Revamp Your 3D Prints: How to Paint Like a Pro

Painting 3d prints requires a bit of patience and preparation. 3d prints usually have a rough surface finish, which can make it challenging to get a smooth and even coat of paint. In this guide, we will take you through the necessary steps to ensure you get a professional-looking finish for your 3d prints.

We’ll cover the different types of paint, sanding, cleaning, priming, and painting with tips and tricks to help you achieve the best results. Follow along and learn everything you need to know about painting your 3d prints!

Revamp Your 3D Prints: How to Paint Like a Pro


Preparing Your 3D Prints For Painting

Are you looking to turn your 3d prints into works of art? With a little preparation, you can do just that! Here’s what you need to know to get started:

Cleaning Your 3D Prints

Before painting, you need to remove any residue left from the printing process. Here are the key steps:

  • Use a soft-bristle brush to remove any dust and debris from the print
  • Soak the print in warm, soapy water for 15-30 minutes
  • Dry the print fully with a clean, dry towel

Sand Your 3D Prints

Sanding your 3d print helps the paint adhere and smoothes out any layers or seams. Here’s how to do it:

  • Use a coarse sandpaper (120 grit) to remove any large bumps or unevenness
  • Progressively use finer sandpapers (240 grit, 400 grit, and so on) until the surface feels smooth
  • To smooth out curves or hard-to-reach areas, try using a sanding sponge or foam pad

Prepping Your 3D Prints For Paint

Now that your print is clean and smooth, you need to prepare it for painting. Here are the key steps:

  • Prime the print with a good quality primer. This helps the paint adhere and gives it a base color to work with
  • Apply a thin layer of filler or putty to fill any small gaps or seams
  • Sand again with a fine-grit sandpaper (400 grit or higher) to remove any excess filler and smooth out the surface

With these steps complete, your 3d print is now ready for painting. Whatever you choose to create, remember to take your time, and experiment with colors and techniques until you find the look you’re after.

Choosing The Right Paint For Your 3D Prints

Types Of Paint

When it comes to painting your 3d prints, choosing the right paint is essential. Here are some types of paints that work well with 3d prints:

  • Acrylic paint: This is a versatile type of paint that can be used on a variety of surfaces, including 3d prints. It dries quickly and is available in many colors.
  • Enamel paint: This type of paint is oil-based and produces a smooth, glossy finish. It’s durable and long-lasting, making it a great choice for 3d prints that will be handled frequently.
  • Spray paint: This type of paint is easy to apply and dries quickly. It’s great for covering large areas and is available in a variety of finishes, including matte, glossy, and metallic.

Choosing The Right Paint

When choosing the right paint for your 3d prints, consider the following factors:

  • Type of print material: The type of material your 3d print is made of can affect the type of paint that will adhere to it best. For example, pla prints may require a different type of paint than abs prints.
  • Desired finish: Consider the type of finish you want to achieve. Some types of paint, like enamel, produce a smooth, glossy finish, while others, like matte finish paints, produce a more subdued look.
  • Paint compatibility: Check if the paint you choose is compatible with the type of primer you plan to use to create a smooth surface for painting.

Priming Your 3D Prints

Before you start painting your 3d prints, it’s important to prime them first. Here are some tips for priming your 3d prints:

  • Sand the print: Use a fine-grit sandpaper to lightly sand the surface of the print. This will help the primer adhere to the surface better.
  • Clean the print: Use a clean cloth or a brush to remove any dust or debris from the print. This will ensure a smooth and even surface for the primer.
  • Apply the primer: Use a primer that is suitable for the type of paint you plan to use. Apply a thin, even coat of primer to the print and let it dry completely before painting.

By following these tips for choosing the right paint and priming your 3d prints, you’ll be able to achieve a professional-looking finish on your 3d printed creations.


Painting Techniques For 3D Prints

Painting 3d prints can be a challenging task but with the right techniques, it can be done with ease. In this section, we’ll discuss some of the best techniques to paint 3d prints, focusing on painting small details, large surfaces, creating textures, and airbrushing.

Techniques For Painting Small Details

Painting small details on 3d prints can be a daunting task but with these techniques, you can easily make them look perfect:

  • Use a fine brush: It’s important to have a fine brush when painting small details. You can use brushes with a size of 0 or even smaller for best results.
  • Pre-shading technique: Pre-shading the print before painting small details is an excellent technique. Use paints that are lighter than the final color and cover the area with it before painting the details. It will give the details more depth and make the print look more realistic.
  • Use magnifying glasses: It can be tough to paint small details on a tiny 3d print. Use magnifying glasses to help you see the details more clearly.
  • Go slow: Painting small details requires patience and attention to detail. Take your time and paint slowly to avoid mistakes.

Techniques For Painting Large Surfaces

Painting large surfaces is an entirely different ball game. Here are a few techniques that can help you paint large surfaces smoothly:

  • Use a larger brush: Large surfaces require larger brushes. Use brushes that are 6 or 8 for larger surfaces.
  • Airbrushing: Airbrushing is an excellent technique to paint large surfaces. It provides a smooth finish and is quick as well.
  • Paint in sections: Painting an entire large surface can be a daunting task. Instead, paint the surface in sections. This will help you keep track of what you have painted and what still needs to be painted.
  • Cover mistakes: Mistakes happen, and it’s crucial to cover them up. Use the same color or a darker color to cover up any mistakes you may have made while painting a large surface.

Techniques For Creating Textures

Creating textures on a 3d print can add depth and make it look more realistic. Here are a few techniques you can use to create textures:

  • Dabbing technique: The dabbing technique is a great way to create textures on a 3d print. Dab the brush onto the print to create the desired texture.
  • Use dry brushing: Dry brushing is an excellent method to create textures like rust or weathering on a 3d print. Use a dry brush on the surface to create the desired effect.
  • Washes: Washes are a great technique to create subtle textures on a 3d print. Mix paint and water in a 1:1 ratio and use the mixture on the print. The mixture will settle in the crevices, creating a subtle texture.

Techniques For Airbrushing

Airbrushing is a complex technique but can be used to achieve stunning results. Here are a few techniques to keep in mind when airbrushing:

  • Use thinner paint: Airbrushing requires thinner paint to go through the airbrush gun smoothly. Mix the paint with airbrush thinner to get the right consistency.
  • Build up the paint: Airbrushing requires multiple coats of paint to achieve the desired effect. Allow the paint to dry after each coat before applying another coat.
  • Spray in layers: Spray the paint in layers to achieve a smooth and even finish. Make sure to spray the paint from a consistent distance to avoid inconsistencies in the paint job.

With these techniques, painting 3d prints will be a lot easier and fun. Use these tips to create stunning and realistic 3d prints that are sure to impress everyone.

Adding Finishing Touches

After spending hours carefully printing and sanding your 3d model, the next step is to add the finishing touches to make it look like a professional product. Here are some tips for adding those final details:

Applying Clear Coat

  • Use a clear coat to protect your 3d print from scratches and give it a glossy finish.
  • Choose a clear coat that is compatible with the material of your 3d print, such as acrylic or enamel.
  • Apply the clear coat in a well-ventilated area using a spray can or a paintbrush, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Let the clear coat dry completely before handling the 3d print.

Creating Smooth Surfaces

  • Use sandpaper or a file to smooth out any rough or uneven surfaces on your 3d print.
  • Start with a coarse grit sandpaper (around 200 grit) and move up to a finer grit (1000 grit or higher) to achieve a smooth finish.
  • Consider using a sanding sponge or a sanding block to maintain flat surfaces.
  • Take your time and use light pressure to avoid damaging the details of your 3d print.

Adding Decals Or Stickers

  • Find decals or stickers that fit the size and shape of your 3d print.
  • Clean the surface of your 3d print with a damp cloth before applying the decal or sticker.
  • Gently peel off the backing paper and apply the decal or sticker to the desired location on your 3d print.
  • Smooth out any air bubbles or wrinkles with a credit card or your finger.

Polishing Your 3D Prints

  • Use a polishing compound to bring out the shine in your 3d print.
  • Apply a small amount of the compound to a soft cloth and rub it in circular motions on the surface of your 3d print.
  • Use a clean cloth to buff the surface until it is smooth and shiny.
  • Be careful not to apply too much pressure, as this can damage the details of your 3d print.

By following these tips, you can take your 3d prints to the next level and create professional-looking products.

Advanced Painting Techniques

3d printing has revolutionized the way we create and manufacture things. But to truly bring out the beauty of your 3d prints, you need to master advanced painting techniques. In this section, we will talk about creating metallic finishes, painting translucent materials, using gradient techniques, and creating 3d color blends.

Creating Metallic Finishes

Metallic finishes make your 3d prints shine and stand out. Here are some tips to create stunning metallic finishes:

  • Primer your print with a black or white coat before applying the metallic paint.
  • Use metallic spray cans for larger prints, or metallic acrylic paints and a brush for small details.
  • Apply the metallic paint lightly, building up layers until you achieve the desired finish.
  • Buff the finished print with a soft cloth to enhance the shine.

Painting Translucent Materials

Translucent materials are becoming increasingly popular in 3d printing. But painting them can be tricky. Here are some tips to paint your translucent prints:

  • Add a drop of colored dye to the clear resin before printing. This will create a colored translucent print.
  • Use a white primer to block out light and enhance the color of the translucent paint.
  • Thin translucent paint with water or alcohol for a smooth finish.
  • Use a small brush to apply the paint in thin layers, allowing each layer to dry before adding the next.

Using Gradient Techniques

Gradient techniques allow you to create smooth transitions between colors or shades. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Choose your base color and mix it with a bit of white to create lighter shades.
  • Using a sponge or airbrush, apply the lighter shade at the top of the print and the darker shade at the bottom.
  • Blend the colors together using a soft brush or a sponge for a smooth gradient.

Creating 3D Color Blends

Color blending adds depth and dimension to 3d prints. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Mix your base color with a bit of black or white to create darker or lighter shades.
  • Use a small brush to paint the lightest shade on the raised areas of the print.
  • Paint the darkest shade on the indented areas of the print.
  • Blend the colors together in the middle for a natural 3d effect.

By mastering these advanced painting techniques, you can take your 3d printing to the next level and create stunning, unique prints that stand out from the crowd.


Fixing Paint Defects

Even the most experienced painters encounter paint defects when painting 3d prints. Here are some tips on how to identify the issue and fix it:

  • Cracking and blistering paint: This happens when there is moisture or air trapped beneath the paint. To fix it, sand down the affected area, remove any dust, and repaint.
  • Orange peel effect: This occurs when the paint appears bumpy or rough. It happens when the paint is too thick or not applied evenly. To fix it, allow the paint to dry, sand it down until it’s smooth and reapply the paint.
  • Paint runs or drips: It occurs when too much paint is applied, or the paint is too thin. To fix it, wait for the paint to dry, sand it down, and reapply the paint.

Preventing Paint From Flaking Or Peeling

Paint flaking or peeling is a common issue with painted 3d prints. Here are some tips to prevent it:

  • Clean the 3d print: Ensure that the print is free of dust, debris, and oils before painting. These can interfere with the paint’s adherence to the print.
  • Use a primer: A primer is an undercoat that helps the paint adhere to the print. Applying a primer to the surface before painting will prevent the paint from flaking or peeling off.
  • Allow enough dry time: Ensure that the paint is completely dry before handling or using the print. Drying time varies depending on the type and brand of paint used.

Painting With Multiple Colors

Painting a 3d print with multiple colors can be challenging. Here are some tips on how to do it effectively:

  • Paint one section at a time: To avoid overlapping colors and ruining the final product, painting one section at a time is recommended.
  • Masking tape: Using masking tape is an excellent way to protect areas not intended for painting.
  • Paint in layers: Paint each color in layers, ensuring each layer dries completely before adding another. Applying a primer before painting also makes it easier to apply multiple colors.

Repairing Broken 3D Prints

Broken 3d prints can be discouraging. However, if you follow these simple steps, you can fix them quickly and easily:

  • Identify the breakage point: Check the print for any broken sections and locate the breakage point.
  • Clean the area: Remove any excess debris from the broken area using sandpaper.
  • Glue the broken parts together: Using super glue or any other glue suitable for the filament types, apply it to both the broken parts and press them together for a few minutes until the glue dries.
  • Sand and repaint: After the glue dries, sand the affected area if needed, repaint and allow the paint to dry.

By following these simple tips, you can troubleshoot any painting issues and repair broken 3d prints quickly and easily.

Frequently Asked Questions On How To Paint 3D Prints

How Do I Prepare My 3D Print For Painting?

Clean your 3d print with soap and water to remove any oils or debris. Use sandpaper to smooth rough spots, then prime with a spray primer.

What Type Of Paint Is Best For 3D Prints?

Acrylic paints are a great choice for painting 3d prints. They dry quickly, are easy to work with, and come in a variety of colors.

Can I Paint My 3D Print Without Priming It First?

While it’s possible to paint your 3d print without priming it first, it’s not recommended. Priming helps the paint adhere better and prevents chipping.

How Many Coats Of Paint Should I Use On My 3D Print?

It depends on the color of the paint and the color of the filament. In general, you’ll need several thin coats of paint for good coverage.

How Do I Add A Glossy Finish To My Painted 3D Print?

To add a glossy finish to your painted 3d print, apply a clear coat of enamel or glossy varnish. Allow the clear coat to dry completely before handling.


After reading this post, you should now have a better understanding of how to paint your 3d prints. Painting is a fun and creative way to enhance your prints and make them stand out. By following the tips and techniques discussed in this post, you can achieve a high-quality finish on your prints.

Remember to always properly prepare your surface, use the right type of paint, and apply thin, even coats. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different colors and finishes to find the perfect look for your prints. With patience and practice, you can become a master at painting your 3d prints.

So go ahead, grab your paintbrushes and start transforming your prints into works of art!


Perry Frank

Perry Frank

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