Thursday, March 26, 2009


I am fairly certain that this will not be news to you painting experts out there (I'm looking at you John, Red, Raymond, bobaferret, and everyone else whose blog I follow), but I have discovered a new kind of primer. Gesso. It is a brush on primer and I love it.

I was reading on another forum recently about painting and modeling in an effort to discern some techniques and such to help me improve my painting. I found a discussion regarding gesso and I was intrigued enough to run out to my local arts and crafts store and by a pot of the stuff.

I'm not a chemist so I'll not even try to explain what gesso is from a component standpoint. I will only say that this is the stuff the artists use to prep their canvases prior to actually putting any paint down. Not only does it stiffen the canvas but it also seals the surface so that the paint doesn't bleed into the material.

Anyway, the stuff also works brilliantly on my Protectorate models. I am sure that some of that is due to the fact that these models have been blessed by Menoth so basically all of you non-Menoth players are screwed. :). What I do is pour some gesso into my little cup, mix in just a bit of water, and then just glop it onto the model. Excess fluid is not an issue as long as you make a point of not putting on too much!! I've got some pictures of my WIP Revenger light warjack to illustrate my point. Observe.....

This is my Revenger with original coat of spray primer on it. A terrible finish.........

Here is the same model with the gesso on it. It might be a bit difficult to make out but a lot of the detail has been obscured by the gesso since I just plopped it on there. Take a close look at the haft of the halberd. No detail to be seen.

And here is the model after drying overnight and having some base color applied. Look at the haft of the halberd and the fingers gripping it. All the detail is visible. The detail is visible on the smoke stack and on the face grille and that is how the gesso dries. I have no idea what happens but the stuff tightens as it dries and reveals all of the detail while leaving a good primer coat with a great tooth to hold the paint you put on there.

Again, I am no expert but I wanted to follow in the footsteps of those who have real skill and share with everyone the little things that help me out. Enjoy!!


  1. It turned out better than I would have expected, but I would worry quite a bit on more detailed models like the Fire of Salvation or anything with runes carved into the surface.

    I find that spraying the primer is really quick and produces excellent results. I have heard on podcasts that Games Workshops Citadel primer is fantastic, and I would bet P3's is great too. They are very expensive however.

    I have also heard that Crylon is excellend and cheap but a little scarey at first because the nozzel is not as fine. Give it a try!

  2. I had not heard of this primer before. Thanks! I tend to be a bit of a maverick, though. I prefer gray primer to the white or black.

  3. It's funny you should mention it. Throw a little black acrylic paint into the gesso along with the water and bingo, gray primer. :)

  4. I use Armory, either gray or black. I haven't used it, and you say you've had good results. I guess it would bind to metal like canvas? Keep us posted!