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Painting Lego pieces.

by Meebs (Tips, Techniques & Questions)

The first place I checked was the 'How To' but nowhere doesn't go into what kind of paints to use for actual lego pieces.
Will Acrilics stick? Should I use modeling paints? Please help.

by badboytje88 on Tue, 01/03/2006 - 02:44
i think the best paint is the paint which you can buy in model train shop.

by Damien on Fri, 01/13/2006 - 02:08

First of all.. painting a LEGO piece can be kind of difficult due to the smooth texture. I recommend using a spray base-coat first. I use Citadel paints by Games Workshop, which I think are some of the nicest and longest-lasting (in terms of storage) paints. They're not expensive and I have lots of them laying around from my miniatures hobby -anyway-, so that's what I use.

If you check out my pictures in the "Some Pictures" thread I made in the MOCs forum.. you can see a 'Greek Hoplite' with equipment painted in "Chainmail" - a Citadel colour. Good luck.

MCN Moderator of Customization Tips, Techniques & Questions
by l33tone on Fri, 01/13/2006 - 11:59
I simply use extra fine DecoColor paint pens.

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by Shadowviking on Fri, 01/13/2006 - 12:47
I use sharpie or Citadel paints.

A Huge thanks to Vidgamer838
for the avvy!
by Deathstickman on Thu, 01/19/2006 - 10:37
The reason paint has trouble sticking, is because the peices are covered with an invisible coating of mold realease.
What you do is put it in water for a couple of hours to get it off, and don't worry about it being any less shiny, because it will look exactly the same as before.

And I use Testors enamal paints.

by Crazy Boy on Thu, 01/19/2006 - 12:54
does the temperature of the water matter?

~Crazy Boy / Ollie  
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by Meebs on Thu, 01/19/2006 - 14:37

Deathstickman: That's one cool tip.
Crazy boy has a good point though, does it matter about temperature of the water.
Obviously, it's gonna be cold by the time the "couple of hours" has elapsed but is there a preference on water termperature at first? Warmer would seem to have better cleaning properties.

Also, do you litterally mean "a couple of hours"? As in two?

Thanks for the tip.

by Crazy Boy on Fri, 01/20/2006 - 16:19
I left some clone helmets in cold water for about three hours and when I took them out and i could feel a strange sticky substance which was easy to rub off does this mean the layer has come off?

~Crazy Boy / Ollie  
Brickshelf | Flickr
by Damien on Tue, 01/24/2006 - 06:27

[quote]The reason paint has trouble sticking, is because the peices are covered with an invisible coating of mold realease.[/quote]

That's not necessarily true. Most paints have trouble bonding to smooth surfaces (that's why you sand wood before you paint it). LEGOs are, generally speaking, extremely smooth. An undercoat of primer onto a LEGO piece will ensure that a relatively thin coat of paint covers it and shows clearly and will not flake off or otherwise be easily removed. Undercoating is generally a good idea no matter what you're painting.


MCN Moderator of Customization Tips, Techniques & Questions
by Meebs on Wed, 01/25/2006 - 14:11
Hmmm, that's what I thought.
Then again, people also tend to runb down wood before painting it. Do you suppose a quick go over with some wet and dry would do the same thing, ie. make a good gripping surface for paint?

by Damien on Wed, 01/25/2006 - 22:00

It's possible. I couldn't say for certain as I haven't done it. But it's worth trying if you really don't want to use/buy/waste spray primer.

MCN Moderator of Customization Tips, Techniques & Questions
by Deathstickman on Thu, 01/26/2006 - 11:43
Actually, to be honest, I haven't tried it yet, I had been told that from another advice thread.
But you may want to experiement, maybe try taking two normal bricks and applying different methods. (you don't want to wasted a clonie helmet!)

And I would say it's safer to use primer opposed to sanding, because if done right, it'll come out smoother then if you sanded off one or two layers.

But then again... when have I known what I was talking about?

by azreal on Wed, 02/01/2006 - 15:30
again games workshops paints are the best $$ can buy

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by bartperson on Thu, 02/02/2006 - 09:08
How easily do enamel paints come off? I want a coating that can come off with something like nailpolish so i can do other designs on it- oh, and sweet web site, Deathstickman!

Eka ai fricai un Shur'tugal! I am a Rider and a friend!


by SavaTheAggie on Sat, 02/11/2006 - 01:51
Would it be wrong of me to mention Vinyl Dye (which requires no priming, permanent, nifty, yadda yadda)?

by Two-Tonic Knight on Sat, 02/11/2006 - 02:19
Preparing LEGO for painting:

Soak the parts overnight in a mixture of warm water and mild liquid dishwashing (hand, not machine) detergent (Joy, Palmolive, etc.).  Rinse with water and allow to dry.  About the same amount of water to detergent that you would mix to wash dishes.  Why?  Dishwashing soap is designed to cut through grease and oil, and it gets the mold release oil off the parts and allows the paint to adhere better.  Do NOT skip this step.  You will be sorry because your paint (including primer) will NOT stick as well if you skip this step.  When I'm impatient, I'll just scrub the part with the mix and a soft cloth, rinse, and dry.  Leaving them overnight is simply the lazy man method.

Paint.  Personally, I recommend a good hobby acryllic such as Citadel paint made by Games Workshop.  Acryllics thin and clean up with water (for heaven's sake do not allow the paint to dry on the brush).  Use a spray primer.  Generally, prime with white.  Black primer works well with silver, dark brown with copper/brone/gold.  Do NOT skip priming.  You will be sorry if you don't.  Your paints will look dull and lifeless and not adhere as well (even if you clean the parts).  I prefer to use a spray primer rather than use a brush.   Again, Citadel is what I use.

by Meebs on Sat, 02/11/2006 - 10:21
That was very thorough Two-Tonic Knight, thanks.
I'd re-read all the post as I now want to paint a piece chrome/silver and you answered that problem too.

by Lego Fanatic on Thu, 03/09/2006 - 00:12

well I think I'm a bit late on this fourm but I know tons about paints because i play warhammer,

step 1) first take the shine out of the thing you want to paint by soaking it in mild detergent (well thats what I heard gets it out)

step2) use Warhammer paints because there paints are thick so you dont see through them like other paints

step3) use a coat of warhammer varnish so the paint doesnt scratch or rob off or anything like that.

and thats how i think you'll get a good result! =)

This is Lego Fanatic sending you a message for no reason what so ever...

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by misbi on Thu, 03/09/2006 - 00:49
Rather than soaking overnight in detergent, I just put the parts in the washing machine alongside our regular laundry.  Tie them up inside an old pair of tights or other fine mesh bag and chuck 'em in.  A 40 degree (centigrade) wash does the job perfectly and only takes as long as the normal wash cycle.  Parts come out squeaky clean.  You might have to separate some after the spin cycle which can be a problem if you have 1x2 plates and no brick separator!

by the lyre of orpheus on Tue, 04/24/2007 - 17:33
i'm trying out vinyl dye for my torsos and helmets, it doesn't work as well as i expected but it adheres pretty well, the only problem is i need a large variety of colors, the only vinyl dye colors i can find are grey and black i need green, blue, red, a light tan, colors like that, any suggestions ?????

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by Damien on Tue, 04/24/2007 - 18:43

Lyre, once again - please make a new topic to ask a question that is not actually related to the topic of a thread, especially a year-old thread. Thank you.

MCN Moderator of Customization Tips, Techniques & Questions
by anugrah on Tue, 05/29/2007 - 20:18
As Crazy boy said does the temperature of the water matter? and how many hours should you put it in?

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by darth lego on Thu, 05/31/2007 - 02:13
the best way is to use acrylics coz it is permant and waterproof then buy a brush called a spotter(i use them all the time) as spotters have soft bristles and are specialized model brushes so you cant see brush marks then after put gloss varnish on so it gives a protective coating.

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by RustyHunter on Thu, 08/23/2007 - 23:00
Well, sorry to bring back an old topic. But I am a kid who wants a simple way of painting some clone figures.  I was gonna just paint right on them, but after reading all this, I'm having second thoughts about how to approach doing this task.  Since, fortunately, clones are white, I would use  my Games workshop Spraypaint Primer(I have because I have LOTR Games Workshop figures), but, I don't want to lose the original designs, I don't want to redo like all the body designs all over with the designs.  I just want to add some colors on the shoulders and helmet and torso.  What should I do? Do i just paint on them and forget primer? Do I use whiter primer and redo the designs(I really don't want to do though)? I buy clear primer?  I'm thinking this one might be the best option, but I dont want to make too big of a deal out of the whole project.  Please help me out! Thanks.

by Pharazon on Fri, 08/24/2007 - 10:45
You could mask off any areas with tape or silly putty. Then use the white primer and paint.

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by Squash on Fri, 08/24/2007 - 13:57
I was thinking, Brasso is an abrasive. Could the very fine sanding it gives the piece be effective enough to let paint stick?

by RustyHunter on Fri, 08/24/2007 - 14:30
That would work, but the places I wanted to paint overlap with the design. Well, so you know what I'm talking about, I want to make SW clone minifigs have color to represent the different legions and stuff. Like the 501st and 212th.

by John Aynge on Thu, 08/30/2007 - 12:52

Priming is a great idea, and should help the paint stick, but for smaller areas you might want to try a water downed brush on primer instead of a spray. This way you can control the exact spread and thickness of your paint.  Plus, you can then make sure it doesn't over power or leak onto the design elements you want to keep.

Also, Vallejo has made a version of the same colors that GW has made, and they seem to "keep" longer for my other mini projects. I've used the GW brand for years, and one dried out paint pot after another began to infuriate me. The Vallejo brand as a screw on cap, and that silly cap makes life so much easier, my paints last longer, and I end up spending less money.

As for using them on Legos. Well, I'll try a little tonight and let you know how it turns out.

Oh, and Good on you for doing the 501st. A great bunch of guys who, I'm sure, would be jazzed about seeing Legos inspired by their group. Good luck in your endeavor.


by Damien on Thu, 08/30/2007 - 19:51

That would work, but the places I wanted to paint overlap with the design. Well, so you know what I'm talking about, I want to make SW clone minifigs have color to represent the different legions and stuff. Like the 501st and 212th.

As Phar mentioned - use tape. You can cut it into thin strips, or use wider ones if you need to - to cover any areas you don't want to get paint on. I use tape when I need to get really straight lines on something.

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by sithlordreturns on Sat, 09/01/2007 - 16:15

I also use Testors brand paints, but I, instead of soaking anything, use some fine grade sand paper to rough up the surface just enough to allow paint to stick.

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