Hobby Tips

Preparing 3D printed Models for Painting

Miniatures are for many people more than merely just a physical representation of their character on the table top.  For many it is a hobby in itself and the collecting and painting of miniatures is where they derive their enjoyment from the hobby.

Many of you will be familiar with resin and metal miniatures and the clean up processes involved with them, but 3d printed miniatures are produced very differently and present a different set of challenges when cleaning the model.

The first thing you will notice is that there are no mould lines or flash to clean off.  this is a blessing, however it comes at a price!  3D printed miniatures require supports to enable them to be printed. 

The contact diameter of the supports can vary from as little as 0.12mm up to as much as 1.2mm.  Most models will be printed using a combination of sizes, with the larger ones being structural supports (fixing the model to the build plate and ensuring there is no movement of the model during the build) and the smaller ones being enabling supports (simply allowing the smaller details of the model to print).

What this means is where with metal and cast resin, you need to clean off mould lines, vents and feeds, on a 3d printed model you instead need to remove all of the contact points – small nubs of resin that can be unsightly if visible in a finished paint job.  

If you don’t understand what a support is, you can see an example in the image pictured here.  You can see the different thicknesses and the varying size of the tips of the supports where they contact the model.  Most of them will be completely removed, but some of the larger ones will need some extra attention.


“Rosa the White Mage”, from the “Dark Knight’s Retribution” set.

This is one of our miniatures provided as you would recieve if you purchase from our web store.  Most of the supports have been removed but if you refer to the image below, you can see the model from multiple angles and the support contacts and areas for cleanup have been highlighted.  

The Blue circles show where the larger support tips have contacted the model and been removed but have left a residual stub to remove.  This can be done with a small file (I find a half round ‘D’ shaped type file with a pointed tip to be the best for this work), or depending on the location you can nick them off carefully with a craft knife or scalpel.  With our prints the knife works fine, but with some resins you need to be careful as they can be very brittle and trying to cut a support stub can result in a chip in th surface of the model which you’ll need to fill.

The Green circles show some small supports which have not been removed and require removing.  you can clip these off with a pair of hobby clippers and then clean up the stubs as described above.

The Red circle shows an unsual mark left where a support has printed too close to the surface of the model and partially fused to it.  The support has been removed but a slight surface scar is left.  This can again be addressed with a light rub with a file

I clean up a lot of models and this particular one took me less than 2 minutes to quickly remove all of the marked blemishes.  if you arent so familiar it could take up to 10 minutes but you’ll get faster the more you do.

The final images below show the same model fixed to a flagstone base using superglue and given a coat of grey primer and a light drybrush to show off the details.  its now ready to paint.

This is how the printed models will be recieved – areas to be cleaned up are marked with coloured circles.  note the absence of mould lines to clean
The finished miniature, based, primed and ready for painting
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