Zenithal Priming

When it comes to painting models, no matter what the scale, each stage is as important as the one before to achieve a quality finish. If, when cleaning the model, we don’t remove all the mould lines they stand out like a sore thumb when the model is finished, priming a model is just as important as the shade highlight or detailing.

Your painting style and how you want the model to look when finished will dictate your colour choice when priming, however, most people will have one colour primer they prefer to use; be it black, grey or white. The technique I’m going to explain is Zenithal priming, which is a little different from the standard spray and go, but has I feel improved my painting ten fold over the last few years.

Zenithal priming is a particular way of priming a model to give the effect of Zenithal lighting, which is the natural way that shade and highlights work when the light source is coming from directly above. It might not be completely akin to diamond painting, but a similar effect can be recreated using diamond painting kits. So, the theory behind this is that if the light source is coming from above, the highest points of the model will be bathed in the most light, and the further down the model you go the more shade will be cast. Priming the model in this way will naturally give you all the areas where your shades and highlights should be and will naturally darken or lighten your base colours making the process easier.

This technique can be created with spray cans or an airbrush; spray cans are quicker to use but not as accurate. I have used spray cans to prime this model and show the technique, as not everyone has an airbrush but I would usually use an airbrush for this on character models or larger models where I may need more control. The first step is spray prime the whole model with black.

Once this coat is dry, spray the model at a 45 degree angle with a light grey spray, this gives us our first highlight stage.


Lastly, give the model a light spray from directly above with a white spray, this will give the most prominent light areas.


When the model is dry, you can turn the model in different directions and you will see the difference in light; dark areas showing where your shades and highlights should be. You can skip the light grey stage if you prefer, but I think it give you a better transition of colour when moving onto your basecoat.


I hope you have got something from this tutorial and are eager to give it a go!

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