Hello Machine Bros!
In this article, we are bringing you a beginner’s guide on how to paint a 3D model and for this case, we chose The Terminator!… And we will make that 3D print to change from this:
We will guide you step-by-step on how to paint your 3D model and we will give you the necessary recommendations to achieve the results you expect.
And do not worry if you are not a professional, this is the main purpose of this article, that all people who do not have experience or basic knowledge in painting, can achieve the coolest creations.
We recommend that you watch the video, as this is a complement to the article and we show in more detail the different steps you must do.
You must bear in mind that to achieve a result that you are proud of, it is necessary to have basic knowledge of color mixing.
If you don’t already have it, we recommend that you look for some information before starting to paint your 3D model. Although this is essential, it does not represent a great challenge and you will surely learn it easily.
Here we will show you our technique, but each artist has his/her particular way of making creations as he/she gains experience, so feel free to experiment, and don’t forget to share your creations and experiences with The Machine Bros. Readers will appreciate it.
The experience will always be an important ally, but that does not mean that you cannot achieve incredible results if you do not have it yet, in that case, DO NOT SKIP ANY STEP, IN EACH ONE THERE ARE IMPORTANT TIPS AND COMMENTS THAT YOU MUST KNOW.
3D Model Information
The 3D model we used for this article was purchased from www.malix3design.com (https://www.malix3design.com/2018/05/terminator-bust-stl-files-for-3d.html).
We recommend that you take a look at their page, they have incredible models and fairly cheap prices.
Once we downloaded the model, we followed all the instructions that come in the attached PDF to do the printing.
We used PLA filament for the 3D Printing.
List of Materials to Paint a 3D Print
Below are all the materials that you will need for the project that you can find on AMAZON.
Although we use local brands for prices and immediate availability, you can buy the ones you want, just remember that it is essential to ensure that they are good quality materials.
|Note: Some of the suggested materials come in kits, such as brushes or acrylic paints, if you want you can buy only the paints you need for a particular project.|
Acrylic paint is ideal for painting plastic-based models.
Get all the necessary sandpaper densities to make sure the polish is as good as possible.
3D Printing Coating
Protective coating for smoothing and finishing 3D printed parts that does not melt the plastic.
They allow us to cut printing supports and details on the surfaces of the model.
Another option that provides long-lasting protection to the 3D printed models.
Similar to white primer, it smooths the surface and allows for a better addition of acrylic paint.
It is important to have different types of brushes: thick, thin, medium, etc.
This kit is very useful to help remove impurities in printing and helps a lot with polishing. It also comes with tweezers to remove the supports.
Gesso Universal Primer
Allows you to sculpt details of the model that have been damaged.
Recommendations Before Starting Painting a 3D Print
- Always have all the necessary materials on hand, do not start until you have everything ready.
- Get good quality paints and materials (Don’t save a few pennies on paints, brushes etc.)
- In this case, we recommend that you have a model to follow (photo) so that you have all the colors and the clear final appearance, so you can compare your creation with the model to follow and adjust colors as necessary.
- Lighting is essential, it will allow you to appreciate well the colors and details of your figure. For your health, do not work in an environment with little lighting and ventilation.
- Be careful with your brushes, always keep them in the water while you do not use them so that they are not damaged, and clean and dry them well after using them.
- Take some breaks!
- Don’t despair if you can’t get the best result from the start, some parts will need more effort and you can always fix them.
Estimated Painting Time of a 3D Print
There is no precise way to establish how long your creation will take, but in general, if you want excellent results, be prepared to invest a considerable amount of hours.
This particular model has taken us about 36 hours to complete, but keep in mind that we have documented all the steps and this takes quite a bit of extra time so surely you will do better.
It is important that you have the necessary patience between each of the steps, especially when you apply the primers.
In this process you must wait for the proper drying time, later we will give you more information about it.
Remove printing supports of your 3D print
Depending on the complexity of the 3D printing process, it can have multiple supports that ensure that the piece prints correctly.
But when they are detached from the 3D model they leave marks and if you do not remove them with care and patience, they can even deform or weaken the model, so take your time and use the right tools.
Preparation of the 3D print
It is normal that in all 3D printing there are always imperfections on the surfaces.
The final result will depend on how well you perform the polishing tasks. For this, you must use all the tools that we suggest, such as sandpaper, files, scalpel, and carving tools (Check out the video for the details!)
This step itself can take as long as the painting, in the particular case of our model (THE TERMINATOR!) there are surfaces that must be as smooth as possible, with a mirror finish, so that when applying the paint it remains with the characteristic shine of the original form.
Depending on the model you want to paint, there are parts that represent more complex access due to their shape, which you will not be able to access it with sandpaper, so you must use the carving tools and scalpel to reach these difficult places.
Additionally, the skin of our model has very deep pores, so for us, it has taken a great effort to polish all the skin of the model to more closely resemble reality and give it an improved finish.
In the end, you will be able to judge the result.
Reconstruction of Damaged Parts of a 3D Print
We know that 3D prints are really good looking!… But they are not perfect and some parts of our model can have significant damage.
In our case, when polishing one of the TERMINATOR ear imperfections, it has been slightly deformed, additionally, we want to correct some marks in the eye area.
For the reconstruction of these parts, we use the “Modeling Paste”.
Remember that after applying it you will have to polish that surface again.
Surface Smoothing of a 3D Print
As we expressed previously, our model needs a mirror finish on some of the surfaces, but some of these are difficult to achieve. For this reason, the polish is not optimal.
Therefore, we must rely on products such as the GESSO Universal Primer. This will help us to have the surfaces with the desired finish.
In our case, we will apply it to the metal-looking parts.
Cleaning the 3D Print
After all the polishing work you must do a thorough cleaning job.
Use soapy water to clean your 3D model and remove all residues that are still attached to the piece.
It is important that the cleaning is carried out in-depth.
Primer Application to a 3D Print
Now our piece is polished and is practically ready to be painted, we must prepare the surface so that the paint adheres well and the details that were not adequately polished due to its difficult access are corrected and we will do this with the PRIMER “Rust-Oleum”
We have chosen the white primer so that when applying the paint to the piece it is not altered.
This is very important since it will be one of the greatest challenges when it comes to giving the realism you want to your creation.
Before you apply it to your model, it is VERY IMPORTANT that you pay attention to the following recommendations, otherwise, your piece may suffer significant damage.
We make these recommendations because we have already made mistakes in previous designs and we want you to avoid the consequences of these.
- Before using, shake the can of primer very well, this will prevent air bubbles from leaving the surfaces.
- Apply at least 20 cm away and begin to apply not directly on the piece but from outside it so that any lumps of paint with air that there may come out first and do not fall on the 3D print.
- Always apply thin layers, the primer could form leaks if you exaggerate the thickness of the layer and then you would have to polish again and this is very tedious.
- Wait the right time between layers (20 min), don’t be impatient, it’s worth the wait.
- You must apply at least 4 coats so that the defects that you did not manage to cover in previous steps are minimized in this step.
- After the final coat, you should give a drying time of about 12 hours. During this time the painting will contract and will remain in its final form, do not rush.
In case you still have parts in your model that you do not like, this is the last opportunity you have to polish before starting to paint your model.
In our case, we will finish polishing the TERMINATOR’s ear.
When finished, wipe it with a damp cloth to remove all the impurities that are left, and finally, we will be ready to start painting.
Analysis of the Surfaces to Be Painted
Now you must know exactly what are going to be the results you want. We recommend you have a photo of the model you want to paint (we had several images of The Terminator). This is to avoid improvisation.
It only remains to establish the order you want to start, although there is no exact science that determines it, our recommendations are as follows.
- Locate a hold point for your model, from which you can hold it while painting, those hold points should be the last to paint.
- Start with the most hidden surfaces of the model or those that are difficult to access, so if you accidentally paint another surface there would be no problem, then you can correct it.
- Then focus on the little details that stand out, like the eyes in our case.
- Continue with the large surfaces of your model, once this phase is over, your model will begin to take shape
- While you are painting a surface, you should make sure to finish it until you think it is as you want it. This is important because obtaining the right color is the most complex and if you have to mix again later it will be difficult to obtain the same shade.
- Lastly, leave the surfaces where we hold the model in this way they will not wear out or get dirty while you hold it.
First Brush Strokes, Shadows, and Glitters
Painting a 3D model is easier than painting on a flat surface.
While on a flat surface you should give the feeling of depth and shadows, lighting, etc. changing the shades, in a 3D print is automatic due to the nature of the piece.
The shadows, brightness, and depth will be generated automatically when the light hits the model in such a way that you only have to choose the right color.
What you should keep in mind is that it is difficult for a surface to have the same color tone, for example, the skin.
It changes depending on where you apply it, such as the eye area, usually it is darker because of the eye bags. Or the chin area, usually the shadow of the beard also darkens the skin.
Once you mix in your palette and get the color you want, only when you apply it to the model, you will be sure if that was the desired shade.
This process can take a while while you get some experience, but if you make a mistake, you can always change the mix in the color palette until you get the desired color.
Hard to Access Surfaces
In our model, this corresponds to the wound that leaves the metallic part of the TERMINATOR exposed, where even the teeth can be observed.
For these little details and the fine lines tracing, you need to use the right brushes. These must be in good condition and have the necessary caliber.
Although we mentioned that the shadows and some details are automatically generated by painting on a 3D surface, you may want to highlight some edges by making contrasts that give more detail to the details you want.
In our case, we have accentuated some lines with black that had been lost due to the polishing of the piece.
Extra Shine to Surfaces That Need It
Sometimes it is normal that you want to accentuate the brightness of certain surfaces because acrylic paint does not give you all the shine you need.
The same thing happens to us with our TERMINATOR.
For these cases we recommend that you use a transparent canned primer for large surfaces, if it is for a small surface you can simply use nail polish.
We have used both to give more realism to the metal surface and to the eye.
Protruding Surfaces (Eye)
These surfaces are the ones that are first seen when you look at your model, they are the ones that capture your attention when you look for the first time.
In our model, it is the eye and secondly some scars that will be painted later along with the skin. These should be at the right level of detail to make an excellent 3D print.
Give them the time and patience necessary to achieve the best result. It is very important that they have the greatest possible realism since they will give character to your creation.
Large Surfaces (Skin)
The time has come for the largest surface of our model, which corresponds to the skin.
Remember that usually, these surfaces are not just about mixing colors and applying them to the entire surface.
You must play with the imperfections of the models, and the shades of what you are painting, analyze very well the example images you have of your model so that you do not make mistakes and subtract realism from your creation.
Remember that colors usually look different on the color palette.
The human eye sometimes deceives you and the colors are not what they seem.
For example in the following image, both blocks seem to have different colors, but in reality, it is the same color. To check it, just place your finger in the middle of both blocks.
Effects similar to this are those that can deceive you so that you can overcome this, you will have to mix and apply the colors on your model until you are sure that the tone is the right one.
You can see in the video of the article the effort that the artist has to make to paint the skin.
It is up to her to repeat the layers several times because she is not comfortable with the color obtained until she finally achieves the desired color.
Surely you will have to paint several times and with different color mixes so that you can get a great result, but do not be discouraged by this, it is something completely normal and only the experience can make you excel.
After you paint the large surfaces of your model, it is time to connect them.
This is usually a challenge because you must make a proper transition between two different colors, but if you have already overcome the challenge of the skin, surely this will not be something to worry about.
For our model, it is time to paint one of the most interesting parts that define our model and by this, we mean the Blood!
We will try to give it a vivid color as if the wounds were recent, so at the end, we will add a little clear nail varnish. With this, we will add freshness and additional shine.
The recommendation is the usual one, start mixing colors until you find the right shade.
In the case of blood it is simple, but depending on what you are painting you must be very careful so that between the union of layers of different colors you achieve proper realism.
Model Attachment Points (Hair and Base)
Well Machine Bros, at this point we have already advanced a lot.
Your model should already be taking a great appearance. It is time to give it the last strokes but in the same way, you must continue giving all your effort.
For our model, the attachment points were always the hair of the TERMINATOR and the base of the Bust.
We paint the hair with a brush and the base of the bust we will do with a silver spray can because it is a completely homogeneous surface.
The hair, as well as the skin, must be painted with great care and preserve the details.
In the video, you can see how the artist gives small highlights to the hair with a lighter brown that gives it a quite real appearance.
To paint the bust with the spray can you must be very careful and isolate the surfaces you do not want to paint, it would be a shame if the paint falls on surfaces that have already been painted at this point.
The Final Touch to Give Your 3D Model Some Originality
We have finished, but you may want to give your creation a final touch.
You may have already noticed that on the right side of the face there are small wounds on the skin.
These do not correspond to reality, they are not part of the original model, but we add them because it gives the TERMINATOR a little more aggressiveness, but we did not stop there, to personify our model a little more, we added additional wounds to the neck, chest, and back.
You can do the same with your model and give it that touch that will make it unique in the world.
Finally, you have achieved it! We hope you are proud of your work.
It has been a great experience and we have enjoyed every moment of making this article for you and it would be great if we could count on your feedback.
Please leave us your comments and also share your creation, we would like to see this community grow with your help.
Other 3D Printed Models
If you liked this article and want to check more 3D models printed and painted, we recommend you the following articles:
HASTA LA VISTA MACHINE BROS!