Good airbrush primer

I just finished assembly on a Stug IV, this will be my first ever attempt airbrushing a model. I am looking for recommendations on a good primer for a beginner airbrusher. When I brush painted I didn’t prime so I am fairly new to the primer world

model master spray primer and then vallejo air work excellent together.

It depends if you want to go with acrylics,Enamel or Lacquers, now on the market I think Badger Stynylrez is the best acrylic, not for nothing it is also re-bottled as Ammo of Mig “One Shot Primer” or as UMP Ultimate Modeling Product Primer,dont require any thinning even if looks very thick work strait from the bottle ,very strong and sandable.

1 Like

Mr Surfacer 1500 is very forgiving in use, never blocks the airbrush, very hard to overspray so basically always gives a perfect finish. Not affected by anything you might put on top. Use Mr Levelling Thinner to thin it.

You’d need a vapour mask and good ventilation, plus goggles. Also need to clean the airbrush with something like Mr Tool Cleaner, or cellulose thinners (also wearing the mask). Then allow the brush to completely dry before using any paint that’s incompatible with those solvents, so purely water based acrylics, otherwise you can get curdled bits. Tamiya paints are OK to use straight after.

1 Like

Thanks for the replies. I am probably going to go with an acrylic as I don’t have a setup currently for great ventilation and won’t be able to get one till I move. I am stuck deciding between Vallejo surface primer and the Badger one. Anyone have any comments on which might be better or are they both pretty good?

The Badger Stynylrez seems to be the one I hear most good things about.

Many have had problems with Vallejo surface primer,me to,Dry Tip problems and if you have to sand you are in trouble,I live at the tropics and wet or dry its always hot and Stynylrez is the only Acrylic primer that has not given me problems in any situation directly out of the bottle, I gave the Primer to my Millenium Falcon 1/72 which is very large without having to clean the tip even once…and if you are new with the AB the badger is very forgiving.

But as FirstCircle say Lacquer Primer are always the BEST,very durable and they bond with the Plastic,but you need good ventilation etc…

Perfect! I can get a 3 pack of the badger on Amazon. I plan to add a better airbrush set up but I am moving to a new country in a few months for work and I am trying to limit the amount of stuff I will
Have to haul. Looking forward to having a more permanent setup in the future

Bought the badger primer. It came in a three color pack. White, gray, and black. I was curious if there is any difference between these colours, and if kit when to use the different colours

I assume they packaged it like this for pre - shading.

1 Like


Pick and use the primer sold by what ever brand of regular paints you intend to use. The thinners and color coats will probably be compatible and the airbrushing settings will likely be the same between the primer and the colors. If the primer and color paints are not compatible, then consider using a different brand of paint.

If your brand of paint doesn’t have a dedicated primer, then simply use their light gray or flat white.

I regularly use Tamiya flat white as a primer for figures. For armor models, IF I think I need to prime, I’ll often just go with a Tamiya primer red color and use Tamiya’s own thinners (which are cellulose based alcohol and lacquer thinner) which provide excellent adhesion and coverage. Basically, though, I rarely use a dedicated “primer” except when I need something with some “body” to work as a light duty filler for sanding scratches, file marks, etc. Bottom line, I try not to use primers “just because” since they only add one more layer of paint that’s usually not really needed. Start with clean plastic and there are hardly ever any significant problems with paint adhesion or coverage.

Any hoo…

If you know what brand of paint you’ll be spraying, though, then tell us. With that knowledge you can get some better, targeted advice. However, for a first time air brusher, I submit that you want to keep things simple and basic, reducing the number of variables that can go wrong.

What brand / type of paint do you use when you hand brush? The odds are very good that that same brand of paint can be airbrushed using the same thinners that you already use and your airbrush can be cleaned with the same products you use on your “hairy sticks.” Do that brand have a proprietary primer? If not, then simple flat white or flat light gray will probably work just fine.

Heck, a lot of modelers simply use rattle can primers for convenience, so there are many options. For your first few airbrushing jobs, though, apply the KISS principle.

I’ll be spraying Tamiya paints for the most part. I am currently trying to get a feel for Tamiya paint with X20A thinner.

Well, for a primer, as I suggested above, Tamiya XF-2 Flat White or XF-66 Light Gray would both work reasonably well.

Tamiya does sell a gray primer in rattle cans. They also sell “Liquid Surface Primer” which is their product line analog to Gunze’s Mr. Surfacer. The rattle can primer is sprayed right out the can. Their “liquid Surface Primer” can be thinned with Tamiya’s yellow cap lacquer thinner and then airbrushed (same as for Gunze’s Mr. Surfacer thinned with Gunze’s Mr. Leveling Thinner). However, aside from the rattle can gray primer, this route begins to complicate things. Still, options if you ca find these products at your local hobby shop.

You may find the Tamiya paints spray a little better if you mix Tamiya’s X-20A with their lacquer thinner. I use a 1:1 mixture of X-20A + Tamiya “yellow cap” lacquer thinner and reduce the paints about 3:2 paint to thinner (this also depends on how old the paint is and how often it’s been opened which can increase its viscosity in the jar).

Straight X-20A dries too fast in my painting environment (very low humidity at about 75*F). The lacquer thinner slows this down just enough for me. Also, the lacquer thinner helps to mitigate tip-drying. If you have trouble with tip-drying, take a look at your humidity and temperature.

You can also spray quite well using just the lacquer thinner, so it can also directly replace X-20A. If you can’t source Tamiya’s brand lacquer thinner, ordinary hardware store lacquer thinner will also work. It doesn’t have the additives that Tamiya puts in their own brand.

(Gunze’s Mr. Leveling Thinner is also a good choice for Tamiya paints, but that’s a tangent that violates my earlier advice for a beginner to keep things simple. If you ever consider using Mr. Surfacer as a primer or as a light-duty filler, Mr. Leveling Thinner is the superior thinner over ordinary lacquer thinners.)

Ordinary lacquer thinner is also a very good product to use to clean your airbrush. While you can use Tamiya’s lacquer thinner to clean your AB, it’s too expensive to use like that.

With experience, you’ll find that you don’t actually spay very much paint in regards to total volume, so an open window for cross-ventilation and a good face mask with filters rated for “organic vapors” is all you really need for personal protection when airbrushing. No one needs to be afraid of spraying lacquers. Consider that the average size paint cup on a double action AB is .25 oz which is only 7.4 ml, and no one ever fills that paint cup all the way.

Heck, X-20A is mostly isopropyl alcohol (also in the family of organic or cellulose solvents) and from a health stand point is just as bad a lacquer thinners (aka cellulose thinners). If you wet a tissue with rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) in your bathroom, you’re releasing almost as much into the air as if you sprayed out a paint cup full with your AB.

None of these are good for you in high concentrations, but spraying a few milliliters into the air with reasonably good cross-ventilation is not a major concern. Add a good face mask with organic solvent rated filters, and unless you or someone in your house objects to the odor, you’re OK.