Friday, May 14, 2021

The Process Part Two: Priming

Yesterday I grabbed my tools and primed John's French Guard infantry. After years of trial and error, I have come up with a decent process for getting a layer of primer on a lot of figures at once.

Ten to fifteen years ago I had a bunch of 1"x2" trim left over from a carpentry project. This, kids, was in the halcyon days of cheap lumber, so it didn't make much sense to return the unused boards. Instead I cut them into two foot lengths. I use those lengths to hold four popsicle sticks of figures, so I can prime 24 figures in one pass. Some blue painters' tape sticky-side-up keeps the popsicle sticks in place.

I live in a 100 year old house with a small back patio. That's where I prime my figures. I will spray indoors on very rare occasions, but never with a big job like this.

I wear a painting mask to keep the spray out of my nose, mouth and lungs. Exam gloves keep my hands from getting coated with paint. 

I have used cheap enamel spray paint for years, but it is getting tough to find. This project has exhausted my reserve of flat black.

Your humble hobbyist is kitted up and ready to spray. I give each group a smooth, continuous spray from 6-8" away. I approach the stick from the bottom left, bottom right, top left, and top right. Then I flip the stick and get the other side.

I do not know the science behind it (I suspect it has something to do with paint vapor saturating the surrounding air), but primer always dries better outdoors in moderate temperatures. I let the figures dry for a few hours, then repeat the whole spraying routine. The result is two this coats of primer. I almost always get complete coverage and never have gummy paint obscure the figures' details.

It took two batches, but I was able to prime all 468 figures. Is it too many to paint at once?


Tomorrow I will begin documenting my painting process. It will be specific to French Napoleonics in 15mm, but hopefully it will be of interest.


  1. For me, WAY too many figures to tackle in one go. As for primer, I have been using the cheap primer from Home Depot for many years and it works great. At $0.97 a can, it is a real bargain.

    1. I'll check out Home Depot. Walmart has been striking out.