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Best Airbrush Primer: Top 5 Choices & Full How-To Guide

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If you’re looking for an airbrush primer to ensure a smooth and even coat on your paintings and craft items, you’re in for a treat!

Below, I’ll provide you with a brief guide that walks you through everything you need to know before buying the best airbrush primer for your needs. So without further ado, let’s dive right in!

Key Takeaways

The Stynylrez by Badger Air-Brush Co. is the most popular choice out there for various reasons. The primer is quite forgiving for beginners and coats evenly.

As an airbrush primer, it works at a wide range of pressures and dries easily under high pressure without clogging. It’s also fairly affordable, which makes it an excellent value for the money.

[amazon box=”B00K3KGUME” link_id=”35838″]

Top Recommendations for Airbrush Primers

If you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick summary of top recommendations and what you should get:

  • The best airbrush primer for general users as well as beginners in terms of coating, quality, and coming at a decent price for its value: Stynylrez by Badger Air-Brush Co.
  • The best airbrush primer for working on a wide range of surfaces with a quick dry time: Vallejo Surface Primer.
  • The best airbrush primer for an unmatched level of matte non-reflection and color availability: Pro Acryl Primer.
  • The best airbrush primer for adjustability and controlling the level of thinness: Mission Models Primer.
  • The best airbrush primer for priming plastic objects, such as Gundams: Vallejo Mecha Primer.

Stynylrez by Badger Air-Brush Co.

[amazon box=”B00K3KGUME” link_id=”35839″]

  • Colors available: White, black, and gray
  • Finishes available: Flat
  • Recommended psi: 20 to 30 psi
  • Works best on: Plastics, woods, metals, resin, and other materials
  • Average dry time: Around 6 minutes or less for initial dry-up

The Stynylrez is easily one of the most popular options on the market, and it works quite well for a wide range of projects.

The primer is excellent for beginners and advanced users and strikes an excellent balance between coverage and optimal drying time.

The primer is available in a wide range of color options and works well with a huge range of materials, although it can easily clog the airbrush if you’re not careful enough.

The primer flows pretty smoothly and has an excellent flat finish, so it’s ideal if you want your miniatures to have a matte finish but not all the way.

Pros:

  • Applies smoothly to surfaces with excellent adhesion
  • Perfect for a low-gloss look that isn’t completely matte
  • Comes at a reasonable price

Cons:

  • Highly reactive to temperature and may clog the airbrush easily

Vallejo Surface Primer

[amazon box=”B004BN5RYG” link_id=”35840″]

  • Colors available: Gray, black
  • Finishes available: Matte 
  • Recommended psi: 15 to 25 psi
  • Works best on: Wood, foam, plastic, resin, paper mache, and more.
  • Average dry time: 2 to 3 minutes for initial dry

The Vallejo Surface primer is a remarkably solid product and is used by a wide range of artists and hobbyists, thanks to its excellent matte finish and quick-drying features.

The polyurethane primer is available in two colors and has an adjustable consistency, as it mixes quite well with water. 

You can use this primer on a wide range of materials, and it’s smooth consistency allows you to crank up the pressure on the compressor to achieve an initial drying in a few minutes.

Pros:

  • Available in various bottle sizes
  • Works with a huge range of materials
  • Dries and adheres to surfaces quickly

Cons:

  • Needs some trials to get the right dilution ratio

Pro Acryl Primer

  • Colors available: Black, white, dark gray, black-brown, dark camo green
  • Finishes available: Matte
  • Recommended psi: 25 to 35 psi
  • Works best on: Wood, foam, plastic, resin, 
  • Average dry time: Around 5 minutes for initial dry

The Pro Acryl Primer isn’t as popular as the two previous options, but it’s certainly one of the best. 

In fact, when it comes to achieving a super-dark matte finish, not many options out there would match the quality of this primer.

The primer is ideal for applying shadow effects and has a really smooth texture that is easy to spray without clogging on high pressure.

Despite being slightly more expensive, it’s really worth its price!

Pros:

  • Remarkably smooth texture
  • Excellent for shadowing
  • Superior matte finish

Cons:

  • A bit pricey 

Mission Models Primer

[amazon box=”B06WV6QXY9″ link_id=”35841″]

  • Colors available: Black
  • Finishes available: Matte 
  • Recommended psi: 15 to 20 psi
  • Works best on: Plastic, resin, metal, and more
  • Average dry time: About 15 minutes for initial dry

Mission Models Primer is an amazing option if you’re looking for a fine-quality product that you can optimize to obtain various levels of matte shades. 

You can also add a few drops of Mission Models Polyurethane additive to achieve a unique satin finish. The bottle is sturdy, and the flow of the primer is pretty smooth.

The consistency of the primer also makes it quite forgiving for beginners, and the fact that it comes in small bottles makes it very easy to use and manage.

Despite being a bit expensive for a 1-fluid-ounce bottle, the primer is quite thick and requires noticeable dilution (up to 25%), so it’s still a good bang for the buck!

Pros:

  • Durable bottle that is easy to use and apply
  • Features detailed instructions on how to use it properly
  • Combines well with polyurethane additives for a satin finish

Cons:

  • Thick texture that requires you to dilute to obtain your favorite consistency

Vallejo Mecha Primer

[amazon box=”B074TGLVWT” link_id=”35842″]

  • Colors available: Ivory
  • Finishes available: Satin
  • Recommended psi: 15 to 25 psi
  • Works best on: Plastic
  • Average dry time: about 5 to 10 minutes but requires 24 hours to fully cure

Last but not least, we have another primer from Vallejo, which shows you the level of quality that this company offers.

The Vallejo Mecha has an ivory color and is remarkably resilient and adheres easily to surfaces compared to Vallejo Surface Primer. 

The primer is specifically used for plastic models that are on the shinier side, such as Gundam miniatures

However, it’s not suitable for other surfaces, so if you work on a wide range of projects, you should stick to the Vallejo Surface Primer instead.

Pros:

  • Excellent for shiny plastics
  • Concentrated product but very easy to thin
  • Unique color range

Cons:

  • Only suitable for shiny plastic surfaces

How To Airbrush Primer

In this section, I’ll show you how to prepare your primer and how to load it into an airbrush for priming. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Start by connecting your airbrush gun to the air compressor hose.
  2. Add a few drops of your primer into a mixing cup (about 15 to 20 drops).
  3. Dilute your primer with water so that you’re adding 2 or 3 parts primer to 1 part water.
  4. Mix the primer with water thoroughly until they’re evenly mixed.
  5. Load the airbrush with the primer, preferably using a dropper instead of pouring to avoid clumps and clogging.
  6. Turn on your air compressor, and set it to the recommended pressure (around 15 psi).
  7. Hold the airbrush a couple of inches away from the object you’re priming.
  8. Push the airbrush trigger to apply the primer.
  9. Apply your primer as intended, and allow the object to dry for at least 30 minutes before handling, and then allow 24 hours for it to dry completely.

Common Questions About Airbrush Primer

When Should You Use an Airbrush Primer?

Airbrush primers are best used when applied on miniatures and small projects that require a great deal of attention to detail, as they apply a thinner coat when compared to regular brushing.

Airbrush primers come in various finishes and let you adjust the thickness of the layer, which leads to outstanding results!

Can You Use a Brush-On Primer in an Airbrush?

This depends on the type of primer used in addition to its flow and viscosity.

Ideally, you should use airbrush primers with airbrushes because thicker brush-on primers may clog the spray needle. 

However, some brush-on primers can be used with airbrushes, such as Badger Stynylrez and Vallejo Surface Primer.

Do You Need To Thin Primer for an Airbrush?

Some primers are designed to be used with airbrushes directly without thinning.

However, brush-on primers should be thinned if they’re too thick for your airbrush. They are usually thinned using clear water.

Always make sure to read the instructions about proper thinning before attempting it to avoid running into flow issues when diluted.

Does Primer Need To Be Opaque?

An opaque primer would help in covering any colors or stains from previous paints to provide an even color upon airbrushing. 

However, even if your primer isn’t opaque, you shouldn’t worry about it because the top paint coat should cover the previous paint completely.

Conclusion

There you have it! A brief guide with 5 of the best airbrush primer options to help you apply even coats of paint and bring your art piece to life!

While there are plenty of great options out there, I think that Stynylrez by Badger Air-Brush Co. is the overall best option as it can work on a variety of surfaces, spreads nicely, and provide an excellent finish!

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