How to Paint 3D Printed StarCraft Hydralisk Figure: Tips by Andrew Tan

Anyone who has played StarCraft remembers zerg units, which are represented by different forms. The basis of any zerg army is the hydralisk. Suppose you wish to create your fictional arm forces from your favourite video game. In that case, you can make StarCraft Hydralisk figure on a 3D printer.

One of Gambody enthusiasts, Andrew Tan, turned a highly-detailed Hydralisk 3D printing model into a beautifully painted 3D print. He agreed to share his tips and secrets on how to paint a 3D printed StarCraft Hydralisk figure with our readers.

3D printed StarCraft Hydralisk figure how to paint guide

StarCraft Hydralisk Figure

In the video game, hydralisks used to be peaceful creatures. But they became cruel and very dangerous as the virus changed them. In reality, the StarCraft Hydralisk figure is safe when 3D printed by you. Even the army of 3D prints will not dig holes in your shelf or plan an unexpected attack.

Just like in the StarCraft, the Hydralisk 3D printing model boasts chitin protection of its body and developed muscles. 3D artist Herb HARURU did an impressive job on recreating all the tiniest features that distinguish this figurine from other zerg 3D printed models. You will love making all the fangs, claws, dorsal horns, nape, body and assembling the parts.

Download StarCraft Hydralisk figure for 3D printing and create one of the most devoted servants of the Queen of Blades. This zerg is happy to carry out any of her orders at once.

3D printed StarCraft Hydralisk figure
Maker: Andrew Tan

Hydralisk 3D Print

The symbol of the Swarm’s power in the StarCraft universe, Hydralisk 3D print looks horrifying. The danger appears in every horn, fang, armoured plate and claw, perfectly outlined by the hobbyist Andrew. Read his interview to get into details how this stunning figurine was printed in resin and painted.

1. Hello, Andrew. Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit more about your background and path to 3D printing.

Hi, thank you for the opportunity to share some of my work. I think it’s easier to start by saying that I’m a person of many interests.

Ever since I was a kid, I’d always get into trouble because I never stopped being curious about things. I’d see some gadget, e.g., an RC car, toy, whatever, and mess with it until I got a hang of how it worked. Being a bit too young though, I usually broke the thing.

I think some of these early experiences helped guide me toward my day job as a neuroscientist, where I study how things go wrong in the nervous system and research ways to try and fix it. 

Of course, the kid in me never left. Here I am playing with toys again. 3D printing has been a fantastic way to learn about how a complex object is made from simple pieces.

3D printed StarCraft Hydralisk figurine
Maker: Andrew Tan

I’ve used 3D modelling and printing as a tool for my work in the laboratory, to make custom parts of microscopes and other tools that you can’t buy pre-made. Along the way, of course, I discovered a whole community of 3D printing enthusiasts and the amazing digital models that you can simply download and make into a real object.  

2. The Gambody team is in love with your StarCraft Hydralisk figure painting. Are you a big fan of StarCraft video game or prefer Warhammer 40K wargames more? Is Hydralisk the only StarCraft model you have 3D printed, or are there other creatures, characters, gears in your collection from StarCraft or Warhammer 40000?

Absolutely! StarCraft is the first video game that I played that had a competitive multiplayer component. StarCraft is still really popular in eSports, and there is a huge fan following. I’m not surprised. The artwork, the story, and the gameplay come together into this unified, fun, and engaging package.

For a long time, I wondered if Blizzard, the maker of StarCraft, would create a line of StarCraft miniatures for tabletop gaming. They did make a StarCraft board game, though, but it hasn’t taken off, and I’m not sure it’s in production anymore.

Although Warhammer 40k is a much older intellectual property, my introduction to the Warhammer universe has been pretty recent. It’s a fun game for getting a bunch of people together and throwing some dice. I have collected quite a number of Games Workshops miniatures over the years.

Hydralisk 3D print
Maker: Andrew Tan

3. Do you use a resin PLA FormLabs 3D printer for all your projects? Or do you have other printers at home as well?

I have an Ultimaker 2+ 3D printer that I bought for most 3D printing work.

I do not use the FormLabs printer very often because post-processing resin 3D prints are messy and cleaning up the print scaffolding is a bit tedious. The FormLab printer is best used when I need to make smaller, higher-detailed prints. I will say that the Form2 printer is amazing at this job.

Downscaling the Hydralisk 3D printing model with PreForm software
Maker: Andrew Tan

Andrew made the Hydralisk 3D printing model in resin on his Form2 SLA-type 3D printer. Before the model was printed upside down, the hobbyist downscaled the Hydralisk STL files using the PreForm software on his iMac.

4. Are there any challenges in settings when printing StarCraft Hydralisk figure with resin?

The strength of the Form2 3D printer is that the entire process is automated. Once you have the Hydralisk 3D model STL digital file loaded and sliced in the PreForm software, the Form2 printer will have everything set and ready to make whatever object you want. No tweaking is necessary.

The Form2 printer uses resin cartridges, so it knows exactly what to do with the variables to make your 3D print come out successfully. The printer will adjust the temperature of the resin, pour the exact amount of resin into the print tray, and print the object at the optimal speed.

5. Was it challenging to remove supports and complete other post-processing work before you began the StarCraft Hydralisk figure painting process?

Working with resin isn’t hard. You have to clean off the uncured excess resin from the StarCraft Hydralisk 3D print before you can do anything. To do this, there is a process of washing the resin 3D print in two baths of 90% rubbing alcohol.

Once this is complete, you merely snip off the scaffolding material with clippers. You do have to be careful though, as some parts of a 3D model may be fragile or brittle. 

Curing 3D printed Hydralisk model
Maker: Andrew Tan

After you’ve cleaned the StarCraft Hydralisk 3D printed model, you have to set the object under UV light to finish the resin curing process. I simply leave the model outside in the sunlight to do this.

The Hydralisk project needed only slight post-processing work.

Here is the article where I show you how I did the printing and post-processing.

Assembled StarCraft Hydralisk 3D model for printing
Maker: Andrew Tan

6. On your blog, you have described the Hydralisk painting step-by-step. Where did you learn to paint 3D printed figurines? Did you take some master-classes or learned through online guides on how to prime, sand, mix colours, etc.? Did you study canvas painting?

This was the fun part. I am a self-taught miniature painter and used a mix of YouTube videos and asking around the miniature painting community for painting tips. Then, it just came down to painting a lot of miniatures over many years.

Sure, I took a bunch of traditional studio painting classes in school, and this did give me a boost to understanding how colour, contrast, and subject composition work together. 

But, the techniques of painting on a 2D surface is much different than in 3D. If anything, though, formal 2D painting classes did help me learn the lingo. When I heard a term or something on a YouTube video about painting miniatures, I didn’t have to stop and look up what that terminology meant. Formal, regular painting classes helped me learn faster, I guess.

Priming StarCraft Hydralisk 3D print
Maker: Andrew Tan

Andrew primed the Hydralisk 3D printed model with Vallejo Surface primer. The hobbyist used his airbrush, a Patriot 105, for applying a single primer coat and used two water drops to ten primer drops for thinning the polymer.

7. Do you use an airbrush for painting about 90 per cent of the models you create? Why? Is it faster, simpler, cleaner to spray/airbrush than paint the whole project with regular or dry brushes?

The best-case use for an airbrush is to speed up the process of priming and spraying on the first few colour base coats. If you’re skilled with an airbrush, you can do some amazing colour blending work, too. I’ve written an article about the pros and cons of working with an airbrush.

Personally, I only use an airbrush on large models, or when I want to paint a 3D printed model. The build layers on 3D prints make it difficult to get smooth paint coats and colour blending with a regular paintbrush.

For some smaller models with really high-resolution prints, though, I do prefer the slower methodical speed of working with a regular brush. An airbrush also requires a fair bit of maintenance and cleaning to keep running properly.

Adding coat of black paint to StarCraft Hydralisk figure
Maker: Andrew Tan

Andrew added two coats of Vallejo Model Air Black paint to Hydralisk 3D print. The black colour becomes an impressive base for adding “zenithal” highlights to the model.

8. Do you have an indoor workshop where you print and airbrush models? Or do you work outside?

I work indoors in a basement space, so I don’t mess up the rest of the home.

Zenithal highlights added to Hydralisk 3D print
Maker: Andrew Tan

You can see that highlighting has added impressive depth to the Hydralisk 3D printed figurine.

9. Where did you learn about the airbrush glazing technique? Was it difficult to master or not? How much practice is required before you can create a professionally-looking painted 3D printed model?

It may not be an exciting answer, but I learned about airbrushing through YouTube as well. There’s so much you can learn from a simple search through the internet. One of the reasons I started a blog was to share my experience and perspective of what I learned with the hobby community. 

As with airbrushing proficiency, all it takes is practice. Airbrush things until it hurts, and you’ll get better. That’s the best advice I have. Use your tools until you don’t think about how they work anymore. 

Paint 3D printed Hydralisk model into red colour
Maker: Andrew Tan

After priming and highlighting the Hydralisk 3D print with black paint, the hobbyist chose the “alert” Vallejo Model Air Fire Red as the primary paint. Andrew applied it as a glaze by mixing three parts of “Fire Red” with glaze medium, airbrush thinner and water (one part each).

Airbrushing StarCraft zerg Hydralisk 3D printed figure
Maker: Andrew Tan

By applying colour from above, the enthusiast kept glazing the white-under paint parts and adding less colour to darker areas to keep the contrast.

10. Did you choose colours while painting the Hydralisk model from your head? Or was there any reference (an image, picture, screenshot) for you to get the ideas?

I chose the colours based on what I thought would look good.

The great thing about 3D printing is that if you don’t like what you made, you can 3D print another one and start over. You can’t mess up.

I did use a search through Pinterest (which is a great place for reference photos) for ideas about what would work. I also used a few reference photos from screenshots of StarCraft 2 (the sequel to the original StarCraft).

Hydralisk 3D model painting with traditional brush
Maker: Andrew Tan

After glazing with an airbrush, Andrew chose a traditional brush painting technique. He began to apply Scale 75 Flat Black colour to the zerg’s body.

How to paint 3D printed Hydralisk StarCraft 2
Maker: Andrew Tan

Andrew then added “blend” colours, saturated dark purple Monarch Purple and fleshy-shade Ishtar Pink.

Aftward, the hobbyist added warm and colder contrasts to the Hydralisk 3D print by dry brushing it. He played with depth, shadows and lights, and added numerous small details to make a realistic-looking creature. The model was varnished so that the reflective surfaces would even out.

11. Do you display your Hydralisk on a shelf? Or is it a part of your favourite board game?

Right now, the model sits on a shelf. It’s for display.

I hope to add more video game 3D prints in the near future. I’m looking forward to printing and painting the entire line of units from StarCraft.

12. How big is your collection of 3D printed figurines? Which model are you working on now?

I’m currently commissioned to paint a few Warhammer 40k models. When those are finished, I’d like to start 3D printing and painting the Ultralisk 3D printing figurine from the Gambody collection. That model looks amazing, and I can’t wait to print it at full size (or bigger). But, maybe not with resin.

Since hydralisks make the front line of the zerg army, you can follow Andrew’s tips and 3D print as many models as needed. Make sure to 3D print the Queen of Blades figurine to keep your army of hydralisks under control. Also, remember to show the photos of your incredible StarCraft Hydralisk figure in Gambody 3D printing Community on Facebook. There are many gamers here who love to print, paint, share tips, ask for advice and let others adorn their works.

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