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How to Paint Resin Models

Updated July 20, 2017

Resin models can be incredibly detailed, but those details can make them intimidating to paint if you don't have a plan. Not all resin model kits come with good instructions or detailed painting guidelines, which can end with you stripping and repainting the model, or even disassembling it. Also, hobby stores carry a dizzying array of paints, including enamel, acrylic and oil, along with brushes designed for each type of paint. That's why the most important part of painting a resin model is planning.

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  1. File off any flash, thin strips of resin left along the edges of the model, or mould injection points. Repair any damage using modelling putty. Check the kit instructions for special preparation requirements.

  2. Clean the model in a sink or bucket of mild soap and warm water to remove any mould release agent.

  3. Lay out the paints for your colour scheme. The base coat colour will subtly affect the model's final appearance, so choose a white or light grey primer for models with bright colours, such as lifelike humans, race cars or superheroes. Use darker primer for buildings and military vehicles.

  4. Spray a thin, even base coat of primer while turning the model to ensure full coverage. Spray a large model in sections and a smaller model, such as a figure, in one pass. Spray for no longer than two seconds at a time, and always keep the spray moving.

  5. Let the model air-dry completely out of direct sunlight. Depending on temperature and humidity, this could take as little as an hour or as long as a full day.

  6. Paint the broadest area of the model with a basic colour using a small, flat brush. The brush should be small enough to fit into any nooks and crannies, but large enough not to leave too many brush marks.

  7. Dab a small quantity of the first basic colour onto the palette. Add 1/10 this amount of black or dark paint on one end of the basic colour paint.

  8. Dip a paintbrush into the appropriate thinner and allow a few drops to fall onto both colours. Mix the paints and thinner with a toothpick to create a slightly darker shade of the basic colour. Add more thinner, one drop at a time, until this shadow colour flows smoothly and looks slightly transparent.

  9. Load a small brush with the shadow colour. Use light strokes to paint the deeper edges of the area you have already painted, leaving the highest points with the original colour.

  10. Mix a little more black with the shadow colour. Paint the deeper edges of the model with this darker colour. Continue darkening the shadow and painting the deeper parts of the model until the whole section is shaded.

  11. Paint each additional section of the model using the same techniques, with the basic paint colour on the highest surfaces and shadow colours in the deeper nooks. You don't have to wait until each section has dried before moving to the next section.

  12. Paint details and outlines with a small round brush.

  13. Set the model in a protected spot with good air circulation until it is completely dry, up to a full day.

  14. Spray on a clear top coat or lacquer to protect the model. Glossy lacquer will give a shiny, polished finish suitable for a showroom model. Matt lacquer will let more of your colour come through and is more appropriate for a weathered or realistic model.

  15. Tip

    You can use white paint to create a highlight colour, but this may change the basic hue of the paint.


    Spray primer and top coat only in a well-ventilated area. Avoid directly breathing the fumes. Follow all safety warnings on the product label. Resin models can be delicate. Handle all pieces carefully and never try to force pieces to fit together.

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Things You'll Need

  • Mild soap
  • Bucket or sink deep enough to submerge the model
  • Set of small files
  • Modelling putty
  • Spray primer
  • Paint
  • Paintbrushes, assorted flat and round
  • Palette
  • Toothpicks
  • Paint thinner (for oils and enamels) or clean water (for acrylics)
  • Clean rags or paper towels
  • Spray top coat or lacquer

About the Author

Rachel Moon

Since 1996 Rachel Moon has worked as a technical writer and technical editor in such diverse fields as the semiconductor industry, chemical delivery equipment and video game community management. She has developed curriculum for Occupational Safety and Health Administration general industry training after getting certification from the University of California, San Diego, Southwest Safety Training Alliance and an automotive/diesel vocational school. Moon attended Hofstra University.

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