Though I've decided on a custom color scheme well ahead of time, the model's olive-green plastic was darker than the intended color and would've required at least several applications of paint to get the right tone. To avoid that I would first add primer, an undercoat that helps paint to stick to a surface and keep its tone with fewer applications. Primer is available in white for light colors and gray for dark colors, though you can paint a light surface in a dark color without it.
Pictured above is the only can of Testors brand primer (gray) available at my local arts-and-crafts shop.
At first, the primer worked well enough when I tried it on spare spare plastic. But when I sprayed it on parts of the model itself (above), it took an eternity to dry.
Even when placed in front of a heater!
Fortunately, the primer is easily removed with a lacquer-based thinner. So it's back to the drawing board.
When the anime/hobby shop closest to my area stopped selling primer, I went and bought the cheap stuff from the nearest hardware store. Though not intended for model kits, Krylon brand products have quite a reputation as substitute hobby supplies. This can of primer costs half as much as modeling primer, carries twice as much liquid and works just as well. The downside is that this primer leaves a rough finish that needs sanding; can cover up sculpted lines if sprayed too close; and leaves behind a lot of fine dust. Of course, I've taken the necessary precautions when using this product.
Now I should point out that primer also exposes errors made in the removal of seam lines. You fill in the seams with putty, sand the surface and add primer until the seams are gone (something I couldn't do with the Testors primer). In the end, all things considered, I'd say the experiment was a success.
Look, it's a pic of the prototype 1/144 HG Leo, to be released in time for Gundam's 40th anniversary!
Join me next time when I show off pics of the actual painting process. Until then, say your prayers and take your vitamins.