How to do panel-liningJune 16, 2008 at 14:16 | Posted in How-to | 12 Comments
Tags: enamel, gundam marker, How-to, panel line
Panel lines are those lines which resemble tiny drains on the surface of most gunpla. They’re there to provide more details and to brighten-up your gunpla, provided you do something about it. Basically there’s 2 ways about it: 1) using markers to ‘draw’ the panel lines or 2) using enamel paints.
This is the most noob-friendly method. Basically you can use any fine tip marker with the color of your choice (preferably dark colors) to draw along the panel lines. I have a fine-tip black Gundam marker which I bought when I first started this hobby and I still use it from time to time. You can just rub off any excess lines using an eraser or just rub using your fingers. You should get something like this:
Pros: Little start-up material needed, all you need is the marker. Easy to do
Cons: Choice of color is limited by what marker is available. Very tedious when you have a lot of panel lines to fill. Looks less ‘natural’ compared to using enamel paints
Final comments: I think it works best on bare plastic rather than painted surfaces so I would only recommend this if you’re just starting out with the hobby and you didn’t paint your kit.
Using enamel paints
This method involves thinning your enamel paint and applying the colors on the panel lines using a fine-tip paint brush. If the paint is thinned properly and the panel line is deep enough, the paint will flow along the panel line due to capillary movement.
I’m using enamel paints for panel lining because the bulk of my painting is done using spray cans which are lacquer based. Even if I didn’t paint my model, using enamel paint on bare plastic works well too.
Basically the rule of thumb is: Don’t use the same paint type (acrylic/lacquer/enamel) as your base paint to do your panel lining. For example, if you use enamel paints to paint your model, don’t use enamel paints to do the panel lining. The reason is to avoid wiping off your base paint when you wipe the excess panel lines. Of course, this can be circumvented by applying a layer of gloss topcoat over your paintjob before you apply the panel lines, but that just adds another step to your workflow.
I have no exact formula on how much thinner or paint to use, just as long as it looks thinned. If you find that the paint is too thick, just add more thinner and vice versa. After you finished panel lining, you can clean up the smudges by wiping them off using a cotton bud soaked in the appropriate thinner.
If you feel that thinning paints is too much work, you can buy ready-to-use enamel paints by Tamiya. They’re specifically thinned for panel lining and come in three color choices: black, grey or brown.
Pros: More choice of colors, depending on what paints you have available (remember: black is not the only panel line color). Easier to do when you have a lot of panel lines to fill. Looks more natural
Cons: More startup material (paint, thinner, brush) needed. Can look smudgy when excess lines are not cleaned properly.
Final comments: The preferred choice for those who paint their kits and just as effective on bare plastic as well.