Humbrol Clear Gloss – What, How, Why

humbrol clear glossHumbrol’s Gloss Clear is an often overlooked material for model making but it’s incredibly useful and is far more than just a clear finish.

You could be mistaken in believing that Humbrol’s Gloss Varnish is just for adding a shine to models but it’s far more.

It protects paintwork with a clear finish but can also be used to improve the look of clear plastic for windows and allows recessed and detail areas to be cleaned without damage (watch the video below for more). And don’t worry about the gloss finish, this can easily be changed to a matt finish if you prefer.

Rather than reinvent what’s already been said, here’s a review and summary of it from Luther at the Mighty Brush.

“Here it is – the answer to all hobbyist’s prayers! Well, maybe not all hobbyists, but those who are familiar with the old Johnson’s Klear floor polish will know how useful a substance that was for our hobby and what a gap was left when it was replaced with a completely different and much less useful formula. There has been a lack of thin, clear gloss varnish for a number of years but now, finally, Humbrol has stepped up to fill that gap.

The way the product is described on the Humbrol website makes it sound identical to the old Johnson’s Klear in terms of usage and result – and the good news is it’s true.

It’s thin and clear, can be applied undiluted with either brush or airbrush, is self-levelling and dries to a finish that gets more and shinier the more coats you apply.

The main uses are as a gloss varnish if you want a shiny finish to a model or part of a model, as a protective layer for the painted surface prior to using shading washes, as a preparation layer for applying decals, or as a dip to make clear parts such as aircraft canopies more realistic.

This Humbrol video demonstrates some of the uses and how its applied.

A thin clear varnish that goes on clear and stays clear. Humbrol Clear drys to a low gloss finish, a higher gloss finish can be achieved by applying further thin coats.


A water-soluble, self-levelling gloss medium that can prepare painted surfaces for decals, as a gloss varnish and improve the appearance of clear parts.


Humbrol Enamel and Acrylic Paints.


Apply thinly with a brush or airbrush. To achieve a high gloss finish, apply additional coats.

Drying Time

Surface-dry in 30 minutes. Recoat once dry.

How to Clean


Humbrol Gloss Clear is available in a 125ml bottle from Humbrol directly or from their stockists.”

Words reproduced by the kind permission of The Mighty Brush.

> A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.
Founder of ModelRailwayEngineer, Andy Leaning

Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.

Afflliate disclosure:The links on this page may take you to carefully selected businesses, such as Hornby, Amazon, eBay and Scale Model Scenery, where you can purchase the product under affiliate programmes. This means I receive a small commission on any orders placed although the price you pay does not change. You can read my full affiliate policy here. I also sell my my own ready to use, pre-made and painted buildings and terrain features. browse the range.
  1. Morning Andy, Yes I totally agree with you about brushing on instead of soaking. I was really referring to cheap cotton used for hand sewing, it usually has wayward bits of tread that when wet goes a little lumpy. The industrial cotton. because of the speed that it is used at, can’t be allowed to clog up the machine. Anyway when it arrives I’ll have a go and report back to you. Thanks Andy.

  2. Hi Andy a friend of mine brought me some very fine fishing line last night, so fine I had to paint it black to see it, anyway I’ve just spent 6 hours trying every combination to make it work but I’m not happy so it’s back to the old tried and tested ways like you’ve suggested. The reason I don’t like cotton soaked in PVA is because it gets a bit lumpy, but I just realized I can get my hands on some industrial cotton, that should do the trick. Fingers crossed. see ya.

  3. Thanks for the comeback Andy, T do have my moments. But I’m afraid I’ve hit a brick wall with another problem. I’ve been using Wills point rodding kits and it looks really great but I would like to finish the setting with wires leading from the signal box to the signals, all static and for affect only, but nobody dose anything like that. So I talked to the Hatton’s people and they suggested fishing line. A bit springy but would Humbrol clear gloss stiffen it up so that it was workable enough to lay 7 or 8 lines together? Just a thought Andy.

    • Hi Steve, you deserve an award from Humbrol for inventive uses of Gloss Clear! I know exactly what you mean re the wires for point rodding. Personally, I’ve never found fishing line much use for this kind of thing. The same for telegraph pole wires – it’s too springy – as you say. Cotton thread soaked in PVA has worked well in the past. Have you tried that? Andy

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