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"Black Primer or White Primer?" Topic

35 Posts

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1,290 hits since 24 Feb 2017
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Comments or corrections?

Lee49424 Feb 2017 6:25 p.m. PST

28mm WWII Figures. Men not tanks. Most say black. I find that most colors painted over black come out darker than normal. Combined with the way minis tend to appear darker than real life due to size and the often sub normal lighting conditions where gaming occurs many figures look like black blobs. Maybe just my old eyes. White primed figures seem to show off the colors better but do have issues where the white base shows through in cracks and crevices but since I ink wash my minis that pretty much takes care of itself. What am I missing re black priming? Love to hear your thoughts! I have s box of US and Japan Infantry waiting on answers!


Personal logo PaulCollins Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2017 6:32 p.m. PST

I always prime white. I have a bunch of 1/72 Zulus on the way which I will probably prime black, but I agree with you that black primer tends to make figures darker than I like. All-in-all I think it just depends on what you like.

Mako1124 Feb 2017 6:50 p.m. PST

Gray, or white for me, since as you say, otherwise, the figures turn out darker.

Depends upon your painting techniques though, I guess.

whitphoto Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2017 6:56 p.m. PST

I prefer a real light grey

coopman Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2017 7:44 p.m. PST

Same here, white or lt. gray. I have used black quite a bit in the past though, with mixed results.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2017 8:19 p.m. PST

You can prime black and dry brush white to get the colors to pop a little more.

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2017 8:25 p.m. PST

White primer forever!

Paint the WHOLE figure!!!

wrgmr124 Feb 2017 8:43 p.m. PST

Black or grey for me. White just makes me paint the crevices with dark colors.

Personal logo The Beast Rampant Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2017 9:17 p.m. PST

but since I ink wash my minis that pretty much takes care of itself.

There you go. Line the truly recessed spots black, where the wash really picks them out, and the ink takes care of the rest.

IMO, getting good colors on black primer is much harder than properly shading with white primer. Plus, depth and details are so much harder to pick out on black.

Painting on a clean white base gives me the feeling of drawing the character from the mini and giving it my own interpretation. Painting on dull black makes me feel like I'm fishing around in the bottom of the kitchen sink to find what's blocked off the drain.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2017 9:19 p.m. PST

It varies.
Black for tanks or knights, white for everything else.

Lee49424 Feb 2017 9:45 p.m. PST

Great feedback! I'm surprised by how many votes for white there were. Maybe I'm not nuts after all lol. My favorite was fishing around the bottom of the sink! My sentiments exactly. Cheers!

Lee49424 Feb 2017 9:57 p.m. PST

Just to share some more. I'm a lazy painter in that I like to do as little as possible lol. Still, many people at games I've run like my armor. Here's what I do. I spray prime in the base color. I like Model Master. Then I wash entire model with one shade darker. Then I black ink wash gratings, bogies, Mgs etc. Next I dry brush items like Mgs. Tools and worn areas around hatches with gun metal. Then a final dry brush of desert sand. Heavy on tracks and bogies for "mud" look. Lighter on equipment. But do the whole vehicle. The original darker base shade wash gets in all the crevices and details while the desert sand picks out all the highlights. The gun metal provides a metallic look to Mgs tools hatches (worn areas) etc. Simple process. Spray. Wash. Dry brush. But it provides a good gaming model. Cheers! Lee

hetzer24 Feb 2017 10:42 p.m. PST

Black gesso for me.

goragrad24 Feb 2017 11:31 p.m. PST

I have only primed white, but have acquired various primed minis over the years primed in black, gray, or tan.

I find black, as noted by others to be harder to see the detail on when painting. On the other hand I liked the slight variation in colors produced when I painted up some Parthian horse archers pre-primed in black along with others i had primed in white. Added a bit to the palette.

Gray is easier to work with than black, and also gives a bit more variety to the finished color schemes.

Haven't painted up the tan primered minis, so the jury is out on that.

Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member24 Feb 2017 11:41 p.m. PST

I'm in the wrgmr1 camp. White primer always for figures (I might use black or brown for terrain/buildings). If you're applying a darker ink wash after painting, that should take care of your concerns about "crevices" or cracks.

Puster Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2017 11:51 p.m. PST

With Winston here – if the minis are more then 50% mail or plate, black. White otherwise.

Mako1125 Feb 2017 12:53 a.m. PST

AND, of course, there's always brown primer too, which few mention, but is especially useful on figures from the medieval era (not wearing armor) backwards to ancients, or for those showing a lot of skin.

foxweasel25 Feb 2017 2:15 a.m. PST

Generally grey, I use Vallejo white primer with a dash of black. I did some British paratroopers last year and primed them with Vallejo primer Israeli sand, that worked as well.

dale mcroberts Inactive Member25 Feb 2017 6:31 a.m. PST

Generally I'm a black primer, but agree with Mako11, I use a red brown primer for figs showing a lot of skin (biblicals and for example especially Mycenaeans, of which I've done a lot recently), and also for chariots – particularly for chariots which end up mainly natural wood/wicker.
Then again, for my black primed figures I often end up re-priming some of the figure in white when I want say red or yellow to stand out. And t'other way round on my white primed figures, I will re-prime in black for armour etc.
I guess you can include me in the 'undecided' camp.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP25 Feb 2017 6:50 a.m. PST

^^I will still prime black, but then I paint a specific area white. I am working on some medieval figures -- all primed black -- but I then I give the shields a white base coat before painting them so the colors pop and are more vibrant.

ccmatty Supporting Member of TMP25 Feb 2017 8:29 a.m. PST

I have gone over to grey primer through an airbrush…

14Bore25 Feb 2017 8:55 a.m. PST

I use white but artist studying niece told me to use grey.

Timmo uk25 Feb 2017 9:30 a.m. PST

White etch primer. So many advantages. If you paint in your shadow tones first you can eliminate the chances of having white spots.

Grignotage25 Feb 2017 10:00 a.m. PST

I normally use grey primer. Sometimes I'll use white for really brightly colored troops.

Lee49425 Feb 2017 11:16 a.m. PST

OK. So many people have responded gray primer. Followup question. Light medium or dark gray. I don't air brush but like the Model Master sprays. What gray is best? Thanks! Lee

Shardik25 Feb 2017 2:30 p.m. PST

Medium grey. I found with black primer I had to do too many coats of colour

Personal logo Rrobbyrobot Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member25 Feb 2017 3:09 p.m. PST


per ardua26 Feb 2017 4:58 a.m. PST

White spray primer for figures,
Grey spray primer for vehicles and some figures, mostly sci fi.
black spray primer for Brunswicker napoleonic soldiers.

halfords rattle cans.

doublesix6626 Feb 2017 7:39 a.m. PST

Always use white primer usually with a brown/black wash to darken the crevices (either my home made Black ink or Brown ink with water and a touch of washing up liquid for viscosity)

uglyfatbloke26 Feb 2017 7:45 a.m. PST

I used a Citadel sandy- pale olive spray on a load of British paras and also on XIV Army; I feel it worked well for a lazy and rubbish painter but I can't remember the name of the colour and our local shop has run out of it.

Personal logo brass1 Supporting Member of TMP26 Feb 2017 9:01 a.m. PST

I've been priming with white for 43 years. I have done some experimentation with different colors but the results haven't impressed me.


Personal logo The Beast Rampant Supporting Member of TMP26 Feb 2017 10:50 a.m. PST

"colored" spray primer is perfectly feasible- and is pretty darned handy to boot!

farnox27 Feb 2017 11:59 a.m. PST

White for me also, I experimented with black but the figures are just too dark. I do mainly 6mm – 15mm and they just look so much better when they are a little brighter.

brucka27 Feb 2017 3:58 p.m. PST

Whatever's cheapest and still doesn't fuzz grey. Seems to work best for WWII particularly infantry.

Thomas Thomas Supporting Member of TMP28 Feb 2017 10:40 a.m. PST

The redominant color of the figure/vehicle if dark other wise black primer.

White forces you to paint complete figure and make sure you are percise on color changes. Great if your a great painter but not so good for average painters like me.

Current crop of improved washes help. Extra layers of same color paint will lighten black primed figures giving nice shading effect. Colors do not pop out in a technacolor way but sublte tones sometimes look better. Yellow difficult over black though.


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