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1 - Priming and Painting the Transporter

Hvy Transporter with flatbed trailer (2)
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20 November 2001page first published

3,585 hits since 19 Nov 2001
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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My First Mistake

Now maybe it wasn't a mistake - I was just pioneering. A friend pointed out to me a new product, Aleene's All-Purpose Primer. This is primer that comes in a crafts-type paint bottle, to be applied by brush. It looks milky in the bottle, but I was told that because it dries clear, it goes on thinner than regular primer (and so leaves more of the detail). Usually I prefer a spray-on primer, but I don't mind trying new things.

So I tried it. And the problems were...

  1. the stuff has a tendency to foam when you brush it on
  2. the foam means you get bubbles in every crevice
  3. the bubbles are difficult to remove before the primer dries
  4. when the primer dries, the bubbles are even harder to remove

Yuck! You end up with a model that has clusters of "rings" in every nook and cranny. Of course, since the primer dries clear, you don't notice the problem at first - until you apply the color coat! Arhhh!!! And on top of all that, you have no idea if you properly primed the model, since you can't tell what's primed and what's not primed.

Clear primers: A BAD IDEA.

Aleene's All-Purpose Primer: WORSE THAN A BAD IDEA.

My Second Mistake

Then I picked the wrong paint to use as a color coat. I often use a white primer, and Delta Ceramcoat brand Golden Brown is one of my favorite medium browns. (I was painting for a desert planet environment.)

The problem is that the clear primer essentially left me with a "dark" model, and Ceramcoat Golden Brown for some reason couldn't get good coverage. First coat looked streaky. Second coat was still spotty. I ended up brushing four coats of base color before it looked good, which is way too much paint and detail gets obscured. Sigh.

I followed up with a wash of Apple Barrel brand Brown Oxide (a watery paint that makes a great wash), followed by a dry-brushing of Delta Ceramcoat brand Maple Sugar Tan (a light tan color). This completed the basic paint job.

the three stages of the basic paint job

My Third Mistake

When the basic paint job is done, there's not much left to do except details - and on this model, that means tires!

I have a favorite technique for painting worn tires. I just paint the tire in some bright color - white or light gray - and then wash it with black ink. It gives a look that I'm enthusiastic about - very "real," lots of gradations of shading - and it's easy.

Well, supposed to be easy. My mistake was applying a good technique in a case in which there are FOURTEEN tires per vehicle (and I was painting four vehicles!). Washes are wonderful, but they are difficult to keep consistent, and trying to get all of the tires to look roughly the same shade was too much trouble. In the end, I gave up and used a simpler technique on some of the tires - paint with dark grey, drybrush with light gray. It's a more predictable technique.

The remaining detail was the cab windows, which I painted dark brown.