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The Beginner's Guide to Zenithal Priming

Zenithal priming is a technique where you use the top of your paint pot as a light source. You can then highlight from that point by painting more white or adding silver. It's easy to do, and it looks great!

the-beginners-guide-to-zenithal-priming

The Beginner's Guide to Zenithal Priming

The Beginner's Guide to Zenithal Priming

Zenithal priming is a technique where you use the top of your paint pot as a light source. You can then highlight from that point by painting more white or adding silver. It's easy to do, and it looks great! Check out this guide for how-to photos and tips on getting started with Zenithal Priming.

What is Zenithal Priming?

Zenithal priming is a technique where you use the top of your paint pot as a light source. You can then highlight from that point by painting more white or adding silver. It's easy to do, and it looks great!

The Zenithal Priming Process

You'll start by priming your model black. When the primer is dry, paint all of the areas you want to appear lighter with white primer (I use Tamiya Fine Surface Primer). After this dries, I usually do another coat just on raised areas for extra insurance that no details will be covered up later.

Then comes what's called "the messy part". You take some sort of metallic silver and cover random spots over your entire mini. Don't worry about covering every spot; it looks good when there are still some unpainted spots showing through after you've applied the metal color - these little dots of black primed paint peek out underneath the shiny metallic colors giving depth without much work!

Finally, you'll go back with your highlight color and paint any areas that should be even lighter. I usually pick a light gray for this step as it blends well together with the white underneath and silver on top.

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Why use Zenithal Priming?

The most important reason to use Zenithal Priming is for shading. By using a darker color on the bottom and lighter colors on top, you can achieve some nice-looking highlights without having to be super neat about it - just slop that metal color over your mini from any random angle and don't worry about being tidy!

Zenithal priming also allows you to paint models with very little contrast between their different parts. For instance, if I were painting an Ultramarine who had medium blue legs and torso but slightly more royal blue arms (Ultramarines have this cool sleeve design), then by applying my white primer only where I wanted the highest points of brightness (like his face) and not worrying too much about the rest of the model, I can have a mini with very little contrast between his legs/torso and arms.

The other reason to use Zenithal Priming is that it's fast! Just slap on some primer, silver paint, and highlight colors over your entire mini in a couple of hours and you're done. This allows for nice speed painting without sacrificing too much detail or time spent doing neat blending work.

How to make a Zenithal Prime

The most important thing you need for this is a black undercoat. You can do just about any color for an undercoat, but I suggest using either gray or very dark brown so the white primer pops out. Make sure to paint your model's basecoat before priming if it's not already painted! If you have decals on your mini they'll be much easier to apply once there isn't another layer of paint covering up their edges.

Paint all of the spots that should be lighter with some sort of metallic silver (I use Citadel Leadbelcher). This step doesn't need to look neat; some parts will end up looking like little specks instead of smooth highlights which looks awesome as well!

Examples of what you can do with a Zenithal Prime

Highlighting and shading using only the bottom of a paint pot:

An example where I didn't worry about getting silver on every single spot but tried to get it everywhere while remaining very neat so that you could tell what colors everything is. It's really up to your preference how smooth or rough this looks! If

Tips for using a Zenithal Prime in your work or art

  • If you're using a metallic color, try to put it on in an arc so that it appears like the light is hitting your mini from one angle.
  • Don't be afraid to use more than just white for bright spots! You can use anything with high contrast - yellow/black or blue/red are my favorite combinations but there's no limit to what looks good together as long as you've got some sort of shade variation between them.
  • Zenithal priming won't work if you've already painted over the areas that should be highlighted. You'll need to either strip your paint or use a different type of highlighting technique for this model.

Conclusion

I hope this article helped you out if you're just beginning with zenithal priming - I know it was invaluable when I first started using this technique! If you have any questions feel free to leave them below and I'll get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks for reading!

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