The Lazy Mini Painter – Proper Priming

OK!  Lets get this series started properly, and where’s better to start than proper priming!  Of course, I mean proper in the Lazy Mini Painter way!  Normally I’ll be posting these on a Monday, but as we’ve just had an introduction and no real content, I thought, what the hell!

Most minis tend to be primed in monochrome – white, black or grey – as a blank canvas for the colours to go on.  If you want to get models that look amazing, where every colour choice is perfectly balanced, thats definitely the way forward.

Me, though, I want to get things on the field ASAP.  They are going to be looked at from 3 feet away.  If the flesh tone is fractionally off, well, hell, no one will notice and people have different skin tones anyway!  Lets look at priming with coloured primer!  Thats a massive chunk of time saved – at least one base coat colour already done!

What colour should we prime models with?  The obvious answer is the one that makes up most of the models area, to save the most time.  However, the obvious answer isn’t always the right one.

The real key to saving time is to think about:

  1. The colour that is in the hardest to reach fiddly places.  Painting fiddly tiny areas actually takes far more time than slapping some more green on easy to reach armour plates.
  2. The colour that is hardest to get good coverage with from  a pot.  You’ve probably heard the phrase “two thin coats” is better than one thick one.  It is, but it takes twice the time.  If much of model is a light colour like yellow, or zhandri dust for Cadians, you can be better off priming with that for a quick, consistent finish, rather than spraying green for the bulk of the armour.
  3. The colour that goes under your other colours best.  I know, we’ve just discounted grey, black and white (well, unless they hit the other criteria, of course!), but the way colours go together is still important.  If you are doing mostly metals, priming in gold or silver is fine.  If you want to use glazes or gem paints, base coating with a metallic look is superb.  But if the model is mostly matt, lighter colours, you really don’t want to base coat with a metal, as you’ll find a slightly higher shine coming through.  If you are painting Cadians with khaki fatigues and bright red armour, you’ll find it hard to cover red with khaki than the other way around.

It often is still the obviously choice.  I’d base coat Sisters of Silence and Adeptus Custodes in gold, Grey Knights in Silver, and so on.  But black goes on really easily, looks nice and glossy over metal, and silver looks good in joints (and is fiddly to reach) with a wash.  You might want to think about using a silver or gun metal primer for Death Watch, not black, even though its mostly just the arm at first glance.  As a rule of thumb, priming with lighter colours will save you more time than darker ones.

So we’ve primed our models, and got a chunk of the base coat down … and the hardest part of the base coat too.  Is there any other ways we can speed things up during priming?

Well, its really a trick during model assembly, not priming.  Build the model in sections, and prime the sections in different colours!  You don’t want to be spending more time doing sections separately than it takes to use a brush, of course – that takes away the whole point!  But there are a few key assemblages that can really save time.

As a rule of thumb for infantry, you can probably assemble the bulk of the model.  There are three bits you might want to look at priming separately:

  1. Heads.  Now, I wouldn’t normally bother for marine helmets – they’ll match the armour (unless its something like blood angels with blue yellow helmets in an assault squad!)  But in the case of armoured models with an unarmored head, spraying the heads separately with a flesh tone, then gluing them in place afterwards, saves buckets of time.  It can be a bit painful to paint lighter flesh tones, and we’re probably going to be looking at dips and washes, and not waste too much time on layering, so lighter tones are what we need!  Its also easier to do different hair shades over a lighter flesh.  Painting blondes over a dark or metal colour is painful!
  2. Backpacks.  Why backpacks, I hear you ask?  Aren’t they the same colour as the rest of the model normally?  Indeed they are, but in 40k, particularly for marine types, they are bulky awkward things that are painful to spray around.  You’ll often find you waste loads of time touching up fiddly areas that haven’t got great coverage because of these.   You’ll probably save more time giving them a quick spray front and back separately (with a blob of bluetack or playdoh to let you glue the contact point).   It also lets you use a different colour if that’s useful – Dark Angel veterans are sometimes easier to base coat for their robes, and then you can save time on the backpacks in dark green.
  3. Weapons.  Why weapons?  Because these are generally gun metal regardless of the rest of the model, and like the backpacks, block the sprays coverage quite a lot if attached.  You can get your weapon base colour down as well as your core models, cover the whole model better with primer, and waste less time touching up fiddly bits that are hard to reach with a brush.

If you do this, priming (and assembly) will probably take a little longer.  But base coating, the dullest part of painting models, will generally be between 50-75% complete before you even pick up a brush.  And if you want to get a game in sooner rather than later, you aren’t fielding grey plastic already or plain black primed models even at this stage.  Even better, unlike brush work, spraying is just as easy with a whole army full of models as doing a unit of 5.  If you have to manually slap one colour of paint on 100 models, it can be soul destroying – most people find doing a unit is about as much as they can cope with at a batch.

We’ve talked about priming in colours – where can we get them?  I love the GW metal aerosol sprays, and the small range of coloured sprays match their paints, of course.  For general coloured spray primers, I get on with Army Painter sprays, though some people don’t like them.  And if you have an airbrush, you can even mix your own coloured primers, as well as exploiting Vallejo’s extensive range.

Fantastic.  Its what the Lazy Mini Painter is all about – getting armies ready to go!

2 Replies to “The Lazy Mini Painter – Proper Priming”

  1. “unless its something like blood angels with blue helmets in an assault squad!”

    Blue helmets are Devastators. I think you meant yellow 😉 #NeedlessPedantry

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