Finishing & Painting A 3D Printed Alien!

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This is going to be a write up on a Painting process that I have used a lot to create a semi realistic looking paint job on a 3D print, for this one here I used the Ieyo bust from Thingiverse.

Final piece - Painting process

To start this piece was 3D printed on my Wanhao Duplicator I3 at a 0.1mm layer height in a nice bright colour filament (Voltivo Excelfil Signal Orange) which will help later on when we come to sand and prime the part.

3D printed file - Painting process

For this particular piece I decided to go with Smooth on’s XTC-3D which is a 2 part epoxy resin coating for 3D prints, I mixed the two parts and brushed it onto the bust making sure to not fill any small details and to keep and even level coverage. Once the Epoxy has had time to cure (about 3-4 hours) it was time for a few rounds of sanding. The epoxy has filled all of the gaps so now its a case of getting it super smooth and shiny ready for paint, this result is achieved with several passes of sanding with increasingly higher grades of sandpaper finally finishing off with a 1000 grit wet and dry paper.

Next up is the Painting process, I first gave the whole piece a few coats of grey primer as a base colour for me to build up my skin tone on. This is a long slow process as I chose to use Oil paints to but the results are incredibly realistic compared to painting with acrylics.

The technique is to use washes (highly diluted paint) of the colours you require such as reds, yellows and purples and painting them on, wiping them off and repeating until the desired depth of colour is achieved, it helps to have some reference on hand when doing this to have colours to match against.
Painting process

The final result is very nice as there isn’t a cartoon aspect and keeps the item looking more real and creepy, the same technique can be used on buildings or anything that needs to be subtly painted and not pop with bright colours.

Alien finished form - Painting process

Check out the full video on how I made this below, also check out my Instagram and Twitter and make sure to hit subscribe on Youtube!


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  1. [email protected] says

    That is so cool. it still amazes me what the printers can do.

  2. Matthew Horbund says

    Very nice writeup of painting 3D prints. I havent printed anything I want to paint, yet. However, I now have a nice walk through if I do 🙂

  3. mperkins37 says

    Love it, great stuff, thanks

  4. mperkins37 says

    right up my creative alley

  5. jvastine says

    There are several ways to finish 3D prints to achieve a vast array of looks and effects that would make a great series of accompanying articles.

  6. Tom Baxter says

    Great article. I get the theory but always have trouble with the execution. I just have to keep practicing because in my head there’s always a vision. Getting that vision reflected in my final product is another story. Thank you for the video as well. It’s helpful to see a process, nit just read about it.

  7. Richard Bynum says

    Nice to know oil paints are better than acrylics and make for more realistic look. I didn’t know about XTC-3D epoxy either. I love learning new things in these articles!

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