EBM Guides: Model to base and picking a primer

Once you have cleaned up and prepped your model and prepared the base for it as well, it is time to glue the sucker on. Take your time in choosing exactly where and in which pose your model will be standing on the base. Once you got the idea, try to jab the pin a bit into the cork plate of the base so it marks the spot it will go into on the base. Use your drill to drill a hole there and then grab your super glue! Make sure to also coat the pin and the bottom surface of the model that will be touching the base with the glue for even better adhesion.


Spunky! Now it comes down to the primer. Picking a primer can always be a bit tricky and often will have different results for you when painting models. I have a few colors here that I will list and explain my experiences with and why and when I would choose to use them.


Black primer is one of the most commonly used colors to prime with. I grew up using this stuff. It is great to create darker colors and tones on your models. I find it often a bit difficult to paint with though, as slightly poorer light quality will often hide small details you may have seen in better light or a lighter primer.


White primer is the opposite of black. DUH! It is obviously much lighter and will help you get those brighter and more vibrant colors onto your model. In also helps you see lots of parts much better than a black primer. Ironically really dark colors tend to cover this poorly, whereas lighter colors cover poorly on the dark surface of black primer. At least it has been this way in my experience.


This is my current choice of primer for most models. Grey primer is a great color in-between. It is neither too dark nor too bright, enabling you to get good coverage of both light and dark color variants. It is bright enough to see everything in most light sources. I have grown accustomed to this and pretty much switched from black/white to this.
Some people like to prime in both black and white. Prime the model in black and then prime it from an imaginative light source angle with white (usually 45°). This will give you a lighter base for highlights and brighter spots for your model and keep the underside and recesses of your model dark due to the black portion. Often people also do variants of this method with air brushes, but I do not use those (yet… 🙂 ).


Brown primer is the color I choose. Brown for me is similar to grey. It is neither a really dark color nor is it bright. I chose this color because it supports a lot of colors I use on my Gremlins and it helps me set a base color for the earthy bits of the base my miniatures are standing on. When you prime the model make sure to do it in a well ventilated area or preferably outside. If you have a little mask to cover your mouth and nose with, please use it. It will prevent you from inhaling fumes which can be bad for your lungs. Also try to not spray outside in poor weather conditions. Rain and moisture can ruin the prime job.

In the end it all comes down to personal preference. I have grown accustomed to brown and grey primer at the moment. I may even switch entirely to brown for my Malifaux range as the color accentuates a lot of my painting style more than the other colors. There are many other primers out there, though. Feel free to experiment and try them out. If you have a group of models that are going to mostly be blue or red, nothing is stopping you from picking up a primer of that color range.

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Categories: Guides/Tutorials, Malifaux


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8 Comments on “EBM Guides: Model to base and picking a primer”

  1. August 28, 2013 at 7:43 am #

    Words of wisdom right here! I always used Black Primer until my friend suggested grey. I’m finding this so much nicer to work with.
    For something like a Warhammer Orc – I still go black because there isn’t much detail normally to worry about and it keeps them ‘grungy’ looking – but my beautiful Malifaux models all get grey. So much easier!!

    • August 29, 2013 at 7:05 am #

      I would probably use a black primer for bulk models as well. But I like to take time for my skirmish miniatures, since they are all unique and really cool. For a future project I may use bone colored primer. 😛

      • August 29, 2013 at 8:28 am #

        Theres bone!? Do want!!

      • August 30, 2013 at 2:55 am #

        Yeah. Army Painter has a wide range in colored primers. 🙂

  2. August 28, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    I started out painting minis with white but quickly switched to black awhile ago as I felt my models were coming out better.

    I JUST started doing the zenithal priming by starting in black completely, and then highlighting with grey primer. We’ll see how it turns out in the end…

    • August 29, 2013 at 7:13 am #

      Yeah I get what you mean. I always feel like black primed models are ‘fuller’ than regular white primed ones. It may have to do with paint saturation as you usually need more coats to cover a black primed model than a white primed one. Thus you will get more intense, or ‘fuller’ colors. I still like grey as an in-between tone.

      Got some images of models you painted with that technique? I may just build up some GW model bits and try to paint them with and without that way to prime. Would be an interesting attempt.

      • August 29, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

        Not yet, I just primed some minis using that techniques and I’m not exactly sure how to take advantage of it…I think I’m stuck in a bit of over-analysis-paralysis…

      • August 30, 2013 at 2:56 am #

        Well the whole procedure is based on using thin layers to basically get that shading effect in ‘naturally’. Just go for thin and even coats. 🙂
        If color choice is an issue, always pick orange. 😀

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