Different Type Primers - Part 2 Blacks

This is the second part of a two-part post that examines potential differences between various primer brands and finishes. Part 1 covered white primers. This part covers the black primers, including different finishes and base material.  As with the first part in this series, 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.


  • Matte black acrylic primers from different manufacturers should give comparable results.
  • Matte and gloss acrylic black primers from the same manufacturer act similarly.
  • Enamel and lacquer black primers should behave like the acrylic primers.


I purchased several different brands of black primers (see details below) and sprayed a large group of square glass cabochons using either rattle can or airbrush. The lacquer and enamel paints were done outside, the others in my garage. I then placed one square from each primer on a piece of cardboard and airbrushed them all simultaneously using three coats of a Turbo Dork paint. Lastly, all the examples were photographed and labeled. 

I tested five Turbo Dork colors, three Turboshifts (Crystal Cavern, Forrest Flux, and Miami Sunset) and two Metallics (Blue Steel and Redrum). All of these paints are recommended for use over a black base. One Turboshift was chosen from each of the different Turboshift categories (Crystal Cavern - white, Forrest Flux - red, and Miami Sunset - True2Color). 

Note: See the What We Call Things for descriptions of the different categories.



Turbo Dork management uses matte black Stynylrez primer for the examples shown on the website. Thus for the purposes of this experiment, it is considered to be the "gold standard". That being said said, several folks have reported preferring an undercoat with a gloss finish. 

Therefore, the first set of black primers have been selected to examine both potential differences between popular brands of black primer with a matte finish as well as to compare primer finishes (matte to gloss) from the same manufacturer where possible. 

Base 1 (from left to right)

  • Citadel Chaos Black Primer (spray can)
  • Army Painter Color Black, Primer (spray can)

  • Badger Stynylrez Black Primer(airbrush)
  • Badger Stynylrez Black Gloss Primer (airbrush)

  • Vallejo Surface Primer Black (airbrush)
  • Vallejo Surface Primer Gloss Black (airbrush)

The two spray can primers (first set, Citadel and Army Painter) only come in a matte finish. However, as can be seen in the photo, the Army Painter (second from the left) is more of a semi-gloss than a true matte finish. The other primers (second and third sets, Badger Stynylrez and Vallejo) come in both a matte and a gloss finish.


Basically, as shown below, each of the five Turbo Dork paints did not show any consistent differences across the the six Base 1 primers regardless of brand or finish. 



Lastly, I would like to add, that just as with the white primers, I was able to obtain some Master Series Black Primer and Scale 75 Surface Primer at the last minute. I went ahead and created base cabochons for these two undercoats but since they appeared similar to the other acrylic primers with a matte finish, I did not complete the whole experiment with them, anticipating results similar to several of the other primers tested.


One or two individuals have mentioned that they like the look of Turbo Dork paints over a non-acrylic base. Therefore, the second set of black primers was selected to primarily examine the potential effect of a lacquer or enamel primer in comparison to an acrylic primer. 

Base 2 (from left to right)

  • Tamiya Color for Plastics Lacquer Matt Black (spray can)
  • Krylon Lacquer Gloss Black (spray can)
  • Badger Stynylrez Black Primer(airbrush)
  • Badger Stynylrez Black Gloss Primer (airbrush)
  • Testors Spray Enamel Primer Black (spray can)
  • Testors Spray Enamel Primer Gloss Black (spray can)

I was able to obtain two lacquer primers, one matte (Tamiya, far left) and one gloss (Krylon, second from left). I also tested two Testors enamel primers (matte, second from right, and gloss, far right). These were compared to Stynylrez matte and gloss (middle two cabochons).   


The results from the five Turbo Dork paints over the lacquer-, acrylic-, and enamel-based primers is shown below. The six individual cabochons for each paint appear nearly identical in these photographs. 



All of the primers tested were compatible with the Turbo Dork paints. As hypothesized, the different brands of acrylic black primers tested gave results that were similar to that for the “gold standard” of matte Stynylrez. The same thing was true for the acrylic primers with a gloss finish. Overall, there were no consistent differences observed regardless of which manufacture or finish type was tested. 

Similarly, when used under the same experimental conditions and compared side-by-side, the final color and finish of the tested Turbo Dork paints did not show any noticeable differences when placed over lacquer, enamel, or acrylic primers.