Painting or drawing on PLA


I’ve printed out a lovely white object using the PLA filament which came with my Flux 3D printer.

I would like to draw (marker) or paint some details on the white.

What would be the best, and easiest, products to use for this which would not blur or run and will be permanent on the object?



I drew on a white storm trooper helmet with a black Sharpie permanent marker. It bled a bit due to the striations in the print though (I think it was 0.2 layer height). Still, it turned out okay. I’ve also painted some objects with acrylic paints, both cheap craft store paint and specific miniature paints. I used a generic white spray primer to prep the surface, then the paint works just like for normal miniatures and such. Hope that helps.


I have used Sharpie marker on one of mine as well, and I would not recommend it. I think I printed mine at .1 mm, and it still bleeds.

I know it’s been talked about in a thread somewhere here, but I know that @Michael_Haggard has done some painting on his models too.


I’m always painting what I print, mostly for marketing purposes since I sell what I print. But the painted stuff I keep for myself. Usually I always lightly sand the surface, especially PLA, which seems to help for paint to grab on. And I use some sort of spray (Rustoleum or Krylon). Then I take to brush, and in this I find all sorts of paints work well – acrylic, enamel, and lacquer. Even the metal paints that use an activator to initiate weathering all seem to adhere very well to PLA.

Caution: I had a propane tank model I printed in PLA and it took to glossy white Krylon spray paint very well. Dried well, looked nice. But I wanted an extra glossy look. So I bought some brand of glossy clear coat. That coat shrank as it dried, pulling off the Krylon paint. It looked like a raisin.

Here is a sample of what I do. The blue canister was printed with the FLUX Delta, the others in the background were with Makerbots. The layering lines can be a challenge to hide, but sometimes they can work with the model when painted.


I use Copic markers. They do bleed on the layers but there is a way around that. Copic makes a marker airbrush. I get very good results.