Painting Guide to 3D Prints

Painting Guide to 3D Prints

Whilst most of our 3D printed designs are printed in beautifully coloured high quality plastics, if you want that extra bit of realism you can paint your models.

Or maybe you've purchased a COMPLEX print from us, which can have some support marks. We always indicate to you if the print is a complex print, and that support marks will be evident in often obscured locations on the print. We remove 3D printing manufacturing supports and brims for you and give the model a quick clean. If the marks that are left from manufacturing supports bother you, follow this guide.

There are two types of 3D prints we use, that give very different results and thus will require different processes to paint.

- FDM Printing - on our Prusa farm. FDM stands for Fused Deposition Modelling. This is where plastic is melted through a hot nozzle, and printed layer by layer typically at 0.1 to 0.2 mm high. A good analogy to this is building a Sand castle tower by grabbing a whole heap of wet sand in your hand and letting it drizzle out to form a tower. Check out the new FDM printer we will be receiving Q3 of 2022! We currently use Prusa Mini and Prusa MK3S+

- SLA Resin Printing on our Phrozen 8k farm arriving to our workshop in April. SLA stands for Stereolithography Apparatus. This is where liquid resin in a vat is exposed to ultraviolet light which sets the resin hard and printed layer by layer typically at 0.05 mm high. 8k is the resolution and definition of the light that creates each layer. This has got us excited and nervous at the same time! Wait till you see the designs and detail coming from 3dlevelup!


FDM Painting Recommendations:

FDM typically leaves layer lines, which can create micro gaps between each layer. Each layer is melted, so it is extremely smooth, but separated by an indentation for each layer. Sometimes it can be difficult to see, but you can often feel it by running your finger over the print. When you sand FDM prints on rich glossy colours its easy to panic, as the surface begins to look scratched. This is OK. Don't panic, you just have to go through the entire process list here:

1) Use some filing tools to remove any major imperfections on the model.

2) Sand at 80 - 400 grit paper to remove the layer lines or any imperfections from supports. Be careful of any fine details on the print, as to not remove them.

2) If there are still support imperfections that need filling, you can spray a modelling paint filler lightly over the model.

3) Wet Sand at 800-1200 grit paper to start to smooth the pastic once again. This will take some time depending on how smooth you want.

3) To get the original gloss and glean you will need to wet sand at 2000 grit paper for sometime. If you plan on painting the model this step is not necessary.

4) Spray a light primer over the model, repeating a couple of times to ensure the model is completely covered with the primer. Spray lightly - the paint should not pool or drip. If this occurs you can later go over again with fine grit sand paper.

5) Use your favourite brush or spray paint to colour the model as intended.

FDM YouTube Guides we recommend:


 SLA painting guide coming soon...

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