IMO I don't think it needs a primer if you're doing several coats, which I do to get more depth of hues.
I hit mine with 10 + coats of dull varnish to kill the gloss.
The main prob with it not looking like a production piece are the imperfections in the surface caused by the varying paint thicknesses, which I think looks better than production anyways.
I suppose depending on your concept, you could stencil or mask spray paint and that would give you an even look after hitting it with the dull varnish.
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