I've finally had my fill of spray primers.
You have so many factors you have to deal with while using them: humidity (a big issue here in Virginia), wind, atmospheric pressure, and the lunar cycle. Okay...maybe not that last one, but I wouldn't be too surprised if it had an effect too. In my experience, spray primers are just not consistent. The last figures I primed had coats fuzzier than Fozzy Bear's by the time I was done. So they went into the Simple Green for some stripping. Even if you do make it past that and paint your figure up, it easily scratches off. Teresa can tell you I've cursed many a time while spraying my figures.
Several people mentioned their success with gesso on miniature forums like TMP and DakkaDakka. For those unfamiliar, gesso is a paint mixture that's traditionally used to prepare canvas and other artworks. One brushes it on, which was a big plus to me.
Michaels sells it, and I went out and picked up a bottle after work. It cost about $15...but that's a small price to pay for what people were saying about it. Gesso comes in both black and white. As per usual, I opted for black because I really like the dark, gritty feel it gives my figures. While it unfortunately doesn't come in grey, one could very easily mix the two colors and create it.
The black gesso comes in just one size. The white stuff comes in a wide variety of sizes. I settled on Liquidtex because it's made in France, so you know it's quality! Not to mention it was the only black gesso in the store.
The test subject: a War of 1812 British officer from Knuckleduster Miniatures. I will speak more of their (superb) figures in the future.
The gesso has the consistency of regular craft acrylic paint. It's somewhat thick, but that's okay! The gesso shrinks as it dries, which makes it hold onto the figure better. This should hopefully prevent some of the scratching issues I've been having with other primers.
Experienced folks said it's okay to gob the stuff on a figure. I decided to err on the side of caution the first time out and used the stuff a little more sparingly.
Nearly done! I much prefer brushing the primer onto the figure. Not only do you decide where it goes (unlike spray primer that has a mind of its own) but I also found it to be much more satisfying. It maybe took a two minutes to prime the whole figure...not bad at all. I'm willing to take my time and do the best possible job.
Fully dried! Although the bottle says to let the gesso "cure" for 24 hours, I found that it was dry within 15-20 minutes. It did most certainly shrink in the process. Gesso does an amazing job of maintaining a figure's features and details...another bonus!
As you might have been able to tell, I really like the gesso. I look forward to painting this chap up in the near future and see how the primer holds up.
So...does anyone want some spray primer? I have plenty. ;)