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Order of Operations (Paint first or Assemble first)

Tips and tricks for painting miniatures and anything else.

Order of Operations (Paint first or Assemble first)

Postby Super Saiyan Musashi » Tuesday February 1st, 2022 6:51pm

I obtained a couple of 3D printed minis today, which will require some gluing/assembly. Long term I'd like them painted, so I found myself wondering whether it makes more sense to have the parts painted before being properly attached. I suspect that would help with the hard to reach areas.

And maybe this belongs in a different post, but I'm also curious about the attachment process. One of the items that needs to be attached is a hand holding a staff. I find myself asking, "How would keep these parts held together long enough for the glue to dry? Is there another method?
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Re: Order of Operations (Paint first or Assemble first)

Postby Kurgan » Tuesday February 1st, 2022 7:13pm

I deal solely in plastics, so I can't speak of metal or other materials but...

I generally find that painting first is best, ALTHOUGH I did make a mistake early on.. that is, I painted the underside of the figure, and painted the top of the base, then super glued them together. Looked great, nice and clean, but later on I knocked the miniature around a bit inside the storage box and saw that the figure peeled clean off the base! Meaning that the glue had not stuck the miniature to its base at all, only one paint layer to another!

So I guess if you are going to do this, avoid pointing the specific contact points you plan to stick together with glue, or repair to redo that glue in a few weeks/months...

Also if you attach say a limb or sword with plastic acrylic putty, allow a lot more time for it to actually dry than you would just a layer of paint or super glue (a few minutes to a few hours; we are talking like a full day or two, a week is probably overkill though). I had a figure where the arm was "gummy" in its socket because I didn't allow it to glue fully before I put it in storage and it must have dried without a firm seal and had to be re-done.


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Re: Order of Operations (Paint first or Assemble first)

Postby lestodante » Wednesday February 2nd, 2022 7:36pm

I was told that is better to glue first, than paint. Because the glue grip on the plastic and the grip will be better, otherwise you'll put the glue on the color and it may unglue very easy.


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Re: Order of Operations (Paint first or Assemble first)

Postby Xoxxala » Thursday February 3rd, 2022 1:56am

If you’re gluing 3d prints, you are most likely using superglue. I’ve used superglue for both PLA and resin; and it worked just fine. I just hold the two pieces together until they stick, then let sit for a moment. There are superglue accelerators if you need instant adhesion, but I’ve never needed that.

If you do paint first (and it really depends on the model if you should work in subassemblies), then scrap off the paint at the join before gluing. Don’t glue paint to paint, it won’t give you a strong attachment.
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Re: Order of Operations (Paint first or Assemble first)

Postby Guybrush Threepwood » Monday August 22nd, 2022 4:17pm

I would recommend to paint only after the miniatures are glued together since it is hard to properly glue miniature parts without ruining the already painted parts. Also cut off excess plastic (cast seams etc.) first.
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