Different Type Primers - Part 1 Whites

This is the first part of a two-part post that examines potential differences between various primer brands and finishes. Part 1 covers white primers. Again these experiments were conducted in my home but at the end I shipped all of the materials to Greg to make sure that he agreed with my interpretation on subtle differences.

HYPOTHESIS:

Depending on the opacity of the paint applied, undertones in white primers might impact the color of the final painted object. The Turbo Dork paints that would potentially show such an effect are the whites (Mother Lode and Pearly Gates) and the Omakase pastels.

EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN:

I purchased several different brands of matte white primer (see details below) and sprayed a bunch of square glass cabochons using either rattle can or airbrush. I then placed one square from each primer on a piece of cardboard and airbrushed them all simultaneously with three coats of a Turbo Dork color. Lastly, all the examples were photographed and labeled. 

I tested four Turbo Dork paints — Mother Lode, Pearly Gates, Matcha, and Momo. All four of these paints are recommended for use over a white base. Mother Lode is the only Turboshift that is labeled for use over white. The other three paints are Metallics — Pearly Gates is essentially a white metallic while Matcha and Momo are part of the pastel Omakase bundle. 

RESULTS:

In general, white paint is tricky. First, there is the usual complaint that it tends to be clumpy, but more importantly for this experiment, it may have a particular undertone such as gray or beige.

Two of the first set of white paints that I looked have a distinctive undertone.

White Base 1 (from left to right)

  • Badger Stynylrez White Primer (airbrush)
  • Citadel Corax White Primer (spray can)
  • Citadel Wraith Bone Contrast Undercoat (spray can)

 

The Badger Stynylrez White Primer is the closest undercoat to “pure white” in the set. It is also the primer used for all of the images on the Turbo Dork website where a white base coat is recommended. It is considered to be the Turbo Dork gold standard for white primers.

In contrast, the Citadel Corax White has a distinctive gray undertone; whereas the Citadel Wraith Bone Contrast Undercoat has a beige tone. Yes, I know that the latter is not claiming to be white, but in the contrast paint world it substitutes for white. Also I wanted to have something with a tan shade of off-white.

As shown below three thin coats of either Mother Lode or Pearly Gates did not completely cover the grey (middle photos) or beige (right-hand photos) undertones of the Citadel paint as compared to the Stynylrez.

In contrast, Matcha and Momo which are more opaque than either Mother Lode or Pearly Gates were much better able to hide the grey and tan undertones. They only appear slightly darker than the example over the Stynylrez paint.

The second set of white undercoats was used to look at other popular brands of white primers marketed for miniatures. All three of these primers do not have any striking undertones and therefore are similar to the Stynylrez White Primer shown above.

White Base 2 (from left to right)

  • Army Painter White Primer (spray can)
  • Tamiya White Surface Primer (spray can)
  • Vallejo Acrylic-Polyurethane White Primer (airbrush)

As shown below, Army Painter, Tamiya, and Vallejo all produced similar outcomes when used as the base coat under the four Turbo Dork paints. In addition, these primers gave results that appeared identical to that obtained with the Stynylrez from the Base 1 set.

 

Lastly, I was able to obtain two other white primers just as I was finishing up this post. So I created the base cabochons for these two undercoats, but since they appear to lack a significant undertone, I did not complete the whole experiment with them, anticipating results similar to several of the other primers tested.

White Base 3 (from left to right)

  • Master Series, White Brush-on Primer (brushed)
  • Scale 75 White Surface Primer (airbrushed)

CONCLUSIONS

As hypothesized, a white primer with significant undertones can effect the color of the final painted object depending on the opacity of the paint applied. In the Turbo Dork world, this means that Mother Load and Pearly Gates show marked differences over the two Citadel paints tested as compared to the gold standard of Stynylrez; while the Omakase pastels change much less due to being more opaque. 


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