How to Insert & Paint 3D Models in Paint 3D

Paint 3D models using the built-in brushes, marker, pen, and more

Paint 3D is straightforward when it comes to opening images, and the painting tools are easily accessible and simple to customize before using. You can insert 2D images that you want to convert into 3D (or remain in 2D), as well as insert already-made 3D models either from your own computer or from the 3D library.

Insert Local 2D or 3D Images

When you insert a picture, whether it be a 2D photo or a 3D model, you're given the flexibility to immediately use it with the current canvas that you already have open. This is different than opening the file normally, which will start you with a new, separate canvas.

Once you have the objects you want on your canvas, you can use the built-in brushes and other painting utensils to paint directly onto your models.

  1. Access the Menu button from the top left of Paint 3D.

  2. Choose Insert.

    Paint 3D Insert menu item
  3. Select the file that you want to be imported into the canvas you currently have open.

    You can import lots of file types, both 2D pictures like PNG, JPG, JFIF, GIF, TIF/TIFF, and ICO files, as well 3MF, FBX, STL, PLY, OBJ, GLB, and other 3D models.

  4. Choose Open.

Insert Online 3D Models

  1. Choose 3D library from the top menu in Paint 3D.

  2. Search or browse for the object you want to use.

    Paint 3D library of animals
  3. Select it to immediately import it onto your canvas.

Paint Models in Paint 3D

All of the brushes and corresponding options are available through the Brushes tab at the top of the program. This is how you paint anything, whether you're filling in the lines of your 2D image or adding a splash of color to a 3D object you've built.

Paint 3D Clown Fish model

Choose the correct tool that serves the purpose you're after. Here's a description of each that might help you pick the right one for your scenario:

  • Marker: The marker has a uniform stroke everywhere it's used and has a clean, full look to it. It's similar to the pixel pen tool except that it will bleed parts of the color into nearby pixels for a softer approach. Neighboring pixels that are just out of reach are lightly colored.
  • Calligraphy pen: This tool works like you'd expect a calligraphy pen to work. Its effect is much like the marker's except that the thickness of the strokes change as you speed up and slow down the pen's movement.
  • Oil brush: The oil brush tool gives a true brush look. It has a "thicker" and more pixelated effect that hides the background image much more than the marker.
  • Watercolor: Use the watercolor brush if you need an effect where the color should be faint over some areas but darker over others. It's really easy to darken the color of the watercolor brush by simply brushing over the same area more than once. It's similar to the spray can tool except that the edges aren't as soft.
  • Pixel pen: The pixel pen looks almost identical to the marker except that unlike the marker, it colors the entirety of every pixel it reaches. This creates a very uniform look that doesn't bleed even a little into any other pixel, which in effect causes rigid edges but also makes it easier to quickly paint next to solid lines.
  • Pencil: The pencil is ideal for a freehand look since it only spans between 5px and 10px.
  • Eraser: The eraser, despite its name, doesn't erase what you've already drawn so that parts of the model will return to a previous state (use History for that). It instead removes every customization on the model while keeping the object intact, useful for starting from scratch without any designs or colors.
  • Crayon: The crayon makes a chalky, almost wet look. Edges are similar to the marker in that nearby pixels are partly opaque, but it's different within the lines because even the center of the strokes aren't fully colored (unless you color over them multiple times).
  • Spray can: This tool is very much like the watercolor brush except that you can hold down in one place to fill the space with more color, much like a real spray can. Edges are soft like the marker.
  • Fill: The fill tool is a quick way to fill an area with color. Adjust the tolerance setting to determine how much of the image should be colored. A smaller value like 0% will only fill in just a handful of pixels around where you choose, while something larger like 5% can fill a small area like a circle, and 100% will change the color of the entire object.

As you zoom up to a 3D image, parts of it will become hidden or not easily accessible. Use the y-axis rotation button at the bottom of the object to reach different areas you can paint.

Adjust Tolerance and Opacity

Every tool but Fill lets you adjust the thickness of the brush so that you can control how many pixels should be colored at once. Some let you choose as small as a 1px area to color with each stroke.

Opacity explains the transparency level of the tool, where 0 percent is completely transparent. For example, if the opacity of the marker is set to 10 percent, it will be very light, while 100 percent shows its full color.

Apply Matte, Gloss, and Metal Effects

Every art tool in Paint 3D can have a matte, gloss, dull metal, or polished metal texture effect.

The metal options are useful for things like a rusty or copper look. Matte provides a regular color effect while the gloss texture is a little darker and creates more of a shiny look.

Choose a Color

On the side menu, below the texturing options, is where you select the color that the Paint 3D tool should use.

Choose any of the pre-selected colors from the menu of 18 or pick a temporary current color by choosing the color bar. From there, define the color by its RGB or hex values.

Use the eyedropper tool to pick a color from the canvas. This is an easy way to paint the same color as what already exists on the model when you're not sure which color was used.

To make your own custom colors to use later, choose Add color. You can create up to six.

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