I see a red mini and I want to paint it, purple-blue-gray
I’ve never actually painted a mini of any kind before. I am an artist though, so I hoped that knowledge would transfer to my mini. I’d read a lot online regarding painting 3D printed objects. Lots of different advice on preparation and application of paint. After sifting through a lot of it, I decided to use what I had on hand and see how it turned out. A spectacular failure would at least be fodder for this article. However, just in case, I kept the supports I’d snapped off and experimented on those scraps before doing anything to the miniature.
The printer my library seems to be very good. Except where it was attached to supports on the underside, it didn’t seem like there was a lot I had to do. I wasn’t interested in making it as smooth as a mold injected object, besides, the filament pattern seemed to work for this model. The scutes had texture as did the skin. I opted for minimal sanding. I should note that ABS plastic sands very quickly. I used a 220 grit and a 600 grit, along with some files to get to the small areas. Be very careful with files and coarse grits, they take a lot off with little effort.
I kept reading different advice when it came to primers and priming for painting. So I decided to just block out as much of the red as possible with white acrylic paint. I used Liquitex Basic acrylics, which is relatively cheap, but it’s artist grade-not craft grade. I had to thin it out with some water so that it wouldn’t be goopy on the model. If some showed through, this would be fine, since red is actually a good base for something organic, it would give it a look of being made of flesh and blood under the colors.
My daughter suggested that I paint the Bulette in the same colors as the Pokemon Gible, since it’s also a landshark and bears a striking similarity to Bulette. I used a reference image of an alternate colored Gible that was more purple. I had to go back and change it to a grayer color, but this turned out to be a good thing. (Children are an artist’s strictest critic…) Unlike the white, which had a bit of trouble covering the mini, the purple added another layer that made the gray paint go on quite beautifully. The underside color was painted red. I made it a darker maroon color rather than the bright primary red of the filament the mini was made from. Again, I used a little bit of water to thin the paints. I think three thinned layers of paint seems to be the magic number for a good coating. That includes the red color, even though the mini itself was red.
Acrylic paint dries rather quickly, which was helped along by the halogen light I use on my work table. Since I purposely chose a larger miniature, rather than a person, I didn’t have to paint small details, which helped with the speed of this project. Once everything was dry, I added painted details, like the light blue stripe along the back and on the face to resemble the Pokemon. It didn’t seem quite finished to me, though. So I used a trick I learned long ago. I took a bit of a dark umber color and thinned it down with water to the consistency of milk. Then I brushed this on, using a lot of water on my brush, then brushing water over that. This dark washing technique can be used to make things look aged, but in this case I wanted to tone down the cartoonish colors and give the impression that the Bulette had recently been underground.
I then used a gloss glaze I had around the house made for Sculpey figures, just to see what would happen. It worked really well, even if this was the part that took the longest to dry (twenty-four hours.)
Then the results of my labor was pronounced “cute” and whisked off to play with other action figures, where it was apparently renamed “Destroyer”. Even though I have not had the Bulette formerly known as Steve in my possession since, I can say that Destroyer has held up well to being played with. Both the paint job and the plastic. If it can survive being used as a toy, it will more than hold up being used as a game miniature.