Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Prime time

As of right now, there are twelve people have completed their NaMoPaiMo models.
The rest of us range from "almost there" to "haven't even started." Today's first Tutorial Tuesday post is for second group: the procrastinators.
Before being painted, every model should be prepped and primed. Prepping can be tricky, and I've published multiple posts on the topic, but priming seems like a no brainer. You buy a can of primer at the hardware store, shake it and spray it on your model. What could possibly go wrong?
photo by Karoline Schrøder
There is no single, universally-accepted, best choice brand of primer. However, it's extremely important that whatever type you use is sandable.
Sommer Prosser explains: The important thing is to make sure you get SANDABLE primer. As long as it says "Wet or Dry Sandable" somewhere on the can, it's probably okay. The brand or color is not as critical.
In regards to color, Sommer has this to say: It's harder to see detail on white, and also the white seems more "gummy" to me. Because of this, most folks start with red or gray. I cover with a final layer of white as a base coat before painting. At that stage it's pretty much sanded so little touch up sanding is not a big deal. 
photo by Charlotte Donahue
Before spraying the model, the primer should be thoroughly mixed. Aryn Crance recommends holding your primer upside down while shaking the can. She also alternates hands frequently, to avoid fatigue.
photo by Bethany Wurl
For health and safety reasons, primer should always be sprayed outside. This can be a challenge during the winter, but not an impossible one. Megan Namaste writes: Primer is actually more forgiving of cold weather than sealer, but it's gotta be at least around forty degrees or so. 

Sommer adds: Even if  the weather is lousy or windy, spray the horse outside. Set it in a safe place (sheltered inside a big weighed down cardboard box on the balcony for example) until it is less stinky. Give it an hour or two and spray the other half. 

Several people recommend getting around cold weather by spraying and/or drying the model inside a well ventilated bathroom with the exhaust fan running. Personally, I find primer fumes to be nauseating, so I can't recommend that method. I always spray outside.
As for actual spraying technique, Christine Sutcliffe counsels: It's better not to spray in a steady stream as that’s too easy to overdo, Start spraying away from your horse, and sweep your arm across it, release the pressure once you’re past the model Then repeat in the other direction - short skooshes not a heavy blast! There’s nothing worse than overly thick layers of primer; not only does it clog up the sculpture’s detail but it also takes much longer to dry!
photo by Karinny Hullathi
Small scale models can be particularly hard to prime, since a heavy spray can knock them right off their feet. Christine Sutcliffe gets around this with double sided tape. She sticks one side to he priming surface - she uses cork sanding blocks - and gently presses the model's feet onto the other side. She says the tape has just enough grip to hold them in place securely, but isn’t too gluey to damage the finish afterwards.

Beth Kingdon hangs her minis and sprays them that way.
photo by Beth Kingdon
What happens if you touch the primer before it's fully dry? No worries, says Anne Field: Oh no, I ruined my primer! But not really. I did totally stick my finger in it while it was wet though. So now I’m leaving it alone to dry. Then I will take some very fine grit sandpaper and very gently buff out the fingerprint. If I go too far I may need another light coat of primer, but it may not need it at all.
photo by Anne Field
Last but not least, here a really good tip from Willow Northland about priming rubbery models like Schleichs and CollectAs: I couldn't find a primer that wouldn't go sticky, so I talked to a hobbyist who works in the paint dept at a store. He said to use latex primer, the sort you'd use on your house walls. I got a can, and tried it... I love it! It paints on easily with a brush, or you can thin it with water and apply with an airbrush. Hardly any fumes, good coverage, dries within a half hour and is sandable in a couple hours. The ONLY thing I don't like about it is that the smallest can is a quart. Fortunately, its was not terribly expensive.
photo by Willow Northland
Being latex, it evaporates at the surface quickly, so I put some into an empty glue bottle and re-sealed the can. I put a small puddle of primer on my work surface, re-capped the bottle, and dipped the brush in it. I replenished the puddle as needed. It works great, and is a good surface for your paint.
photo by Willow Northland
Thank you, Sommer, Aryn, Megan, Christine, Beth, Anne and Willow for your contributions to this post. And to all you procrastinators out there, it's time to get cracking. Go outside and prime your models!

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