Clear Flat

I read somewhere about the idea of adding Tamiya Flat Base to Future and making a clear flat finish out of it. 

The “Flat Base” is just some kind of silica (ground glass?) suspended in something. It’s added to gloss colors to make them flat. It can be added to glossy Future to make it into a wonderful clear flat.

Is everybody on this page right here with me? Good. If you paint with a brush, you’re going to find a clear flat that can be brushed on to be invaluable. It will take an “ordinary” looking model and make it look great.

But, you have to work with it. Emphasis on the word “work.” You need to mix it carefully. I find that a mixture of one part Tamiya Flat Base to two parts Future, by volume, to be a good mix. Don’t punk out and try to dodge the requirement to measure it. Look down into that jar of Flat Base. Go ahead, look in there!


The maw of flat.

That gritty, gray material is the sludgy mass of flat base. Notice that the jar is not full. Make a note, or mark it with a Sharpie, to indicate how high the Flat Base reaches inside the jar. You’ll need this later.

Now dump the entire contents of the jar into a larger jar. You need a two-ounce jar, which is about 72 Pico-Royales if you’re using the metric system.

Clean out the jar into that larger jar. Use a brush to get the last little bits. Now rinse out the jar and clean it. Now go back to the workbench and pour an amount of Future into the jar that reaches up to the same spot in the little jar as the Flat Base did when it was in the jar.

That’s what “by volume” means. Fills the same. Not the same  weight, or mass, or quantity according to some atomic scale. Just the volume. Now pour the Future into the larger jar. Pour another measure of Future into the small jar using the same method. Then pour this measure into the larger jar. Now you have a two-to-one mix by volume.

Stir this thoroughly (stir it more than you would expect) and then brush it out onto a painted surface. When it dries, it may dry with spots of “frost” indicating the mix is too rich in Flat Base. You need to add a few drops of Future and test again. Eventually, you will get a dead flat, even finish.

The above procedure requires manual dexterity, the ability to acquire a large jar, and, above all, the desire to do it. You may be able to get “store bought” clear flat to work for you– but it never did for me. Always too glossy. Do yourself a favor. Make your own. Once you have realized how great it is to take over your own destiny with regard to clear flat. you may find yourself exploring a whole new world of self-sufficiency. Once the MEK fumes clear out of your brain and you drop your reliance on “companies” to make stuff for you, you may move to Alaska and start hunting bears and make your models out of whale bone you harvested yourself.

Just sayin’.

4 Replies to “Clear Flat”

  1. I will have another crack at making a brew I think.

    There is no klear or future down here in Australia anymore. There is supposedly a possible substitute called Pascoes long life, so I will have to get off my arse, grab a bottle, and give it a go. I have tried mixing the flat base with Humbrol clear gloss varnish, but with the cost of that stuff, I didn’t want to keep trying and screwing it up.

    Clear matt varnishes have been the main thing that makes me shudder every time I come to that part. I have had pretty good luck with the Italeri matt clear coat thinned with water and a touch of washing up liquid, but it doesn’t look totally flat to my eyes.

  2. Well, the Long Life Self Shining Floor Polish is a fizzer. It is a great consistancy, it flows on well and the coat is hard as a rock…but it dries with a yellowish tinge and slightly changes the colours to this sheen of yellow. The liquid itself is slightly yellow, but I thought it would dry clear…That leaves….Humbrol clear! Wonderful! all of the other future like products have long since vanished from the Australian market. Didn’t know Humbrol had that sort of pull in the floor finishing industry eh 😉

    Now I believe is the time to get angry and frustrated with you Dan, and demand to know what I can use locally, or that you ship me a case of future free of charge.

    Ah well, back to the drawing board. I will hunt around, or use the damn Humbrol if that is all that is going. Just have to make sure I don’t screw the mix up otherwise $$$.

    1. Here’s a link to the Wikipedia article on varnish. In addition to this, I would seriously consider doing some serious searching in the world of ART SUPPLIES. I’m shouting that because it’s a big mistake to limit your thinking to just model-building sources and websites. Click here and check out this Liquitex product. The art world has a LOT of stuff available, and we model builders should stop ignoring it. If all else fails, though, you can buy Future/Pledge from the USA. Click here and have a Future again.

  3. Thank you Dan, I was just mucking about with you before and didn’t expect you to actually find me Australian websites with the products. I have an officeworks about 15 minutes up the road, so I think I might try some liquitex, and test it out with the flat base and see where we go.
    As an aside, that wiki article you linked here, Tamiya acrylic looks like it would fit under ‘laquer’ as it is a paint that, even when totally hard, can be redisolved by the solvent it was originally carried in. That whole article was an eye opener. Thanks again.

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