I'm not a body pro but I've painted a lot of cars. First, if you go to bare metal, then you MUST use "self etch" primer first. Following that you then "shoot" primer surfacer. Primer surfacer will have some "build up" and it will fill in imperfections.
The primer surfacer will not give a smooth surface, so you must hand sand the primer surfacer to get it smooth. One trick is to use two different colors of primer. First use grey primer surfacer. Then after it has dried for about 1 hour, lightly "dust" over the grey with a couple of spray cans of red oxide primer. After about another hour (or overnight) sand everything by hand... using 400 grit... so that there is not a speck of red oxide left.
If there are a lot of high/low spots on the body you will sand through the grey on the high spots before you get rid of the red oxide in the low spots. So, you will need to repeat the "two color" primer process until the finish is perfect... or unitl you decide it's close enough
Finally, after all this is done, it's time to spray the color coat(s)... hummm... as I sit here trying to be brief I've realized it can't be done. I've left out so much stuff that is really important. Hopefully you've got the idea, but my best recommendation is to buy a book on painting. Here are some recommendations from Barnes & Noble
How to Paint Your Car
Do-It-Yourself Guide to Custom Painting
Paint and Body Handbook
I'm no autobody pro but you want to make sure the primer and finish are compatible. There are a lot of good books out there. A few $$ now can save quite a bit of money and labor down the road. A good all-around one is How To Restore Your Collector Car by Tom Brownell. According to Brownell the traditional method was 3 steps (primer/primer surfacer/finish). The modern two-part system has six steps (etch primer/zinc chromate primer/high-build primer/primer surfacer/sealer/finish)
A hell of a lot more work but much better for the long haul (especially for corrosion prevention).
I found from past experience the "shorcuts" usually don't work ver well.
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