The first step in painting is to prime the hull. Some modelers use primer, others don’t. I’ve done both, but I generally find that I get better results if I use a primer.
On the hull, I know that I’m going to need to do some final sanding and filling to remove any blemishes. Primer will help with that. Once a coat or two of primer is in place, it will be much easier to see the spots that need to be filled.
I’ll be using Tamiya Liquid Surface Primer. I’ve been using this for a few years, starting on my plane models. It is a grey primer that can be brushed or sprayed on. I’ll be using it with my airbrush, so I’ll be thinning it with Tamiya Lacquer Thinner. I’ll follow the recommended mix of 1:1 – one unit of thinner for every unit of primer.
With the hull masked and the primer thinned and ready, I started spraying on coats. Since the primer had been thinned, it took two coats before I had enough on there to see the blemishes.
After two coats, the hull was sanded with 400 grit sandpaper.
Next I used Tamiya Putty White to fill in any defects. This included small scratches, any remaining gaps between planks, and areas where the previous work with wood filler left the surface uneven. Tamiya Putty is primarily designed for use on plastic, but it still works great on wood, especially if it is primed.
I like this stuff because it comes out of the tube as a liquid, which is easy to spread on and smooth out. It flows nicely into gaps, holes, and crevices. I applied it generously.
After letting it cure for a day, I sanded it down, starting with 220 grit sandpaper and working my way up to 800 grit.
Next I applied another two coats of primer, sanding with 400 and 800 grit paper between coats.
The final surface turned out very, very smooth. Since the primer was so thin, there are some spots where the wood shows through a little, but there is still some primer soaked into that wood, so it will be fine.
During this process I also primed the waterways and the inside of the bulwarks and stanchions, which were left exposed during the masking process. These were harder to sand (had to get in between the bulwarks), but since the cap rail will go on top of these, I think it will turn out fine even though it didn’t get quite as good of a sanding.
The next step will be to mark the waterline and start applying color!