Tutorial: Topcoating

Topcoating, aside from protecting the paint, which is its main purpose, also has various uses. There are also things to consider in choosing your topcoat. We’ll tackle everything so don’t you worry.

Topcoat, it is an invisible layer of paint which purpose is to protect the paint or the kit itself. This is usually the last step. However, there are instances that we topcoat in between various steps. So when are these instances?

Most pro modelers, if not all, apply a gloss coat before/after panel lining and decaling. Doing so not only protects the paint, if you ever painted beforehand, from enamel wash, if ever you’ll use one, but it also helps avoid silvering in decals and makes pane lines a lot easier to clean. If you are to weather your kit, then this is a must :3

Types of Topcoat

1. Gloss – By the words itself, it reflects light the most, meaning it’s shiny. It’s a recommended finish for metallic. But stop right there, there are things you need to be wary and I’ll mention it later.

2. Semi-gloss/Satin – In military modelling, I’ve noticed that satin is their term for semi-gloss. It’s basically the finish in between flat and gloss. This is the finish of common gunpla kits.

3. Flat/Matte – It has a rough surface and cuts light, thus it’s not shiny. This is my preferred finish. It gives realistic feel on the kit, making it less to toy looking. Though you’d day that since Gundams are robots, aren’t they supposed to be glossy or metallic looking? Well, I don’t know, but that’s what I personally feel.

Things To Consider

First of, the brand. Many people use industrial grade topcoat. They work, but not all of them are safe on bare plastic. If you don’t consider in painting your kit and feel like topcoating it on bare plastic, then that could be a problem. The only industrial grade topcoat that I know that can harm plastic if directly put is Krylon. That’s according to a spray can master MatX. Basically, all topcoats, may it be industrial or hobby grade can harm plastic. But in my experience, Bosny brand and all other hobby grade didn’t harm the plastic. So there might be other factors to consider when it’ll harm the kit.

Second, the current layer. Topcoats are basically just clear paints. Of course, the formulation is different but there types are still the same. If there are 3 types of paint, then there will still be 3 types of topcoat. Acrylic, Enamel and Lacquer. Please refer here so that you’ll be informed. Bosny are acrylics, but they have been thinned with lacquer thinner. In short, it could harm an acrylic and enamel layer. I have not tested it, but I feel like it won’t. Actually, I have not encountered this yet. For metallic paints, let us say the common Chrome. It’s usually enamel type, available in hardware stores like Bosny and RJ London brands. They are reflective but not mirror finish. You might think that putting clear coat would work right? Well, A BIG NO! No can do. Just let it be, you won’t be able to topcoat it even with an acrylic layer of paint.

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