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Is 'gesso' the same thing as 'primer' for minis?


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No it is not. Gesso has similar properties but does different things. First it shrinks, and this is to help get the canvas tight on the frame. This is bad for us because it pulls away from the figure and then the figure is not primed. Next it is thick and it destroys details. Because of the first point thinning it makes the first point worse. Third gesso doesn't bond with the surface. Because it is made for canvas not toy soldiers.

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Sort of.

 

I've managed to scrape off painted gesso with a fingernail. If you get clear gesso, you can color it as a colored primer, or even as a pre-wash to find details on a mini (eg. Bones) that won't take primer. Gesso is brushed on, so can be used in place of brush-on primer. I have some plastic miniatures from a boardgame which didn't take Reaper's brush-on primer. Ask me next week to test them for gesso!

 

http://www.wargaming...-on-primer.html

http://www.dakkadakk...h_Acrylic_Gesso

http://ordinarygamin...ures-gesso.html

 

Gesso troubleshooting:

http://privateerpres...y-priming/page3

 

Gesso as pre-wash on Bones:

http://www.reapermini.com/forum/index.php?/topic/46214-pre-washing-bones-without-the-wash/

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1juMYqE9QQs

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I've used gesso, and it's been nothing but trouble on minis. It goes on thick, which can be countered (to an extent), but it also makes for a very rough surface. Part of the reason gesso is used is to give a rough, toothy surface on which paint will adhere. On a mini, it's like coating the entire thing in a fine sandy film that comes off easily with rubbing alcohol or water.

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am I doing it wrong, did I pick the wrong ones, or is it a humidity thing?

 

Yes.

 

Or to be more precise, any of these could be the culprit. I would likely blame humidity first, for fuzz, although certain brands - Armory - are worse than others.

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I moved, almost a year ago, away from spray painted primer to Reaper Brush On Primer and haven't looked back. It's way cheaper and you can use it with any temperature\humidity condition, it never goes on too thick, you never miss a spot.

 

I know a lot of people have been moving to use Vallejo Surface primer, especially for airbrushes, as it's really really cheap when you buy it in the large bottle (which is about $15).

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I have successfully used gesso as a primer for more than 20 years. It has to be thinned enough to shoot through an airbrush (mine is a very old Paasche), plugs the nozzle frequently and requires at least two coats to be done properly.

 

Why on earth bother? Because once you get the hang of it, it is the best for not losing small detail. I first started using it to prime some of my 4400 micro-tanks and found that when thinned it did not distort detail, or hide it. I later found it to be an ideal primer for use with water-based acrylics, particularly when you wanted to do up a number of minis all at once. My buddy, Ron Woodrum, and I discovered a "staining' technique using gesso that cut our painting time almost in half, when doing units.

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Acrylic Gesso is chalk in a latex binder- it smells of ammonia. Imperial primer by GW appears to be gesso- by smell, shrinking properties and the fact you can rub it off with a finger, making it very poor for gaming.

A primer, by definition is a coat that helps the paint adhere to the surface. Tamiya spray is brilliant as it is pretty tough, does metal and plastics and is low odour. It suffers from fuzzies if sprayed on a damp or humid day like all sprays.

Chaos black is not a primer incidentally- it rubs off pretty easily too.

For gaming minis I reccomend a coat of regular white enamel paint (I use Humbrol) thinned very slightly with white spirit. It is extremely tough and chip proof, and perfect for gaming.

To apply it, load an old brush, wipe it off as if you where dry brushing, then scrub this over the whole model.

This acts as a beachhead- applying a very fine dusty coat, that will not obscure details, but makes the surface grip paint well. A couple of coats like this then you can do a thinned layer that works into the cracks. Its just the raised surfaces that tend to need priming- the cracks and details just need an undercoat.

So I do around three or four light passes with enamel, let that dry overnight and do an undercoat of regular acrylic (black in my case).

 

This trick works extremely well on shiney plastics and resins- I have to try it on some bones soon!

 

 

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Acrylic Gesso is chalk in a latex binder- it smells of ammonia. Imperial primer by GW appears to be gesso- by smell, shrinking properties and the fact you can rub it off with a finger, making it very poor for gaming.

 

This is not, strictly speaking, true. Acrylic gesso comes in many different brands and has many different formulations, but in general it is a white pigment, usually titanium dioxide, in a water-based suspension of acrylic resin (not latex -- that is only for cheap housepaint-type acrylics) identical to that used for acrylic paints, along with a filler such as chalk, marble dust, or whiting, to give it tooth and body.

 

*All* acrylic paints and mediums contain some ammonia and /or formaldehyde as preservatives. (That is one very good reason to never lick brushes, by the way.)

 

Acrylic gesso is used to cover, smooth, and give tooth to painting surfaces. It is made for a very specific painting purpose. It is somewhat thick-bodied to fill in the interstices between canvas threads. It provides a rough painting surface for paint to cling to.

 

It is not supposed to shrink when dry -- I don't know where that story got started. The cotton *canvas* does generally shrink when primed, and boards can warp from the water in gesso if they are too thin or too unsupported to be properly painted on. But gesso itself does not shrink, except that it loses water when it dries in the same way that a drop of spilled coffee goes from a dome shape to a flat spot.

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