Saturday, May 31, 2014

Undercoating Minis; Black or White, PART I

Hey All!

One thing about painting miniatures; you will not improve much if you are not willing to try out new techniques and with this in mind, I embark of a test of sorts.

Traditionally, I have used flat white spray paint as an undercoat for all my minis. I do not use 'Primer' as it will fill-in detail and in 15mm, this is a problem. I prefer to top-coat with a varnish to give the finished mini's paint job durability.

White undercoating, in theory, gives the mini a brighter overall finish but I wonder if the opposite is true. Will black absorb the dark from the paint and cause the color to appear brighter? One issue I am having with white undercoat is that you have to re-paint all the crevice's and deep shadow areas as any missed areas are glaringly obvious.

Another problem I am having is that the white primer shows through the top coat. While this can be desirable for some things, generally it forces me to do at least two coats of Vallejo to completely cover the undercoat.

I have decided to try two brands of flat black paint to undercoat three minis each and relate the experience. I grabbed six Pionere figures and two types of flat black spray paint.  The brands chosen: Krylon and Armorcoat. I found the Armorcoat to be cheaper in price but better misting than the Krylon but I suspect the Krylon will stand up better to the scratch test.

Once undercoated, I left the minis to dry overnight. Another observation, I was able to spot a fine casting line that I would have missed with white undercoating (center figure) - thats a bonus! Also the flat is more of a satin for both brands.

Stay tuned...


  1. I use both black and white and it depends very much on the task at hand. Neither one is better than the other, its simply a case of are you comfortable with it and will it let you do the job you want?

  2. Black primer will make the colors you use darker, white primer will make the colors brighter and gray primer is more neutral, the color you put on will be the color you get.

    1. While that sounds logical, what I am finding while painting the first coat on the first mini, is that the colors over black undercoating are 'truer' or more saturated looking vs the washed out looking and somewhat blander looking paint over a white undercoat. Not sure why but I am excited to continue.

    2. Generally one of the reasons we use black primer is to create the shadows and, hopefully, not have to worry about areas that we missed as you are pointing out. Your reds and yellows tend to not cover very well and can be helped along with an additional undercoat, otherwise they are going to take more than one coat to get good coverage on black. I find that for gaming using black primer let's me paint faster is more forgiving and you can almost drybrush your main colors on and get a very good look. Without to much effort its a natural lining technique.

  3. It sounds like you need to try some Tamiya Fine Gray primer.

  4. Thanks - I'll pick some up but I think I will still run into the issue with missed spots et al.

  5. I supposed this depends on how you paint really: I have tried black and white and with my painting style (several layers of quite opaque paint) there was no difference whatsoever. White always did leave annoying bits if you "missed" painting somewhere, hence I went with black for the most part.

    Black is also more useful in airbrushing terms, since you can "part cover" an area and leave some of the black showing through for further depth.I suppose the reverse is also true 9white and highlights) but I can't really pull that off.

    I suppose white/light grey has its uses, but personal preference means I almost always go with a black undercoat.


  6. I use a white undercoat and give it a dark/black wash. Then you avoid the white in crevisses problem