Monday, January 11, 2021

Priming in the cold

January is, on average, the coldest month of the year in Colorado. It's also the month in which I do the most prepping and priming. A lot of people will tell you, that these things do not go hand in hand, but where there's a will, there's a way. In today's guest post, Kristen Cermele tackles the topic of priming model horses in subfreezing temperatures. Thank you, Kristen!

Priming in the Cold

by Kristen Cermele

Priming in cold! Although I personally have had more problems priming in high humidity and heat, this is one of the main issues people have while prepping for NaMoPaiMo. It is currently twenty seven degrees Fahrenheit here. I know that's not as cold as some parts of the country, but for the most part below freezing is below freezing for this sort of thing. 

I use Krylon red oxide Colormax primer. A lot of people dislike Krylon, and I do not like their white Colormax primer, but the red oxide is my first choice primer.  I have not had any luck with any brands' paint + primer mix, so I can't help with them.
No matter what brand, I find that all white primers used directly on plastic are temperamental when spraying in temps that aren't ideal. To help with that, I always start with a layer of red oxide as my primer base. It doesn't have to be even. A light coat is fine. When that is dry, I will switch to white primer.

Always keep your cans of primer indoors at room temperature and shake for a full two minutes before applying. This is very boring. Set a timer. Two min feels like two years, and you won't get the time right on your own. Haha. Ask me how I know. 

Before you spray the primer onto the model, make sure you do a few good sprays out into the open air  to make sure that it is spraying evenly and not spitting. The first spray is always a bad spray! Once you see good color coming out of the can, spray your model. Don't spray too close. Pretty much every time I've messed up my primer, I'm spraying too close and too thick. A lot of the problems blamed on weather are really caused by spraying too close. Six inches is the minimum. With larger horses, twelve inches is better. 

If your can is not that full, it's always better to trash it can and start new, especially on a project you'll really be upset about messing up. The dead ends of cans tend to spit and be gritty. It's lame and feels wasteful, but it's more lame trying to sand and pick out little grit balls from details. This is what happened with this horse and why I had to reprime him.
Once you're done spraying, bring the horses in to dry. They will have issues drying in below freezing temperatures. 

If you do have primer issues (crazing, cracking, dripping, whatever), fight the urge to touch it. Instead, let it dry overnight! It is much easier to sand away the mistakes when dry. Trying to mess with them while the primer is wet is just asking for more issues! Again I can say this because I've done every Bad Thing imaginable with priming. All of them. I promise. I still do them sometimes. This is totally a Do As I Say Not As I Do situation.

Re-primed and ready for paint
Thank you again, Kristen. I know a lot of people are going to find this really helpful!


  1. intersting post, rain is more of an issue here as an outside primer.

  2. I'm still learning to throw cans away before they are fully empty. It does feel wasteful but I also hate that my 2020 NaMoPaiMo horse has sealer splatters on him. I'll probably get used to throwing them out earlier, but it's still hard.

  3. Thanks for the interesting article.
    I'm curious if you still use the Colormaxx brand when you switch from red oxide to white or if you use something else...

  4. "Ask me how I know" is a famous line, none the worse for being used before. It has the ring of truth.

  5. Can we do NaNoPaiMo without stripping and prepping and priming something? Is a blank model enough to start with?

    1. There really isn't any reason to strip an OF model, and most artists don't. Prepping is up to you. If you're going to be bothered by seams or pinholes, you should prep. If not, it's fine to skip it. Priming is the one thing on this list I consider essential. The primer bonds to the plastic and gives the paint a nice surface to adhere to. You should definitely plan on prepping.

  6. I have done all the bad things with priming a horse as well. The urge to "fix" the wet drip is SO strong! And so horrible...