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Great fan of gesso.  Learned about it at the Cold Wars hobby university about three years ago.  Have been using it ever since.  Great stuff, works well.  Like was said get a big old brush to slop it on.  Dries tight and does not hide details.  I have used the white gesso at first but now use black gesso.  To me there is no difference.  After it dries I dry brush white over the figure.  When I paint it helps with shading.