Future darkened?

I had painted my T-54 a couple days ago, and was pretty stoked on the paint job. I tried tonal variation and was pretty happy with where it stood. Today I applied future through the airbrush it preparation for decals and washes. Well it darkened the color and now all that nice tonal variation is gone. My question is two fold, will it lighten back up as the future cures? And if it darkened with gloss will it lighten back up when I do the dull cote at the end?

It will not change much with additional wait time for the gloss coat to dry. (This would have happened with any clear gloss, not just Future.)

However, most, if not all, of the original variation will become visible again with a clear flat. Much will depend on the degree of sheen after the clear flat coat. Some clear flats are “flatter” than others.

The effect with the gloss clear is normal. Gloss colors appear to have much more saturation than the same color reproduced with no sheen. The sheen doesn’t actually change the color or tone, just its apparent saturation or intensity.

The subtle degree of difference between the various colors of your modulation was lost as all of those colors became more intense or saturated when their sheen was increased. Eliminating the sheen will decrease the apparent saturation and restore some of the contrast. However, the degree of change will depend on the amount of residual sheen.

(Technically this is the difference between “specular reflection” - gloss - and “diffuse reflection” - flat.)


Perfect, thanks for easing my mind a bit! I’m used to stark camos and lighter colors so I wad worried I had ruined my build when I sprayed the future. I did notice in my second coat of future when I first sprayed it on a spot it turned light and then went back to dark as the future dried

A rather crude but accurate enough analogy is to imagine that the high gloss surface is reflecting ALL (or more) of the color (i.e. light) so it looks darker than the matt or flat surface from which some of the reflected color (i.e. light) is scattered. There’s “less” of the scattered color (i.e. light) received by the eye, so that surface “looks” lighter (or not as “saturated”) even though the two colors are exactly the same.

Unfortunately, it will be difficult to restore the original matt finish because the layers of clear (gloss and matt) will also change the depth of the total paint layers, most importantly the layers between the original color layer and the air. Light will have to travel through the clear layers to reach the colored layer, and then reflect back through those same clear layers to get back to the air. These clear layers will always have some residual effect on the perceived specular quality of the color.

However, a matt clear will restore some (hopefully most) of the original subtle contrasts between the different green tones you used.

Perfect! Thanks for the detailed explanation. Even if some of it comes back I’ll be happy, right now it’s just a dark green montone color, but if it lightened a bit I could live with it

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I think you’ll find that you get a lot, if not most, of the contrast back with a flat clear coat. You might even like the final results even better since the contrast will be even more subtle. Pin washes, highlights, etc. will compensate by adding their own contrasts and emphasis.

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Thanks for talking me off the ledge! I was worried I had ruined the finish last night. I do plan to do some pin washing, dot filters on some surfaces, and highlights as well so I think the finished look will come together

Hi Mead93,

I use Future (now branded Pledge Revive-it here), followed eventually by a matt coat of Tamiya XF-86 Clear Flat, and it does like Mike says - the gloss darkens the paint, but the flat brings it all back! Well, as much as can be seen under all the weathering…

I’ve used gloss to add a “wet” effect from rain before, and it can look really good. It was from a photo, and the tank in question was caught in a shower so the topside was wet & dark, but the sides and sheltered bits were still dry and dusty. I sprayed gloss on from the same direction as the rain, then brushed on some streaks down the sides with more gloss on a brush. Just be sure not to gloss-up the soft stowage - canvas gets dark when wet, but not shiny!

When using this technique the variation needs to be pretty stark for just this reason. It looks “bad” but as you have discovered once the clear coat is applied all that contrast gets blended together and looks much less stark.

All is not lost. You can do some post shading with the lightened base color to restore the lost contrast the recoat with the clear gloss.

FWIW - in my experience the gloss coat definitely causes a change in the way the model looks as Mike described. As mentioned a lot of that prior contrast returns with application of flat coat.

One word of warning, once the model goes flat - the heavier the flat coat is applied the less contrast is visible.

In other words, two or three light flat coats will look far better than one heavy coat when working with a good quality clear flat. That allows the minimum amount of flat needed to be used. In my experience that helps enhance the amount of contrast returning.

Also it’s usually a very good idea in my opinion to test any clear flat on something else to make sure it’s still a good clear flat before spraying on the model. I learned that the hard way with a new bottle of Testor’s Dulcoat that wasn’t any good a long time ago.

Best wishes with next step on,the project.

Thanks for the suggestions and encouragement. In regards to clear coat thickness, I was thinking of airbrushing my clear flat as I find the rattle can application too imprecise. How do I go about decanting it? I’ve heard it mentioned before but never described

There’re a couple of different ways to decant rattle can paint for airbrushing.

You can get a small glass jar with an airtight lid (something like a small pickle jar) and carefully spray the paint into it - tilting the jar and directing the spray in it to one side. The trick is to direct the excess compressed air out of the top and away from you (along with some of the aerosolized paint).

A variation of that idea is to source a second lid and punch / cut a hole in it. Make a fairly large hole towards one side to spray into and a second, smaller hole on the opposite side to allow excess compressed air to escape. You can use a couple of layers of heavy alu foil held on with a rubber band in place of the second lid.

The larger the glass jar used, the less forceful the over-/out-spray there will be, but a larger jar seems to waste more of the decanted paint. A really small jar, like a relish jar or an empty model paint jar is inviting a mess with paint spattering out all over.

Of course, close the jar with the good lid to preserve the paint. Consider transferring it to smaller, empty model paint jars for convenience.

Another totally different technique is to turn the rattle can upside down and spray all of the compressed gas out of it (after thoroughly shaking the paint to mix it). Once the can has no pressure left in it, small holes can be punched in sides, one opposite from the other near the end of the can. The paint should be able to pour out of one hole into another container (again, a jar with a lid).

(You need two holes - one for the paint to pour out of and one for air to go into the can.)

A large nail and a hammer work pretty good to punch the holes. Having a second person to hold the can on its side (wrap it in a rag or towel) also helps. If you have to do this by yourself, nail a couple pieces of scrap wood to another board to make shallow trough to hold the rattle can on its side. Keep the working end tilted up as you punch the second hole (or paint will start running out of the first hole as you lay the can flat on its side).

Needless to say, this second technique is not without some risk, so care and appropriate safety measures should be taken. Be sure that the compressed gas is completely exhausted from the can and the case is not that the spray nozzle has become clogged and nothing is coming out for that reason.

Finally, I should say that I’ve never done this (decanting paint from a rattle can) that I didn’t make some mess, so consider your surroundings before you try either method. Have some appropriate thinner and rags / paper towels available for clean up.

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All gone mate

KISS camp here as well…I’d buy a bottle of quality acrylic flat or follow SSGToms aka Matt’s Future & Tamiya Base formula…and airbrush that.

My pet favorite, best Flat I’ve used but very hard to find.