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Is it me, or is spray primer a bit pants?
You either get uneven coverage, and missing bits (e.g. between arms and torsos, because sprays don't go round corners) or you end up having to lay so many coats on that you get bubbling, texturing or obscured detail.
I've done about 30 marines and a couple of bikes with Chaos Black spray and I had to spend so much time touching them up by hand that I might as well have done them from scratch. I think I'm going back to the old-fashioned way, unless there's a knack that I'm missing...
It depends whether you just want a primer coat for painting completely over (the primer is just there to help the other colours stick better) or as a base coat. Personally I have no problems getting light coverage that gets in all but the most difficult spots (which normally can't be seen so aren't a problem), but it isn't generally good enough to work as a base coat.
I do lots of micro-bursts (a second or less generally) of primer at varying angles at nearly a foot from the models, and it gives me very good coverage. Far better then I could do by hand, as I find the spray primer sticks better then the pot version. There is also the chance you have a bad can.
Keep in mind Chaos Black spray is NOT primer. Its black spray paint. Primer works much better for the first coat and adheres to the bare (cleaned of course) metal or pastic. A primer is also formulated different than spray paint. Try using model primer instead of Chaos Black if that is what you are using.
Anothing thing to note is that automobile primers are designed to fill in small scratches and surface imperfections. They do not work as easily on miniatures as model/miniature primers. They will work, but take more practice to perfect. Model and miniature primers are designed to shrink slightly when drying and preserve details.
Thanks for the tips guys. Raptor -- one of the ways I accentuate shadows is by not painting the base coat over cracks between armour plates etc., so maybe I am expecting the spray primer to act a little too much like a 100%-coverage undercoat. Will maybe try some dedicated black primer rather than CB though to see if it makes a difference.
Also, spray paints (especially primers) tend to have a different level of gloss than standard citadel in-the-pot paints, less in my experience. If you don't use spray paints to paint the dominant color, then this is no problem. Otherwise, if you have to do touch ups you can see where the spray paint is and where the potted paint is.
Chief Inspector Dreyfus: Are you wounded?
Clouseau: No. Fortunately I was saved by the darkness.
Chief Inspector Dreyfus: So what we need is more light.
I do not know how I lived before I discovered spray-on primer