How to Weather 3D Prints


Some people have wondered how to weather their 3D prints to get that older style effect that looks great in some models. This is great for cosplay models like helmets, armor, weapons, and more. It can be done with filament and resin models after painting them.

To weather 3D prints, you can use acrylic paints, dry pigment rubs, spray paint, or even buffing products to add effects like smudges, wounds, dirt, cuts, etc. For scratches, you can use (semi-gloss or gloss) clear coat, rub-n-buff, or any other product like that.

Keep on reading to learn the details behind weather your 3D prints properly.

How to Weather 3D Prints

Weathering is the process of making your 3D prints look aged and worn down like it has gone through a lot.

Doing so can give an attractive look to the model while giving more detail to the 3D prints and an interesting history to it. Weathering a 3D print isn’t too difficult, and can be done with a few products within just a few minutes.

Using multiple colors to create smudges and give a worn look to the model works very well. You can also use acrylic paints to give some sections of the model a duller, dirtier or darker look than the rest of the model.

Here are the steps on how to weather your 3D prints:

  1. Apply a Filler Primer to the Model
  2. Sand the Model
  3. Paint the Model
  4. Pick Products for Weathering
  5. Apply Product to Model to Add Weathering

Let’s look into these in more detail.

1. Apply a Filler Primer to the Model

The first step to creating a weathered 3D print is to get it painted by using a filler primer of your desired color.

This is the base coat that you paint your 3D print, then you can choose other paint colors to apply the weathering and finishing coats. A good recommendation is the Rust-Oleum Automotive Rusty Metal Primer Spray Paint from Amazon.

You can even get a Krylon Spray Paint & Primer combination so you can skip the primer step.

Try not to go too heavy when spray-painting models, light coats usually work best for details.

Many people recommend a darker color base coat depending on the model.

2. Sand the Model

After that, you can sand the model with an assortment of sandpaper depending on how smooth you want the model to be. You can go with the PAXCOO 42 Pcs Sandpaper Assortment from Amazon, which has a 120-3,000 grit assortment.

Start off with some lower grit and sand around the model, then move up as high as you want to get rid of the layer lines and smooth/polish the surface. A few users have said it worked really well for their 3D prints.

3. Paint the Model

After the model is fully dried and sanded, you can give it a more detailed painting, getting the patterns and design that you want on the model. If you just want to keep the model all one color, then you don’t have to do this step.

4. Pick Products for Weathering

There are a few different products you can use to apply weathering to your 3D prints such as:

  • Acrylic paint
  • Dry pigments
  • Rub-N-Buff

A basic Acrylic Paint Set can work very well also, using brushes or a tablecloth to apply it and rub it off. It comes with the brushes in the kit so you won’t need to get them separately.

This video is a great example of using acrylic paint and two tablecloths to apply weathering to a model.

This Tamiya Weather Master Set (C) is a great dry pigment product that you can use to weather your models effectively.

These will allow you to add some cool effects like smudges, scars, dirt, wounds and worn out parts. You’ll also need some basic brushes or some tablecloths to help apply the product to your model.

These Soucolor Acrylic Paint Brushes from Amazon should work very well.

Rub-N-Buff (Amazon) is a great product that many people recommend for applying weather to models, as well as having other uses.

It’s possible to remove the paint coat on 3D models to add some scratches. Users recommend using Rub-n-Buff with a dull brush to get this desired effect.

First time using Rub n’ Buff, looking for some new things to print and use it on, feel free to drop some STLs below from 3Dprinting

5. Apply Product to Model to Add Weathering

Dip the brush into the weathering product, whether it’s paint or a dry rub, then gently apply it to your 3D model in the areas you want weathering in. It’s a good idea to use a contrast of colors while doing this process to give a more realistic effect.

While you are dry brushing, try to use minimum paint, while being gentle and light to weather your 3D prints.

It’s even possible to airbrush the paint onto your model. Rather than using just paint, you can mix acrylic paint with water and press this on the model with a cloth.

After applying the mixture, you can rub it off the model with another cloth to get a contrasting effect that looks like weathering.

One of the most important things in weathering 3D printing is to decide which parts need dirt and which parts should have scratches and other imperfections.

Also, you need to decide what the frequency of paint should be so that the model looks aged but attractive as well.

While adding weathering, you should go for areas like nooks, crannies, or bends. For making smaller marks, you can dab excess paint off the model, but for larger marks like a deep wound, you can be generous with the paint.

Here is a detailed, comprehensive, and easy-to-follow video on how to weather 3D prints by 3D Printed Props.

A user asked him whether he put on an extra coat after the weathering because lately the user has experienced that the Rub-N-Buff comes off the print and gets attached to the fingers and clothes.

Kevin responded by saying that he doesn’t usually use it but applying an extra clear coat should protect the weathering effect.

One user posted that he printed a Wolffe Armor on a CR-10 3D printer. He used a 0.2mm layer height, then got the model really smooth by using epoxy resin and a lot of sanding.

After that, he added some weathering effects to his 3D printed armor using the methods shown in the video below.

Another user suggested adding some burn marks, scratches, or any other kinds of imperfections as well so that it looks more worn down instead of looking like there is just some dirt on the armor.

I added a little bit of weathering to my 3d Printed Wolffe armor from 3Dprinting

Recent Posts

3D Printerly