dark.

I have tried several matte finishes and this is the best so far, as far as having a lower chance of whitening, being easy to apply with a brush, and producing a matte, as opposed to a satin, finish.


  1. I had not thought of using Matte Medium as an overcoat, but with your experimentation I probably won't! The Matte Varnish seems to do the job.

    Have you tried using Pebeo matte varnish?

  2. No, I can't say that I ever have noticed it for sale at Michael's or the art stores I have gone too recently. Not saying that weren't for sale, just that I had not noticed...

    To be honest, my Matte Medium purchase was a mistake. I just decided to go with it once I realized what I did. I mostly use it for the intended purpose: mixing it with acrylic paint to flatten the finish.


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Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 50 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ (although I have a townhouse in Houston, TX and a small home in Tucson, AZ) working on a contract for "the next two years" that is going on five years now. To while away the hours I like to wargame -- with wooden, lead, and sometimes paper miniatures -- usually solo. Although I am a 'rules junkie', I almost always use rules of my own (I like to build upon others' ideas, but it seems like there is always something "missing" or "wrong").