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"The Gesso Experiment" Topic

23 Posts

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Buckeye AKA Darryl10 Jan 2017 9:42 a.m. PST

Based on some of the great conversations here on TMP, I decided to try Gesso as a means to prime my figures. Here is a bit of a blog post on my experience thus far:


steamingdave4710 Jan 2017 9:53 a.m. PST

Been using gesso for several years, very happy with the results.

Rubber Suit Theatre Inactive Member10 Jan 2017 10:21 a.m. PST

Using a sponge brush instead of bristles should speed up the priming process considerably. The sponge brushes also seem to wear better for this application.


Personal logo jeffreyw3 Supporting Member of TMP10 Jan 2017 10:23 a.m. PST

Gesso is a great brush-on primer for miniatures and it provides a very nice surface for acrylic paints. Is it the thinnest brush-on primer solution--no, but that may or may not be a factor for you.

dBerczerk10 Jan 2017 10:52 a.m. PST

Buckeye -- did you use the white Gesso "neat" or did you thin it a bit with water or flow enhancer?

I've tried Liquitex white Gesso, and even thinned with water, it still seemed a bit too thick on 28mm figures.

Garand10 Jan 2017 11:34 a.m. PST

I agree with the above. I use gesso occasionally as a base for bright colors (FREX yellow) over regular spray primer. I definitely have to cut the gesso with distilled water (though tap water probably would be OK for this; we have fairly hard water where I live) in order to get satisfactory results. Also I am skeptical how well chalk in an acrylic medium would wear as opposed to a good lacquer primer.


chuck05 Fezian10 Jan 2017 1:20 p.m. PST

I pretty much use nothing but black gesso to prime now. Where I live its either too cold or too humid to prime. Gesso is great as I can use it indoors with no bad smells.

Personal logo Dale Hurtt Supporting Member of TMP10 Jan 2017 2:09 p.m. PST

I use gesso now that I primarily paint wood figures. It is a necessity otherwise the wood sucks up your paint. I use it for my plastic figures too, but I am not sure I would use it on pewter figures as they seem to have enough bite as it is. But, I haven't painted a pewter figure in a while now.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP10 Jan 2017 5:18 p.m. PST

Gesso is fine as long as you seal the finished paint. I brush on urethane-stain, after painting, without any issues. Wears like iron. Cheers!

The G Dog Fezian Inactive Member10 Jan 2017 6:28 p.m. PST

I'm using it now on some Shapeways 1/144 Black Strong and Flexible models.

KSmyth10 Jan 2017 9:58 p.m. PST

I'll use Liquitex Gesso if it's too cold or hot to spray prime. Not my first choice, but a very workable one. Thinning will help, but I never find the Gesso to glop up the detail.

Terrement Inactive Member11 Jan 2017 8:40 a.m. PST


farnox11 Jan 2017 10:52 a.m. PST

I've been using Gesso for years. No problems. It shrinks when it dries so I have not found any issues with it covering up detail. I do thin it down as others have suggested however.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP11 Jan 2017 12:07 p.m. PST

I posted in answer to concerns that it would rub off. It does not have a great deal of adherence to the underlying material (metal, plastic, resin). Just wanted to point out that adherence is not really an issue if the paint is sealed. Cheers!

VicCina Supporting Member of TMP11 Jan 2017 1:09 p.m. PST

I've been using gesso for awhile and I like the results, plus I can apply it inside in any weather.

Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP12 Jan 2017 7:21 a.m. PST

I posted in answer to concerns that it would rub off. It does not have a great deal of adherence to the underlying material (metal, plastic, resin). Just wanted to point out that adherence is not really an issue if the paint is sealed.

I'm going to take the minority viewpoint and agree with Sgt Slag. There is no way an acrylic based gesso will adhere to metal as well as an oil based spray-on primer. Do the rub test on two differently prepared figures, to convince yourselves. The fact that many users have no issues with the gesso rubbing off is more due to the careful handling of their figures (something that not all wargamer's do) and then doing proper post paint sealing, as described by Sgt Slag.

Having said that, I do sometimes use Liquitex Gesso for the same reasons given above. Gesso's real strength is adhering to porous surfaces like canvas and wood. That's what it was originally designed for.

Terrement Inactive Member12 Jan 2017 11:49 a.m. PST


dBerczerk13 Jan 2017 7:35 a.m. PST

I've heard Gesso works well as a base coat for soft plastic figures like 54mm HaT Industries and Armies in Plastic.

I've had "flakage" problems with painting both manufacturers' figures when undercoating with spray-on primers, even those marketed as designed for plastics.

Particularly troublesome areas: bayonets, swords, and rifle barrels.

ordinarybass Supporting Member of TMP13 Jan 2017 10:21 a.m. PST

Been using Gesso for many years It's great. Though I've used more and more colored spray cans recently, I've continued to use white and black Gesso as my primers for all brush-on applications.

I note that you preferred grey undercoat. You can always add some paint to gesso I've added black to white gesso for grey priming and it works well.

One thing I will say as regards to Liquitex. There is a definite difference between the standard line and the "Basics" line. Especially with white, the "basics" line is thicker and less smooth. It still works fine for me but I think it's definitley worth the higher price for the standard line.

I agree that varnish is necessary for gesso (as I think it is for all painted figures) I use Winsor Newton Galeria Acrylic Matte varnish. It's fairly cheap and available at most art stores. 2 coats dulls down even the shinyest dipped figure.

jeffbird01 Jul 2018 9:16 a.m. PST

Will Gesso work for small scales such as 1/600 and 1/300.



Sevastopol03 Jul 2018 6:49 p.m. PST

Do you use a PVA coat before you apply the Gesso.

Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP04 Jul 2018 1:45 p.m. PST

Nope, just use the gesso right on the figure.

Sevastopol04 Jul 2018 6:32 p.m. PST


Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP05 Jul 2018 2:41 p.m. PST

jeffbird, I would suggest trying it. Gesso will shrink, as it dries, but with 1/600 and 1/300 scale figures, it might fill in details.

If you do not like the results, soak the figure in Simple Green cleaner, scrub with an old toothbrush, rinse, dry, and start over with another method. Cheers!

VicCina Supporting Member of TMP09 Jul 2018 9:19 p.m. PST

Yes, Gesso works for smaller figures. I've used it a lot with my 6mm figures without issues.

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