How to lengthen parts

August 26, 2014 at 16:56 | Posted in How-to | 1 Comment
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Ever noticed that some parts of your body gunpla feel a bit short? Well worry no more. With a few tools & materials, you can extend any part of your gunpla to your heart’s desire. Most of what I describe below applies to 1/144 HG kits. While it’s theoretically applicable to MG or RG kits, the presence of the inner frame will most likely complicate matters.

First, you need the following tools & materials:

The premise is pretty simple: attach the plaplate sheet to the part you want to lengthen. I tend do it for the limbs (arms & legs) and the lower abdomen, but there’s no limit to what you can do. There’s two ways to approach this, depending on the part to be elongated.

1) Terminal extension

This method applies if the part to be lengthened has a flat, even surface at either end. For example the waist or bicep parts. In this case one can simply glue the plaplate at one end. The plaplate doesn’t have to be the exact same size with the original part.

Once the glue has dried, trim the excess plastic using a hobby cutter or blade. If the plaplate covers a hole that is needed for a ball joint or peg, simply make a new hole on the plaplate using a drill or blade. Keep in mind that you might also need to extend the peg where the part will be attached to.

elong-4

2) Cut and paste

For situations where it is not possible to attach the plaplate to the end of the part, it may be necessary to cut the said part in half and glue the plaplate in the middle.

This method requires a little planning beforehand. First, identify the position to cut; it’s going to be where the plaplate will be attached. Then draw some lines that go across the cutting line using a marker. This alignment line will be used to align the two parts after the plaplate is attached. Refer to the figure below:

elong-1

Use the modelling saw to cut the part in half, following the cutting line. Then glue the plaplate at one end of the cut part, like so:

elong-2

Next, glue the other half to it, making sure to align the parts along the alignment line. If everything went well, it should look like this:

elomg-3

The next course of action would be to trim the excess plaplate using the tool of your choice. If there are visible gaps between the parts, just fill them up with polyester or basic putty.

It may sound like a daunting task, but if done right, it can make a significant difference on how your pla model will look. Practice makes perfect, so try it on some experimental unit to get the hang of it. Good luck…

How to use putty

March 26, 2014 at 12:49 | Posted in How-to | 2 Comments
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Putty is one of the most useful things you can have, especially if you’re modifying or customizing your Gunpla. Basically there’s three types of commonly used putty: basic, polyester and epoxy putty. Each has different properties and applications.

Basic putty

Basic putty like this one by Tamiya comes in a toothpaste-like tube and is grey in color. This is the softest and most malleable of the three types of putty.

basic-putty

How to use: Squeeze out a little bit on a mixing tray. Add a few drops of thinner (for laquer-based paints) and mix. Use a toothpick or equivalent tool to apply the putty to the desired spot. Because it tends to sink in as it dries, I usually apply a lot more putty than what appears necessary. After it dries, file/sand/scrape away the excess putty.

Good for: Filling up small and shallow gaps and imperfections e.g seam lines or scratch marks. Can also be used to create a rough surface.

Not good for: Filling large gaps

Polyester putty

Polyester putty comes in two tubes. The bigger one is the actual putty, the smaller tube contains the hardening agent. In terms of consistency, it’s intermediate between basic and epoxy putty.

poly-putty

How to use: Squeeze out the putty (bigger tube) onto a mixing tray. Squeeze out a similar LENGTH of the hardening agent (smaller tube). Mix both of them together with a toothpick until the color starts to even out (same color with the putty tube cap). While it’s still in a paste-like consistency, apply to your Gunpla. A word of caution: you only have 5-10 minutes of working time, before it starts to harden.

After applying the putty, leave it at least 1 hour (I like to leave it overnight). Shape to desired form using hobby blade.

Good for: Filling up big gaps and forming shapes. They’re quite easy to cut and shape using a hobby blade

Not good for: Binding parts together. Also the hardening agent stinks a bit

Epoxy putty

To me, epoxy putty is like the duct-tape of Gunpla. It comes in two separate strips of brown and white, plasticine-like material.

epoxy-putty

How to use: Take equal amounts of the brown and white parts and mix them together with your hands, just like plasticine. They can be a bit sticky, so maybe using gloves is a good idea. When the two parts are homogenous, apply it to your Gunpla. I usually push them into gaps using a toothpick. After it hardens, trim or shape using a hobby blade. It’s a lot harder than polyester putty, but still manageable.

Good for: Filling large gaps, forming shapes, and binding pieces together. Also odorless

Not good for: Filling fine or shallow gaps. Even after filling large gaps, there may be very small air pockets in the putty. In this case you need to cover those with basic putty.

And there you have it. Needless to say, if you use any of these putties, priming and painting is necessary.

How to photograph GUNPLA

November 18, 2013 at 12:04 | Posted in How-to | 2 Comments
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*First off, I’d like to state that the following is based on my own limited experience in photography, so any further advice or comments would be most welcome. *

So after spending hours completing your model kit, it’s only natural that you would want to take a picture and show it to random people on the internet. While snapping a photo with your camera phone sounds simple enough, quite often the results don’t do justice to your model kit. The following steps require a bit more time & effort, but you’ll get a blur-free, less noisy and overall nicer photo of your model kit.

Here’s what I use for my setup:

  • Light source (1): I use a normal table lamp with a piece of semi-transparent paper surrounding the bulb. This is to dampen the light so that it’s less harsh.
  • Camera (2): I use a digital camera with wide angle and macro lens. Any DSLR or compact camera with manual controls will do.
  • Sturdy tripod: To stabilize the camera and prevent blurry photos.
  • Large sheet of paper: Used for the background of the model kit. Nothing’s more distracting than a gunpla pic with a view of someone’s bedroom.
  • Mirror: A normal mirror to reflect light from the light source to shadowy areas on the model kit
  • Action base (optional): It gives more options to pose the model kit
  • And don’t forget the completed model kit (3)

The setup:

studiolol

That’s what my makeshift studio looks like; it’s also my computer table. I experimented with a DIY lightbox made from a cardboard box but I ditched it because I couldn’t find space to store it in my cramped apartment. If you have a permanent space for a photoshoot, that’s obviously better. So the first thing I do is drape the large sheet of paper over my monitor. I tried various colors: white, light blue, brown but now I mostly use black paper. Then I position the table lamp so that it’s directly above the model kit. You can try with different directions, but I prefer from above. The position of the mirror depends on which parts of the model is heavily shadowed. I tend to move it around during shooting. Finally I position the camera attached to a tripod in front of the kit.

Camera settings:

It would be good if you’re familiar with your camera and its various settings. Here’s mine: *Some photography jargon ahead*

  • Aperture mode (A), set to small aperture settings (f8-f11) for maximum depth of field.
  • Lowest ISO speed available to your camera (e.g. ISO100). This reduces noise & loss of detail of high ISO speeds.
  • Set the shutter to 2 second timer. This is to minimize blurring when the shutter is pressed. If your camera has an anti-shock feature, then use it.
  • Set white balance according to the light source (flourescent, tungsten, custom white balance etc). But I tend to edit white balance using software later anyway.
  • Turn off image stabilization (lens or in-body). Since the camera is stabilized on a tripod already, I just turn off this feature.
  • Set to single autofocus with manual override (SAF-M or something similar). But sometimes it’s more convenient to just completely manual focus, especially for close-up shots.

During shooting, I like to move the position of the camera (attached to tripod) to get interesting angles. Regarding the lens, I use the wide angle lens for full-body and action shots and the macro lens for close-up, detailed shots. When using the wide-angle lens I like to get close to the model & shoot from a low angle to emphasize & exaggerate the perspectives. You may notice I don’t use a flash (in-body or external flash). That’s because I feel there’s enough illumination and I don’t need fast shutter speeds (plus I’m still not familiar with using a flash).

Posing your model

Another important aspect to photographing your model kit is the pose. This is particularly true for the humanoid-form of Gunpla kits. I think this rather old picture best summarizes how to pose your Gunpla kit:

gpose

Another way to put it is, try and imagine that YOU are the Gunpla being photographed. You wouldn’t want to appear limp and toy-like in front of the camera, do you? Other than that, it’s up to your creativity. You can always browse some hobby magazines or internet forums to imitate some nice poses. Or you can fall back to the standard Strike Gundam pose :p

strike-pose

 uni_37 jesta-29 banshee-24

And there you have it. It may not be a definitive guide on Gunpla photography, but I find that it works for me. Generally I tend to spend an hour or so for photography because I like to try out different poses and viewing angles. As I mentioned earlier, it takes a bit more time & effort but the end product is definitely worth it. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what works best for your needs.

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