Why Miniatures Should Not be Painted Without Using a Primer

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Painting miniatures is a wonderful hobby no matter if you are painting Warhammer miniatures or historical miniatures for dioramas. But one of the most important steps of painting miniatures right after assembling them is priming them with a paint primer. In this article, I will tell you exactly why and how you should prime your miniatures.

As a whole, before painting miniatures, a primer should be applied to ensure that paint will adhere properly to the surface of the miniatures. If no primer is applied before painting a miniature then the paint will scratch off easily.

A primer will prepare the surface of the miniature for the paint. A primer will adhere very well to the miniature and any paint applied to the dried primer will adhere just as well and permanently to the miniature as the primer.

I highly recommend using a spray primer for miniatures as it is easy to apply and just one can is enough to prime almost a whole tabletop army.

I personally prefer a mat black primer from army painter for my miniatures. It is easy to apply, not very expensive, and one spray can lasts very long. You can get find army painters mat black primer right here on Amazon.

What Does a Primer Actually Do?

Before I show you how to properly apply a primer I will first explain what a primer actually does.

A primer is a type of paint that adheres well to a specific surface such as plastic, for example. The primer will make it possible for paints that would usually not adhere properly to that surface to stick permanently to it.

So in our case, we want to paint plastic miniatures with acrylic paint. But acrylic paint won´t normally adhere to plastic directly.

If we apply acrylic paint directly to plastic then the paint will easily be scratched off.

So we need to apply a primer that will adhere to the plastic surface of the miniature properly before painting it.

The primer will create a surface that the acrylic paint can adhere to properly and permanently without getting scratched off easily.

So while it is possible to paint miniatures directly with acrylic paint it is not recommended as the paint job won´t survive for long.

Another important thing that the primer does is it ensures that the acrylic paint won´t be discolored when it is applied to the surface.

What Happens if No Primer is Used Before Painting Miniatures

I often get asked what would happen if you were to paint a miniature without applying a primer first.

As a whole, if no primer is used before painting a miniature then the paint applied to the miniature will not adhere properly to the surface. The paint will easily scratch off and in some cases even peel off after a while.

so in the end, nothing really bad happens if no primer is applied before painting the miniature.

But it can be frustrating if you put hours of work into painting a miniature just to realize that the paint will scratch off simply because you did not apply a primer first.

So never forget to prime your miniatures!

How to Properly Apply a Primer to Miniatures

Priming miniatures is pretty easy and straightforward.

I have a detailed guide on how to prepare miniatures and how to apply the primer to the miniature properly. You can read that article right here.

Prepare The Miniatures

First, you have to prepare the miniatures. I usually start by fixing the assembled miniatures to a long piece of wood or cardboard.

You can use superglue or double-sided tape for that.

Shake Your Spray Can

Next, you need to shake your spray can.

It is very important to shake the spray can well and for at least a minute before you use it.

Apply the Primer to the Miniature

And finally, apply the primer to the miniature.

You don´t need much primer to properly prepare the miniature for painting. A light dusting will be more than enough.

Spray the miniatures from about 18 to 22 cm distance away and don´t point the spray can directly at them. Instead, move the spray can from left to right in multiple passes until the miniature is completely covered from every angle.

You should only spray the in the outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.

Do Warhammer Minis Need Primer?

Probably the most often used and painted miniatures are Warhammer miniatures.

As a whole, Warhammer minis need a primer to be applied before painting them to keep any paint from peeling or scratching off. Warhammer miniatures are made out of polystyrene. Acrylic paint won´t adhere to polystyrene directly without applying a primer to the surface first.

So if you want your paint job to be permanent then you need to apply a primer to your Warhammer minis.

Hi, I am a passionate maker and professional prop maker for the entertainment industry. I use my woodworking, programming, electronics, and illustration know-how to create interactive props and puzzles for Escape Games and marketing agencies. And I share my knowledge and my experience on this blog with you so that you can become a maker yourself.

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