With great models, comes great responsibility.  From strained index-fingers to hirsute hormagaunts, spray priming can be fraught with danger.  Read-on to learn my number-one top-secret tip to accomplishing this stage of painting with ease…


We have all been there.  Excited at the prospect of fielding a new collection of models, you head to your priming “station”, lay down the newspaper/cardboard, and begin shaking the paint can.  Hours later, your menacing menagerie stands only as a mark of shame and fury, covered in what appears to be “Hair in a Can“.


I have read many articles about the dangers of spray primers.  Possible problems include the fabled “dust storm”, where the pigment of the primer winds up refusing to adhere to the model in question.  Another, more horrifying possibility, is the dreaded “furry-effect” (trust me, don’t google image search that one), where the primer builds up on the model in such a way that not only obscures all detail, but also adds a layer of fur-like texture to your miniatures.  Sure, if one was going for a Hoth Wampa themed squad of Wraithguard, well, more power to you.  Most painters prefer a smooth foundation.


In addition to hearing the horror stories, I have also heard people place the blame for these tragic occurrences on specific brands.  What is interesting, is that if you do enough research, EVERY brand seems to have done someone wrong at some point, so brand-favoritism seems like a poor system of paint selection.  In addition to brands disloyalty, I have also read a plethora of possible causes, ranging from the scientific (atmospheric conditions), to the esoteric (you need to whisper the name “Andy Chambers” to the spray can before using it).  What is a hobbyist to do?


Well, as far as brand loyalty goes, here is what I can tell you from my experiences.  GW primer is pretty basic.  If it goes on smoothly, and it offers a fairly decent canvas for your paint to cling.  Armory primer is also acceptable, but I have had several instances of “dusting” occur with it.  Army Painter primer, goes on a bit thick, and can sometimes take a while to cure, while keeping a “tacky” feel to it.  P3 primer, my current favorite, is a bit  different than the others.  It needs to be applied in MANY thin coats, and has a very short “range” from the spray can.  Also, P3 primer takes almost a week to fully dry, but the coverage you get is amazing.  I have heard of people using Krylon spray paint as a primer as well, and the low cost of this brand is certainly something that has caught my eye, but I personally have yet to try it.  Now, I am sure that it is possible for any brand of primer to have a “bad can” in a batch, co do not take these brand recommendations as scripture.  This brings me to my top secret, and most potent hobby tip for priming:


Test.  The.  Primer.  Is the weather too cold?  Too hot?  Too humid?  Is the can itself too cold?  Too hot?  Not shaken enough?  There is one simple solution to all of these questions.  Every time, before priming your miniatures, take a sprue clipping, and test your can of paint on it.  Let it dry for a few minutes, and inspect the finished effect.  I could give you dozens of tips on primer brands and methodologies, but when it comes down to it, the proof is in the pudding:  Test that specific can in that day’s specific weather, and check the results yourself.


I am not trying to preach here, or scold anyone, but honestly:  This is not exactly a difficult thing to do, and it will communicate to you, almost immediately, if you should proceed with that can, that day.  While not exactly the sage advice of a hobby guru, I hope that this minor observation will save some of you a few dollars.  Sure, driving to a hobby store and buying a replacement can of primer may put a hiccup in you plans for the day, but instead imagine having to drive to the hobby store to buy a replacement box of miniatures.  One is certainly more expensive than the other.


As a final tip, don’t stand in your driveway shaking your can of primer, where all the world can see.  It’s just an offensive gesture.


As always, if you happen to have any tips on today’s topic, I would love to hear them.