Saturday, March 17, 2012

Primer Therapy

Yes - that is a play on Primal Therapy - as I've about reached my wits' end trying to find a white primer that I'm happy with.  I've tried several brands, and none seem to be working out.  Which leads me to believe that with only one common denominator, I'm probably at least a part of the problem. Frustratingly, I'm hardly a beginner at painting; or more accurately, I'm hardly a beginner at priming with roughly 80% of my models being primed (and nothing else /snicker).   I have no problems with black primer, using alternately, GW, Krylon, and Tamiya - and had flawless results with each.  No pooling, smooth finish, etc...   I only have those issues with white. I've tried GW, Tamiya, Krylon, RustOleum, and about four others I've thrown out and don't remember.  I've read forums and blogs and more forums and a few more blogs without really finding a solid answer - clearly what works for us as painters is our personal preferences.  In this case, my preference is for a primer that doesn't pool in recesses, doesn't craze on flat areas, and doesn't pebble on raised areas.  Every single primer I've tried does at least one of these.  Adding to the fun is all white primer is not the same color white, making color matching rough at best.  Alright - enough ranting.  Let's talk symptoms of this disease I'm calling primer rage.

Here's my typical priming MO:  I typically wash whatever I'm priming with dishsoap/water and let it dry for at least a couple days, often a week or more.  I spray in a 2-car garage with the garage door open for ventilation, on flattened cardboard or laid-out newspaper.  Shake the can for whatever the label says (1 minute or more typically), then spray in short, controlled bursts starting almost off-model, going across the model, and stopping at the edge of/just outside the spray zone; repeat.  Depending again on the label, I spray between 6-8" and 10-12" away from the models.  I almost always prime multiple models (hello, Tyranid player) at once, keeping them ~4" apart.

The pic at the top of the article is my most recent attempt at the long hoped-for but never-delivered Mycetic Spore wannabe above.  Note the pooling, crazing, and spotty coverage; clearly it isn't done, but after noting the pooling and crazing, I stopped.  It's a tough item to prime, composed of very slick, almost oily, plastic - this is my second attempt - the first was with Krylon, which covered adequately with only a little pooling, but flaked off from very light handling.   Stripped it with Simple Green, and prep washed it very well, ran some fine grain sandpaper over it, and tried a special fine coverage primer (Zinsser BIN Ultimate Stain Blocker) intended to "block water, fire, and smoke stains, sap streaks, and greasy spots, and ideal for 'hard to paint objects' like arts and crafts, wicker, porous wood, spackled areas etc..."  The results as you can see, are less than spectacular.  The frustrating bit is I was priming an old resin Armorcast Exocrine - and it came out the same way: very heavy pooling in flat/depressions, and either no coverage at all in fine detail areas, or it buried them under a pool or very thick layer.  Which makes me believe it isn't the texture/material or material.  I let the paint dry and dumped it right into my Simple Green vat where it soaks as I type this.

Honestly debating switching to a light grey primer - but with the bulk of my tyranid 'core' elements painted with a white base, the color value of new units will be noticeably darker.  Plus the white base lets me do things with blended acrylics that take multiple layers to achieve on a dark primer.  At any rate - if you have any thoughts, ideas, or been able to successfully paint Plasma Hatchers - please drop me a line or two below.  Thanks!


  1. Have you tried using a blow dryer instead of waiting for the primer to dry? Both my priming and my varnishing have improved a lot by using the blow dryer.

  2. hmm. I've never done white primer, but I've had good luck with rustoleum (Painters touch x2 coverage) rust oxide primer, and flat black primers. much better luck than with any GW or armory primer (which is crap because of the grainyness issues).

    I suspect white primers have problems with not enough paint in it. It might take two coats.

    I suggest going to your Menards (or Lowes) and trying to find Rustoleum painters touch ultra cover 2x white

    I've got a can of the red I like a lot. pretty cheap too.

  3. Hi FP - congrats on a very successful tournament! Most of my nids were done with Rustoleum; I had some persistent pooling issues with it as the secret behind the "x2" is a larger diameter spray aperture. Pretty easy to mitigate with smaller figs, but I'm starting on my bigger models and its a bit tougher. White does usually require 2-3 layers, and I will probably default back to Rustoleum if nothing else presents itself.

    @Hedzer: I haven't tried a hair dryer. I'll have to do some research on that. Thanks!

  4. Sounds like issues with humidity to me. Have you checked humidity?

  5. I was in central Texas before, which seems to average 90% or higher humidity all year long, and I would get the grainy/pebbling problem with both primer and sealer once in a while. That one I can usually mitigate pretty well by priming on windy days, but humidity here in MD is quite a bit lower except in the summer. Its the pooling that's really driving me crazy.

  6. I wish I could help, Ghostin, but I've had so many bad experiences with primers that I brush prime my 15mm FoW models.
    Thank Cthulhu they're small.
    I've tried every primer known to man, as well.
    Eventually, you get a wacky can. I gave up.

  7. I'd suggest doing your 'primary' prime with light gray then once that dries doing a light prime from high angles with white. Should minimize the problems with the white and give you a pre-highlight effect as well.