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I picked up some Gamescience d20s based on this question. I got the black ones. They are very shiny!

Of course, they are unpainted. How can I paint/ink/color the numbers to get very high contrast between the numbers and the die?

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You realize, paint will add a slight bias to Lou Zocchi's perfectly balanced dice... ;) ETA: Okay, so that's probably not true. They're designed with inking in mind. – Adam Dray Nov 3 '10 at 19:30
I have had a lot of trouble with marking their transparent dice as black marker doesn't have enough contrast. – smcg Jul 26 '12 at 19:09

10 Answers 10

up vote 21 down vote accepted

Nothing silly about white crayon! There's something to be said for tradition...

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I experimented with the methods proposed (except liquid white-out; couldn't find any), with the following results:

Paint: I used acrylic paint to fill in the numbers and paper towel to remove the excess. Very good opacity with this method, but I could not get enough paint to stay in the numbers during the removal of the excess. I tried various drying times before removing the excess, but could not get the results I wanted. Maybe another type of paint would work better?

Marker: I used Sharpie ultra-fine point white marker. My hands are not as steady as they used to be, so I had a hard time getting a neat and tidy finished appearance. The markings were not very opaque and did not provide great contrast. (I'm guessing that black marker on light colored dice would provide much better results.)

Crayon: I experimented with several brands and types of crayon. Crayola seems to work the best, probably because of the higher quality wax, which is softer and clings in the grooves of the numbers better. Specifically the Crayola GelFX crayons worked the best. They are made for writing on black paper, so the pigments are very opaque, and the wax is very soft and sticky; really stays in the numbers. Time will tell if it holds up to heavy use.

Below is an image of two of the dice filled with Crayola GelFX 'Spring Green' and 'Tickle Me Pink'. (The girls thought white was booooring).

alt text



It's coming up on 2 years now (21 months) since I used the crayon on these dice. They have had moderate to heavy use in that time. The color has shown no signs of wear or fading, and it is staying in the numbers right where I put it.

Conclusion: Crayola Gel FX crayons are the way to go. Color goes on easy, fills well, and is very opaque.

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+1 for empiricism! – SevenSidedDie Oct 24 '10 at 17:09
If you fill in the number with something like crayon, isn't that going to defeat the purpose of buying precision dice, since the weight will no longer be evenly distributed? – Eugene Katz Nov 22 '11 at 18:54
@EugeneKatz The precision in the sharpness of the edges is more important for the design than the slight variation due to lost material. They're not originally specially weighted to compensate for the difference between the material removed for '1' versus for '20' anyway. (That would take a ridiculously expensive manufacturing process.) Note that casino dice have filled pips for this very reason—it restores the balance of the die. Crayon is thus likely better than pen for this. – SevenSidedDie Jul 26 '12 at 15:25
Gel FX crayons or markers? I can't find Gel FX crayons anywhere (online or in stores). – javafueled Aug 26 '13 at 16:27
@javafueled: Crayons. I suppose it's possible that they don't make them anymore. Basically, you want a nice soft crayon that is made for use on black paper. That way, the pigment is very opaque. – Stewbob Aug 26 '13 at 17:27

White grease pencil. Rub the sides until the grease pencil fills in the numbers. Then wipe with a soft cloth so all that shows in white is the number.

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I used a silver metallic ink sharpie on my GameScience black dice and they came out really well.

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I did the same about 25 years ago on a d6, it still looks fine... – Alticamelus Feb 2 '11 at 20:22

From here and here:

The traditional technique is to rub a crayon repeatedly across the number and then wipe away the considerable excess with a tissue or paper towel. That's why old boxed sets use to come with crayons.

(but that way is silly)

First, wash the dice. Then use a fine brush to ink the numbers with white paint, then quickly use a paper towel to wipe off the excess.

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Every time I've tried this I've made a horrific mess. Probably because I'm completely spastic at fine manipulation. – JUST MY correct OPINION Oct 23 '10 at 12:25
I use crayon, which works well enough. Is there a particular kind of paint you'd recommend? – okeefe Oct 23 '10 at 13:54
The first link from Jeff Rients. I would not recommend trying that. I did, it worked out nice, but the marker rubbed off after a couple sessions. – Pat Ludwig Oct 23 '10 at 20:41
I saw a post somewhere where they recommended using your finger instead of paper. The paper tends to pull the paint out of the figures, and doesn't do a good job of cleaning the face. Your fingerprint just squeegees the paint off, leaving you with a finger that needs cleaning...but good looking dice. – Ron Nov 4 '10 at 14:34

We used liquid white-out, it is incredibly high contrast. Can you still get that stuff? :-) We used nail-polish remover (acetone) as a thinner to remove the excess.

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After you've used whiteout to fill in all the numbers, scrape a knife blade along the surface of the die to scratch away all the excess whiteout that gets outside the number. This is both slightly harmful to the blade (use a blade you don't care about as much) and will produce minor scratches in your die (won't affect rolling). – Lokathor Oct 23 '10 at 19:23
Nice tip @lokathor. I remember using thinner, so I'll amend my answer as well... – F. Randall Farmer Oct 23 '10 at 19:30
As a side note, nail polish remover is also great for getting paint or glue off of a metal miniature (don't use it on plastic minis, it will start melting the mini) – RMorrisey Oct 23 '10 at 22:02

Get an ultra-fine or extra-fine white-ink permanent marker or paint marker. Your local drafting supply company should have them for about $10 each or less.

Use this to very carefully write inside the numbers.

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I used miniatures paint most recently on some new black Gamescience dice. As others attest, paper towel just smears paint everywhere and sucks the paint out of the numbers. Turns out that there is a simple solution: use your fingers. When I switched to using my fingers, I quickly got clean faces and paint filled numbers. On the down side, my fingers were painty, but with water soluble paint it cleaned up easily.

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You could use the stuff that is made for the job:

One brand, called Lacquer-Stik, is available from Amazon or Brownells. Check the prices and color availability before you order. Or, check around a little on your own. Those were just the first two places I found when I searched.

It comes in black, gold and bright colors. It's inexpensive and permanent.

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Thanks for link. Sadly, it doesn't come in Spring Green or Tickle-Me-Pink. :) I've got some other uses that would be perfect for that, thanks. – Stewbob Nov 3 '10 at 17:32

I had bad luck painting the Gamescience dice with miniature paints. My errors stuck to the dice and smudged when I tried to remove them. I didn't have this problem fixing up chessex dice.

Depending on the color of the dice, mechanical pencil is not unreasonable. It's pretty shiny and it's hard to screw up. Not as bright as actual paint though.

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