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Painting 3D prints and Material Choices

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Posted (edited) · Painting 3D prints and Material Choices

Since nobody asked, I thought I would share a few things I have picked up. As I try new things I will probably tack it onto the end of this. My hope is that some of you find this instructive and I will point you to a variety of sources that I pulled information from. For the most part, I prime my prints with a black matte and then sometimes I mist white onto the print to help illuminate shape. I also am not a representative of any paints that I talk about. Just things I have played with.


First, why I think things like the Polyalchemy style of 'silky looking' prints, and why I also do not like using the materials. If you are going to be making single colour, and absolutely no paint prints, they are nice. Things like this:


But this limits you to the colours they or any manufacturer will put out. What if you wanted to alter the colour? I wanted to be able to do washes over them.


But, when applying paint over the print, it exposes a bit of how the prints come out the way they do. It really shows all the layers as opposed to the smooth looking prints above. So that sheen becomes this:


The Grey is the base colour of the print and looks fine, but even the washes that let the 'shine' of the material through, still shows lines. And as soon as you paint opaque, it really gets bad like in the face. All these Polyalchemy prints using the same resolution and machine. This was not primed and was washed with acrylics.


So, unless you are doing the single colour type filament prints, this is how far it can go.


I also enquired @cloakfiend about something that he had painted and not doing full Chrome (chemical based, not paint based). He pointed me to Stuart Semple's "The world’s mirroriest mirror chrome paint." Humble as he is, he did not even mention he has a much more complete review of Chrome paint options here. For the details of how different chrome paints with a good  reputation look, it is well worth the viewing. However, I am looking at the paints I am playing with, not always for their strict design. First off, the Stuart Semple Chrome (I have not compared a few others yet) was by a wide margin the best. It just has that really nice 'pop' you look for in the reflections and depth of colour. I am comparing my previous 'silvery paint' and other applications of colour on a bad print. This was primed first with black and no white misting.


On your left side is the Stuart Semple's Chrome. You can see the line between your left and right sides at just inside her left breast. The Stuart Semple Chrome is much easier to apply and both paints require some sort of thinner as they are not water based.

You can see the difference again in this image:



Below the colours are washed over the Chrome side of the print in this order:

  • A is Pthalo Blue (green shade)
  • B starts about midway up the forearm and is the same Pthalo Blue mixed with Stuart Semple's "Unicorn Milk." It is not easy to see in the image but mixing them made the Pthalo Blue really nice and rich with a bit more of a sheen in it.
  • C is Read with Unicorn Milk washed over the Chrome.



 Below, this arm has two applications of the Pthalo Blue:

  • A is Pthalo Blue mixed with Unicorn Milk AND when dried, a was of Unicorn Milk applied over the Base Blue which is Pthalo Blue and Unicorn Milk mixed.
  • B is the Base Blue applied first all over the arm. You can see the richness of the base blue starting down at the crook of the elbow. It is actually much nicer in real life.



On her back I just mixed some colours together and washed them over the chrome. I will be experimenting with a rattlecan of gold to wash over.


Edited by kmanstudios
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Posted · Painting 3D prints and Material Choices

So, I wanted to test out the Black 2.0 and Black 3.0 from Stuart Simple. While I have not been able to get that 'void look' as it is shown, but I can say they are the blackest Paint I have experienced. Black 2.0 is a black matte, but Black 3.0 has a 'velvety type of appearance. This was primed with Black matte spray paint.



The Black 2.0 was painted over the Bat Symbol and cape up to ears. When Dried, I put Black 3.0 on the neck, face and cowl.



This is Black Primed and then Black 3.0 on top. You can see the difference between the two areas (Black 3.0 and just Black Primer.)



This is Black Primer with Black 2.0 over all of it and then Black 3.0 on the neck, face and cowl.

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    Posted · Painting 3D prints and Material Choices

    OK, so I tried something different: Ornaments.

    My first ones were primed and painted with Krylon's original Chrome.



    The spiral ornament was left alone, but I shot some anodized paint over it.....meh.....



    So, I started to put washes of Pthalo Blue and Unicorn Milk. I built that up until it was a very deep, rich blue with pearlessence. The silvering parts were done with Semple's Holographic powder (Technicolor).



    But, shooting clear over the ball softened the out layers of paint and, well, let us just say that you should not drop them or it will tear until it is solidly dried and bind again to the silvering paint layer:



    Then I painted the spiral. This one worked much better and only had the silvering layer first. Again, Pthalo Blue mixed with the Unicorn Mil in thin washed layers until I got the brilliant metallic blue I wanted. Then I used the Mirror Chrome from Semple's line of paints mentioned above.



    Even though it worked, I switched tact on this to just a black primer over painted with gold pray. That did not work. It was just too dull. So, I went back to the black and used mica powders and that really worked much better. It was hard to get a good red out of it. But, also being so reflective it picked up the gold and further diluted the color red saturation. The powders were mixed with Unicorn Milk as the finding medium.



    Then I put that gold mixture over this ball completely and then washed some Pthalo Blue and Unicorn Milk until I got the green I wanted. By using the Gold all over the ball and washing over the blue, it was going to carry a 'matching' component since it is partly the same color after all.


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    Posted · Painting 3D prints and Material Choices

    Paints usually belong in an eco-system: Acrylics with acrylics and solvent based with solvent based. Also, making sure what will bind, will bind well. Also there are brand based ecosystems.


    Also, usually you can paint acrylics on a good primer base and then solvent based on top of that will usually work. This allow me to paint with an acrylic primer and then paint with any solvent based paint.


    In this print I used only the paints with the same base properties (as well as a brand based eco-system). These paints are part of the Dupli-Color anodized paint series. They provide a metallic look. They are part of the metal cast paint line.



    The far right bottom pointy things are the base coat that they provide with the system. It works best with their paints. Again, self enclosed ecosystem. I did violate one of the rules here though. The abalone hair is acrylic slowly built up over the solvent based paint. A lot of patience can go a long way here. But it is the only space that I did this. I guess I will see if it flakes off in few years. But experience says it will not. I cannot explain why, But I have found a few exceptions over the years and when properly applied. With the hair, I had to lay a lot of layers to get it to stick properly. Once I had the paint ready to stick, I could layer transparent colours until it build up properly.



    The only other exception of going out of a brand's ecosystem (But still solvent based rattle can) was the Venus character herself. I printed her and the base separately. First to make sure that the base and figure could be treated differently should I run into printer issues. With a 23.5 day print on the base, and the figure being the possibly most problematic (And, she was having to print her twice) I wanted to avoid having to print the whole thing again.. I did use a basic spray gold misted over the Dupli-Color base coat. I misted from top to bottom so that by the time the knees get painted, it fads out to the base coat. I misted only enough to make for a warmer colour and not gold itself. I use misting a lot. Sometimes, it works and well, sometimes it can get out of hand and resulting in painting colours in and out until you get the colours you wanted.


    I did this to bring out the warm tones on the figure to 'bounce' out from all the cool colour range of the blues and bluish silvers.


    As a final touch, I used the last of the Holographic paint I had on hand. Not much, but barely enough. These paints are part of the Spaz Stix line of paints. These paints are solvent based and not the same as having a holographic powder. As an overcoat, it provided the colour reflections in this pic.


    All those nice colours of blues and purples are the result of the holographic paint. As the object turns, the colours play over the surface. And, they allow the base paint to be seen.


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    Posted · Painting 3D prints and Material Choices

    As an aside and back to chrome paints:

    If you are looking at the Spaz Stix line of paints (and they have some really cool paints 🙂 ), this vid demonstrates why I do not use their chrome based paints. And, yes, I have tried their chrome.


    Their Chrome is to be used on the inside of the transparent body. It works spectacularly well for what they are designed for.


    For the best Chrome review I have found for our applications (on top surface and not under transparent plastic), this is the link to @cloakfiend's review of chrome paints. I will be trying the Molotow Chrome soon for my own feel of the paint's properties. Gotta touch the paints to get a real feel for them. And Chromes are notoriously difficult to get right.

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    Posted · Painting 3D prints and Material Choices

    Wow, these are really impressive paintings. They look like the antique art you would find in museums.


    When priming your paint spray cans, maybe you could do that on a plain sheet of white paper, or sheet of wood, and keep this sheet with all color patches, and make photos of it? This would give an impression of each of the colors and effects on its own.


    Question: before painting, do you chemically or mechanically prepare the surface of 3D-prints, for a better bonding? And do you use primers that chemically dissolve and penetrate the plastic, or do they just coat it?


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    Posted (edited) · Painting 3D prints and Material Choices
    32 minutes ago, geert_2 said:

    Question: before painting, do you chemically or mechanically prepare the surface of 3D-prints, for a better bonding? And do you use primers that chemically dissolve and penetrate the plastic, or do they just coat it?

    I wash the prints with a degreasing dish soap and then thoroughly rinse to remove all traces of PVA as well as oils from the hands.


    There are times the print is soaked a lot in a vat of water with just a tiny bit of dish soap. But it will always get a final rinse and scrub.


    But binding is increased by spraying lightly and building up layers. And, then for some things like the critter above, at a certain point, I am really flooding the surface with paint.


    This is a basic tutorial for painting rattle cans over plastics (model building focused, but it applies to the materials I am using to print with. Mostly TPLA these days and not specialty filaments.


    32 minutes ago, geert_2 said:

    When priming your paint spray cans, maybe you could do that on a plain sheet of white paper, or sheet of wood, and keep this sheet with all color patches, and make photos of it? This would give an impression of each of the colors and effects on its own.

    I am thinking of doing a step by step of a piece from raw print to final paint. I had not thought of the paint swatches. Mainly because they look radically different on flat surfaces and different surfaces have different properties. And, honestly, money for materials is tight, so I am doing straight on the model based on experience.


    Also, I am focused on ecosystems at this time and I have to replace almost all my specialty paints.

    Edited by kmanstudios
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    Posted · Painting 3D prints and Material Choices

    For the setup of what I will be showing next, I would like to take a minute to go over the two types of ecosystems you should be aware of.


    Material Ecosystems are the basic use of the types of paint you wish to use.

    1. Oil based such as traditional enamels
    2. Solvent based like lacquers
    3. Water based like acrylics

    Traditional enamels are the type of paint that can go over an acrylic. If there is an enamel based paint that has an acrylic painted over, it will cut loose over time. So, always, water based and then traditional enamels. If you are using enamels, then you need an enamel clear.


    There are Acrylic enamels. Say whaaaat? Technically, it is a water based paint, but is called an 'enamel' because it dries to a nice, hard shell. 


    So, read the labels or product info to make sure you are not using the wrong paint.


    Acrylics in general are pretty much the same in theory. But, there is a reason paints are sold as grades of quality such as student grade or professional grade. I gave up on student grade a long time ago. They are great to learn with, but light fastness can be a problem (will fade when exposed to light), coverage and grittiness of the paint pigments.


    Lacquers are solvent based. This means that it is what is referred to as being 'hotter' than other paints. I can cause cracks, wrinkles and other yucky results.


    In general theory, you can mix the types if they are applied in proper order.

    1. Water based first
    2. oils or solvent on top.


    I use mostly acrylics and acrylic enamels.


    And then there are brand ecosystems. 

    There can be some issues as the base (The pigment suspension medium) itself may vary in compatibility. This would usually present as being streaky in applications if it is not a good suspension medium. But, usually they are very forgiving, especially when you have a bit of practice.


    There are always exceptions to the rule. But be careful in practice as it may not only ruin the paint job, but the print itself and that is a lot of lost materials in filament and paint and finally time.

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