Painting one of my 3D prints (with video!)

Epoxy’d, sanded, painted

Sappho's Head

After writing about David Hirmes’ Boolean Buddhas a few weeks ago, I was inspired to try painting one of my own 3D prints.

I decided to work on a print of Artec’s laser-scanned Sappho’s Head. It’s a model I’ve printed a few times before, usually with silver ABS:

Sappho's Head in silver ABS

This time I scaled the model up to 150% and printed it in two parts:

Printed in two parts

Next, I welded the parts together with a solvent and filled in the overhang areas with epoxy:

Both parts epoxy'd and welded

Then I applied three coats of bronze acrylic paint:

Three coats of paint

And finally, I’ve uploaded a video documenting the process:

As I say at the end of the video, I wasn’t incredibly pleased with the results. It looks all right, but I think that it could be better.

Next time I’m going to try epoxying the entire model, and then painting that.


Derek Quenneville is a 3D printing evangelist who posts weekly on the Ponoko blog. Follow him on Twitter @techknight.

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8 Responses to “Painting one of my 3D prints (with video!)”

  1. Derek J. Kinsman Says:

    We did the exact same thing with this model a few months back. I painted it up. Instead of epoxying the whole model you could sand it down as well.

    The plastic also needs to be primed before painting. I’d use a hobby miniature / model primer. Something from Army Painter, or Vallejo. Those are really fine pigments so you won’t lose any detail. If you want to cover up detail use the Citadel Paints primer.

    https://vimeo.com/41103673

  2. Derek Quenneville Says:

    I don’t think I’d care to carefully sand that whole thing, but I’ll look into those primer brands – thanks!

    I also need to use nitrate gloves or something if I’m going to do the epoxy route.

  3. m. mccain Says:

    has anyone ever tried coating or sealing the models with gesso as a undercoat before applying another layer of paint like the metal using on this figure? By the way how long did you let the paint dry between coats ? you might get better result if the paint has a few hours before you add another on top.

  4. Derek Quenneville Says:

    Hmm.. I think I waited about 8 hours after the first coat, and then 24 hours after the second coat.

  5. Craige L Says:

    This crafty approach seems OK, just, well… too sad in 2012: unfinished rez should be waaay better by now.
    Also, using a shiny finish only ‘enhances’ the low-rez nature of the print. Sorry, but this looks like 1998 to me. I’ve had better output direct from SW.

  6. Kristen Turner Says:

    @Craige, just to be clear, this print is off of Derek’s Makerbot Cucpcake. It’s not a print from Ponoko.

  7. Derek Quenneville Says:

    Yep, prints from Ponoko’s high-end 3D printers look millions of times better than one from my ancient MakerBot Cupcake.

  8. lykle Says:

    Still, he does have a Cupcake. That is more than I can say.

    And I like the texture in this case. looks cool. Ancient pixelated bronze, it is a nice contrast.