Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Priming your army: What paint should you use?

For us hobbyists who enjoy both the game and the hobby of 40k one of the most important steps in the entire process of building your army is the paint in which you prime your stuff. Everyone has their own thoughts on what is best for them, even amongst the locals who post at DFG there is much discussion on the matter, and sometimes some experimenting.

Today I will cover three different paints, two of which are popular in the hobby world and one of which was found by our own Samsquanch Monster and quickly passed to others at our FLGS.

First let’s cover the classic and the ever present Games Workshop primer. For you first timers out there or just starting the hobby you might have bought this can of paint for your own army, and been either quite happy, or quite upset with the results, personally I did not have opinions one way or the other, it did a fine job of priming my plastic models, and so for a time I was content, until I bought Forgeworld and my smile was turned upside down. The stuff just did not seem to stick to the resin like it had to the plastic even after washing the resin. However for a time a pushed forward with it as it was the only thing I really knew. As a personal rating based on price and how it covers your models I give this stuff a solid 6 on a scale of ten, it does its job but is a bit pricey for a basic can of spray paint.

Second comes a product that we got a bit over a year ago at our FLGS in Army Painter, this stuff caught on fast with a bunch of the locals mainly due to its slightly cheaper pricing and good quality, as well as availability of colors (after all, not everyone likes basing in white or black, I am looking at you ork players…) I personally primed some tanks with the black and was pleased with the results, however by this time I had discovered my favorite paint (which we will cover next) and was not willing to really give this stuff a test against my Forgeworld models and risk them being ruined by a mistake. However I personally recommend this stuff for most people, it’s usually easy to get ahold of at your local game shop, it is affordable and it covers both metal and plastic well. A rating of 7.5/10

The final contestant is something I consider the king of all primer, Krylon Fusion Flat Black (I would guess the flat white would work as well but I haven’t tried it). Krylon Fusion bonds with your plastic and resin in a whole different fashion than other Primers, and passes what I call my “fingernail” test. The price of a can is affordable, and you lose no detail, it almost is like the stuff just was made with the primer on it. When Samsquanch Monster showed me this stuff we were floored at how it worked on our Forgeworld and refuse to base our resin models with anything less (or at least I do!) The one downfall of this product is the availability, we have a hard time finding it, it used to be readily available at Hobby Lobby near us, but now we cannot seem to find it anywhere! So while everything that matters makes this a 10/10, the availability brings it down to a 9.5/10, with a strong recommendation from me to buy it if you see it! (I also accept gifts... so feel free to buy me some... heehee)

What about you? What kind of primer is your favorite and why?

Until next time, burn some heretics, kill some mutants, and do it always....



  1. I really have found that glue and primer are those sacred things that hobbyists have their own opinions on. I prefer Valspar primer for my models as it never gets fuzzed and goes well with airbrushing further coats. Others I know think valspar is garbage and swear by their own brand. To each his own.

    The only brand I push people away from is Armoury because I have seen way to many folks have a terrible experience with it. I recommend having some junk models handy to test primer and find your own preference.

  2. I evangelize the Army Painter primers like I work there. IMO, there is no reason to not spend your cash on a decent primer.

    Army Painter puts out all kinds of colors which makes it great for power armored types as well as flesh colored types (I primer my Blood Angels red as a basecoat and my tyranids flesh color as a basecoat). It works out really well.

    It works super nicely for tanks as well. Army Painter primers save me tons of time and work really well.

  3. Halfords car body primer, in grey.

    I like the neutral influence of a light de-saturated primer, and the car spray grips like crazy, even on resin, witnout obscuring detail and gives a lovely matte surface for my paint.

    I dont use anything else anymore.

  4. Karitas:
    This is why I love the Krylon Fusion Flat Black, it grips amazingly well and almost seems to make the detail even better, I can not say enough about the stuff.

    The Army Painter stuff is great, I am indeed a fan of it, but just am not willing to try it on my resin due to the price of the stuff. The variable colors is a HUGE bonus to the line, and if I do ever start a fantasy army I will be looking at their stuff for primer.

    Glue is definately one of those other things that people have specific feelings about, some like theirs more "watery" while others like their stuff like a gel. Personally I have not decided one way or the others, but I am leaning more and more towards a gel type or a brush on glue due to help keeping the mess down and keeping my models cleaner in the process.

  5. Yeah I've done my tyranid forgeworld items (two hierodules and a winged hive tyrant) with the human flesh color Army Painter primer and it was fine. I'm not sure what the difference is with resin other than you have to clean it first.

  6. I've been using the Krylon Fusion as a primer for the last several years and I absolutely love it. Resin, plastic or metal it has never let me down. I've taken to using the Satin rather than Flat however, as the semi-shiny black really seems to be more resilient to scrapes and chipping (as I tend to fumble and drop the occasional mini in the painting process), but YMMV.

  7. Mordain:
    I get that but with my DKK i am looking for more muted colors, so I dont want that shine. I go for grimey, dirty look with my stuff thinking of them as they are fighting from the muddy trenches

  8. Krylon has a "Primer" line, which is what I swear by. Usually stick with matte, and buy either the white or black.

  9. My favorite is the vallejo acrylic primer. You can either brush it own or use an airbrush gun. I'm not saying that just priming models justifies buying an AB gun. But if you already own one: give it a try!

    Back when I was young and dump I used the grossly overpriced GW primer. I came back to wargaming after a 5 year break and tried army painter white once. Took me roughly a week to strip the gritty/sandy paint from my 3 eldar war walkers.

    Now I just grab the vallejo primer and my airbrush gun if I need to prime some models. No fumes, no propellant that can go wrong and far more controll thanks to my trusty double action airbrush.

  10. Good tip, Karnstein, I have an airbrush and love Vallejo air paints, but never tried the primer because I was worried about adherance. You may have just sold a pot for them!

  11. try looking for the Krylon stuff at Menards.

    it's good stuff. For metals, I'll pick up a can of Automobile primer. It works pretty well. I think I've got some Rustoleum Iron oxide color (sort of a flat brick red). I've also used flat white auto primers.

    I've had bad luck with Armory primer. Models that come out looking furry, and need to be cleaned with a toothbrush. I've got about 20 Sisters of Battle I need to strip and re-do because the primer coat won't let me use washes properly. too bad I base coated and drybrushed them already.


    Thats the Krylon I use for my army, it has the fusion junk in it as well.

    I use the flat dark brown as I feel it gives my red more warmth than a black primer does.

  13. Chris, I will have to check out that black stuff, maybe that is what happened to the normal flat black, just got moved to this Camo stuff. Hopefully its not priced up because of it.

  14. I use either;

    Armory brand, various colors -
    Gives a very thin coat, covers well.

    Krylon 2x coverage primer -
    covers amazingly well, very good stuff.
    not as thin as the armory but good.

    Vallejo Airbrush primer -
    covers VERY well. Good stuff. Have only used the grey.

    Allclad black airbrush primer
    Bizzare stuff...takes two coats, but is an amazing undercoat for metallics.

    Allcald grey airbrush primer/surfacer - miracle in a bottle
    This stuff is so fine, its almost comes out in a fog. Seriously. One of the finest primers I have ever used. Kind of expensive however.

    Vallejo White primer (game color?) -
    brush on or airbrush, this stuff is decent.

    Tamya white primer
    I actually don't care for this stuff, as i don't like its consistency and how it dries. However, many others love it.

    Reaper black primer
    Brush on or airbrush, decent stuff.

    I think thats all....

  15. I prefer Duplicolor automotive primer most of the time - it's available at every auto parts store I've been to, and usually Wal-Mart as well.

    The big advantage to the GW primer: I know the Chaos Black spray will match the Chaos Black from the pot exactly, - so when painting Black Templars, I'll spring for the GW primer. The other advantage is it dries much faster than automotive primers (I usually let models primed w/ auto primer dry for 2 -3 days before painting). GW primer is ready to paint on in under an hour.

  16. Has anyone experienced the same problem with the Armypainter primers that the nozzle gets clogged or the propellant is empty after half the can? That happens to me every time. And I turn the can around and spray until only propellant comes out. The color range is cool, but the slightly cheaper price does not pay off when you just get half of the can.

    Recently I tried the Tamiya white primer and I am very pleased with the result. But it's not cheap.

  17. Gesso. I use Bob Ross' grey stuff, largely because it's perversely cheaper per ml than own-brands on account of coming in the biggest damn bottles on the market, and also because I like grey - dark enough for good metals once they've been inked, light enough for everything else to not look all drab and boring-like.

    Also, I never encounter those problems with 'blocked nozzles' or 'overspray wastage' or 'I can't get outdoors to prime' or 'it's too cold for primer to dry properly' or 'I feel vaguely guilty for using aerosols'. It does occasionally go on a bit thick but it shrinks to fit the surface as it dries and you can always worry at it with a paintbrush to spread it out a bit while it's drying.


  19. Admittedly, I adore using Gunze Mr. Surfacer for priming miniatures and whatnot. It's grey, pretty fine (it's "1000" version at least), and bonds with the surface real well. The downside, well, it smells terribly, but then again, it's lacquer based. Still, on plastics, works like a charm. Plus, it's perfectly possible to sand it without making it chip and flake, which makes achieving smooth finish easy.