Primer. Love it or hate it, it's one of those essential evils of the hobby. When I first started, I learned the hard way multiple times about the difference between painting on primed and un-primed models. The first arguement is whether you even need to prime certain models, e.g. plastic and resin. My answer is a flat "yeah, you should be priming, bro." The issue that comes up time and time again is if you have good environmental factors to prime in. Here in Northern Virginia, we just got our first snow. A minor dusting but enough to trigger Christmas decor to spring out at local stores all over the area.
Having primed outside in snow, it doesn't give you good results. So with winter right around the corner, what is a hobbyist to do? Here's a quick run down to just regular spray paint that I have found useful:
Gesso is a classic art tool to help painters prime canvas for paint. This stuff is great. I love it. I think I paid maybe 10 bucks for it a while back. It comes in Black and White. The only trick with Gesso is that it can be super thick. I usually shake it up, open the lid, and use the flipped over lid to get the material out. I always dip the brush in water a few times to transfer it over to the gesso to cut it a bit, but if you over do it, it'll be straight water on the model and won't grip. If you go straight on to the model with the gesso, there's a chance you'll obscure the details, which is no fun for anyone.
The best quality of gesso is that you get an amazing tooth to the surface. Tooth describes the ability of a surface to grab the paint. Typically you hear this term to describe canvas or paper.
If I use gesso to prime a model, right after I get the first coat of paint across the model, I seal the base in with a varnish. Matt and stain typically, but sometimes a glossy one is called for. It just ensures that you don't end up straching the coats off. Here is the major draw back: if you prime with gesso, unlike spray paint which binds to the plastic/metal/resin, you can strach it off with your finger nails.
Surface Primer by Vallejo
|image from the internets|
I picked this stuff up at a local hobby shop. It's recommended to use the surface primer through an airbrush, which you can use almost straight away. I like to cut it a little with water, just to give it a little give. Spray it on, looks like the model came out of the box that color. What I enjoy about it is you can get it in different colors. I have it in dark grey, white, and german drab green. The green color is almost spot on for Catachan Green, which is great for my Raptor Legion army. If you don't have an airbrush, you don't need one! Painting this stuff on with a brush works very well. But watch out. The brush you use will get a little gummy, but if you clean it out right after, you'll be set.
This stuff binds really well to the surfaces and doesn't block much detail from the model, unlike the gesso if it goes on real thick.
Those are my two recommendations if you can't prime outside due to weather conditions. Winter is a good time to paint and hobby because it's crappy out. So get some models, paint, and supplies (beer) and get tucked in for the snow. Until next time, folks and folkettes.