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Airbrush inbound – let's talk paints.

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This topic contains 20 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  timchubb 1 month, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #1529171

    Cult of Games Member

    Ah, the good Dr. Faust. Lovely chap and great painter IMHO. Watch nearly every one of his videos.



    @sundancer bit late to party but looking good 🙂

    As for primers although been answered will chuck my thoughts in (basically notes for the follow up to “anatomy of an air compressor” shameless self promotion of a collaboration between @oriskany and myself in my former life as a fulltime community member which is “anatomy of an airbrush”)

    Airbrush Primers
    Perhaps the most basic use of an airbrush is to prime your stuff with it, as it has several advantages to using traditional rattle cans, and is also the simplest technique of literally point and spray, with all of the rules of using a rattle can applicable, thin mist cotes, don’t swamp and leave to dry longer than you think you need it too. The advantage of an airbrush for priming are:

    • You can prime indoors, without being at the mercy of weather or humidity
    • You avoid smelly solvent based primers (if you only use acrylics, its slightly different in the scale model world when enamels are still popular)
    • You can do advanced priming using 2 or more shades to preshade and pre highlight mini’s much easier with more contgrol than you can with a rattle can

    What is a primer
    A primer is a high surface area paint which makes it much easier for surface paints to stick to smooth plastics and surfaces. expand, mention about surface area, colour choice.
    Should i use an airbrush primer
    While an argument can be made than you can use any paint you want with an airbrush, its generally better to stick to airbrush specific primers for a couple of reasons.

    1. They generally come in a ready to use state, i.e. they are pre thinned (although it never hurts to add a few drops of thinner and especially flow aid to prevent drytip)
    2. They generally are a different sort of acrylic paint with quite a few technical features
      • Polyurethane based paint, the market leading brands (Vallejo & Badger) offer PU based paints, these work differently to normal acrylics and shrink as they dry and “De-gas” (The process where the chemical reaction that makes it dry releases vapours) which creates a very crisp finish as the paint literally conforms to the surface detail its covering
      • Self leveling, the paints have a consistency which means they flow evenly over details and through surface tension pull them selves to a uniform thickness
      • Micro filling, through the process of forming a skin which contracts the paint can also fill minor scratches and blemishes not that big a deal in the TTG world, but when making scale car kits the slightest mark can destroy a high gloss finish
      • Micro texture, due to the de-gassing process tiny pock marks form on the surface of the paint, which when dry gives the appearence a bit like orange skin, and is an absolute magnet for paint adheasion
      • Cleaning, most air brush primers are easy to clean from your airbrush (other than vallejo’s surface primer that always needs a full strip down to properly clean the nozzle if you dont thin it before use), where as brush based ones tend to be very sticky and take a lot more effort to clean out
    3. Range of shades, you can get a rainbow of airbrush primer colours, although I wouldn’t use them like army painter rattle cans, you can instead pre shade and highlight your mini, typical process is to prime in a light grey, then to spray up the mini at 45 degrees with a darker shade (dark grey or black) and to add zenith highlight (zenith highlighting is spraying a light colour at an angle to catch the high points of detail) of white or lighter grey, so when you spray your top cote the shadows and highlights already present accent your colour, huge time saver with something boring like space marines 😀

    Is a bit rough and ready and in need of a good editing and tidy up, but better posted here than gathering dust in my work in progress folder where war and peace on air brushes is taking shape lol



    Forgot to say that the primer i cant recommend enough is Stynelres/UMP Primer, its even better than vallejos, the dried finsih is the same, but the clean up is much easier, i.e. i dont have to fish a layer of “skin” out of the paint pathways inside the brush or from the snorkel on my badger bottle based brush.

    Stynelres is a bit pricey/hard to get in the EU, but luckily there is a UK based company who have licensed it and sell it under there own label, even though the bottle says made by badger in the USA! (their airbrush is also a rebadged badger, yet to get one but has very favourable reviews)

    Ultimate Primer – 120ml Triple Pack Black/Grey/White

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by  timchubb.


    Any recommendations for a US supplier of airbrush colored primers? I’m interested in a gold one (I’m a lazy brush-on painter). The supplier I used to use increased their shipping to $15. Ouch.


    Cult of Games Member

    Those were the days, eh @timchubb ?  Thanks for the mention.  Hope you are keeping well.



    @ced1106 can’t recommend a US supplier I’m afraid, although I typically prime gloss black for Metallics and use standard airbrush Metallics to layer. If I’m painting infantry who are predominantly metallic (iron warriors, sigmarines, knights etc.) I will give them a zenith highlight with white on top of the gloss black, then spay the metallic, followed by a gloss clear cote, then pin wash with a suitable shade (fleshwash for golds and bronzes, Chestnut ink or blue ink for silvers) find that pops quite well

    @oriskany I’m keeping well thanks, hope you and your family are also keeping well in these interesting times

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