Friday, January 11, 2013

Warhammer 101: The primer on primer

Crazy gamer here with a (hopefully) helpful article on primer.

In the past I've discussed issues such as what different armies bring to the table (hopefully I'll have time to finish those soon), and about the tools you need to clean and assemble your models.  Now I will give a bit of advice about the first step of the painting process.

Everyone should paint their Warhammer armies.  Several noted scientists have discovered that having painted miniatures will make you more successful in life and at least 10 times more attractive to the opposite sex.*

Furthermore 94 of the 100 richest people in the world have at least one painted army.**So it goes without saying that you should paint your models.

Some people get scared of painting, and instead become CCG players (that's collectible card games for those of you who don't speak geek).  This is sad though!  Don't be scared!  You don't have to be Picasso to paint a decent looking army (besides have you seen what that guy painted?  I've seen four year olds paint things that make more sense, but I digress...)

I'm here to help!

The first step to painting is priming.  Priming is an initial layer of  thin matte paint that helps future coats of paint "stick," to your miniature.  This is an essential step but is one that many beginners skip (or are never made aware of) to their detriment. 

Do yourself a favor and prime your models.  If your miniatures could talk they would thank you if you do.

First, pick the type of primer that you want to use:

Spray Primer

Spray primer is the most common type of primer.  It comes in a variety of colors and is made by several different manufactures.  Make sure that the paint can says "primer," because if it doesn't it probably isn't primer.

A few notes:

Spray primer is a tricky beast, even for gaming veterans.  In order to use spray primer you will need a large, ventilated room that is free of anything you don't want primer on.  Spray primer is very very toxic so make sure you have ventilation! 

Next, follow the directions!  Men usually don't like to read directions, but make an exception this time (I won't tell anyone I promise) as this will save you money. 

If you are going to prime, pay attention to the temperature and humidity of where you are at.  If the humidity is more than 50% don't prime!!!!!  You will get a fuzzy texture to your models that is almost impossible to get off and will hurt your final product.  Also, if the temperature is more than 80 degrees and you are priming outside (always a good place because of ventilation) don't prime with black primer in the sun.  The sun will melt your models.  Also, don't prime on a breezy day as you can also get the fuzzy texture described above. 

I'm sure that the paragraph above makes you think that I'm a worry wort (whatever the hell that is) but I can't stress this enough... Plastic models are almost impossible to repair if you prime them incorrectly.  Metal models can be stripped using several substances (interestingly brake fluid is the cheapest and most effective method) but plastic is very difficult to save.  Resin is as difficult as plastic and even more expensive.  The bottom line is: MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING BEFORE YOU START SPRAYING!!!

Helpful tip- if you wear glasses take them off when you prime.  Primer will stick to your lenses.

Because of the inherent difficulty of using spray primer, you may want to consider using hand primer. 

No, I'm not talking about finger painting, this isn't preschool.  You use primer that is in the form of a bottle of paint and apply it with a paint brush.   Do not simply use black or white paint, it should be specifically created as a primer.  Games Workshop makes a decent bottle primer and several other companies do as well. 

Some tips! 

You're not painting during this step.  Use a big brush, the bigger the better. 

With all primer, less is more.  You're much better off applying several thin coats then one thick coat.  Yes it takes more time, but you don't want your miniatures to look like Mr. Potato Head do you? 

Thin the primer down!  It helps avoid applying it too thickly and will help your bottle last longer.  I recommend two parts primer one part water.  What does this mean for you non artists?  Your primer should be the consistency of milk.  It will start off like oil, if you get water you've added too much...well water... I guess this isn't my most poetic blog entry...

At any rate experiment, but know that you won't hurt your miniatures if you get the primer too thin.  Oh!!! but realize the thinner the paint the more it will get all over the place.  Use paper towels and wear clothes that you don't mind getting paint on.


Primer comes in all shades, but for our purposes only two matter: black and white.

Advantages of white primer:  White primer should be used for armies that have a predominately white color scheme. 

I don't recommend white primer unless you plan on painting a White Scars.  White primer is much more difficult to work with than black primer. 

Advantages of black primer:  Black primer has countless advantages, not least of all:

Gives you a natural shade
Makes mistakes less noticeable
Cool colors paint over it well

And more!

Some artists claim that black primer will not allow a painter to get his or her colors as bright as a white primer.  It is true, but unless you aspire to be a Golden Daemon painter painting a select range of armies, it really won't matter for us average souls.

See you later!

*Not even sort of.  Come on, you thought I was telling you the truth?  I've got a bridge I want to sell you
**Please make a check out to me in the amount of one million dollars.  Don't worry, the bank will know that it's a joke, honest. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this article. It's very informative for someone like me who's new to this. I started out with spray a couple of days ago, but moved to 'hand-painting' yesterday. I use very little paint and it came out very evenly and not 'potato-head-like' (haha...good one :) ).

    Thanks again. Will link this article of yours to my FB.

    Posted a couple of pics here -