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Do Resin 3D Prints Need Primer Before Painting?

3D resin prints are intricate and detailed, making them great for things like figurines, and with a bit of paint, they can become impressively elaborate and hyper-realistic.

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3D resin prints are intricate and detailed, making them great for things like figurines, and with a bit of paint, they can become impressively elaborate and hyper-realistic. However, many people wonder what steps you need to take to properly prepare the figure for painting. 

Resin 3D prints always need a primer before painting. Primer will help the paint go on smoothly and evenly. It will also help keep the paint from chipping and wearing off over time. 

Let’s talk more about painting resin 3D prints. I’ll tell you why primer is so essential when painting resin prints and give you some priming tips along the way. So, let’s get into it!

What Problems Can Painting Without Primer Cause?

Painting without a primer can cause short-term problems with paint drying and long-term problems with paint longevity. Short-term issues include paint running, inconsistent coverage, and rough surfaces. Long-term problems have to do with how long the paint coverage lasts. 

Let’s explore some issues you may face if you don’t use a primer to paint your resin 3D figures. 

painted warhammer figurines

Running Paint

Part of what makes primers so useful for painting models is that, unlike ordinary paint, the primer has qualities that allow the paint to stick to the figure’s surface more easily. The problem with resin is that it is a slick material, so paint won’t stick to it. That can make painting your resin figure particularly challenging. 

On slick surfaces, paint tends to run, which can cause many issues for figures, especially when trying to use different colors and designs. With smooth surfaces, the paint has nothing to stick to. So, primer can be an excellent adhesive that allows the paint to stick to the figure. 

Inconsistent Paint Coverage

Painting without a primer can also lead to inconsistent paint coverage. Depending on the color paint you are using, you may need to add several layers to get the desired look. That’s where the primer is beneficial. 

As you now know, primer helps paint stick to your figure effortlessly. The fact that the paint can stick more easily also helps you apply it consistently. You may not notice inconsistencies with light-colored prints, but dark or bright colors may require more layers of paint to get the desired shade. 

Using a primer can make a big difference in how consistently you can apply a layer of paint. Very bright or very dark paint colors often need a little help to take over and stand out. The primer allows the colors to stick to the figure and show more vibrantly than without a primer. 

Rough Surfaces

Painting a resin 3D print can be tricky because the figures may not always come out as smooth as you want them. Sometimes, there will be rough edges from gaps or just uneven sides. While these minor imperfections may be nothing more than a slight annoyance, they can become a more significant issue when trying to paint the prints. 

Rough surfaces can make painting a lot more complicated. Filling in uneven gaps or holes can be difficult when administering a smooth coat of paint to your resin 3D print. It can force you to use more paint to fill the gaps and apply more coats than you otherwise would need to. So, use a primer to fill those rough spots allowing for full, clear coverage. 

Lasting Coverage

One of the long-term challenges of painting resin 3D figures is to get the paint to last. Chipping is typical with almost anything you paint, but it is especially common without primer

As discussed above, primer helps paint stick to surfaces. Not only does that help the paint stick initially, but it helps it last longer too. 

Chipped paint may not even be a thought, depending on what you choose to print with your resin 3D printer. Things like figurines or knick-knacks made to stay on shelves may not seem like they are in danger of being chipped. 

However, chips happen pretty quickly. Maybe a child or a pet bumps into the shelf, causing the figure to fall. Even cleaning a shelf can cause you to knock over a figure. So, using a primer can help paint last longer and prevent chips and scratches. 

Can You Paint and Prime a Resin 3D Print At the Same Time?

You can paint and prime a resin 3D print with a two-in-one option. This combination offers one coat instead of two and can help you save time and money. 

As discussed above, priming a resin figure is crucial for ensuring that the paint goes on smoothly and lasts longer. Still, priming before you paint a figure may seem like a bit too much effort. It would be easier just to combine the two steps. 

Thankfully, you can combine the priming and painting stages with the right tools. Many paint brands offer a two-in-one combination of both paint and primer. This combination provides a thicker substance than ordinary paint, so, like primer, the two-in-one option can help fill in any gaps or holes. So, it can replace a lot of what you may be looking for in a good primer. 

Not only will this combination allow you to have a thicker coating, but it will also allow you to save some money on supplies. The cost and effort necessary can vary depending on the brand you choose, but overall, you can save some money by combining the two steps. 

I recommend using this multi purpose sprayable primer from SEM. (Available on

Final Thoughts

Resin 3D prints require primer if you want the paint to stick correctly, work in fewer coats, go on smoothly, and last longer. These reasons to use primer apply to many different surfaces, but they are essential for resin 3D prints. 

While resin tends to be smooth, there can easily be gaps and rough edges that require multiple coats to cover it with just paint. That makes primer vital to the painting process. 3D printing is not easy, so it is essential to take good care of the resin figures we make by applying primer before painting.

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About Ben

I started 3D printing since 2013 and have learned a lot since then. Because of this I want to share my knowledge of what I have learned in the past years with the community. Currently I own 2 Bambulab X1 Carbon, Prusa SL1S and a Prusa MK3S+. Hope you learn something from my blog after my years of experience in 3D printing.