Proper Zenithal Priming

I’ve had an airbrush for a while but I could never seem to get it to work for me. I read all about how to use my airbrush, how to clean it, what consistency to get the paint (milk). I did have some success, well ONE success: base-coating my palm fronds for my Guild Ball Fisherman’s goal. Even then the resulting mess and frustration was hardly worth the effort. But in the back of my mind I know I need to learn this skill if for no other reason than to improve my horrible zenithal priming method.

 My Fisherman’s goal for Guild Ball, up until now my only successful use of the airbrush.

My Fisherman’s goal for Guild Ball, up until now my only successful use of the airbrush.

Luckily my friend Ben agreed to help me out of my mental hole. He told me to get some good airbrush primer and we set a date. All the reading and youtube watching in the world could not teach me what I learned in 30 minutes of him demonstrating and guiding me through priming a few models. Realistically, we spent half the time cleaning and unclogging the airbrush but watching him methodically take it apart and troubleshoot the clog was a valuable lesson in itself, most importantly it taught me that I was not alone in my frustration but that it is worth persevering.

 Ben starting the first coat of black primer

Ben starting the first coat of black primer

 Me finishing Nix model with top-down white

Me finishing Nix model with top-down white

We started by priming each model completely in black. The airbrush was so nice for this vs spray paint because there is little risk of over-spraying, you can turn the model every which way to make sure you get every nook and cranny, and no terrible toxic smell and off-gassing for hours. Next we did a grey coat at about a 45 degree angle from the top of the model, this step takes considerably less paint. Finally, a top-down spritz of white to catch the top edges of everything and brighten up the top of the head and shoulders.

You can really see the difference between this and my very ill-advised, low rent version of zenithal priming: using black and white Krylon primer from the hardware store.

 Can you tell which one what primed with spray paint?

Can you tell which one what primed with spray paint?

I’m happy to have finally had some success. I don’t think I’ll be looking back when it comes to priming. The results are so good and the Badger Stylyrez primer works right out of the bottle. Up next: base-coating, let’s see how I do. Thank you so much, Ben!

What do you think? Any airbrush tips for a beginner? Tips for base-coating?