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Tiny Tin Men :: Archives

HIPPIE project part 3 - priming

August 29, 2005 3:41 PM - Posted by Robartes - Category: Painting

The primed figure

As I’m writing this, the finished HIPPIE figure features in the ‘Recent Photos’ section of the sidebar, so painting wise I’m several steps ahead of my posting in this series :). In case you’re reading this several months down the line, here’s the picture I’m referring to.

The next step after cleaning and converting the HIPPIE miniature is priming it. Priming figures, and in particular what colour to prime them in, has been the subject of many a holy war in miniature painting circles. The basic camps are black and white primers, with grey primers or black with white drybrush primers in between. Holy wars aside, this article is just about my way of priming.

Why do we prime miniatures? Primer is usually formulated slightly differently from normal paint, in such a way that it provides a slightly rougher surface with some tooth for other paint to catch on. What this means is that the paint you apply over a coat of primer will stick better than paint applied on the bare metal. Don’t believe though, that priming will make your paint job much more resistant to wear and tear — while the paint sticks better to the primer, it is still quite easy to rub off the primer and thus the paint on top of it by handling, especially at exposed parts of the miniature such as elbows, tops of hats and such. In my experience, priming a figure helps the painting process because it is easier to apply the paint (just try to paint over the bare metal with slightly watered down acrylic paint to see what I mean), but does not make a great difference (though not none at all) to wear resistance of your paint job — if you want a wear resistant paint job, apply a good varnish after you have painted the miniature.

As to colour of priming, I’ve always used grey primer, simply because Brico — a local Belgian hardware store — have a nice and affordable primer in their spray paint assortment which just happens to be grey. I’ve used it ever since I started painting miniatures almost ten years ago. In the beginning, I painted over the basic grey colour, but now I find that black priming helps my painting technique by providing the deepest shade layer. So, after I’ve spray painted the miniature and the primer coat has dried, I apply a heavy (very heavy) wash of black paint (thinned to about a 1:1:2 ratio of black paint, matt medium and water).

And that’s what you see in this installment’s picture: the figure has been spray painted and washed black. Looking closely at the picture, I see that I’ve also painted the shade colour of the figure’s standard, i.e. dark brown. I often do this: when I have painted a certain colour on another figure and have some paint left on my palette, that usually goes onto the next figure in line, which is probably what happened here.

Also, note the fact that, despite my crude attempts at converting and sculpting, once the entire figure has been primed, it is hard to see what parts are original and what parts are converted if you do not know which is which. This is probably the best kept secret of converting miniatures: it doesn’t matter if you’re not a Michelangelo or Rodin in miniature — once painted nobody can tell the difference!

That’s it for this installment. Next installment will be applying the shade colours to the various areas of the miniature.

Other parts of the HIPPIE series:

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