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Primers for the various materials?

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I know there's a painting forum, but it seems to be dedicated to the Reaper Minis, not to the hand-sculpted ones. I see most people use acrylic paint. I've also seen some people they use primer or paint directly on, but they usually don't specify which material they used. I was wondering if you use primer, and specifically, on which materials? Are the various brands of putty different? Clay? What if you have used more than one material on one sculpture?

For example, I made this, which is ProCreate/Apoxie with the top layer in Super Sculpey. Oh yeah, and I've also made a base out of Milliput. I've painted Super Sculpey before just by putting down one layer of paint and more or less using that as primer. I was thinking of just spray painting the whole thing black and then painting on top of that. Thoughts?


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I use milliput and or green Stuff on bases.


Priming is either sprayprimer like Army Painter or Brush on Primer like Vallejo.


Then paint.


Maybe this helps a bit?

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 There's no real difference between priming putty or clay and priming metal or plastic - people use various kinds of putty to fill gaps, repair damage and modify or convert all sorts of plastic and metal miniatures, and the primer sticks just as well to the putty/clay as it does to the other materials. Pretty much any primer that would work on metal or plastic will stick just fine on putty of any sort.


Folks use anything from automotive spray primer to dedicated brush-on primer from the various brands of hobby paints.


Pretty much the only time you see an issue with priming anything is on certain kinds of plastic that sometimes have bad reactions to certain brands of spray primer. Most often because the solvents in the spray primer dissolve the plastic.



(And the painting forum is for painting everything, not just Reaper minis...)

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OK, thanks!


Oh, I wanted to ask, would the primer I get at the hardware store be fine, or is it the kind that degrades the plastic? Not that I used plastic this time, but I might in the future. 

Edited by Živa

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For a single miniature, I would brush-prime it. You can prime with both black and white brush-on primers for a greyscale effect, which helps painting your miniature. Or, you can brush-prime flesh and clothing in white, and metallic areas in black as undercoats. 

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 As Ced mentioned, unless you're in a hurry or have a lot of minis to prime, brush-on primer is probably the way to go. Just apply several thin coats.


 If you are going to spray prime, chances are the stuff you can find at the hardware store will work fine - but as always, test it on a piece of scrap first.

You're generally better off going for something marketed as a hobby or craft primer (since they generally tend to have a smaller particle size so as not to obscure small details, and are generally designed to be safe on a wide variety of materials), but if you're on a budget or options are scarce, almost anything will do. And you can ask the folks at the hardware store to recommend something that's safe for plastic - most plastic minis are either polystyrene (the harder plastics) or some variation of PVC (the softer, bendy ones)...


 The thing about primer and plastics (and rarely some kinds of resins) is that the primer sticks better than regular paint because chemicals in it eat away slightly at the surface it's sprayed on, roughing it up a bit to give it more surface area to cling to (although some also work by chemically bonding with the surface). Generally, this is working the way it's supposed to.

About ninety-five percent of the time, you can use any kind of primer on any kind of plastic (or resin).

However, in rare instances certain combinations of plastic and certain chemicals in some primers either react more strongly than others (i.e., sometimes instead of lightly scoring the surface it'll either eat holes in it or just melt the stuff), or react in a completely different fashion (and you get a situation where the primer never fully cures and it remains sticky for days or even weeks after application and whatever paint you lay down over it will just wipe off).


 Which, again, is why you always test on a piece of scrap or sprue first.


I don't think I've ever heard of a primer reacting badly in any way to any sort of putty or clay, though.

Just remember to wash it thoroughly with a good grease-cutting soap to remove the last traces of whatever you used for lubricant while sculpting.



(Reaper Bones minis are one of those odd cases where the plastic has an unusual reaction - the plastic is somewhat hydrophobic, so if you cut your primer coat with more than just a little bit of water, it'll flake right off instead of sticking. However, it's been discovered that the Reaper MSP liner colors stick to the Bones plastic extremely well, so a lot of people use them for priming their Bones minis instead of regular primer.)

Edited by Mad Jack
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Bake-hardening polymer clays (e.g., Sculpey, Femo, etc.) are made of PVC granules dissolved in a volatile plasticizer. Proper baking will evaporate enough of the plasticizer to make the clay hard to the touch, but there will still be enough residual plasticizer to inhibit most spray paints from hardening. Painting them directly with waterborne acrylic paints, after gentle degreasing with dish soap and water and a soft brush, will give more stable results.

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