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Primer color & why?

Discussion in 'Painting Techniques' started by Jaybo, Mar 24, 2019.

  1. Jaybo Well-Known Member

    Hello friends,
    I would like to know your primer color choice (white, grey or black) and why so. Thanks for your thoughts!
  2. Ned Ricks Active Member

    A member of our local modeling club, who is also in the MMSI figures club, frequently says that he uses black primer exclusively. The type he uses is in a spray can from a hardware store as if one were painting metal patio furniture! Then, he dry brushes all other color. His contention is that the black primer colors the shadows.

    A different member who has spent several weekends attending figure painting seminars uses black primer sprayed upward (under the chin, so to speak) to mark the shadow areas, and then airbrushes a gray downward to mark the areas that would receive light.

    I have used both of these methods, both from the can and enamels by airbrush. The all-over black idea seems useful in getting into folds and shadows, but it seems to darken the paint job somewhat. The two-color method is "okay" for me, but I am not settled on it.

    For years I have washed the resin kit parts, then I paint with enamels in a color similar to the oils that will eventually go on that part of the bust or figure. Using that method, I have never experienced any problems with lack of "tooth" for the oils. No gold medals, either.

    I hope the above gives you something useful.
    Jaybo likes this.
  3. khollar A Fixture

    I’ve used Games Workshops’ Chaos Black primer for several years with good results. I believe the Black primer gives the final finish greater depth, but I’ve never done a side by side comparison with other primers to confirm this.

    Jaybo likes this.
  4. DaddyO A Fixture

    Covered before Jaybo, but I can't find the thread at the moment. :(

    Anyway my thoughts are whatever works for you. Black primer seems to have appeared about the same time as Games Workshop figures started to become popular (presumably any of those annoying tiny spots that the paintbrush misses are hidden rather than stand out as white flecks) I tend to use white from a spray can because I think it's easier to get a nice bright colour without using too many coats or too thick a paint coat.

    Really a neutral grey should be used (okay don't shoot me down folks I realise that's a bit sweeping) :)
    When I was training and as all artists know a blank white canvas makes it difficult to judge colours. Try this little game sometime - take a red colour swatch (for example) and place it on a white background then a black background, then on a green background. See how the tone of the red changes according to the colour it's seen against? (This is one of the reasons I tend to 'block in' main colours first when painting figures)

    Back to the subject in hand some folks use a dark primer and then spray white from the direction of light to help in their placement - good idea maybe?

    Enough for the moment to get you going methinks
    Cheers for now
    Jaybo likes this.
  5. yellowcat A Fixture

    I like white primer which brightens the colour. Never use black primer to sprayed upward for the shadow areas, and white or gray downward for the light/highlight areas. I can see it in my mind.
    Painter Alex Castro use Krylon bright silver paint (1401) to prime his figures. It is a unique different approach for priming figures.

  6. fogie A Fixture

    Primer of whatever colour will not make you a better painter....it just allows the figure to receive the paint more readily.
    As most paints, whether oils or acrylics, have a degree of translucency it follows that the primer will show through in
    some measure and effect the top colour. Extremes of white or black will therefore effect it more, and you have to work
    harder to correct this. I prefer therefore to use a mid grey and rely on my painting ability to make my colours work.
    Jaybo and chailey like this.
  7. sippog Active Member

    Don't just stick to monochrome colours. Blues, reds, yellows, greens, all will give you interesting effects and inspire you when used to highlight or shade.
    If you're feeling timid, try substituting cream or sand for white and a dark blue or brown for black. I particularly like the canned wargaming colours that Army Painter do
  8. arj A Fixture

    DaddyO and Jaybo like this.
  9. theBaron A Fixture

    I use a medium gray for most priming jobs, including figures. As several of the previous replies have noted, the primer can affect the color of the coats you place over it, like an undercoat. A dark primer can make the colors "darker", a light primer can lighten them. When building airplanes, for example, if I have to paint red or yellow markings, I will use a light grey primer overall, and a white undercoat in those specific areas.

    I use Army Painter matte black enamel as a primer on my Maschinen Krieger models. That black enamel serves as the basis for a weathering technique. My top coats are all acrylic, and I use a green scouring pad to scuff the paint down to the black primer. The black does have the effect of darkening those top coats, too.

    I have also used a rust red primer, for the same reasosn-for weathering, and also, to impart that reddish brown to the top coats.

    My go-to medium and light gray primers are Tamiya fine surface primer, though I have also used Rustoleum and Krylon gray primers, too. Tamiya's primer has a finer grain.

    Hope that helps, prosit!
    Jaybo likes this.
  10. pkessling Active Member

    Always used Floquil Reefer white, thinned with Diosol and applied thinly with a brush. For me, applying the primer with a brush gave me a “feel” for the figure. I always then undercoated with acrylics: Jo Sonja, Plaka, Liquitex, Polly S, Cel-vinyl. My choice of undercoat brand was based on the final texture that I wanted to achieve.
    When I could no longer get Floquil, I switched to a light grey auto primer. It came in a spray can that I sprayed into a cup and then hand brushed.

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