11 Best Miniature Primers Today [Reviews & Buyer’s Guide]

Painting miniatures is a great way to make your Dungeons & Dragons game come to life!

Well, it doesn’t have to be Dungeons & Dragons – it can even be My Little Pony, if that is what floats your boat. At any rate, at least we are on the same page when it comes to wanting the best supplies for our miniatures.

If you are a seasoned miniature painter, you already know better than to skip the primer. For those who are new to this creative pursuit, and are wondering if priming is as important as they say – yes, it is. After all, primers give the paint something to really adhere to.

Perhaps you are looking for a colored primer, or a white one; maybe one that comes cheap, or maybe not so cheap. With all things considered, we have put together this list of the 11 best miniature primers today.

So, without further ado, let’s get right to the details!

Best Miniature Primers

Here’s the list of the 11 best miniature primers today – get ready to take your miniatures to the next level!

1. The Army Painter ARM03019 – Best for Time Efficiency

This miniature primer works overtime – it is also a spray paint in the same can. While we fully stand by the thought that it is essential to prime before painting, we can’t argue if you can do it simultaneously.

It may be stating the obvious, but we love that this product has combined all the properties of a great primer and a very pigmented spray paint. Needless to say, this saves time and money – so, no need to look for separate supplies or pay separate bills!

What makes it even more convenient is that the product can be found in a wide range of colors – from light to dark and yellows to reds. Just a light spray and your figures will be looking glossy and revitalized in no time. In fact, the makers (a pair of veteran gamers and miniature painters) decided to create The Army Painter to spend less time painting, and more time playing.

Speaking of which, we wondered where its name was derived from. And sure enough, the product is called The Army Painter because it has great coverage – enough to paint an army.

If you are looking for a matte finish, then you may run into some issues with the product. Even though the manufacturers do mention a matte finish, what we got was a glossy effect with a chalky texture. Perhaps, shaking it for longer than the prescribed 1-2 minutes might solve this.

Paint Type: Acrylic | Finish: Glossy and Chalky | Drying Time: 20-30 minutes | Surface Recommendation: All colors

2. Rust-Oleum 249846 – Best for Indoor/Outdoor Use

This is a well-established brand for protective coatings and paints for home furnishings and crafts alike. Many buyers blindly put their trust in Rust-Oleum products – and for good reason. With that being said, you can count on this product to leave a great undertone for darker colors.

Although this product does not have the 2-in-1 character of primers that also paint, it can certainly double up as a primer for both furniture and miniatures. Anyhow, you will be getting a well-prepared surface with the smoothest finish.

Speaking of finish, the primer will go easily over your miniature and leave a clear matte finish that does not obscure even little details. Also, since the product has an oil-based formula fit for exterior use, your miniatures are protected from the sun and rain. What’s more, the product can dry as soon as 20 minutes, so you don’t have to wait very long to get on with painting.

As a bonus, a wide press pad on the can’s holder makes sure that your fingers are not strained while working. This, along with the “Any Angle” feature, facilitates spraying into every nook and corner with great ease.

As the product specs suggest, it goes smoothly over a wide range of surfaces – but we feel that this should not include plastic. Although the primer bonds well with plastic at first, it scrapes easily – making it a not-so permanent solution for this type of material.

Paint Type: Oil | Finish: Matte | Drying Time: 20 minutes | Surface Recommendation: Furniture and miniatures

3. Games Workshop 5120999904206 – Best for Darker Miniatures

Fondly dubbed “magic black” by loyal customers, this primer has been around for more than 20 years. Apply this black primer on darker miniatures like Warhammer characters, and get your money’s worth. If you don’t want to take our word for it, just ask their huge fanbase.

What is most striking about this product is the thin and even layer it makes. There is very little possibility of streaking, running, or clogging up the product even in the tiniest details. Rest assured, you won’t have to deal with buildup or fading even in the long run.

A super-fine mist also means that it gives great coverage. Feel free to use it on multiple miniatures at once, and best believe, it will adhere to any kind of material you spray it on. And, once it dries, there is no possibility of flaking. In case you were wondering, it does dry within minutes.

In the end, you are left with a perfect matte finish that is far from grainy or chalky. Without a doubt, we urge you to go for this time-tested product which, interestingly, is also weather tested. While it is advised to finish your priming responsibilities before winters set in, this primer can work under a variety of weather conditions.

Over the past 10 years, this veteran from Games Workshop has seen a steep rise in its price. It’s true what they say – you get what you pay for. In this case, you may have to shell out a few extra dollars. If it’s any consolation, the volume in one can is actually more than that of most competitors.

Paint Type: Spray | Finish: Matte | Drying Time: 15-30 minutes | Surface Recommendation: All materials

4. Vallejo VJ73602 – Best for Acrylic Compatibility

In the world of miniature painting, Vallejo needs no introduction. The primer in black remains one of the most sought-after primers among their products, and also in the entire business. To apply this, you need to have other painting supplies like a brush or an airbrush.

The deciding factor of a primer’s effectiveness is chemical bonding – in simple words, a good primer binds easily with the paint. In this area, the Vallejo primer is superior; it goes well with both acrylic and enamel paints.

Finding a good acrylic primer, as opposed to oil-based ones, itself is a tall order. This product is a flagship of its kind, and since it is water-based, cleaning is fuss-free and can be done easily with just water.

Now, when we really put it to the test, it scored tens all across the board. The finish is very fine, and no matter how much product you apply, it dries up very thin. This means that none of your details are covered – in fact, they might be highlighted even more. To top it all off, the layer of primer dries up in about 10 minutes, so you don’t have to wait too long to start painting.

The product specs do not explicitly state which materials it goes well on. This makes it difficult to figure out whether the flaking caused in some cases was because of the product itself or the material used. A touch-up before painting may be required to combat flaking.

Paint Type: Acrylic | Finish: Fine | Drying Time: 10 minutes | Surface Recommendation: Acrylic & Enamel Paints

5. Krylon K01303007 – Best Budget Pick

Primers don’t always have to be the expensive, niche, and one-purpose kind. You can get many cheap alternatives that are packaged as industrial or automotive primers. Krylon is a leading name in such primers which cater to a wide audience with different interests.

While we like a good spray-on primer(as opposed to brush-on), we love one that comes at a bargain. Apart from being inexpensive, the versatility of this product makes it a crowd-pleaser. Because of its water-resistant abilities, the spray is widely used to make jewelry, furniture, and miniatures water-proof.

Along with moisture, items become more resistant to wear and tear. Not only a protective layer against friction, it also acts against heat and other outdoor threats. However, the key feature is its ability to provide a solid foundation for acrylic paint to adhere to. In terms of bonding with paints, it gets along exceptionally well with oil, acrylic and enamel.

Moreover, this layman’s primer can be easily obtained from local stores in large quantities. In terms of coverage, well, it has you covered. You won’t be worrying about your product getting over any time soon.

Before using this product to prime your minis, we would recommend stepping outside and preparing some protective gear. A mask and rubber gloves will do – you don’t want the smell to get stuck to your fingers. After all, the fumes are probably not very good for you, and they do linger.

Paint Type: Acrylic,Watercolor | Finish: Gloss | Drying Time: 10 to 15 minutes | Surface Recommendation: Oil, Acrylic, and Enamel

6. Liquitex 5316

Another industrial primer comes in a rugged and heavy package – all at a fraction of what you would pay for some of its expensive competitors. This product is a white base coat, which can also be used as a finishing coat for paintings and household objects.

This Liquitex primer is actually a gesso, which is a plaster or glue-based compound. A gesso is a low-cost option that is a great primer substitute, especially if you are looking for an enamel-based one.

Moreover, this is your best budget bet when working with resin and metal – without a doubt, it will leave a tough and thick layer that is stable enough to make painting easy. Not only as surface prep, but the hardiness will also keep your miniatures protected and resistant to scratches.

Once the product dries, you will be left with leveled-out imperfections and a rugged texture, known as “tooth”. The tooth effect does give a certain texture, but it also provides a better grip so the paint can stick to the surface. These paints can be acrylic, oil-based, or water-based – needless to say, you don’t have to limit this undercoat to just miniature projects.

Because gesso is thick, it can take much more time to dry than traditional primers. Moreover, it is recommended to do two coats, which may or may not sabotage tiny details. Generally, you have to wait about 24 hours after application for it to be dry enough to use.

Paint Type: Acrylic | Finish: Tooth | Drying Time: 24 hours | Surface Recommendation: Oil, Water-based, and Acrylic Paints

7. Rust-Oleum 7582838

While Rust-Oleum does offer a base spray that is geared toward miniature painting, this one is more for industrial use. However, it still is a primer for wooden, metal, and plastic surfaces, and it comes at a steal. If you like the brand but want to save a few extra dollars, try this one for size.

Terrain pieces also need love and care. However, these require more products, or just one product that has good coverage. This primer from Rust-Oleum is great for similarly large and oblique figures that don’t have too much detail.

It works best on metal surfaces – evident in the way it tackles and controls rust. Although a top coat is required, this primer makes sure that the base is protected from any future corrosion.

In terms of being an adhesive for paint, it works well. The application is smooth if you take your time in making thin layers. Since it is a fast-drying product, we highly recommend putting multiple layers instead of thick layers to avoid running.

Most of all, this is a great alternative if you don’t want to invest in miniature-specific primers, but don’t have the budget for expensive airbrushes either.

Instructions are very specific and therefore, one can easily mess up the application process. Since the product does not even itself out automatically, you may be left with a runny or sloppy project in the end. Avoid splattering by adhering to the instruction manual.

Paint Type: ‎Enamel | Finish: Gloss | Drying Time: 15 minutes | Surface Recommendation: Large and oblique figures

8. Tamiya TAM87042

Tamiya is a well-established name in the model and miniature world, so you know that you will get a product that is made exactly for that job. Perhaps, this is why the spray can for mini models comes in a mini size.

The Japanese company Tamiya broke new ground when they introduced this nifty little product to the world of miniature painting. And more than a decade later, it is still receiving rave reviews for its high-quality long-lasting finish.

At first, this spray-on primer was meant to rectify the drawbacks of airbrush and brush-on applications. So, needless to say, if you don’t want to buy an expensive airbrush or waste time hand-painting small and large miniatures, then you can safely go for a can or two.

To get the best results, spray the primer evenly and thinly, and make multiple coats. Even then, the minutest carvings still shine.

Moreover, because of the thin mist, you won’t face issues unless you are very heavy-handed. Predictably, this is a premium primer that is perfect for professional and competitive painters.

The quality of the miniature primer cannot be doubted. However, you don’t get a lot of products for the price. Especially if you are a novice, you might have to get more than you can to figure out how to make the best of it.

Paint Type: Spray | Finish: Even and thin layers | Drying Time: 2-3 hours | Surface Recommendation: Plastic, Resin, and Metal

9. Dupli-color FP101

If we are talking about miniature painting enthusiasts, we cannot leave out the 3D printing aficionados. 3D printing will provide a lot of customized figures, but prepping them is another story. Dupli-color’s product is a filler and primer in one – and a great tool for those jobs.

As most 3D printing hobbyists know, 3D printers are a great way to access a plethora of molds ranging from patterned phone cases to action figures. Although these do look great, they still don’t look complete – perhaps because they are monochrome and have untidy lines.

The Dupli-color primer tackles these two problems at once – by offering a nice undercoat that acts as paint adhesive, and a filler to smoothen lines. Not only does the filler even out visible layer lines on your 3D model, but it can also be used to fill gaps and minor flaws.

Once it is dry, you can easily sand it to perfection before beginning the paint job. But, you might not even have to sand it down because the product leaves a smooth and thin layer.

With the mold primed and dry, it is time to breathe life into your figure by painting. Here, you will find the primer’s adhesive properties to be up to par.

It takes skill and careful adherence to instructions to get the best out of this primer. Since it creates thick layers, we cannot rule out the fact that minute details can get lost. We conclude that this is a good primer for larger models, and not so much for high-resolution figures

Paint Type: Spray | Finish: Smooth | Drying Time: 30mins-1hour | Surface Recommendation: Larger models

10. 3M 08682

The brand 3M has designed this primer specifically for car windshield replacements. Surprisingly, this product that works exceptionally great on the windows of Audi cars and convertibles will prime your miniatures too.

As the name suggests, the 3M single-step primer does not need to be mixed with any other component to be functional. Needless to say, the product is supposed to go over plastic and metal – this spells great news if your molds are made up of either of the two.

Since this is an industrial-specific product used for touching up tough scratches in automobile parts, best believe that it can cover-up, and fill gaps if you are working with 3D prints. Also, because it is undeniably meant for exterior and automotive use, it provides your miniatures with UV protection and corrosion resistance.

The product itself dries very fast, claiming to be ready to use for 5 minutes. However, we would give it about an hour before use, so as to be on the safer side. Overall, we wouldn’t give it any fewer stars than a fine hardware store primer.

Like most industrial-grade primers, this one leaves a thick layer on application, so be mindful if you are dealing with detailed figures. However, you can’t compromise on the strong odor it releases. Using it outdoors is not a recommendation – it is a necessity.

Paint Type: Spray | Finish: Eggshell | Drying Time: 1 hour | Surface Recommendation: Plastic and Metal

11. Games Workshop 5120999904106

Veteran miniature painters know that paying Games Workshop prices means investing in quality. This product, as expected, works like a charm on Warhammer miniatures, and is actually the color of “Wraithbone” of Warhammer fame.

We would like to end this list on a high note, so we brought in a time-tested brand that has crafted its products to cater to a niche audience.

Yes, this means that those who are already devoted to Citadel paints will get the most out of it. However, this does not take away from the fact that a stormtrooper model can look just as good in these colors. In fact, any miniature can make use of high-quality finishing and ease of use.

Apart from airbrush-like thin layers, you will also get a matte finish which helps outer coats shine vividly. Speaking of thin layers, don’t hesitate to apply multiple layers of primer. After all, the product is designed to dry very thinly, so it works hard not to diminish any parts, small or big.

Although the product claims to be a white primer, users have complained that it is too gray for their liking. Gray-colored primer, however, works well as an undercoat for most vivid and light-colored topcoats. In the end, it all comes down to personal choice.

Paint Type: Spray | Finish: Matte | Drying Time: 15-30 minutes | Surface Recommendation: Small and big parts

Best Miniature Primer Comparison Table

Product Paint Type Finish Drying Time Surface Recommendation
The Army Painter ARM03019 Acrylic Glossy and Chalky 20-30 minutes All colors
Rust-Oleum 249846 Oil Matte 20 minutes Furniture and miniatures
Games Workshop 5120999904206 Spray Matte 15-30 minutes All materials
Vallejo VJ73602 Acrylic Fine 10 minutes Acrylic & Enamel Paints
Krylon K01303007 Acrylic,Watercolor Gloss 10 to 15 minutes Oil, Acrylic, and Enamel
Liquitex 5316 Acrylic Tooth 24 hours Oil, Water-based, and Acrylic Paints
Rust-Oleum 7582838 ‎Enamel Gloss 15 minutes Large and oblique figures
Tamiya TAM87042 Spray Even and thin layers 2-3 hours Plastic, Resin, and Metal
Dupli-color FP101 Spray Smooth 30mins-1hour Larger models
3M 08682 Spray Eggshell 1 hour Plastic and Metal
Games Workshop 5120999904106 Spray Matte 15-30 minutes Small and big parts

Buying Guide For The Best Miniature Primer

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the wealth of primers out there, especially if you are just starting out. After all, the list of essential tools for miniature painting does get dragged out – and primers are literally just the beginning.

However, the good news is that you just need one of each to start your own collection of finely painted miniatures. In this short guide, we tell you the three main things to look out for in the best primer for your specific needs.


As we have seen, some primers come in a spray can, and some are meant to be brushed onto the surface or sprayed using an airbrush.

Spray-on primers are generally believed to be superior because they are capable of making thin and even coats without giving a chance for air bubbles to form. Moreover, spray-on, also known as “rattle can” primers, cover many figures in the time it takes to hand-paint just one.

However, applying the primer with a flat-headed paintbrush is something most start with. And as their skills progress, they might invest in an airbrush for their products. Airbrushes are even more expensive than spray-on, so if what you are looking for is an economical primer, then a paint-on is the one to go for.

Apart from budgetary considerations, hand painting primers is a much more convenient way to prime your models when there is no space for spray booths, and when you are indoors. Surely, you don’t want the smells and toxic fumes from aerosols to linger in your house.


Black, white, and gray are possibly the most used colors when it comes to undercoating.

Of course, as some of you might have guessed, white primers provide the best undercoat to light-colored paints – giving a vibrant tone when the paint job is done.

Black, on the other hand, is the go-to for darker tones. It is great in hiding gaps – although you may have to struggle to find smaller details beneath the dark layer.

And lastly, you have a mix of both worlds in the form of gray primers. Gray primers are not as good at hiding awkward spots as black primers, and colors won’t look as vibrant as with a white primer. However, it is a safe option when you are working with a colorful palette.

Automotive Or Miniature-Specific

Automotive primers, which are generally sold for industrial use, come in large cans at cheap prices. These are good fillers for 3D projects and often cover up blemishes while providing extra durability. The thick coating does provide protection, but it also hides intricate details.

On the other hand, you have the miniature-specific primers that usually come in a spray can. And, as you already know, these are known to spray a fine mist that makes thin layers that are suitable for highlighting little designs etched onto the model.

With that being said, for miniatures with fine details, you should consider shelling out the extra money because niche products are expensive. But, if you are working on larger terrain and do not specifically require a high-resolution finish, then opt for the inexpensive industrial-grade primers.

What is a primer for miniatures?

A primer is a coating that is applied to a miniature before painting to ensure that the paint adheres well and looks smooth.

What are the different types of miniature primers?

There are two main types of miniature primers – spray-on and paint-on. Spray-on primers are applied with a spray can or airbrush, while paint-on primers are applied with a brush.

Which type of primer is better for miniatures?

Spray-on primers are generally considered to be better because they can create thin, even coats without air bubbles. However, paint-on primers are a good option for those on a budget or without access to a spray booth.

What colors do miniature primers come in?

The most common colors for miniature primers are black, white, and gray. White is best for light-colored paints, black is best for darker tones, and gray is a good option for a colorful palette.

Can automotive primers be used for miniatures?

Automotive primers can be used for miniatures, but they are not specifically designed for this purpose. They may provide extra durability and cover up blemishes, but they can also hide intricate details.

Miniature-specific primers are recommended for miniatures with fine details.


There’s no denying that when it comes to the skin on your miniatures, priming the surface is what makes sure that products stick well and leave a spotless finish.

But, to achieve optimal results, a primer needs to cover the surface with a thin, even, and smooth layer. Be it metal, resin, or plastic, it should bond well and not flake off.

Our top pick – the Army Painter ARM03019 model – checks these boxes and goes even further by providing a primer that doesn’t need to be painted over. Think about all the time and money you save!

Although the Rust-Oleum 249846 model may be a better budget match, a few extra bucks are a small price to pay for a better painting experience for months to come.

After all, you need to spend less time painting and more time playing. On that note, we will sign off. Till next time!

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