Thursday, 12 July 2012

Gesso is black wizard juice!

Having read several peoples' success stories of using gesso to prime miniatures, I thought I'd give it a go. Mostly because when I spray undercoat miniatures, I have to do it in a carpark and it tends to rain whenever I do (apologies to everyone else in Kent for that).

Looking online, a pot of gesso tends to set you back around fifteen quid (or just under a tenner here:  Pebeo 500 ml Studio Acrylics Auxiliaries Gesso, Black ). In my local art shop though, I found a pot discounted to four pound something:

Score one to team me! Double score, as it's a non-toxic type, rather than one of the ones that give you cancer (seriously, I've seen the labels that warn about the carcinogenic nature of some gessos...).Having done plenty of research online about how much to apply, whether to thin the gesso and other hints and tips, I ignored it all and slapped some on a test mini:

An Artizan chap that was in the queue of things to undercoat. As you can (sort of) see, I slapped on a nice thick coat of gesso, poking it into all the nooks and crannies with a brush that I wasn't particularly attached to:

Leaving it overnight, I found that all the rumours about gesso are true, it's actually magical! as it shrinks as it dries, that globby, detail-drowned miniature dried into this:

Mmm, crisp. There were a couple of spots that were bare metal (where the gesso had shrunk), but that was easily remedied with another dabbing of gesso.

Fear factor aside (it's a bit disconcerting globbing gesso onto a miniature the first time), I think gesso is awesome, and may retire my cans of spray primer. It's cheaper, odourless, and I can do it in the comfort of being indoors. It's probably a little quicker too (for me, at least - when I spray undercoat, I spray the front, the back, each side and then front and back from an angle, and still usually need to give them a once over with a brush to hit some of the more awkward spots). But mostly because it works a little bit like magic!

Having been converted to the joys of gesso, I cracked on and undercoated some other goodies:

In non-gesso related news, another couple of Slayers have come out of the stripping pot:

(Yeah, I know. The Muppets are awesome.)


  1. I love my black gesso!!! And let me tell you that the bottle you bought there will hold for a long time!

    A dragonslayer on the right?

  2. Definitely the way to go - love the muppets too!

  3. Err..excuse my ignorance, but what exactly is Gesso supposed to be? :D

    1. Magic! In reality though, it's something artists use to prime canvases - I believe it's (oversimplifying things a bit) a mix of pigment and glue, which shrinks as it dries, leaving a good surface to paint over.

    2. Oh, thank you. Will ask around for primer then to see if I can find something similar. I use bottled vallejo white myself :P