This terrain painting tutorial explains our process for painting 3D printed spaceships and starship wreckage terrain. We will use the Lost Colony: Spaceship Graveyard Set to demonstrate.
We used an airbrush and airbrush stencils but similar effects could be achieved with brushes or rattlecans.
Which paint to use?
Painting 3D printed terrain? Which paint should you use? After going through buckets of Citadel Paints, Vallejo and Army Painter on previous terrain projects, we came to the conclusion that cheap craft paints are defiantly the way to go! Just follow these steps to mix your own airbrush paint:
- Grab a few empty paint bottles – Remember that terrain uses a LOT of paint
- Squeeze some craft paint into the bottle
- Add some de-ionised / distilled water – This helps it going stinky in a few weeks
- Add some airbrush thinner (aim for the consistency of melted ice-cream)
- Throw in a glass bead and shake (don’t use metal… it may rust)
1 – Good quality 3D prints
Terrain is best printed on FDM printers such as the Ender 3 or Prusa i3 due to the size and amount of materials used – Resin prints would look great but it’d use a lot of resin and require larger resin printers. If using Cura, we recommend printing on standard settings with 5% infill. None of the Saucermen Studios terrain in this set requires supports.
2 – Priming
We’ve tried a few primers for 3D printed terrain and found that Primer / Filler for cars works great for filling in any print lines. it’s important to take your time, spray multiple thin coats and keep a good distance between the spray and model – This will avoid pooling or thick areas of paint. Drying time is under 10 minutes too!
3 – Panel Lines & Dark Areas
Using A dark grey / black paint, spray across the panel lines and dark areas of the terrain such as metal areas or deep recesses.
4 – Add Highlights to Panels
Using a white or light colour to paint highlights onto the main areas of the panels, this cleans up any messy panel lines and adds contrast to the model.
5 – Stipple Rust & Dirt
Using an old, thick bristled brush with brown / umber paint to jab or stipple grunge onto dark areas of the terrain. Don’t worry about being too messy here as it will be dry brushed later.
6 – Drybrush Metal & Silver Areas
Using a large dry and silver paint, drybrush areas of metal. On these example, we used two different brushes for smaller and larger areas. A cheap house painting brush works great!
7 – Adding More Colours
Repeating the steps above or applying base colours, then highlighting each panel with a lighter colour, you can add variety to the panels. Using masking tape or a carefully held masking board here is essential to isolate individual parts of the model.
8 – Applying Airbrush Stencils
We used adhesive vinyl airbrush stencils here to add decals and detail to the models. Stencils are a great, clean and effective way to easily boost the aesthetic of a model.
9 – Edge Highlights (with a pencil)
Using a white artist pencil you can quickly and cleanly apply edge highlights to terrain. Just use the side of the pencil and rub it on the edges!
10 – Sponge on Some Damage!
Using a contrasting colour paint, use a torn sponge to add damage, dirt and grime to the edges. Aim for areas that see some usage or would get scratched up easily. Think about doorway edges and corners, etc.
All done – Add Some Brush Detail!
Grab a small, good quality miniature brush and paint on some of the fine detail for panels, wires and lights, etc.