3D Printing Iron Man – Part 4

This time it’s on to metallic paint.  I’m going to let you into a secret – I’m not that good with an airbrush!  Still, it’s an important skill so I’m practising hard.  I printed 8 heads in all so decided to paint them up in 3 of the paint brands I had to see what I thought of them.

I’ve used metallic Tamiya before on my Bonecrusher diorama so I know that will work but the other two brands are new to me.

Sanding and Polishing

One of the key parts to a good paint job is a good base.  I looked at some of the prints and could still see the layer lines so I sanded them smooth using 400 and 600 grit sandpaper.

I looked carefully at all the prints and you can see further examples of layer lines here plus an area I had to fill as the print had gone squiffy (technical term).

Even though the prints looked smooth, in certain lights you could still see lines.  After sanding, I sprayed a second coat of primer (Tamiya Fine Grey).

You can still see lines despite my sanding!  Time to sand some more but I don’t want to spray any more filler so that I don’t clog the model lines.

Instead, I used some fine 0000 steel wool to polish everything smooth.

You can really see the difference between the polished on the left and the unpolished on the right.  I don’t want to spray another coat but am not sure how that bare resin will paint next…

All polished up!


I’ve bought a selection of paints over the years and bought a few more for this (only to find I already owned some of them!).


This is my first batch of heads painted up.  They all got two coats of the relevant paint:

Tamiya Chrome Silver X-11

I used their lacquer thinner to dilute this by a half.  It’s hard to get hold of sometimes but the thinner does make their metallic spray better (I think).

It’s not as smooth as the other paints but has covered any final lines as a result.

That’s especially obvious in this (blurry) top of head shot.  I’m tempted to try polishing a head to see what effect that has.

Xtreme Metal Chrome AK-477 by AK Interactive

I’ve not used this before but it sprays straight out of the bottle and is really thin.

Because it is so thin, I think I flooded the top of this head because it didn’t look like I had sprayed it so I went over it again.  The difference between the grey primer and the green resin was really obvious after one coat but two seems to have settled it.

Alclad Chrome ALC-107

I’ve not sprayed Alclad before either and again, you can spray straight out of the bottle.  It has a reputation for being fussy.  It is thin and you can really see those layer lines on the side of his head.

You can also see the difference in texture between the paint and the resin here.  Lesson learnt, if you are spraying Alclad then that base layer is super important.

Next up is masking and I can’t decide whether to spray the gold or red next.  I didn’t mean to really cover the face section but somehow, it all go covered as I made sure the sides and top were painted.

I still have a lot to learn about spraying metallic but I love learning new techniques so this is a fun journey.


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6 thoughts on “3D Printing Iron Man – Part 4”

  1. The aliasing (they’re a bit like contour lines on a map) you’re getting from the printer make me wonder if the printer is practical for smaller scale work like 1:160 (continental N)?

    Does doubling the resolution to 25 microns help at all?

    1. Chris

      It’s a really good question.

      I probably should have sanded a bit more. I have reprinted two more heads at 25 microns to see if it helps. It’s supposed to go down to 10 microns but I haven’t tried that yet.

      As for N, it is worse at certain angles and on curves.

      For the price, I think it’s excellent value. I’ll keep playing and see how it works on smaller pieces. You’ll see the process on here.


  2. If you rotate the head models differently in the software, that should affect the little contour lines as well.

    It does look a very nice printer! I shall watch this space with interest.

    1. Yes, it does but in this head’s case, I printed it with the supports under his chin where they’ll be less visible. It’s a trade off that I’m still learning.

      I do love the printer though.


    1. Hi Jeff.

      You can actually use any colour underneath. The black is only for the high gloss and I don’t have that particular paint.

      I will probably do another coat of gloss before painting the body.


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