Black, grey or white: What colour to use for plastic model primer

There’s a lot of debate about what colour to use as a primer and undercoating on models and miniatures but for me the answer is simple.

There are lots of colours available for priming but the main ones used by plastic model and mini painters are Black, Grey and White.

And when to use each, is pretty straight forward.

When to use Black Primers:

If the final colouring of the figure or building will be dark or metallic, then use a Black primer. Starting with a dark undercoat means you won’t need so many washes to tone down subsequent colours.

Use White primer when:

In contrast, if the colouring will be bright (yellow, bright blue etc), white primers will give the best result.

You can also use white primer for darker figures and then apply a black wash over the top for the darker areas, which is what I do for darker but not dark models.  If you want to try this, read my guide on making your own washes.

And Grey primer when:

The exceptions to this is if the plastic of the model is a dark colour and you cover this before painting in a light or bright colour. In this case, I prime with grey which can do a better job of covering the dark plastic.

This is when I use black, white or grey primers. Others use just one colour for everything with success. As always, I’d recommend a bit of experimentation and see how you get on. Try priming the sprue’s of the models and painting over them first and see what works best for you.

I’d love to know what colour primer you use and why or how your experiments worked out, let me know in a comment below.


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