3D printing and painting

Reptilian Feline Jul 16, 2021

  1. Reptilian Feline

    Reptilian Feline TrainBoard Member

    I just got my 3D printer delivered, and when I asked in a FB group in Sweden if there were interest in some 3D printed people, I got replies that indicated that some would be very happy to get some. I guess I'm going to make some money to help my hobby :)

    Anyway... I'm going to make people for my own layout as well (the primary reason for the 3D printer) and I need to paint them. I don't have an airbrush, and people in N gauge are pretty small anyway, so what would be the best approach? Humbrol matte? Acrylic artist paints? Anything else?

    I once painted a plastic ship kit in water colours mixed with soap. It stuck... for a while, then started to flake. I was a kid at the time, and didn't dare ask for Humbrol paint from my parents (didn't want to be told no, we can't afford it). The plastic for the 3D printer is PLA. I don't know if water colours would stick to it.
    BNSF FAN likes this.
  2. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

    Do you have any people done (CAD wise) and ready to print? If so I'd be interested in the CAD program and process that you are using to do it.

    As far as paint I've been printing using PLA and paint with a primer first (without cleaning the print). I use Vallejo 73.601 surface primer. It goes on thin and so far I haven't had any adhesion problems. I top coat it with mainly acrylics. Some are ones left over from art work that are in tubes and I thin with water and others are standard model acrylics from Vallejo, Badger and others.

    You say you are using PLA so I assume it is a filament printer. That is what I've been using and have gotten some fine detail on some items....


    .... but don't think it would work for N scale people very well. I did also pick up a resin printer but don't have any experience with it yet. Good luck with your printing and keep us up to date with you printing,

    BNSF FAN likes this.
  3. Reptilian Feline

    Reptilian Feline TrainBoard Member

    I've downloaded a standing man with an apron that I will print in 1:148 scale for my British layout in N, but in Sweden 1:160 is most common, so I'll do a trial print for that as well with the same man to see what it looks like.

    The printer is an Ender 3, low cost but according to the reviews, very good. I have yet to set it up. I know that there are those who say you can't do good filament prints in tiny scales, but some of those ready to buy people doesn't look very detailed either.

    I have been recommended to use something called Makehuman for the models and then Blender, both free. I need to make British soldiers fitting into WW2, and haven't found any when I have searched, not even some I would have to pay for, so I'll have to find out how to make them myself.

    I'll have a look at the primer you use. Thanks!

    BTW Sumner, your work is really really good!
    BNSF FAN and Sumner like this.
  4. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

    I've only recently started making n-scale people for my layout, in my case, a janitor for inside my passenger station.


    I know nothing of filament printers, I only own the one resin printer. However for paint, all I used was a quality number 0 paintbrush and Vallejo paints. The paint brush is nearly larger than the figure.


    I learned a lot looking at youtube videos from guys painting wargaming miniatures. Not even close to the same scale, but they use those same paint brushes to paint the eyes on their models. I learned there that it's a mistake to try and use tiny tiny brushes (i.e. 15/0 and 20/0) simply because the paint dries on the bristles before even making it from palette to model. Having a large body to the bristles ends up being better. Really all you're using is the very tip of the brush, and that's where a quality paint brush comes in - less chance of having the tip split or curl. I don't use natural hair sable brushes either, this here is just an synthetic haired Aqua Elite from Michaels Canada (about 10$ CAD).

    Make yourself a handle (I use a wine cork with a pin and double-sided tape to hold the model down), and use magnifying glasses. I use one that goes to 5x.

    I didn't bother with priming, and I didn't clear coat here, since the model was going to reside inside the station behind glass windows.

    Oh, and at n-scale, you can be pretty darn sloppy before you can see any mistakes without magnification.

    Edit: I'm going to look at that Makehuman stuff you mentioned, sounds cool - finding models is a pain. I take my models from the Sketchup 3D Warehouse, but the models there require A LOT of work to make printable. I use Meshmixer to fix the models.
  5. RedDogF5

    RedDogF5 New Member

    N scale is a big stretch for a filament printer. Here are two N-scale and one HO scale figures I printed on a filament printer with a 0.25mm nozzle. The biggest issue is the minimum printing width, about 0.5 mm with the standard 0.4mm nozzle, and 0.3mm with the 0.25mm nozzle. Features smaller than that get deleted, like the arms below. The lower left figure was made in blender as an attempt to remedy that, with the arms no smaller than the minimum size. Figures really need to be created for a specific scale to have the most detail, scaling models generally doesn't work too well, especially going down as details will get too small to print. Of course some of that is offset by how tiny an N-scale figure is. Paint made for miniatures should work fine, inexpensive craft store acrylic may get too thick and cover details.
    Good luck! printed people sized.jpg
  6. CSX Robert

    CSX Robert TrainBoard Member

    Wow! You're really making me want a resin printer now.
    gmorider likes this.

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