So I went down to Bunnings. Based on posts on WargamerAU I had a look at Cabot's products. I found their water based 'Stain and Varnish' Product in a variety of colours and in either satin or gloss sheens, and picked up a 250mL tin for $AUD20. You could also get an oil-based Cabot's product for $AUD16, and 500mL products were $AUD30 and $AUD25 for water- and oil-based products respectively. Army Painter tones are $AUD40-50 for 250mL.
There were a variety of colours available. I chose 'Dark Chocolate' because I want to get some good contrast, and it reminds me of the Woodland Scenics Raw Umber wash I know and love. I chose satin sheen over gloss because I dislike shiny models, and I've never found that matt varnishes completely remove shine. The less my matt varnish has to deal with, the better. (I don't routinely varnish any of my figures, and haven't had problems with chipping etc.- YMMV). The 'Dark Chocolate' is made up at the store from a blank tint base.
Cabot's colour range. 'Dark Chocolate' is circled.
I brushed on undiluted without dabbing away or spinning off the excess, and haven't yet matt sprayed them. Et voila!
Trial dipped orc
I'm very happy with the orc. The eyes didn't come out under the dip, and the whole miniature looks suitably grubby. I may experiment with thinner dips so that the board doesn't look like a sea of homogenous brown. (Note to self: maybe use a different tone for the Free Peoples?)
I'm not satisfied with the elf. It looks he's been playing in the Somme.
Trial dipped elf
What are my options?
- I could water down the shade but I still think it won't quite look right. Maybe dab more of it off, but that will probably look similar.
- What I'm thinking is to get another pot of untinted stain, and make a few experimental shades using acrylics and empty paint pots.
- Another option is to get a lighter pre-mixed colour, akin to Armypainter Soft Tone.
- Or paint the few elves and other troubling figures (Saruman) in a more traditional manner and then give them a thick protective coat with varnish or with the untinted stain.
- Maybe paint over affected areas.
- Go for other colours than white- but that won't fix the Saruman problem.
I'm heading out of town for several days tomorrow. I'll ponder my sins and options and will likely return to the hardware store. I may dig up some Airfix horses and trial some different techniques.