White or Black Primer?
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Thread: White or Black Primer?

  1. #1

    Default White or Black Primer?

    I though grey primer was the norm until i saw Black and White primer being used on different minis. Is there any difference to the final painting with which shade you use ? or is it just user preference?

  2. #2


    Well, I\'d say its a choice of taste. Alot of people say though that the basecoat effects the brightness or tone of your figures overall final appearance. It may be true to some extent but I beg to differ. I have done really bright paint schemes that have all derived from black undercoats. Mainly showing this is the eldar I have here on CMoN. They all have black undercoats and radiant colors(IMO), which I feel benefit from the nice black contrast.

    Basicaly I think its your painting technique which will defer which undercoat is best for you. I like to work up from the darkest shade so I choose black. Also black adds nice easy natural shading for those hard to reach places and generaly should be thought to be used as the ultimate shade, therefore starting as a base for a figure.

    Using white however I find difficult because of the overall lack of shade in its base. Duh its white, but I just dont like the fact of having to create the absolute shadows when black primer does that for you. You will find yourself using more inks or washes if you undercoat with white to achieve shading. I absolutely loathe inking however, making that another personal point to which primer I use.

    A happy medium I -sometimes- use is a white base coat with a black wash. I dont like to however because I feel it makes the base of the figure a bit blotchy. Something that could benefit from a bit of research and practice, but I likely wont as im quite comfortable with my technique to date. Dont let that turn you away from experimenting though, as style is what a painter should excel to have in their artwork. When a person can identify a peice you have done without looking at your internet handle, you will know that your experimenting has payed off!

    All in all I stick with black. Its what I always have used and its what I will always excel at using. Sticking with whats comfortable to you will help keep the frustrations of painting to a bare minimum so you can focus on the more important things, like painting to your best ability. ;)


  3. #3

    Default Aah, undercoats!

    From my experience white is better all round except for specifically dark styles or for painting troops.

    Painting troops is often an exercise in swift painting and stand-out effects, so a black undercoat acts as a shadow aid in that you can paint \'up to\' a recess and leave the black. This can be done between clothes and flesh, hair and face, trousers and shoes, etc., and can give a clean uniform appearance with a little basic highlighting, making the style right-on for unit painting and all that side of things.

    Armour jobs with metallics can do well with a black basecoat too, but other styles might be better employed for more advanced/character style minis.

    I do remember someone somewhere at sometime painting the same mini twice to show the difference on an artistic level, and it was a really interesting article. Maybe someone else knows the one I mean? Was it Black Orc or somewhere around here?

    White is my personal favourite because it shows the colours in all their glory where as black dulls them and requires, in many cases, more coats of paint. This can lead to minis looking overcooked and textured on smooth areas as the painter tries to get the true colour on the black.

    White, whilst requiring a little more work for units, is far better for depicting your ideas and acts as a better canvas for many styles. If you want depth in the recesses you can always black-/brownline after or during your paint job or blend a darker version of your colours into these areas.

    This is, in my opinion, the way the two differ. I used to use black always, but after struggling with a couple of minis on a white undercoat, everything started coming together far better. Remember though, everyone else will probably say something entirely different! Each person probably has preferences; we aren\'t all the same are we?

    On another note, what does a grey coat show through as? Is it good? ???

    This is me signing off! :innocent:

  4. #4


    Personally I have always used gray (once I learned about priming) on the theory that it makes the least amount of modification to what the colors look like on my palette - aluminum foil.
    I have not experimented, but I read somewhere and was convinced that if you have paints that give good coverage - just got some Vallejo and they give AMAZING coverage - then your primer coat won\'t show unless you want it to.

  5. #5


    I\'ve only used GW black primer and drybrushing when I need to paint a large army of orcs/dark eldar/evil things that wear a lot of metal or black. With everything else I use Rustoleum\'s White Primer (because it\'s cheaper, and will prevents water getting into the mini) for everything else.

    It gets a little annoying, though, when I go to paint something and I need to blackline or used a dark coat of paint. But I\'ve been thinking of trying Eric\'s underpainting method as he states in his article, might save me precouis time. Alternativly, you might try painting black on top of white, like I did for my old Witch elves.. there was no way, I thought, I was going to get a pale fleshtone ontop of black...

    When it all comes down to it, it\'s personal perference.

  6. #6

    Default Just an opinion . . . .

    It\'s a context sensitive issue. But everybody above is right in their own way.
    *Great for Armor basecoats - esp chainmail, etc
    *Provides abundant shadow.
    *Provides a tidy dividing line between materials on the figure - no need to painstakingly \"black line\" straps, where hands meet the sleeves, etc. (i personally have never been satisfied with this strategy - VERY time consuming and requires endless touch ups to smooth things out)
    *Black covers more mistakes - if you miss a spot Black doesn\'t stick out and scream \"you missed a spot!!\"
    *Bright colors require more more effort to achieve - whites, creams, yellows, etc require multiple coats for bright coverage.
    *A corallary to the Black Con - everything is brighter with less effort. Reds, Oranges, Yellows all pop with a white primer especially.
    *not many unless unless you\'re doing a largely black, blue, dk brown, grays, or armored figure or force. Unfortunately more Fantasy minis fall under thic category than the prior I think.

    In other words - different projects require different primers. If you\'re doing bright mages, skeletons, mebbe space marines where brightness is important then go with white.
    Heavily armored things or the forces of Chaos, Skaven, Dark Elves, Assasins, leather clad figs a Black is gonna be more helpful.

    As for Gray - it has the advantages of neither of the above. It lightens things up a bit but you still have to go in an black line with out an appreciative affect on the brightness. I end up black washing my gray figs ere I start\'em and thus subsequently don\'t prime gray anymore.

    But a decent compromise - and when you do as many 15mm Napoleonics as I\'ve done (with their 15,000 straps and crossbelts in white) you prime in black but drybrush the model with white - this way your edges (high spots) are significantly lightened and the dark areas, folds, etc retain their blackness. In addition all the detail pops right out so it\'s actually easier to paint - especially if you have less than adequate lighting . . .

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