Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Basecoat basics

The first coat of paint that covers the primer is called the basecoat. 
Anne Field's 2021 NaMoPaiMo horse in basecoat
There are no hard and fast rules regarding basecoats. They can be any medium, and they do not have to be the same medium as the rest of the piece. Similarly, they may or may not reflect the model's final color.
Tamzyn Revolta's 2021 NaMoPaiMo model in basecoat
My first NaMoPaiMo model was a bay Clydesdale, painted in oils and pastels. I started her with a shaded bay acrylic basecoat
This year, I used bright gold acrylic paint to cover the primer on both my official and bonus models. 
No matter which medium or method you use, do not expect your basecoat to look fantastic. Usually they are streaky and patchy. This is Stephanie Blaylock's 2021 NaMoPaiMo horse with one layer of pastels over primer.
Here's Danielle Dunn's horse with one layer of oils over primer.
Melanie Miller usually starts with oils over primer, too, but this year she is painting a horse with a really detailed white pattern. February is a short month, and she didn't want to waste a week waiting for multiple oil layers to dry. To shortcut the process, she started with Pan Pastels instead. This is one layer of Pan Pastels over grey primer before...
and after sealing. For people who are not familiar with pastels, this loss of color and detail is a normal - and often discouraging - part of the process. 
Here's Mel's second layer, again before...
and after sealing.
And number three.
This layer looked good even after spraying, so it was the last pastel layer.
And here's the first layer of oils. Mel writes: They went on so much more opaque than usual, thanks to the Pan Pastel base layers. When I’m not in a time crunch, I just do all of the layers in oils (and boy, does the first layer look like mistakes were made!). The pastels are messy and require a mask, but it’s nice to have options.
Truly, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to basecoats. Choose a color, choose a medium, and don't worry if it doesn't look good right away. Basecoats are just the beginning. Trust the process. Keep painting.


  1. To make my life easier I used spray acrylic for my base coat. Now I can move on to eyeshadow!

    1. I have never used spray acrylic or eye shadow on a model. I always say there are as many ways to make tack as there are tackmakers, and I think that's even more true when it comes to painting models.