Ink Your 3D Prints

Add color to your 3D prints using alcohol based inks. This simple technique quickly turns a plain plastic print into a colorful piece of art. There are a number of techniques for adding color to 3D prints including using Sharpie  or Rit Dye. These methods often require careful setup or post-processing to achieve the desired effect.

The Ink on 3D Print process came about when I was wandering the aisles of the local crafting store and ran across a display in the stamping area. There were a number of different products for creating colorful stamps but the dropper bottles of Jim Holtz brand Adirondack Alcohol Inks caught my eye. There were several different sets and I decided to try the Earthtones.

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One of my first experiment with inking a 3D print was a 2 part bustie with the right side in plain white PLA and the left side colored with earth tones.


Applying a drop of ink to the print, immediately causes the ink to be pulled by capillary action along the layer lines. Variations in the intensity of the color causes a grain effect that can resemble wood or other natural materials. The beauty of ink is that it accentuates the layer by layer fabrication process of 3D printing rather than masking it.

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A monochromatic color scheme for a print of Twisted 6-sided Vase Basic by MaakMijnIdee using Earth tone set of inks.

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I continued to buy more sets and experiment with different colors.

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The ink on the print of the Martin Luther King Monument by graphicsforge shows the subtle colors that can be achieved as different layers blend into each other.


The color scheme of this print of the Athena of Velletri model by Cosmo Wenman evokes the feeling of a Monet painting. The print demonstrates how 3D printing enables artists to remix and transform classic art.

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These 3D printed Easter Eggs provided a great opportunity to experiment with different color schemes.


The Hunter’s Skull Model by SyFy provides a great canvas to showcase the Ink on 3D Print technique. Watch the video below for a full workshop style look into the process of inking this model. Or drop down and see the 90 second time lapse.

Cosmo Wenman’s scan of  Albert Einstein sculpture by Jacob Epstein, 1933. The 3D model can be found at

Let me know in the comments what you think of this technique or contact me on Twitter @DesignMakeTeach. I would love to see examples of your work. Ink your 3D Prints!