Enter keywords or a search phrase below:

Airbrushing Tamiya without primer

7 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    January 2021
  • From: Somewhere near Chicago
Airbrushing Tamiya without primer
Posted by Teenage Modeler on Thursday, July 8, 2021 6:40 PM

I know that primer will help the paint to stick better. But, in this case, I have run out of primer, and I am not willing to spend for some primer because my family is saving on some money and limit spending. 

So it has led me to this question: can you airbrush Tamiya without primer? The answer is yes, but most of you will probably telle to prime my models. But, I do not want to prime every single piece, because priming is not always necessary. My dad once painted an entire model without primer, and the result is just as strong.

I am not saying that you shouldn't prime. I generally think it's important to prime on large surfaces such as the fuselage, chassis, or the main body of a car, but I don't think it's that important in medium to small surfaces. 

So, now that we got to the point, is there a way to airbrush Tamiya without primer? I am guessing to sand the surface with 3000 grit, and clean with alcohol. That way, the paint has something to grip on. What about you guys? What do you do?



If only I could show my models to my friends...



  • Member since
    February 2021
Posted by MJY65 on Thursday, July 8, 2021 6:53 PM

I would agree that it may not be necessary to prime small parts that will not be masked or require much handling. 

3000 might be a bit finer than necessary and almost polishes the surface.  Not sure you'd gain much.  Thinning with lacquer thinner helps a bit vs X-20.  Still, it doesn't really stick that well.  I've done some tape tests and it still pulls up much easier than any primer (except Vallejo).

  • Member since
    March 2003
  • From: Western North Carolina
Posted by Tojo72 on Thursday, July 8, 2021 7:28 PM

If you mix Tamiya with Lacquer thinner you will get more bite for sure, and always remove some tackiness from your tape, I usually pull it on and off a smooth metal surface like my base fridge.Many builds don't call for a hard masked edge,so that may not even come into play, it certainly handles okay under normal conditions. 

  • Member since
    July 2003
  • From: Building models on my kitchen counter top~somewhere in North Carolina
Posted by disastermaster on Thursday, July 8, 2021 8:13 PM

Never a primer, never a problem.

On the kitchen counter top in North Carolina

  • Member since
    April 2004
Posted by Jon_a_its on Friday, July 9, 2021 5:27 AM

I often use Tamiya + Mr Color Leveling thinners AS a primer....

Also use Vallejo Polyurethane Primer AS an OD topcoat Huh?


East Mids Model Club 29th Annual Show 19th MAY 2019

Don't feed the CM!


  • Member since
    November 2018
Posted by oldermodelguy on Friday, July 9, 2021 11:40 AM

In my own scratch tests every paint I compared did better with primer, even M&M enamel. But that's not to say some weren't acceptable without primer. Some were outright terrible but others managed. One paint that does nearly equally well with or without primer on styrene is decanted and airbrushed Rustoleum 2x enamel. 2x apparently has some degree of some sort of primer in its formula. Another that does well is MCW lacquer.

So you seem to want to do this, try it is best I can say. Wouldn't be my choice but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

  • Member since
    April 2020
Posted by Eaglecash867 on Friday, July 9, 2021 1:00 PM

Found out just the other day that MRP lacquers bond extremely well, even without primer.  I have no intention of ever purposely not using primer though, due to scratch and Dymo tape tests I have done, along with just being able to check my seam-filling and sanding work before putting paint down.  It really helps me to see the areas that still need a little bit of attention.

"You can have my illegal fireworks when you pry them from my cold, dead fingers...which are...over there somewhere."

  • Member since
    June 2020
Posted by Seveneves on Saturday, July 24, 2021 9:29 AM

I find I prime less and less and am very happy to spray Tamiya thinned with their lacquer thinner.  Unless the model has a lot of P.E. or metal parts.  If mostly plastic then I "prime" with Tamiya.




Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

By signing up you may also receive reader surveys and occasional special offers. We do not sell, rent or trade our email lists. View our Privacy Policy.