Creating and Painting an Ancient Artifact

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Introduction: Creating and Painting an Ancient Artifact

About: www.KIMBOLT.com I am a multi-disciplined UI/UX Designer, with over 19 years of experience with print, web, video, mobile, photography, 3D sculpting, and game design. With ninja fast mouse reflexes and multit...

In this Instructable, I will be teaching you how to take any object and paint it to look like an ancient artifact. In this example, I used a 3D printed skull that I created and placed (download for FREE) on Thingiverse. If you don't have access to a 3D printer, any clean and dry object should work nicely.

Step 1: Prepare Artifact

  1. If you have a 3D printer, you can download the skull used in this Instructable here: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2562664
    1. Any size works well. I recommend an infill of 4+ and 2+ shells/walls.
  2. If you don't have a 3D printer, the instructions in this tutorial should work with any item you can spray paint.
  3. Make sure your artifact is clean and dry

Step 2: Prime

Using a primer specific to your material (in this instance, I’m using a primer designed for plastic) spray the entire object, making sure rotate the object after each application (but allowing 20-30 minutes for each application to dry). Be sure to get all those spots deep within the artifact! We will need to paint them as well!

Step 3: Base Coat

We will be using three acrylic colors to paint the artifact. I've used typical craft acrylic paints, Army Painter paint and Warhammer paints. Any of them will do nicely.

Pick three colors, one very dark, one very bright and one in the middle.

The Base Coat uses the ‘Goldylocks’ color – not the darkest color, nor the lightest color. The one that’s just right… in the middle.

Step 4: Shading

After the base coat is completely dry, take your darkest color, and delude it with some water till it's soppy wet, then drip it, slap it, and smear it on. It should drip and settle in all those nice deep spots.

Step 5: Highlighting

Make sure your shading coat is bone dry (*HA!) then apply the lightest color to your brush, and brush most of it off on a napkin or paper towel then lightly brush the color on the very top edge of all the fun shapes on your artifact.

Step 6: Experiment!

This technique works with many colors to create tons of cool styles! Experiment with lots of different colors to get super cool, unique looks!

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4 Discussions

How do you deal with the weird layering effect you get with 3d printing?

1 reply

There are a few techniques and products to help with the lines. One is to sand down the object to remove the lines, another option is to print with ABS and use acetone to smooth it down. You could also use the Polysher, which requires special PLA filament. My Polisher is in storage right now, so I couldn't use that for this instructible.


I am printing a large skull right now using HATCHBOX PLA filament. This filament prints much smoother than most. I'll paint this one and provide a photo for comparison.

Very cool!