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Using an Airbrush for Semi-gloss or Gloss Finish

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11 hours ago, vaddoc said:

Bob, I am not sure that the flow improver or the retarder are designed for the varnish

The Vallejo Varnishes are water-based and, from everything that I have read, their Flow Improver, Retarder Medium and Airbrush Thinner are all compatible with their water-based products.


I think the problem is mainly due to how I applied the varnish. I was trying to keep the application wet and I applied too thick of a coat. My air pressure may not have been ideal either and I may have gotten the airbrush too close to the hull at times as well. So I don't think compatibility was the main culprit. I think my technique was the problem with the varnish not leveling well.


I was looking at the hull this morning and, quite honestly, you can not really see the orange peel effect from 2 feet away. You can see the orange peel effect if I hold the hull up close so the light hits it at an angle. My wife thinks it looks fine but I certainly wish it was better. 


I have some Micro Mesh Soft Sanding Pads on order and there will be 9 pads with grits from 1500 to 12000. I've been reading where modelers have been able to polish out the orange peel effect with these pads successfully so I will give them a try. Evidently, using them up to 6000 gives you a more satin sheen and from 6000 on up the sheen becomes more glossy.



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Bob, that is why I don't use Vallejo airbush varnishes as I wrote in the beginning of this thread. On my ship builds I have restricted myself to Vallejo rattlecan varnishes, and AK airbrush varnish on the airplanes I've built. I've used the airbrush varnishes from vallejo after the first faillure only with a brush !!

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I wasn't sure if I should attempt to try and polish out the slight orange peel effect I got when I sprayed the Vallejo Varnish since you really couldn't see it unless you examined it up close. However, my perfectionism got the best of me and I decided to try and polish it out with the Micro Mesh Polishing Pads I that I just received. That didn't go as planned though. 


I started wet sanding very lightly with the 1500 pad and it quickly took off the orange peel but it also sanded through the black paint in in few small spots. So I decided to simply polish off the varnish entirely and repaint the hull again. I used the 3600 pad and wet sanded the hull very smooth. Then I went over it lightly with 600 grit sandpaper to give just a slight bit of tooth but still remain very smooth. After that I masked off the green and the black and airbrushed the white waterline stripe again and it turned out really well.


I made a couple of changes in how I used the airbrush this time. First of all, I replaced the .5 mm fan nozzle with a .3 mm fan nozzle to give me a smaller, broad spray pattern. While reviewing the instructions I realized that I had the been using the .5 mm fan nozzle with the air horns on the spray cap in the wrong orientation for a vertical spray pattern. I should have had them in a horizontal position to get a vertical spray pattern and I had it just the opposite. So my previous spray pattern was laying down a lot of paint in a horizontal pattern and that probably contributed to me putting on too much paint when I was trying to get good coverage. I also added 1 drop of thinner and 1 drop of Flow Improver to each 10 drops of paint. It worked well and the white stripe is very nice.


I'll paint the green tomorrow and, hopefully, the black as well. I could have left the hull alone but, so far, I'm glad I'm redoing it...at least I think I am at this point!



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  • 2 weeks later...
1 hour ago, P_Budzik said:

This video will give you a good explanation of how to get the smoothest finish possible.  These are the tools used by all the model production companies to achieve those great finishes.

Thanks Paul. It's a learning process for me and I enjoying learning how to use my airbrush properly.

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