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"Alternatives to Spray Primer?" Topic

23 Posts

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1,644 hits since 12 Jan 2015
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Comments or corrections?

Rebelyell2006 Inactive Member12 Jan 2015 5:38 a.m. PST

I prefer spray primer for 15mm, 20mm and 28mm minis, but for a while I will not be able to use a spray prime without some awkwardness (due to the weather, and a lack of a backyard or sideyard). Are there effective alternatives that provide an adequately even covering?

Personal logo elsyrsyn Supporting Member of TMP12 Jan 2015 6:04 a.m. PST

I keep hearing great things about gesso, but I've yet to try it myself.


Personal logo Dervel Supporting Member of TMP Fezian12 Jan 2015 6:04 a.m. PST

Normally I spray and then actually paint the crevices with black acrylic watered own to avoid clumping or loosing detail.

For lead figures, I have used some acrylic brush on primer from reaper when I have a single figure or only a small area to cover… It seems to adhere well to lead.


For plastic I have found brush on Gesso does a great job… slightly better if the figures are washed in denatured alcohol first.

MajorB12 Jan 2015 6:23 a.m. PST

I have always used Humbrol Matt Enamel in either white or grey.

whitphoto Supporting Member of TMP12 Jan 2015 6:40 a.m. PST

I use Gesso on both plastic and metal figures. I just primed another dozen figures for Bolt Action with my huge bottle of gesso which i will never use all of at this point. I water mine down a little bit because I find it easier to not over-apply it that way but you don't have to.

normsmith Inactive Member12 Jan 2015 6:56 a.m. PST

I am really enjoying Vallejo 'Surface Primer'.

It is very thin and gets into all the nooks and crannies. I use a brush – but I think it can be air-brushed as well.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP12 Jan 2015 7:12 a.m. PST

There are also brush on primers. I am tempted to try Gesso with my plastics.

Onomarchos Supporting Member of TMP12 Jan 2015 7:27 a.m. PST

I use gesso. It works great if I wait at least 24 hours before I start to paint over the primer

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP12 Jan 2015 8:17 a.m. PST

My son and I use LiquidTex gesso acrylic undercoating for both metal and plastic figures. With either the heat and humidity of a southern "summer" (about 8-9 months long) or the cold and humidity of a Southern "winter" (about 3 months long) with which we have to deal, spraying has just never been effective. The gesso can be used either straight from the bottle of slightly watered down. It shrinks to provide a smooth surface that takes most paints well, although a few acrylic craft reds and yellows need a second coat. We primarily use gray although last night I used white on 24 French SYW figures. We've yet to have a problem. Just have to let the gesso dry about 24 hours before beginning to paint on it.

As gesso is not a true primer, it will rub off if one is to rough with handling it but once a figure is painted there is very little "rub-off" noticed.


Clark18212 Jan 2015 9:32 a.m. PST

my 12 months a year primer process:

after clean up and mounting on painting blocks, brush on rustoleum flat black enamel. this is thinned down a bit.

when the brushed on coat is dry, take the figures either outside and spray prime with rustoleum rattlecan flat black or in cold weather, open the door to the outside, spray the figures leaning out into the cold, cruel world and then set inside to dry.

this has worked for me for many years and i am a professional as i often paint for money. : )

-clark 182

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART12 Jan 2015 10:06 a.m. PST

This is an old and persistent question. While Gesso never worked for me, Valeho <sp> acrylic primer worked very well indeed.
One day I accidentally noticed the word 'primimer' on a bottle of gray paint. Tried it and it was a rousing sucess! Reminded me of the old floquil primer of ancient times.
The figures in question were hard plastics (wargames factory). Since plastics are notoriously fussy to prime, it re-enforced the experience. It's much more durable than Gesso, gives a thinner coat and gives a great surface. Lot's of 'tooth' to it.

RavenscraftCybernetics Inactive Member12 Jan 2015 10:17 a.m. PST

G E S S O!

IronDuke596 Supporting Member of TMP12 Jan 2015 10:28 a.m. PST

Major B; I use Humbrol matt enamels for top coats but have never used them as a primer. I prefer a matt black underoat/primer; have you had any issues using a Humbrol matt paint as a primer? Does it go on uniformly and does it have 'teeth' to provide a good surface for a top coat?

Clark182; I was wondering why you paint on the rustoleum flat black then spray? Most would do the reverse ie spray then use a brush to fill in the crevices that spraying misses.

Any comments would be appreciated on both of these methods. Thanks.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP12 Jan 2015 11:51 a.m. PST

Gesso: white, gray, or black are all available. I've used it on: metal and both hard and soft plastic figures.

The key to using Gesso, is to seal the paint job, to preserve it. This should be done no matter what the primer used, on every figure, to preserve the paint job during handling. I prefer a coat of full-strength Pledge Floor Shine (formerly known as Future Floor Shine, grocery store item, $7 USD for 1 liter?), followed by a matte clear coat of choice (Mod Podge Matte works as a brush-on). Cheers!

PzGeneral12 Jan 2015 12:42 p.m. PST

I brush on black craft paint. My miniatures never complain…..

AonghusONia Inactive Member12 Jan 2015 2:50 p.m. PST

I've used thinned down rustoleum enamel with success

Rebelyell2006 Inactive Member12 Jan 2015 5:02 p.m. PST

Does gesso work well with soft plastic?

Henry Martini Inactive Member12 Jan 2015 8:27 p.m. PST

Slightly thinned Humbrol flat black enamel: tough with good adhesive properties – but only if stirred thoroughly beforehand.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP13 Jan 2015 10:37 a.m. PST

Rebelyell2006, yes, it does. It shrinks around the plastic, like a second skin. Once painted, however, be sure to apply a clear coat to preserve the paint work. Cheers!

BelgianRay Inactive Member13 Jan 2015 1:44 p.m. PST

Vallejo Surface Primer

Clark18216 Jan 2015 6:29 a.m. PST

reply to ironduke568:

"Clark182; I was wondering why you paint on the rustoleum flat black then spray? Most would do the reverse ie spray then use a brush to fill in the crevices that spraying misses."

hi duke:
in no particular order:
1. brushing on gives me a last chance to clean up missed mold lines and casting errors.
2. I like the spray finish for working on more than the brush-on finish of thinned down rustoleum.
3. brush-on is cheaper than using spray as the main primer. I am cheap.
4. brush-on soaks in and locks on my basing sand better than spray.
5. not the most rational, but I like to do it this way. go figure, it works for me. : )

hope this helps,


TheWarStoreSweetie Supporting Member of TMP16 Jan 2015 10:32 a.m. PST

I use either Gesso or I use Vallejo Surface Primer through my airbrush. It depends on what I am doing and how many figures I have to prime. For example, I am cleaning up a metric schnoz load of figures for HMGS Hobby U. Because it's cold in New York, I will run Vallejo Surface primer through my airbrush.

Rebelyell2006 Inactive Member17 Feb 2015 8:43 p.m. PST

As a followup, the past month I've been using a Testors brand gray primer designed for airbrushes that I acquired when I bought a cheap airbrush 15 years ago, but it works well brushed-on as well. Yesterday I tried the Bob Ross brand black gesso on an Opel Blitz, and it worked great, especially considering that I forgot to wash the plastic beforehand (I was so excited about the prospect of the county being closed due to snow that I skipped a step or two). Gesso worked great on it, and I will try it on some minis at some point this week.

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