Comparing Primers
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Thread: Comparing Primers

  1. #1

    Default Comparing Primers

    I'm always curious to do side-by-side comparisons, and due to a bit of over-enthusiastic consumerism, recently found myself with three different matte white primers:

    Army Painter "Base Primer Matt White"
    P3 "White Primer"
    SpazStix "Extreme White"

    The Army Painter is what my FLGS stocks. The P3 I'd special ordered because it was from the same folks who'd made my minis, an approach that I'd have mixed results with before. The SpazStix was available on Amazon Prime, well rated on a search for primer, and cheaper than the other two.

    Results Summary
    At the end, I liked the P3 primer best.
    The Army Painter gave an honorable showing.
    I'll have to find some other use for the SpazStix. This is the last time it touches my minis.

    Longer Version

    For the test pieces, we have shields from Warmachine's "Temple Flameguard".
    Attachment 52659

    The pieces were prepped by having their smaller mould lines melted back into the model with a fine tipped soldering iron set to 400ºF. Larger molding artifacts were cut off with an Xacto knife.

    For the test, I split the shields into three piles of 3 or 4 each, taped a label on a sheet of chipboard saying which primer went with that pile, and then sprayed them.

    Then, before doing the back, I realized I was doing a lousy job of science-ing the job. For the backside of the shields, I photoed them BEFORE the priming, not only after, and made sure to shake the cans for the same count of seconds each. The backs were primed a half hour after the fronts, when they seemed adequately dry.

    All the cans had been used 0 or 1 times previously.

    Army Painter "Base Primer Matt White"
    This has been a tried and true brand for me. If anything, my previous experiences with it have been more flawless than this one, and it may deserve a re-match.

    This primer was the boldest of the three. It came out thick and opaque, and sprayed so forcefully that it flipped over some of the shields like kites. This may be responsible for the few flaws I found in the pieces it primed, which picked up some surface texture that wasn't in the original model. It sprayed on so thick that I found myself pulsing it on and off rather than leaving it spraying, for fear of clogging the minis. So that's another possible source of the few particles of surface texture it put on the minis.

    When collecting the painted pieces after the primer had dried, the Army Painter had hardened to a thin seal, so the pieces needed to be gently "cracked" off the backing board.

    In the end, the Army Painter gave good, solid coverage, getting in all the cracks of the shields without obscuring any details. It did, however, add texture onto the models that hadn't been there before.

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    P3 "White Primer"
    I've had good results with this primer in the past. It's been noteworthy for giving even coverage, and getting into all the cracks of a model without clogging up details.

    This time gave a similar result. The P3 primer wasn't as opaque as the Army Painter, but I had far better control over it. I was able to hold it on the pieces longer without worrying about it clogging up details, keeping a continuous spray going while I spun the backing board the pieces to be primed were laying on.

    The P3 didn't glue the pieces to the backing board. Or rather, it attached them least of the three, giving me the fewest worries about cracking off primer as I removed the pieces from the backing.

    In the end, the P3 gave thinner coverage, but very even. It got in the angles of the shield as well as on the flats, and didn't obscure any details.

    Attachment 52663
    Attachment 52664
    Attachment 52665

    SpazStix "Extreme White"
    When I first started writing this summary, I was inclined to go off on this Amazon favorite for keywords "white" and "primer". However, looking at the photos in more detail as I upload them, I'm inclined to give it a bit more credit.

    First impression, it sprayed thin, and then pooled in the crevices of the shield, rather than staying evenly spread. The same as it pooled in the cracks, it seemed prone at times to leaving poor coverage on some of the flats. It also seemed to be the "wettest" of the three primers, and sure enough, it stayed wet and unworkable for the longest time after priming.

    If that weren't enough, there's just not very much of the stuff, if the can size is anything to judge by. It costs a third less than the other two cans, yet looks to hold even less per can than that cost break would justify.

    It stuck to the backing board, and the pieces had to be gently cracked off.

    All that being said, it does look more even and acceptable up close as it dried.

    Attachment 52660
    Attachment 52661
    Attachment 52662

  2. #2

    Default

    I have a different approach towards priming.
    A primer for miniature painting should
    1 provide a good base for acrylic paint. Just right amount of "tooth" so it doesn't flow off (like a gloss base would) and no interaction with acrylic paint
    2 not obscure any detail
    3 provide a strong bond to the miniature surface so that paint does not flake off at a later date

    To satisfy (1) almost any paint would do, whether marketed as primer or not
    (2) the key thing is to get the primer on thin. Way way thinner than you are doing

    (2) is an interesting point. There are primers formulated to flow into small surface imperfections to provide a mirror smooth surface. Aircraft modellers use those. For miniatures, you are better off getting the surface as smooth as you want it before priming - diluted liquid green stuff (I prefer Vallejo plastic putty) and sanding with (wet) wet and dry sandpaper

    (3) is generally not an issue at all on plastic miniatures if they are washed before priming. I have been having problems with metal miniatures, and am now using an automotive self-etch primer. Most people simply never see an issue, so if you don't have a problem, don't mess around

    The problem with model branded spray cans is that the quality control doesn't seem to be as good as big brand (like automotive). So many people find that an automotive primer works better than a hobby one.

    Testors are reliable and I have never heard of anyone having a problem with the matt white spray enamel. It provides a perfect surface for painting.

    When I first started, I was putting way too much primer on. You need to practice getting a very fine mist of spray that just covers the surface. I would get some cheap spray paint and a black sheet of paper and practice smooth, even, light strokes

    With any spray, you should wear a mask, preferably respirator kind, eye protection and gloves of some kind (at least if you are as messy as I am)

    Good luck and thanks for sharing your progress on the board

    John

  3. #3

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    For my money,.. go to any given automotive store, and buy Dupli-Color Sandable Primer. It comes in black, white, and grey, and it lays down fantastically.
    It's only a flesh wound!!!


  4. #4

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    Wanted to add - priming is one thing where a youtube video is really helpful. You will be able to see just how little paint is required

    A Sandable primer is designed to fill in small surface imperfections

    John

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnLobster View Post
    Wanted to add - priming is one thing where a youtube video is really helpful. You will be able to see just how little paint is required

    A Sandable primer is designed to fill in small surface imperfections

    John
    Depends on the brand really. Duplicolor has a separate Filler Primer that fills in surface imperfections. Their regular Sandable Primer doesn't fill anything at all and is the best of the can primers I have used (p3, armypainter, citadel, rustoleum, others.)

  6. #6

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    Liquitex Liquid Gesso. Big sloppy brush. Done.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaintsByNumbers View Post
    Liquitex Liquid Gesso. Big sloppy brush. Done.
    Got any examples we can see?

    From my experience I'd have normally just recommended grey car primer for the best result, however the recent Airbrush Masterclass with Pepa Sevadra has opened my eyes to how smooth Vallejo airbrush primer really is when pushed through an airbrush.
    This is going to be my "go to" choice for competition level work from now on.
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    Senior Member Ghool's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Webmonkey View Post
    For my money,.. go to any given automotive store, and buy Dupli-Color Sandable Primer. It comes in black, white, and grey, and it lays down fantastically.
    P3 Primer is exactly this brand of primer. At least the MSDS for it says so.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonsreach View Post
    Got any examples we can see?

    From my experience I'd have normally just recommended grey car primer for the best result, however the recent Airbrush Masterclass with Pepa Sevadra has opened my eyes to how smooth Vallejo airbrush primer really is when pushed through an airbrush.
    This is going to be my "go to" choice for competition level work from now on.
    My #1 choice as well. Only I brush it on. But it provides a nice tooth, and durability so long as it cures at least 3 days.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ghool View Post
    Referring to Vallejo airbrush primer...
    My #1 choice as well. Only I brush it on. But it provides a nice tooth, and durability so long as it cures at least 3 days.
    Don't get the need for 3 days? I'm in a far more humid climate than Alberta, and not found that length of time necessary.
    Even on the course the drying time was way less than 10 minutes in a somewhat cold gaming hall in Wales during October.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Ghool's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonsreach View Post
    Don't get the need for 3 days? I'm in a far more humid climate than Alberta, and not found that length of time necessary.
    Even on the course the drying time was way less than 10 minutes in a somewhat cold gaming hall in Wales during October.
    This year has been really warm and wet. We still have fall temperature averages, and we're sitting at 98%+ humidity daily. It's been a strange growing season for the garden, that much is certain.

    I always let it cure this long simply because it seems to be more durable after a couple of days vs. painting on it right away.
    I don't always wait that long, but I've found that letting sitting and cure for a bit helps keep it from rubbing off or chipping easily. YMMV.

  11. #11

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    Curing times for primers are to let them "vent" this it to let the thinners that are in them come out so as not to affect the paints put on afterwards. You should be using so little on a mini no more than a fews hours tops would cover it. If you're priming a car (real one) that has filler on it the idea of the primer is to recondition the surface so you're putting it on thick, that's why the can would suggest a hugely long drying time, they don't cater for model makers like us. So the fraction of paint we are putting on will take a fraction of the time to dry.
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