Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Best Primer

Shamelessly stolen from

Primer Test:

I tried to be as fair and accurate with my tests as possible considering that I do not run a lab and they are based on observations and not scientific analysis.

1. Reaper warlord dwarf models were used because I wanted to see how well the primers covered. The Dwarfs chainmail is one place that tends to be obscured by excessively thick paint/primer as well as other areas of fine detail. All were primed with the same technique and given two coats of lightly applied primer per the manufacturers instructions and allowed to dry 24 hours before being photographed. Temperature averaged 70F with humidity under 40%. I looked at these samples for smoothness of the primer coats, ability to cover while not obscuring detail and general appearance.

The choice of primers for figure painters is a topic that comes up a lot on forums. Painters are always asking for advice as to the best primer to use in terms of color and brand. While I have had my own opinion on this subject I realized that my reasons for choosing one brand over another were based more on perceptions and feelings than hard data. So with some down time from painting and an assortment of some primers that have received a lot of attention I did a series of tests.

Floquil Light Gray Figure-Primer from Testors (Gray) 3 OZ/85g - $5
Tamiya Fine Surface Primer L For Plastic and Metal (White)6 OZ/180ml - $7
Citadel Primer Produced for GW (White) 11 OZ/310g - $10
Krylon All Purpose Primer 1315 (White) 12 OZ/340g - $4
The Armory Spray Primer (White) 12 OZ/340g - $8
Plasti-Kote Sandable Primer 19000 (White) 12 OZ/340g - $4
Plasti-Kote Sandable Primer 19001 (Gray) 12 OZ/340g - $4
Ral Partha Brush on Primer (White) 1 OZ/30ml - $3 OOP
Krylon Ultra Flat (Black) Not a Primer but used by enough painters as one to be worth testing. 12 OZ/340g - $4
All prices USD

Above is my Primer Test plate prepared for testing.

2. Since my main interest is in using primers to prepare metal miniatures for painting I wanted to test the adhesion of primer to bare metal and paint to the primer. A metal plate was cleaned uniformly and sample strips of each primer were applied to it. After 24 hours Reaper Master Series Burgundy Wine Acrylic paint was applied evenly across each primer strip with a brush. This was allowed to dry and then a crosshatch pattern was cut into the paint strips without cutting into the primer. Another series of cross hatches were cut into the primers. Next ordinary masking tape was laid on top of the crosshatched sections and burnished to create maximum adherence. The tape was then pulled off and the strips checked. This is a standard test used in the art world to evaluate substrates

Below is the Primer Test Plate at the conclusion of the test.

Results and Conclusions

Considering the forcefulness of opinions about primers in miniature painting forums I was very surprised by how well all of these performed. In the adherence test all of the spray primers stuck to the metal and provided good tooth for the paint. The Citadel Primer exhibited some problems near the edges of the crosshatch lines but not significantly. The Armory Primer performed well on the test model but gave me a mini orange peel effect on subsequent models. This has been my experience with The Armory Primer in previous use as well. The Ral Partha Brush on primer failed but it was old and I threw it in as an afterthought anyway.

Krylon Ultra Flat (Black) is not a primer and this was demonstrated dramatically when the tape pulled all of the paint from the test panel. Several painters on different forums swear by this stuff and use it as there primer for miniature painting. It did not hold at all.

The primers tested were the ones available to me. I would have liked to test more black primers, black versus white etc. But, I never intended to make the ultimate primer test. Floquil Figure Primer has been a favorite of mine in the past and lately Tamiya FS Primer has been my choice for display pieces. For gaming models Plasti-Kote is my preferred primer. After looking at the test pieces I cannot see much difference between the Floquil and Plasti-Kote (Gray) primers. They both look very good to me with fine coverage and tight coating of the detail.

Sections of the test models are posted here by number and not in any specific order. Each is identified at the end of this report. Maybe you will see something in the images that would make you prefer one to the others.

Happy painting!
Images represent the following Primers:

1. Citadel
2. Plasti-Kote White
3. Floquil
4. Krylon
5. Tamiya
6. Plasti-Kote Gray
7. Armory