November 29, 2010 at 17:27 | Posted in How-to | 2 Comments
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After building plenty of model kits down the years, I have more or less stuck to the same workflow, summarized in this flowchart:Now it’s not necessarily something that you have to follow, it’s just my own Standard Operating Procedure, and something that I’m most comfortable with. Details of this workflow is as follows:

1. Snapfit your model
Sounds simple enough, just follow the instruction manual. This is where you get acquainted with your model kit. As you build, you should take note of which parts need to have the seam-line fixed, which parts need coloring, masking or modification. Since I tend to disassemble the kit again after snap-fitting, I avoid fitting the parts too tightly.

2. Disassemble and apply modification/fixes
After snap-fitting and identifying which parts need fixing or modification, I sort them according to body part (head, torso, arms, legs). Then I do some of the following to the individual parts:

i) Clean up the nip marks
ii) Fix seam lines
iii) Apply structural modifications (battle damage, mobility improvement etc.)
iv) Add detail parts (Wave, M.S.G, plaplate, etc):

3. Priming and painting
Priming entails spraying your kit with surfacers or primers, which usually come in neutral colors (white, grey, black). This essentially makes your kit a blank canvas prior to painting. For example: if the original plastic is molded in red, and the intended color is white. It’s better to cover up the red with a layer of primer & then paint it white, rather than painting many layers of white color to cover up the red.

Other reasons to prime your whole kit are: It makes the paint stick easier to the kit surface & also allows you to identify scratches or imperfections on your kit. I mostly use Mr. Surfacer 1000 (grey), diluted 1:1 and sprayed with through an airbrush. Sometimes a spray can (Mr. White Surfacer, Gaianotes Evospray etc.) can also be quite convenient.

For painting, I used to rely on spray cans (Mr. Color, Tamiya) and to a lesser extent, hand painting using Tamiya enamels. Now I use an airbrush with lacquer paints (Mr. Color, Gaiainotes). Before spraying, the separate parts are attached to a bamboo stick and then arranged on to a polystyrene block (the white packaging stuff inside boxes) or whatever surface where the sticks can be upright. After painting, I tend to leave it for a few days for the paint to cure.

4. Choose your path
From here on, there’s two options to take, depending on the final look I’m after: clean or weathered. I tend to favor the weathered look; but sometimes just for the sake of doing something different (or when I’m lazy), I go for the clean look.

The clean path

If I decided to go for the clean look, there’s only two things to do: add panel lines and apply decals. I add the panel lines first because the excess enamel paint from panel lining needs to be wiped off.

The weathered path

I tend to add weathering in two steps. The first step involves the wash method using enamel paints. This step also fills the seam lines so it’s like killing two birds with one stone. If the was was applied to only a limited part, e.g. the feet, then I have to add the panel lines separately for other parts.

The next thing to do is apply decals. To enhance the sense of realism, you’d want the decals to also look weathered. Just lightly dabbing the decal with weathering pastel is often enough, but for more heavy weathering, a few brush strokes of very thin enamel paint may be required. I only do this for large, white, alpha-numeral marking decals. Those smaller warning text decals are left alone.

It should be noted that I exclusively use waterslide decals. Stickers are just ダメ。Now would also be a good time to apply some scratch marks on the decals to further add the illusion of battle damage. Just very carefully scratch the decals with a hobby blade.

Now it’s time to add the second wave of weathering effects. I usually apply some of the following:

i) Dry brushing
ii) Paint chipping effects
iii) Weathering pastels

5. Final topcoat and assembly
After I’m done with all the previous steps, its time to apply a final layer of topcoat. You can choose gloss, semi-gloss or flat topcoats depending on how you want your kit to look like. For me, 99% of the time I use flat topcoat. I usually apply the topcoat on the assembled arms, legs & torso separately and then make the final assembly. And that’s it for the building part.

6. Photography
What you want to do with your kit after you’re done with it is up to you. But I’m sure after all the effort put into the kit, you’d want other people to appreciate it as well. You can read about how I photograph my kits in this post.

After photography, I keep the ones I like on my shelf. The rest I keep in a box to conserve shelf space. Maybe I should consider selling them. Any takers?

So if you’ve made it all the way here, thank you for reading and I hope this post was useful. If not, let me know your opinions in the comment section.


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  1. Hi there, what type of paints are best to use for gundam airbrushing? Acrylics or enamel?

    • between those two? acrylics, I guess. I’ve only ever used lacquer paints for airbrushing. i tend to use enamel paints for handpainting or panel lining

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