Best Miniature Spray Primer
What is the best spray paint primer for miniatures is the first part of our two-part query. and “Which airbrush primer works best for miniatures?” Today, I’m going to make a difficult decision and overlook the second query.
This is not meant as a criticism against airbrushes; they are incredible tools that, when used properly, yield breathtaking results. However, the vast majority of miniature painters do not own airbrushes and instead paint their miniatures with spray paint or “rattle can” priming.
What is the Best Miniature Spray Primer?
The details are broken down below, but first, the outcomes of the best spray primer for miniatures:
- Valejo Hobby Paint for Metal and Plastic
- Game Workshop Citadel Spray Paint
- The Army Painter Undercoat Spray
- Rustoleum 2x Ultra Primer
- Tamiya Surface Primer
The Specifics of the Top Miniature Spray Primer
1. Valejo Hobby Paint for Metal and Plastic
As we mentioned in the post on the finest paint for miniatures, Vallejo produces an exquisite batch of paint in an infinite number of hues (well, more than 700). The color is another item to consider when purchasing a spray primer.
There are pros and cons to undercoating your miniature in the color it will eventually be, especially for novices. Sure, some individuals could argue that you should spray prime your miniatures in either black, gray, or white.
So it makes me sit up and take attention when Vallejo releases a range of Hobby Paint spray primer for miniatures that comes in 3 basic colors, 19 fantasy colors, 5 WWII AFV colors, and 4 WWII infantry colors.
I recently used Vallejo’s Russian Uniform to paint a complete homegrown chapter of Space Marines. It was great that I could use Russian Uniform as an undercoat before using the Russian Uniform dropper bottle to correct any mistakes.
Citadel and Army Painter
It’s true that you can use Citadel and Army Painter to accomplish the same goal, but there are two significant drawbacks. First of all, Citadel Spray Primer isn’t available in a lot of colors, and I’ve already expressed how much I dislike Army Painter paints.
Therefore, you can color match a little with Citadel and a lot with Army Painter, but you’re limited to using inferior paint.
On the model, Vallejo Hobby Paint for Metal and Plastic applies in a smooth, even coat. It’s nothing revolutionary, but it typically just needs one coat, doesn’t obstruct microscopic details, and has perfect color. We therefore mean it when we state that this is the greatest spray primer for miniatures.
The only negative aspect about Vallejo Hobby Paint for Metal and Plastic, in my opinion, is how difficult it is to locate. My FLGS reports that it’s difficult to get the paint to all of the retailers at the time of writing (Fall 2021), and there are rumors that it’s difficult to get it to the United States at all.
However, at the moment, supply chain problems seem inevitable, and chances are good that either this will be a little hiccup in the road or it will eventually affect all of these businesses.
Metal and plastic painting with Vallejo hobby paint
- Very broad range of colors that complement Vallejo’s extremely vast array of paints
- Sprays well and uniformly
- Is reasonably priced compared to other specialty hobby primers.
- Now difficult to find without purchasing online
2. Game Workshop Citadel Spray Paint
I’m going to state for the record that Citadel is the greatest spray paint for miniatures when compared to every other product on this list, assuming we’re simply comparing one can of spray paint to another.
It has the best application, the best detail preservation, the best drying time, and the smoothest coat. Simply put, it is the superior paint.
Determining the best spray primer for miniatures, Citadel Spray Paint comes in second. The first is that Citadel Spray Paint and the corresponding Citadel range are more difficult to color match.
It is a little strange that something seems strange. Games Workshop produces paint in 25 distinct hues, according to their website.
However, the bulk of those hues are currently marked as “temporarily out of stock” (and this has been the case for many months, if not years). When some of the hues (such as Averland Sunset) were eliminated from the line and cans of them started selling on eBay for $35 or $40, there was a run on the bank.
The Chaos Black Spray by Citadel is the other issue I have with them. The black spray paint is fantastic, but every single Games Workshop tutorial uses it.
They paint a model with Abaddon Black after spraying it with Chaos Black because, since the two shades of black are distinct from one another, you can fix mistakes with Abaddon Black. If this is the case, WHY does Citadel continue to produce Chaos Black rather than turning Abaddon Black into a small spray paint?
The fact that Citadel’s Spray Paint is so much more expensive than any of the other products on this list is the last reason I don’t like it.
Citadel Spray Paint by Games Workshop
- Excellent coverage, smooth layers, and detail preservation
- The majority of the colors will be color-matched with Citadel paints.
- Abaddon Black should replace Chaos Black.
- Too costly
3. The Army Painter Undercoat Spray
Army Painter Undercoat Spray is ranked as high as it is for three reasons: it is readily available, comes in a variety of hues, and coordinates with Army Painter paints.
The colors come first. There are 23 distinct colors available for Army Painter Undercoat Spray, all of which are quite helpful. Although they are all in the fantasy paint category and don’t have the WWII variety of Vallejo, they are undoubtedly more diversified than Citadel Spray Paint.
You could or might not have an issue with this.
Second, they complement Army Painter paints in terms of hue. Army Painter paints are unquestionably the most affordable hobby paints on the mass market, but according to this reviewer, their quality is truly hit-or-miss.
Therefore, just because Army Painter Undercoat Spray coordinates with these colors doesn’t guarantee that you’ll enjoy utilizing them.
The fact that Army Painter Undercoat Spray is as simple to locate as Army Painter paints—which is very simple—is the third and most important reason why you would want it. In fact, I am aware of numerous FLGS that carry Army Painter Undercoat Spray but not Army Painter paints.
The Army Painter Undercoat Spray
Has a drawback in that it tends to apply thickly and can muddle the features of fragile miniatures. I’ve had both good and negative experiences with this.
Occasionally, the paint will be applied thickly, appearing to hide detail, and then dry with every last bit of it beautifully preserved. But I’ve also experienced it coming on thick and staying thick. It appears to be false.
The paint cans don’t state what color they are on the can, which is another little issue that bothers me. Therefore, if you discard the cap (as I suppose most hobbyists do), you must carefully examine the nozzle to see if you can recognize the minute specks of spray that are left.
I’ve discovered that the name of some Army Painter Undercoat Sprays is inscribed on the can’s bottom, but it’s a bothersome problem that might be fixed with no effort.
(As a side note, I should mention that The Army Painter makes the paintbrush I suggest most highly.)
Spray Army Painter Undercoat
- Several different colors
- Army Painter-compatible colors
- Both in FLGSs and online, finding it is quite simple.
- It is affordable.
- You must use Army Painter paints in order to match colors to Army Painter palettes.
- Unreliable spray quality and finish
- Once the lid is removed, it is difficult to see what color is within each can.
4. Rustoleum 2x Ultra Primer
Rustoleum 2x Ultra Power, the only paint on this list that isn’t designed expressly for miniatures, is available at any big-box hardware retailer like Home Depot or Lowe’s (and even at the occasional Walmart). Additionally, it is by far the least expensive paint on this list due to its accessibility and the fact that it is not a specialty paint.
If you’re just getting started in miniature painting and are unsure if you want to make a significant financial commitment to the hobby, I would recommend Rustoleum 2x Ultra Primer as a wonderful starter spray. It is accessible and affordable.
However, there aren’t many colors available for it, and it doesn’t color match any particular brand of tiny paint. However, if all you’re looking for is a black, gray, or white, then this will do.
It is important to use caution when applying the paint because too much application won’t yield the best results. If you spray it on and it appears that you have concealed detail, the chances are excellent that the detail will still be obscured after it dries.
But there, the issue isn’t so much with the paint—which is trustworthy—as it is with knowing how to use it. Keep in mind: thin jackets.
Painter’s tape 2c Ultra Primer
- Simple to find
- Very reasonable
- Not available in a variety of colors
- Neither the color nor the small line match.
- You must exercise caution when applying.
5. Tamiya Surface Primer
The Tamiya Surface Primer is a truly superb primer. To start with, it is from Tamiya, a company that is known for its high caliber products. It applies quite nicely, leaving a smooth, even finish, and won’t obstruct the miniatures’ detail.
However, there are downsides to this excellent primer.
First off, while having a few colors available, none of them match any paint brand.
Second, it is incredibly pricey—even more expensive than Citadel Spray Paint, ounce for ounce.
Third, it is quite difficult to locate. Almost no FLGS sell it. There is only one store in my city that I am aware of, and they occasionally stock a few cans for automotive and airplane hobbyists.
Surface Primer by Tamiya
- Perhaps the nicest of all of these paints, it applies extremely easily.
- Doesn’t have a lot of color options
- Doesn’t match the color
- difficult to locate both locally and online
After all of that, I’ll just state that I use all of the paints on my hobby shelf, which right now includes cans of Vallejo Hobby Paint for Metal and Plastic, Games Workshop’s Citadel Spray Paint, and The Army Painter Undercoat Spray.
Just for the reasons mentioned above, I have a few favorites among them.
However, I usually check Vallejo first when I’m in the FLGS and need the best spray paint for miniatures.
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