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What is the point of a clear coat?

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  • Member since
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What is the point of a clear coat?
Posted by ohms on Friday, July 24, 2020 2:23 PM

Hi guys, 

My second post for today. Don't worry, I'm not on a binge.

I was just wondering: why do people put on clear coats? I understand that gloss and matte coats are for authenticity, but a clear coat doesn't change the appearance in any way. 

I don't want to do something just because the guys on YouTube are doing it until I UNDERSTAND what the purpose is. Are clear coats to protect the paint from scratching off easily? Or do they make the paint easier to clean? Do they help if you're going to paint another colour on top of them? Or all 3? 

Help me out. All replies appreciated. Smile

Into model building since September 2019. Also into books (mostly science-fiction), comic books, and gaming.

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Posted by Bish on Friday, July 24, 2020 2:29 PM

If a clear coat changed the apperance, it wouldn't be a clear coat. But there are several reasons. Most paints are matt, so a clear gloss coat helps when adding the decals. A clear coat will also protect the paint when weathering if you use certain types of weathering products on certain paints. The final clear coat is to protect the paint and decals and give an overall finish.

I am a Norfolk man and i glory in being so

 

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Posted by GMorrison on Friday, July 24, 2020 3:02 PM

To echo Mike, a clear gloss coat is very important as a base to put decals on without their "silvering"- little bubbles under it that make it look foggy. A gloss paint finish works as well, but most military models as matte or flat.

I weather models using highly diluted paints that are dissimilar to the surface I apply them to, in order to avoid disolving and ruining the painted finish.

My usual approach. Paint the model with whatever combination of paints I find useful. In many cases there could be metallic lacquer, acrylic colors and enamels all on the same model. Motorcycles come to mind.

Then I put a clear coat of gloss acrylic over. Apply decals.

Next I make a very dilute solution of artist oil paint suspended in odorless turpenoid and apply it. Wait a little bit and wipe of the excess, leaving it in the details and crevices. 

Last, and this can be optional, I coat the whole thing with a matte clear to even out the finsh. Or if it's a snazzy bike; another coat of clear acrylic.

Dilute washes don't work well over  matte paint as it stains quickly.

And, if I screw up the weathering, it's not hard to wipe if off with a little turpenoid.

 

Bill

 

 Modeling is an excuse to buy books.

 

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Posted by Space Ranger on Friday, July 24, 2020 11:44 PM

Clear coats are unnecessary for two reasons. One, they darken paint, especially flat color. Two, as far as decalling is concerned, they are redundant. Paint does not have to be glossy prior to decal application, it only has to be SMOOTH. Check out Paul Budzik's Scale Model Workshop videos on YouTube for further information.

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Posted by GMorrison on Saturday, July 25, 2020 12:08 AM

"Clear coats are unnecessary for two reasons. One, they darken paint, especially flat color"

A good argument for limiting the part of the model it's applied to.  Also, not if the application is controled. Skill requiered.

." Two, as far as decalling is concerned, they are redundant. Paint does not have to be glossy prior to decal application, it only has to be SMOOTH. Check out Paul Budzik's Scale Model Workshop videos on YouTube for further information."

Sure, Paul is correct, but few modelers take the time to really prepare their coats correctly. Try it.

I don't think the OP ever questioned if a clear coat was "necessary". The question was why at all.

Plenty of good reasons there.

And I thought the hesitation about "the guys all over youtube" was kind of nice,

Don't like it; don't do it. But answer a question with advice.

 

Bill

 Modeling is an excuse to buy books.

 

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  • From: South Africa
Posted by ohms on Saturday, July 25, 2020 1:27 AM

Bish

The final clear coat is to protect the paint and decals and give an overall finish.

 
Protect in what way? To protect the paint from being scratched off easily while working on the model, or to protect it from peeling away over the years?
 
Because if the only other reason is to prevent silvering of decals, and to protect the paint from weathering, I wouldn't need to clear coat because:
 
a) I don't have a problem with silvering so far (unless it happens after a year or so),
 
and b) I don't do a lot of weathering because I do more shiny, brand-new models like Formula One and road cars.
 
Maybe I should rephrase my question: 1) how do I prevent the paint from scratching off while working on it? Add more layers of paint, or clear coat before glueing the piece, or both?
 
Also, 2) in the long run (let's say a decade), will the paint remain as is if I don't clear coat? And if I do clear coat, will that solve the problem? 
 
The guy at my local model shop said by 10 years, even the decals with start coming off and there's nothing you can do about it. His words: "Nothing is permanent." I'm just looking for a second/third/fourth opinion. Smile

Into model building since September 2019. Also into books (mostly science-fiction), comic books, and gaming.

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Posted by Tickmagnet on Saturday, July 25, 2020 6:05 AM

When it comes to model building I do believe there are scratch gremlins out there that sneak out and scratch the paint when you aren't looking. If the scratches are from your fingernails then get some thin cotton gloves to wear while you handle it and see if that helps.

 

 

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Posted by Don Stauffer on Saturday, July 25, 2020 7:08 AM

The difference is sheen.  Flat reflection scatters light in all directions and there will be no highlights.  High gloss scatters more directionally, and especially there will be highlights from directions of light sources.

Glossing for decals has already been mentioned.  Cars and civil aircraft usually have glossy finishes.  For those, people have the choice of a gloss paint, or flat paint plus glosscoat.  The result is not  quite identical, but close enough for some people.  The gloss coat gives a wet look, maybe not appropriate for older cars, but new cars are gloss coated at factory, and show rods and customs are usually gloss coated, so it is appropriate for them.

If applying a gloss clearcoat does not change sheen it is not being applied right (a thick coat is neccessary).

 

Don Stauffer in Minnesota

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Posted by Jay Jay on Saturday, July 25, 2020 7:20 AM

Both my You Tube modeling Gurus ( Paul Budzik and Will Pattison ) do not advocate the use of a clear coat in order to apply decals . I've had no trouble following their advice.  Also in eliminating the decal clear coat I have one less chance of imparting goobers , an ongoing battle with me, to my paint.

 

 

 

 

 

 I'm finally retired. Now time I got, money I don't.

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Posted by ohms on Saturday, July 25, 2020 7:31 AM

@Don Stauffer

I understand the need for gloss and matte coats. They add to the authenticity and detail of the model. It's clear coats I don't understand. If it's just for non-silvering decals & protecting the paint from the weathering process, then I won't need it because I don't do a lot of weathering and my decals look fine.

If it's for protecting paints from something beyond that (as someone earlier mentioned), then I'd like to know exactly what I'm applying it for. Protection in what way, exactly? Smile

Into model building since September 2019. Also into books (mostly science-fiction), comic books, and gaming.

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Posted by ohms on Saturday, July 25, 2020 7:35 AM

Jay Jay

Also in eliminating the decal clear coat I have one less chance of imparting goobers , an ongoing battle with me, to my paint.

Pardon my ignorance but what's a goober? I'm getting the definition "goof" on Google. Did you mean you have less chance of making a mistake if you eliminate a process to your model, such as clear coating?

Or is a goober something that's got to do with the airbrushing process? Smile

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Posted by Jay Jay on Saturday, July 25, 2020 9:34 AM

Those annoying specks of dust, fibres etc. that get deposited in the paint when spraying, ruining your glass smooth finish

 

 

 

 

 

 I'm finally retired. Now time I got, money I don't.

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Posted by Markeno on Saturday, July 25, 2020 11:49 AM

For me, I am using clear coat certainly in part to protect a very delicate paint finish.  I can handle the model a little bit and the paint rubs away.  Also the assitance with prevention of silvering on the decals will be helpful even if it is said as not required.  With the delicate finish and the texture surface of the model I am trying to finish up, I don't want to put any decal solution on the delicate paint under concern that it may ruin the finish.

After the decals are on, there will be a top coat to seal in the decals.    As far as applied decals, they will scrach off with your fingernail etc.  As to if they may sliver over time, I know of models I made as a kid I so often had the edges of the decal I guess "silver".  So much so I felt like if I wanted them correct I should cut down the decals before applying them.   We are taking several decades ago, maybe decals are better today.  Still the A10 I am building with marginal assistance from my son, the Decals do not look like they "belong" on the model correctly.  They are high gloss this is a military plane, not a high gloss model.  It will get a clear mat finish over the decals when complete.  The matt or flat clear will "tie" the look together.  It will assist in making the decals more durable.  My son will not just let it sit on a shelf, it may not be a showroom grade build, but I want it to look as good as reasonble.

Ya the goobers or boogers in the paint are a pain.  I am not good enough to stop them, I do my best to limit by fast drying of the paints and not leaving them out in the open while wet for dust to settle on them as easily.  I think it helps a bit.

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Posted by Bish on Saturday, July 25, 2020 3:41 PM

ohms

@Don Stauffer

I understand the need for gloss and matte coats. They add to the authenticity and detail of the model. It's clear coats I don't understand. If it's just for non-silvering decals & protecting the paint from the weathering process, then I won't need it because I don't do a lot of weathering and my decals look fine.

If it's for protecting paints from something beyond that (as someone earlier mentioned), then I'd like to know exactly what I'm applying it for. Protection in what way, exactly? Smile

 

I am a bit confused here. They are the same thing. What exactly do you mean by clear coats.

I am a Norfolk man and i glory in being so

 

On the bench: Airfix 1/72nd Harrier GR.3/Fujimi 1/72nd Ju 87D-3

  • Member since
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Posted by Bish on Saturday, July 25, 2020 4:07 PM

Space Ranger

Clear coats are unnecessary for two reasons. One, they darken paint, especially flat color. Two, as far as decalling is concerned, they are redundant. Paint does not have to be glossy prior to decal application, it only has to be SMOOTH. Check out Paul Budzik's Scale Model Workshop videos on YouTube for further information.

 

Well, for us mere mortals who are not super duper expert models, buillders, that are often necassacary. I use gloss paints, and i would rather add a clear coat to protect the paint and decals when useing oil washes. I have had a few get ruined when i have not gloss coated properly.

And as i do use gloss paint, how would an expert like your self suggest turning a nice glossy tank into one that is not all glossy.

I am a Norfolk man and i glory in being so

 

On the bench: Airfix 1/72nd Harrier GR.3/Fujimi 1/72nd Ju 87D-3

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Posted by Tojo72 on Saturday, July 25, 2020 5:50 PM

Bish

 

 
ohms

@Don Stauffer

I understand the need for gloss and matte coats. They add to the authenticity and detail of the model. It's clear coats I don't understand. If it's just for non-silvering decals & protecting the paint from the weathering process, then I won't need it because I don't do a lot of weathering and my decals look fine.

If it's for protecting paints from something beyond that (as someone earlier mentioned), then I'd like to know exactly what I'm applying it for. Protection in what way, exactly? Smile

 

 

 

I am a bit confused here. They are the same thing. What exactly do you mean by clear coats.

 

There are three types of clear coat, gloss,satin,and matte

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Posted by ohms on Sunday, July 26, 2020 5:08 AM

Bish

I am a bit confused here. They are the same thing. What exactly do you mean by clear coats.

 
I'm referring to something like Tamiya TS-13. It just says "clear" on the can. When I spray it, it doesn't look like it changes the sheen in any way: neither to gloss, satin or matte. 
 
So my understanding was it's just a protection coat spray, not a 'change sheen' spray like gloss, matte and satin.
 
I could be wrong though. Maybe it is changing the sheen but I don't see a difference. So I came to the conclusion that it's just for protection. 
 
My question, then, is: what protection is it offering? Scratch-protection? Decades-old peel protection? I see so many people on Youtube putting on what look like similar 'neutral coats' and I don't know why they do it. 
 

Into model building since September 2019. Also into books (mostly science-fiction), comic books, and gaming.

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Posted by Bish on Sunday, July 26, 2020 5:18 AM

Ok, i have never heard of that. Not quite sure what purpose that would serve then other than to protect the paint/decals before weathering, depending on what type of paint it is.

I am a Norfolk man and i glory in being so

 

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Posted by Tojo72 on Sunday, July 26, 2020 6:48 AM

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Posted by Greg on Sunday, July 26, 2020 9:24 AM

ohms
When I spray it, it doesn't look like it changes the sheen in any way: neither to gloss, satin or matte.

I don't see how that is possible. A clearcoat is what it is, and has to be matte or gloss or somewhere in between. It's all about the surface texture. Smooth = gloss, rough = matte.

If there is a clear coat out there that maintains the underlying finish and only protects it, I want some.

 

-Greg

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Posted by armornut on Sunday, July 26, 2020 10:12 AM

   I think this OP is yanking our chain. The same question has been presented in several different ways with the same answer given. There seems to be a disconnect somewhere, something lost in translation?

    I am all about helping anybody however after reading this thread and replies multiple times I see that the OP just does not get it.

   P. S. The screen name "ohms" implies to me resistance and this appears to be what is happening here.

we're modelers it's what we do

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Posted by ohms on Sunday, July 26, 2020 12:10 PM

armornut

   I think this OP is yanking our chain. The same question has been presented in several different ways with the same answer given. There seems to be a disconnect somewhere, something lost in translation?

    I am all about helping anybody however after reading this thread and replies multiple times I see that the OP just does not get it.

   P. S. The screen name "ohms" implies to me resistance and this appears to be what is happening here.

No, I understand it may look like I'm having fun with people on the board, but I have no intention of doing that. I just had what I thought was a valid question. Still new to the model kit hobby, so I'm trying to bridge what I see on YouTube vs. what I'm trying on my own. Don't have a lot of resources beyond the internet to help me out. Smile I understand my questions can get a little OCD, but I don't want to be mistaken for someone simply looking for a laugh.

The can of Tamiya TS-13 was what I was given at the store when I asked for something to give me a gloss coat. (It said 'clear' and not 'gloss', so did the guy not understand me? I didn't question him and just took it).

I didn't use the can that much, because I soon bought an airbrush and now I use a Humbrol gloss mix instead. 

It's just that that TS-13 can was lying there saying 'clear' when I asked for gloss, and since I didn't get much of a gloss when I used it (maybe I should've applied more layers?), and since I don't see much of a difference when YouTubers apply it (see videos by Sideshow Collectibles), I began to believe that "clear" (as opposed to gloss, matte and satin) is some neutral coat that's applied for some other reason besides changing the sheen.

Thus I decided to ask this question. I was wondering if this is some type of product that's used to prevent the airbrush coat from scractching off easily, which is a genuine problem I'm having. Otherwise, if it's just for non-silvering decals and protecting paint from weathering layers, I have no use for it.

 

Into model building since September 2019. Also into books (mostly science-fiction), comic books, and gaming.

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Posted by Tickmagnet on Sunday, July 26, 2020 12:19 PM

armornut

   I think this OP is yanking our chain. The same question has been presented in several different ways with the same answer given. There seems to be a disconnect somewhere, something lost in translation?

    I am all about helping anybody however after reading this thread and replies multiple times I see that the OP just does not get it.

   P. S. The screen name "ohms" implies to me resistance and this appears to be what is happening here.

 

Ditto that.

 

 

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Posted by Eaglecash867 on Sunday, July 26, 2020 12:31 PM

TS-13 is gloss clear, TS-79 is semi-gloss clear, and TS-80 is flat clear.

"You can have my illegal fireworks when you pry them from my cold, dead fingers...which are...over there somewhere."

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Posted by Greg on Sunday, July 26, 2020 12:33 PM

ohms
I was wondering if this is some type of product that's used to prevent the airbrush coat from scractching off easily, which is a genuine problem I'm having.

That is certainly one use for a clear coat, yes.

I have used a lot of acrylics, and my product of choice is not one of the tougher-drying ones, so I got into the habit early on of clear-coating just about everything to seal, protect, and provide handleablility.

Really, that's a secondary benefit becuase the primary reason is usually to provide the desired surface finish (flat, satin, gloss etc).

I'm also in the clear coat over decal camp, because otherwise it has been my experience that decals yellow over time. And I believe it helps to hide the decal edge too.

This is my 2 cents on your question, I don't mean to ignore other replies above saying the same things, just second them.

-Greg

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Posted by Modeltruckbuilder on Sunday, July 26, 2020 12:40 PM

ohms

Thus I decided to ask this question. I was wondering if this is some type of product that's used to prevent the airbrush coat from scractching off easily, which is a genuine problem I'm having. Otherwise, if it's just for non-silvering decals and protecting paint from weathering layers, I have no use for it.

 

 

If you're having an issue with your airbrush coat "scratching off" perhaps the issue is with your preparation. Are your parts washed and fully dried prior to primer and paint? Or maybe your not allowing enough time for the paint to dry before handling the parts?

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Posted by ohms on Sunday, July 26, 2020 1:35 PM

@Greg

Thanks, that helps.

Modeltruckbuilder

If you're having an issue with your airbrush coat "scratching off" perhaps the issue is with your preparation. Are your parts washed and fully dried prior to primer and paint? Or maybe your not allowing enough time for the paint to dry before handling the parts?

 
Hi. No, it's neither. What was happening was I was using the common "Tamiya Extra Thin Cement" to put several pieces of a Formula One wing together after having airbrushed them and waited a day. These were very finicky parts, and because you have to wait a while for the glue to bond properly, the pieces kept falling apart and I had to keep re-attaching them AND finding a way to keep the shape while the glue dried. All that time touching & stressing with the pieces led to a lot of paint getting scratched off. 
 
A lot of that was due to inexperience (in hindsight, I should've just done one bond at a time, not try to fit the whole thing at once). It was literally the first step in the model and I had already ruined it. When I tried to remove the paint with Dettol to start over, the parts proved to be brittle and broke apart. Needless to say I was heartbroken. 
 
I've since asked on this board about other glues, but to be honest, I've tried several glues now, wasted a lot of money for just one application each, seeing that none of them are as good as regular superglue, and given them away to a local handyman. Now I've decided to just stick with superglue for everything but the clear parts, for which I have a decent alternative.
 
If Greg says that clear coating does help with preventing the paint from scratching off, PLUS if I won't be stressing too much with superglue's almost instant application, I think I've solved the problem. 

Into model building since September 2019. Also into books (mostly science-fiction), comic books, and gaming.

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Posted by Greg on Sunday, July 26, 2020 1:54 PM

You might not understand how Tamiya Extra Thin works so just in case.....

So I am hearing that you airbrushed, waited a day for paint to dry, then used Tamiya Extra thin to assemble.

Did you scrape off the paint at the attach points? You want bare plastic where the two surfaces meet.

Tamiya and Tamiya extra thin melt the plastic at the bond surface and 'weld' it together. Depending on the type of paint and how thick it is sometimes you can get away without scraping, but I'm in the scrape camp.

In this case, a clear coat would make things worse rather than better.

By the way, in my experience, superglue has a tendency to fail on large plastic joins subject to any tensile pressure over time, and a proper plastic cement (like Tamiya) is a safer bet.

-Greg

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Posted by ohms on Sunday, July 26, 2020 2:07 PM

Yeah, I definitely came across the tip of scraping before applying the cement. But like you said, sometimes you can get away with it, and so that's why I went in without doing it. Sad

I appreciate the advice on both superglue and Tamiya's cement. Right now I began a model with only superglue, and I enjoy the differential between it and Tamiya, but if you're saying there's a trade-off in the long run, I'll have to keep my eye out. 

Thanks again.

Into model building since September 2019. Also into books (mostly science-fiction), comic books, and gaming.

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Posted by GMorrison on Sunday, July 26, 2020 2:32 PM

Superglue only has strength in shear, i.e when the force applied to the joint is parallel to the surfaces being attached. It is an adhesive, and adhesives generally have pretty poor performance with any kind of load.

Superglue has very little no almost no strength in tension. An example would be if the halves of an aircraft fuselage are adhered together with superglue, the wings are attached and the wings are then flexed in any way, the fuselage joint will crack immediately.

If you use it to join together parts that have any kind of coating, are not prepped or are dirty, the adhesion is greatly reduced, only having the value of what ever coating or other substance has with the bare plastic.

As noted above, Tamiya Extra Thin, Acetone, Testors and other solvent glues form a bond by melting and fusing the plastic surfaces.

I use solvent glues on plastic for anything structural, such as ship hull halves, wings to fuselage, or components of a car body. Anything that can be glued first and painted later.

Because the adhesion of superglue is poor, it really works best for me with smaller prepainted parts being attached to larder sections of the model.

Tamiya Extra Thin and other solvents cannot be used to bond anything together except plastic, so superglue is required for resin kits, an alternate there being epoxy.

Morrison's Second Law: There's never enough time to do it right, but somehow there's always enough time to do it over.

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