Coming from a WWII painting background I am used to varnish all my figures / models as matt as possible. With regard to samurai armour I was always a bit unsatisfied with the result, it just didnt appear lacquered anymore after the matt varnish treatment, the shine was missing. So I thought about the possible ways and came up with the following three ways:
1. Painting the lacquer effect
Definitely the most difficult method, applying NMM techniques and actually painting all the light reflexes a lacquered armour may have. Most time consuming process and the worst: One small mistake may ruin the whole painting. So I decided that this is not my favourite method :-)
2. Using gloss varnish
Quite simply its about varnishing only the armour parts with gloss varnish whereas all other parts (clothing, skin etc.) remains matt. You achieve quite a contrast - but does it look real? Not sure yet, looks a bit too "wet" for me. I used that method on the 2 guys in black armour.
2. Using gloss medium for the edges
Thats basically the way I paint armour in general, using metal paints on matt varnished metals to get the look of metal reflections. Just a bit modified: Mixing the armour highlight colour with Vallejo gloss medium and applying it on the raised surfaces like edges after having applied a coat of matt varnish before. I used that method on the guy in brown armour.
Pls. let me know what do you think which painting style fits samurai armour best - maybe you know a different way?