Fun with long exposure

September 6, 2018 at 21:17 | Posted in How-to | Leave a comment
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This is not really a how-to guide, but I thought I’d share some tricks I have for gunpla photography. If you’ve read my “How to photograph GUNPLA” post, you might notice I tend to shoot with long exposure times.
It depends on the lighting conditions, but with my camera set at ISO 200 and f8-f11 aperture, I can get shutter speeds of 1-2 seconds. That leaves plenty of time to play around with these things:

i) Muzzle flash effect parts

As the name implies, they simulate muzzle flash as the bullet leaves the barrel. I’m using the ones by Kotobukiya MSG. You can stick it at the end of the gun’s barrel and and it’ll look fine.

Or you can try this:
Once the camera shutter is pressed, move the effect part in front of the gun barrel and move it around a bit. The camera will capture that movement and it will appear as a blurred muzzle flash, instead of a well defined one.
The longer the exposure time and the more you move, the more blurred the effect will be. Here are a couple of examples:

A few things to note:
Since you’re moving the effect part with your fingers, you wouldn’t want them included in the final photo. That’s why framing is important. This technique works best when the gun barrel is pointed towards the edge of the photo, where your fingers won’t be visible.


ii) Laser pointer
A well positioned laser beam can leave a nice effect. Below are some examples of where to aim the laser pointer:
i) At the point of impact. For example, between the beam sabre and the Juaggu’s arm:

ii) On the surface of a wide spread beam weapon, like this beam axe:

iii) The space between the beam sabre holder and the hilt. This implies that the beam sabre is about to the activated:

iv) Directly toward the beam sabre hilt, with the beam sabre effect attached. This requires a bit of precision.

This effect is more dramatic in darker lighting conditions, and with a black background paper:

compared to a well-lit room with white background paper:


To summarize, here are the steps I took to achieve these effects:

  1. Put a camera with manual controls (PASM modes) on a sturdy tripod
  2. Set to Aperture mode (f8 to f11), ISO 200, 2-second timer for shutter release. Check if shutter speed is around 1-2 seconds. If not, dim the lights or adjust aperture to >f11. Alternatively, set to Shutter priority mode and adjust shutter speed to 1-2 seconds, keeping the ISO to 200.
  3. Get the effect ready (muzzle effect or laser pointer) and press shutter
  4. Very quickly, position the muzzle effect or laser beam to the point of interest and keep it there until exposure ends.
  5. Review photo and if unsatisfactory, repeat the above steps.

So that’s it, play around, and maybe you can find some other neat stuff you can do during the long exposure.

How to use fine tip marker for weathering

April 1, 2018 at 14:18 | Posted in How-to | Leave a comment
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When first starting out with this hobby, the Fine Tip Gundam Marker was a nice and easy way to fill panel lines. Nowadays, I don’t use them for that purpose anymore. Instead, I found a new use for them: weathering.

i) Paint scratch effects
This is a type of light weathering that simulates scratches on the mecha, revealing the darker colored surface underneath. Let’s say you start off with a nice, fresh GM leg like so:

All you have to do is to draw the scratch marks using the Fine Tip Gundam Marker. You can draw light strokes to simulate scratches, or you can dab the marker on the same area to simulate a larger peeled surface. When drawing the light strokes, try to keep a straight line, because scratch marks tend to be straight in real life.

More importantly than HOW you do it, it’s WHERE you do it. Think about the moving parts of the mecha and imagine where physical contact would most likely occur. I like to put them on the edges, or corner parts. You should end up with something like this:

ii) Smearing effects
This simulates grease or grime that has leaked from some parts of the mecha. First, you dab the marker tip on a particular spot; making sure there’s enough paint transferred.

Starting from the spot with the marker paint, use your finger to rub in a downwards motion.

The outcome should be something like this:

Like the scratch effect, the placement of the smear is important. I tend to apply it near vents, openings or damaged parts on the mecha.

Some recommendations and caveats:
I feel that this effect works best coupled with other weathering effects, like an enamel wash. It would just break the illusion if a clean mecha suddenly has some scratch marks or grease smears.

Like any other weathering effect, moderation is the key. Not every surface or part should have scratch marks or smears.

These two effects are mostly for lightly weathered mecha. For more heavier weathering, there’s other methods more suitable for that.

The Fine Tip Gundam Marker comes in black, grey and brown colors. I find the brown marker sometimes results in a reddish color, so take note. Feel free to experiment with other fine tip markers and other colors.

If you’ve stepped up from the Gundam Markers for panel lining, don’t throw them away just yet. They may yet leave their marks on your gunpla.

How to lengthen parts

August 26, 2014 at 16:56 | Posted in How-to | 4 Comments
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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.


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:


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:


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:


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…

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