I’ve been into building Gundam models for a while now; I’ve built about ten Master Grade (100 scale), two Perfect Grade (66 scale) and a few 144 scale High Grade. I also can’t stop buying more.
Although i love spending time building them, lining them and sticking on endless amounts of decals, me being me, i wanted to raise the bar and start painting them up, to make them look even more awesome.
This FA-78-1 Gundam is my very first attempt at this. To celebrate this milestone in my mecha-loving life, I started writing the story of my build; to help myself remember all the good things i found out when researching the way other folk do it and to act as a basic guide for other amateurs just like myself.
| 09 Sept 2012 | Almost finished. Still needs to be fully weathered and battle damaged. BOOM!
| Started: 04 July 2011 |
Gunpla is the name given to the act of building Gundam; Japanese mecha snap fit kits. Like Airfix but with robots. I love building them and I love looking at them.
One thing I’ve never done is to paint one, but I finally feel ready to put in for the Blue belt. I’ve finally got a ’round tuit’ and this page will become the story of my build.
Prepare Google Square Eyes
Use your peepers and your very own brain
I’ve spent a lot of time lost in the small and amazingly polite part of the internets occupied by the modelling Scene Kids. Reading up on how best to approach painting up a Gundam, (which paints, how to thin paints, pre-building, trimming male parts at a 45° angle, airbrush P.S.I, varnish, pre-decal varnish) is a minefield of personal choice, differing experiences and pretty pictures. I’ve decided to pick what I think will be the easiest and most fun way to get my Gundam looking AwesomeMcAwsome. Apart from the bits that went wrong and taught me the error of my lazy ways. Live and learn, Modelhead.
Toolbox :Your weapons of choice
Airbrush Vs Brush Painting
It’s all about the finish for me, it’s got to be smooth. A brush isn’t rocking my vision.
I spent about £80 on an airbrush set from a merchant called ‘Airbrush Supply Online’ on Amazon. It’s easier to setup and use than I thought it would be and worth saving up for, you’ll never look back.
A bullet list of equipment:
• Airbrush = Spraymaster HS-30
• Compressor = Spraymaster AS-18
• Pressure = between 10-15PSI. Twizzle the nozzle and see wharrapens
• Some pipes
Acrylic over Enamel and Laquer as it doesn’t destroy your lungs if you breathe some in. It’s also easy to get hold of in Sheffield and in The England generally; you can get it in everyone’s favorite hobby peddling mecca Hobbycraft and in the interestingly staffed Model Zone. Both places being a pure joy to visit. If you’re feeling particularly brave and strapped of paint choice, there’s probably a Games Workshop lurking unnoticed nearby your hometown. Roll 2D20 and advance three squares.
I picked Tamiya because there are plenty of good colours straight out of the pot and they have the best logo, best pots and best overall packaging design. I appreciate that shit.
I’m using Tamiya X-20A acrylic thinner to get the paint through the airbrush, get some pipettes if you’re a maths spaz. ‘The Consistency Of Milk’ is the holy grail of the ‘Paint To Thinner Ratio’. Good luck on the estate Ernie.
Varnish is unsettling
I’m using Pledge Klear Multi-surface Wax for the quick coat after the paint goes on. I’ve done a LOT of internet reading on the history of Pledge Multi-Surface Wax. I kid you not. You can too if you like, it’s a pretty impressive piece of work.
There’s a good forum where some blokes share their experiences of using it. Read it and weep, Citadel Miniatures.
I’ve ordered some Vallejo Matt Acrylic Liquid Varnish off the internets for a final Matte protective top coat. Did a little test piece with this and found it to add a bit of a milky coat to the part, I’ve read that this can happen if it’s not mixed well. Still to get to the final coat so I have some more experimenting to do.
Water slide all the way, I always make an effort to buy in the sets that Bandai make separately to the models. I keep mine in a folder. Dry look excellent but can be a heartbreaker if you fuck it up, I fear them even more on a painted finish. Turns out, with a good coat of Pledge, dry are totally fine. I use Mr Mark Setter (brilliant name) to put the decals onto the robot and Revell Decal Soft once they’re on just to make them set nice and tightly to the plastic. I Love decals.
Weapons Of Excellence And Skill: Cutting and Sanding
Scalpel with 10A blades. Do yourself and your Gunpla a favour and get Tamiya cutters, they cut like the plastic is made of butter and make nubs of minimum fuss. Dreamy.
I got hold of some Tamiya fine sandpapers, I’m using 1500 at the moment, but have no clue really which is the finest one. They’re all very, very, very fine. Sometimes i stick them on mini lollisticks from Hobbycraft with wood glue.
Set sideparting to scientific: Notes on how I roll
He’s an MG Full Armour Gundam (1/100 scale). I wasn’t keen on the look of the green plastic so decided it was time to hit the paint trail.
I’m not even trying pre-building.
I hate the bit where you have to wash all of the runners.
I have to be at peace with all of the mistakes I am about to make.
01 | Crop. Cut. Sand. Stick. x1 million
For God’s sake, take your time and don’t cut chunks out of it. Unfortunately, when you’re building a robot with a gadzillion parts, multiplied by on average three ‘nubs’ per part, this means that you’ll be due a numb bum today.
Cut part off runner, trim with scalpel carefully, sand until you don’t see tiny dust gathering around the nub you’re trying to get rid of. Hurr; ‘Nub’.
If you find random/cheap printer stickers you can cut up, wrap ‘em round a cocktail stick and you get a little flag. Draw a logo on it that looks like the part number.
Stick a blob of blutac in the part where it doesn’t need painting and stick the cocktail stick to that. Hardly rocket science.
Do this another fifteen billion times and you’re ready to airbrush. This build I’m not painting the inner frame due to extreme impatience.
02 | Airbrushing is fun
Keep it light is the best advice – layer up the paint, turn the part as you spray, keep the airbrush moving at all times and dont get too close.
03 | Tuck your paint in
The Pledge goes on nice with thin, misty coats that start to dry really quickly. I turned the airbrush up to 11 (psi) and was super happy with my finish, Swit Swoo.
The more you put on, the shiner it gets. You can get a matte-ish finish if you only do it a little bit. It does make the paint go a fair bit darker if it’s dark paint. Beware this. It dries lighter than it is in that picture so retain hope brave varnisher.
04 | Drawing or painting lines
You can use the fab Gundam pens most of the time. You can get these in grey and black; i tend to use the grey on the light grey parts on my Gundam so it doesn’t look quite so harsh. For this one, i used pens a little bit and a load of different ink washes.
05 | Decals look cool
Used as many dry decals as i could – especially the bigger ones. Mostly water decals though.
05 | Weathering
Basically using lots of really light layers of different colour drybrushing on the hard edges. That’s as far as i’ve got as i’ve only really started exprimenting.
Wot I learned
Alla this takes time and a whole lotta care and attention. Don’t cut corners because you’re lazy and impatient; paint the weapons and the frame for best results. Don’t loose bits; I lost the head fin (of all things) and had to use the battled damaged spare from my MG Exia (although this turned out well as i think the different style looks cool). I also lost a connecting part to one of the barrels of the gun and had to glue it. O_o