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"Priming with Gesso" Topic

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5,090 hits since 17 Jan 2007
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thegrip Inactive Member17 Jan 2007 10:55 a.m. PST

(i asked this in another one of my threads regarding priming, but i think it may get lost in the threads b/c it is not the same topic…)

i just primed my very first minis last night (Winter Guard from Warmachine) with Gesso mixed with black acrylic paint and a little bit of water. This morning it looks great, but, as another user posted in my other priming thread, it shrunk (good) and left some pinholes (fixable). If i second coat the pinholes, will i have to wait another 24 hours for the gesso to dry, or can i let it flash dry and start painting. These are just a few pinholes here and there, but i don't want to do something stupid (instinct tells me i have to wait another day, but i just want to check).


has left TMP for good Inactive Member17 Jan 2007 11:00 a.m. PST

I usually give it overnight.

It's just like spray priming -- you always have a few holes to touch up before you can start the "real" painting.

DeaconBlue Supporting Member of TMP17 Jan 2007 11:11 a.m. PST

I usually wait 2 days for the gesso to fully dry, and then fix the small pin holes with a coat or two of thinned acrylic paint before starting the "real" painting.

nycjadie Inactive Member17 Jan 2007 11:57 a.m. PST

I think a few pinholes wouldn't hurt a prime job. Even with spray it's impossible to get a perfect prime.

CPBelt Inactive Member17 Jan 2007 1:34 p.m. PST

There really is no need for the water or paint added in. Trust me. I jam the gesso into the crevices and glop it on. Dries perfectly thin. When I do touch up the inevitable bare spots, I hit the spots again with gesso and let it dry over night just to be sure. If there are only a few small pinholes, NYCJadie is right that they don't seem to matter much.

Personal logo jeffreyw3 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member17 Jan 2007 4:37 p.m. PST

Similarly to Deacon, I let the intial prime dry for 24 hours or more, and then just touch up any misses or pinholes areas with black acrylic paint.


PJ Parent Inactive Member17 Jan 2007 6:11 p.m. PST

I never wait 24 hours. I will start painting the first figure after priming the tenth, or I will prime a bunch and then clean up the kitchen and then paint a colour or three. I do have to fix parts I did not get paint on but I do that all on the same night. I push for a perfect prime when I do 1/72nd scale plastics.


Hyun of WeeToySoldiers Inactive Member18 Jan 2007 6:40 a.m. PST

I'm a big fan of gesso.

When I saw CPBelt's comments--specifically, his words "jam the gesso into the crevices and glop it on. Dries perfectly thin"--I was a bit skeptical! I've always thinned my gesso, and have gotten good results. So I performed a little experiment with a very liberal application of unthinned gesso. The result? See for yourself:

Thanks, CPBelt! thumbs up

Condottiere18 Jan 2007 8:54 a.m. PST

Thanks for the link and demonstration. I've been using Gesso for quite sometime (when doing larger figures--not on my 15's). I've always thinned it to about 50% water/gesso mix, because it always seemde just too darn thick. But, I have noticed that when applied in "full thickness" it does seems to dry thin, leaving details (with a few exceptions over the years--pooling in certain areas). I would guess that the trick is to make sure that pooling does not occur. Otherwise, using undiluted Gesso would be just fine.

thegrip Inactive Member18 Jan 2007 10:12 a.m. PST

Why do people refrain from using gesso on 15mm? Worried about thickness?

DeaconBlue Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2007 11:02 a.m. PST

I'd second CPBelt's comments about using un-thinned gesso and jamming in to all the crevasses. I use a cheap bristle stencil brush which is ideal for getting in to all the tight spots.

tonysilvs Inactive Member18 Jan 2007 11:37 a.m. PST

all my local art shops just seem to do white. any good scources for this in black in the UK?
Nice work Hyun.

CeruLucifus18 Jan 2007 3:13 p.m. PST

Great post with examples, Hyun. I'm convinced gesso belongs in my paint drawer and am off to the art supply store to load up on some.

Personal logo jeffreyw3 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member18 Jan 2007 4:05 p.m. PST

I use it on 15mm ww2 figures. Otoh, I thin it out with one part water to three parts gesso or so. I found that putting it on full-strength on any size figure can lead to "pooling" or "glopping" and significant loss of detail. Everyone seems to have differing experiences in this regard, and that is due, I assume, to the specific product used (I use Bob Ross Black Gesso from Michaels).


Farstar Inactive Member18 Jan 2007 4:12 p.m. PST

Full strength, but not simply "glopped" on. Use a brush with a bit of "push" left to it and jam the gesso into all the details. Don't leave five times the necessary amount sitting on the mini to dry. Any gaps once it dries can be dealt with easily with a follow up coat, but too much will look like a case of elephantitis and require a lengthy trip to Pine-Sol Lake…

CeruLucifus19 Jan 2007 12:12 p.m. PST

Got some gesso, Hyun. The Michaels I was in had several lines of paint, but gesso only in the Liquitex brand, which made my choice of brands easy … same as yours.

Pricing for reference was $7.50 USD / 4 oz, or $10 USD / 8 oz for clear and white (actually, no color stated). Black and gray were $2 USD more. I opted for the 8 oz clear gesso plus several bottles of Liquitex paint (Mars Black, Neutral Gray, Titanium White, Raw Umber) which are $6 USD / 2 oz. (I'm a little scared of mixing so I stayed with the same brand.)

I figure even if this doesn't work out for my miniatures for some reason, I can prime a lot of terrain. ;)

Anyway, will try it out soon. Thanks again for putting this online!

Hyun of WeeToySoldiers Inactive Member19 Jan 2007 2:15 p.m. PST

Hi Don,

You are welcome. Good luck with gesso. I haven't completely stopped using primer, but gesso has become my primer of choice.

thegrip Inactive Member19 Jan 2007 2:19 p.m. PST

i got the Liquitex that is in this article:


It is the "Basics" line which means it is $7.99 USD for 16 oz.

CeruLucifus20 Jan 2007 3:23 a.m. PST

In the store, I couldn't figure out what was different about the "Basics" paints, so I went with the regular.

Poking around online, the Liquitex site is down but I found a good reference on Dick Blick: link

It appears the Basics paints are targeted for students, with a lower pigment load (and hence lower cost) and a thicker viscosity -- so they are somewhat like oil paints out of the jar and are only thinnable so far. The Basics Gesso is recommended only for the Basics line of paint and isn't meant to be thinned.

The regular paint line is now called "Soft Body" (older labels apparently say "Concentrated"); this is medium viscosity and has more pigment than Basics (so it comes out thinner and presumably can be thinned farther). The regular Gesso and colored Gesso are meant for this line of paint; so is the Clear Gesso which can also be colored by adding the paint (whew, I guessed in the store about this). These Gessos can be thinned.

There's also a line of thicker paints called "Heavy Body" which is meant to closely mimic oil paints (probably not what we want); it uses the same Gessos as Soft Body. And there's a "Super Heavy" series which is a paste that holds its shape as it dries (definitely not what we want); that has its own Gesso.

TheKiiier Inactive Member21 Jan 2007 8:15 a.m. PST

Thank you donrice! I was thinking of maybe giving gesso a try since spray primer is out out of the question for me in this weather and was mulling over getting either Bob Ross 16oz black gesso or Liquitex Super Heavy 32oz black gesso, the latter being cheaper than the former so I was leaning in that direction with the whole more for less deal but now I see it would've been a waste of time and money.

thegrip Inactive Member22 Jan 2007 11:14 a.m. PST


Thanks for the great response! i think the Basics *can* be thinned, but it is not *required* to be thinned (i could be wrong, just reading that link).

i spoke with an artist in the store who teaches art classes when i was choosing a gesso, and she said as long as i was using Liquitex that the Basics and the Regular line of gessos would be almost the same in terms of quality and function. i went with the Basics simply because it is cheaper (and it has been successful thus far) – next time i will probably go with the Regular and in black (right now i used the Basics thinned with a bit of black paint to bring it to gray).

Thanks again!

Hyun of WeeToySoldiers Inactive Member22 Jan 2007 3:36 p.m. PST

Thanks donrice, very useful information!

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