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"Skip the primer/basecoat?" Topic


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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian11 Nov 2019 11:58 a.m. PST

I was wondering if anyone has tried the experiment, with vehicles which come molded in the correct color of plastic, of skipping the primer and basecoat and simply adding shadows and highlights?

In other words, if a Russian tank comes in Russian green plastic, do you need to paint it Russian green?

JimDuncanUK11 Nov 2019 12:03 p.m. PST

Of course you can skip a basecoat if you are happy with a standard that is invariably inferior to a fully painted miniature.

MajorB11 Nov 2019 12:12 p.m. PST

Since most paints are translucent rather than opaque, the base coat determines the overall look of the finished model.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP11 Nov 2019 12:17 p.m. PST

Try at least hitting it with a clear matte sealant to give the paints you do use something to adhere to.

MajorB11 Nov 2019 12:32 p.m. PST

Try at least hitting it with a clear matte sealant to give the paints you do use something to adhere to.

This puzzles me. If paint needs something to adhere to, how does the base coat or primer stick?

Garand11 Nov 2019 12:59 p.m. PST

This puzzles me. If paint needs something to adhere to, how does the base coat or primer stick?

This depends entirely on the formulation of the paint in question. I wouldn't use Vallejo paints, FREX, without a primer of some sort…

The problem with this method is that a; plastic color is rarely the correct shade for historical models (even "Russian green"), 2; plastic often has a milky, slightly translucent quality that looks like plastic, no matter what you do, unless the plastic is heavily pigmented (like the more recent Bandai kits). Finally, hitting the models with a can of Olive Drab or Russian green is about as low intensity of a paintjob you can do… If you have too many models & not enough time (or basecoating is a drag), look at methods to reduce this time, such as spraypaint or an airbrush.

Damon.

Bigby Wolf11 Nov 2019 1:06 p.m. PST

Prime your minis.
Sloth is a sin! ,-)

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP11 Nov 2019 2:56 p.m. PST

MajorB, primers are made to stick to weird (especially smooth) stuff--and to accept your regular paint afterward. Sometimes your primer can act as a base coat--but there are perfectly adequate base coats which are not necessarily good primers.

I've run into Bill's problem once or twice. The plastic color is close enough to work from, but that doesn't mean a wash won't bead up on it. A clear sealant will adhere, and using a matte means it has enough "bite" to keep your paint on where you do use paint.

Ever do colored pencils on "hot press" paper? Doesn't work because the paper is too smooth to grip the wax from the pencil. It's the same basic problem.

MajorB11 Nov 2019 3:10 p.m. PST

primers are made to stick to weird (especially smooth) stuff--and to accept your regular paint afterward. Sometimes your primer can act as a base coat--but there are perfectly adequate base coats which are not necessarily good primers.

But I've used enamel paint as a "primer" for years and it seems to stick to any surface?

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP11 Nov 2019 4:42 p.m. PST

Then you have done well, MajorB. I won't quarrel with any system that works. Bill asked for advise, and I told him what works for me.

In this particular case, though, an enamel base coat would seem to be defeating the purpose. And given full strength enamel sticks to everything, would a wash do so as well?

Beowulf Supporting Member of TMP Fezian12 Nov 2019 10:17 a.m. PST

Always prime.

Sgt Slag12 Nov 2019 10:49 p.m. PST

I used to paint my green and tan Plastic Army Men figures. I just painted the bits that differed from the plastic's color. Then, of course, I applied the classic Dip Technique to them. At arm's length, they looked pretty decent. The Dip really brought out their details.

I stopped, however, due to the fact that the urethane-stain would, eventually, rub off (usually 5-10 years later, with gentle handling).

Yes, Bill, it can be done, and it can work. Experimentation is king, Baby! Try some test figures… You only need please yourself, no one else.

As to historically accurate colors… That is really quite entertaining. Lighting varies, from one game room, to another. Depending upon the lighting, your "historically accurate" color, can look awful! Besides that, the original paint used in the real world, by real troops and countries, faded, became dirty, and stained.

And for black powder era troops, and such, we have no real idea what their colors were, exactly. Get it close, and move on. Too many variables affected their colors. They used natural plant and mineral dyes, which shifted, and faded, from one dye pot, to another. Only in modern times, with chemical dyes, do we have uniformity in dye colors.

Every batch of wool takes plant and mineral dyes differently, as well! It also depends upon whether it is the first batch of wool dyed in the pot, or the 2nd, 3rd, etc., as to how its final color will be! Then there is the temperature of the dye, when the wool is soaked, the length of time it is in the pot, whether the dye pot is made of iron or copper (both metals function as Mordants -- see next paragraph). …And the list of variables goes on.

Mordants, chemicals used to fix the dye colors permanently, cause color variations, as well. Do some homework on plant and mineral dyes, mordants, etc. I think you will come away with a better understanding that there is no such thing as a "historically accurate" color scheme, particularly for musket-era troops, wearing wool coats. Cheers!

GROSSMAN Supporting Member of TMP13 Nov 2019 1:20 p.m. PST

One does not simply skip the base coat…

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP05 Dec 2019 4:14 a.m. PST

The primer usually goes on with a spray and will dry rapidly. It will therefore adhere to plastic, even with the shiniest surface. However if you try to brush-apply enamel or vinyl paints onto a surface like that, it will pool and run all over the place. Plastic card, in scratch building, is classical for that.

Mark 110 Dec 2019 7:34 p.m. PST

Count me also among the always prime / always base-coat gang.

Several good reasons have been stated above. But please allow me to add one more.

I don't know about you, but I have discovered over the years that (I know, shame unto me for eternity) I am NOT a perfect-first-time-every-time detailer.

Consider the case: I am applying my details to a model I have not base coated. Let's say I got 2 of these cool T-34 tank models that already came to me in "Russian Green". I did the first one, somehow managing my detailing and washes without a base coat, and I'm happy as a cat in a tuna cannery with my results. Now I'm working on the second one. But OOPS! as I paint the handle on the pick on the side of the hull, my hand wavers, and I wind up with a squiggly brown line all over everything but the pick handle.

How am I gonna fix that?

If I have base coated my model, I wait a few minutes, then apply more base coat over the squiggly line, and VOILA no harm, no foul, I'm back to painting the handle again. But if the hull side is bare plastic, what am I to do?

I don't know about you guys, but when I'm detailing a set of tanks I wind up painting over some error at least once for every two or three tanks, and sometimes two or three times on ONE tank!

No base coat? No good. No thanks. Not my tanks.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

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