Modding Guns

I have found on a vast majority of kits, especially HG kits that weapons are often understated, usually made by slapping together just two bits and a barrel with very little colour separation. There are a few exceptions to the rule of course, but if you do find your death cannon is more like a pea shooter, here’s a couple of ways to beef it up without having to invest in additional weapon sets.

Get masking! Yes, it’s pain staking, and especially fiddly on weapons but masking off and creating colour separation, picking out details and adding tiny variations of colour will really make it pop, especially on any exposed ‘inner mechanisms’. If you are finding some areas are just too tricky to mask, I highly recommend experimenting with liquid mask, which allows you to ‘flood’ recessed areas with a rubberising fluid. Here’s what I did with a little bit of common masking, liquid masking and hand painting details on my Duel Gundam Assault shroud rifle:

detailed-weapn
MG Duel – Colour-separated gun

Modify it! Combining the weapon with scratch building and kit bashing is great fun and can make your weapon more unique – it does however take a little thought. Be sure the model can hold your newly modified weapon. When I saw how pitifully under-powered the MG Nemo’s pistol looked, I had to overcompensate and turn it into a total overkill blaster. I chopped the barrel off, made a box-section in pla-plate and added on some after-market detailing to.  Yes, it looks a little insane.. but I liked it.  I also modified the standard weapon on the Sinanju Stein, adding a huge scope to the front section to add to it’s ‘medium range’ theme. A little more subtle, but adds a lot.

moddesSinStein
Modified Sinanju Stein Weapon
modifiedMGNemo
MG Nemo – Modified weapon

Modifying weapons – some tips!

  • If you want to entirely rebuild the gun, and want to make sure the kit can hold it – separate the handle from the gun, and start working from the handle.
  • Use parts from other guns you have in spare stock.
  • When gluing, always ensure surfaces are flat. Uneven surfaces may need putty work, and sanding surfaces that will be bonded by putty will help keep it together.
  • Take a look at other people’s work – think of form and functionality, and how it will look in context with the model.
  • If there is going to be additional weight and you are unsure the model will grip it ok, consider adding a peg to the handle to slot into the hand.

Do you have any tips or tricks to help with modifying weapons? Anything I missed, or you would like more detail on? Let me know in the comments!

Creating a model theme or backstory

When it comes to branching out into the world of mecha modelling, they’ll perhaps come a time when you want to start developing your own ideas outside of the kit’s ‘out of box’, or associated series. Everyone’s path and learning pace is of course different, but if you have not done any customisation before I urge you to get the basics down first. I have witnessed too many times, beginners creating customs right off the bat that are publicly (and unfairly) shot down in flames due to a lack of experience in the basics of modelling, and sometimes without even applying a little self-critique, and it’s not a pretty sight.  This article however is not about modelling per se, but is to advise on how you can develop your own concepts, themes and ‘back stories’ for your kits to start off your process of realising your ideas, if you want to try this route at all.

What is a back story?

Remember this, it really does not matter about canon. The kit is your’s, and you are not bound by any rules on how it should look. If you are fond of canon, and want to make it fit in say, the Gundam Universal Century timeline, then by all means do, just perhaps be more mindful of the type of critique you will receive, if you choose to showcase. You could even do a ton of research to really get it believable. Up to you! I’ve placed a few of my works in canon so far, such as this Geara Doga MG neo-zeon Daikun tribute.

A back story is of course a story surrounding your model. You can think about several aspects, such as who is the pilot? Which side is he / she on? What kind of character does the pilot have that would affect how the model looks? What weapons would he / she favour? Would he / she choose high-mobility? Light-weight armour? Environment is also a factor. Does your story take place on earth? Will your model be subject to weather conditions? Perhaps think about time too – how old is the model? Signs of rust? Fresh off the assembly line? The sky really is the limit here and what’s important is, can you convey it in your model?

Getting as much detail as possible can really help you focus on what you need to do, and can also really push your skills to help you improve. Having made your own story too, is surprisingly motivational since it invests your personality into your subject. Here’s a rudimentary ordered check-list, to help you dig down into a rich back-story:

  1. Universe: Chaotic / Warring Factions / Feudal / Peaceful / Pirates! / Terrorist / Post-war / Pre-war / Totalitarian / Religious conflict / Alternative reality / Canon / Our reality!
  2. Pilot’s character: Good / Bad / Neutral / Psychotic / Stoic / Virtuous / Mysterious / Funny / Egotistical / Complex / Dumb / Naive or no pilot at all!
  3. Mech: Completely customised (to fit pilot, or not!) / modified / standard, but with custom paint work / Grunt / Super-boss! / unconventional (maybe it’s got 4 legs?) / inappropriate / Non-combatant or civilian use / Covert / Support / Heavy / Light / Alien / Holy / Factory fresh / Space-weathered / Land-weathered / Battled / Destroyed / Long-distance range / Short range / A model, of a model? Getting all meta now!
  4. Load-out: Standard / Make-shift / Heavy / Light / Overkill / Unconventional / Cumbersome / Ranged / Melee / None?

This is of course, not just tied to a single character or mech. You could include all of this if you are intending to do a diorama with multiple models. You can be as in-depth, or as vague as you like. You could even provide a back story when you are showcasing, if you feel it’ll help. Just bear in mind, most people will not take the time to read it!

For some examples, I asked a couple of well known modellers about their projects. Special thanks to them for taking the time to answer my questions 🙂

Child of Mecha has a great example of back-story in canon work within the Gundam Universal Century timeline, more specifically in the wake of the Advance of Zeta series of picture novels, with the hugely impressive MSZ-006C1 (Bst) Zeta+ C1 Hummingbird, and included elements of the back-story on a plaque located in the display base:

CoM-hummingbird1

CoM-hummingbird6

CoM-hummingbird3

CoM-hummingbird4As you can see, Tim (AKA Child of Mecha) has created a back story from the Universe (Alternate canon, Universal Century), the Pilot (Lt. Thomas ‘red’ O’Malley, special forces pilot), the Mech (Customised, heavy weaponry, space-faring, long-range travelling off the factory line) andCoM-hummingbird5 the Load-out (Heavy, long range, powerful and customised, even has the pilot’s name as a decal!). Some additional factors Tim has included are what ship it was deployed from, what military detachment and faction it belongs with, and the time period in the UC line in which it is set. Just goes to show, you are not limited to just is it zeon or feddy? I asked Tim what his process was to come up with the back-story for this almighty project:

“Tough one. I think it originated from looking at the history of the Hummingbird online, how it was originally designed as an escort unit for the Plan303E Deepstriker, but since that was cancelled, so was the Hummingbird. Then I wondered what would it look like if the Hummingbird wasn’t cancelled, but yet further refined. I had the idea of a special unit that piloted Hummingbirds and Zeta+’s and the Grim Reapers were born. I wanted to keep the unit name and miscellaneous information somewhat grounded in reality. Since Annapolis is the state capital of Maryland (where I live), and it’s also home to the US Naval Academy, it made sense to think that a ship would be named after the city, so to pay homage, I assigned the Grim Reapers to the Annapolis. To further pay homage to my home I named the pilot, Thomas O’Malley, after, then, state govenor Martin O’Malley. I wanted to tie real world names and places into the background without going full on fanfic, but just enough for people to sink their teeth into when looking at the finished piece.”

You could even go right out of the box with your idea or back-story. Let’s look at the 2015 Gunpla Builders World Cup winner from Thailand, Win Eiam Ong’s (AKA the Paint Pusher) ‘another late night’.

another-late paint-pusher

He takes ordinary MG Epyon and MG Wing kit (with a few bits from others), and turns it into a diorama of a battle, carved out of wood by an artist, set in the ‘build fighters’ universe. It’s a theme, within a theme with minimal canon, no pilot, no focus on the mechs even, but the entire back-story is expressed in the work itself without any need for explanation. Conceptually, it’s right out-there, even meta-physical in a way and it’s a great example of taking a completely different approach to creating a back-story. Win’s idea came right out of the idea of no constraint to the expectation, which landed him the top prize in the mecha modelling world – do don’t feel like you ever have to be restrained by the model’s inherent purpose. Win explains this really well here, I urge you to have a read!

As always, I want to ask you, do you find having a back-story helps in your creative process, or do you not bother at all and just paint what you feel like painting? Ever become dangerously obsessed with your back-story and extended it into a full fan-fiction? Got any helpful hints or tips as to how to come up with a theme or back-story? I love to hear from you folks, so please, spill your brains and share your thoughts!

Thankings!

 

 

 

 

 

Getting started on YouTube

Starting your own channel on YouTube is a great way to share what you are doing in the hobby, so I thought I would share a few thoughts when it comes to creating your own channel. I need to thank Zach (ZakuAurelius),  Henry (Vegeta8259), Jiminboo (Gunpla Fixation) and Justin (JustiniusBuilds) here as this was something we recently discussed in the GunplaTalk and where a lot of this advice comes from. I’m drifting around the 2k subscriber mark and have kind of let up on YouTube for a bit, but my experience does count for something.

First of all, decide what you are making the channel for. Are you making the channel to document your building process? To do a kind of V-log of your life in the hobby? Reviewing kits, paints or tools, or offering some tutorials? Showcasing your completed works?

You can do any mixture of anything really, it is after all, your channel, but I would offer up a few tips to bear in mind if you want to gain a following or produce good, watchable content.

Be yourself!

Goes without saying, but so many new channels attempt to copy other peoples ‘style’ and end up being called out for it. Reproducing the same old tired review format too is not going to get you anywhere – unless you do it incredibly well. Inject your own personality into it, don’t try to be a ‘presenter’. Be conversational. This is not TV.

Talk about stuff.

Talk about what you are doing, why you are doing it, what your opinion is. Engaging people and drawing them into your subject is a great way to interact through comments. Don’t hold back on what you think too – not every point of contention breeds negativity, it can often draw a great debate that can be helpful rather than shit-slinging. Just train yourself to blank stupid, and engage with those who are offering up valid arguments amicably and respectfully.

Don’t ignore people, especially those offering helpful points.

Some of the larger YouTube channels do this, and it’s incredibly ignorant. It also breeds that ‘ol ‘holier than thou’ mentality that will only result in you losing subscribers. Answer as many comments as you can, where required. You can, contrary to this point’s title, ignore trolls and obvious dickheads.

Show what you are doing, in detail

I often watch a video of a completed model or part and think to myself “wow, that’s amazing! how did they do that?”, or “they used this paint.. but how was it applied?” You may not want to share your secrets, but doing so will encourage you to experiment more, and share your findings – as well as spark conversations.

Edit

Edit your videos. Those moments where you go blank when starting a new sentence don’t need to be experienced by viewers. Slurping from your cup, looking something up online or text messaging someone is lazy. People are taking the time to watch your video, give them a little respect at least by editing out your idle moments. Some YouTubers are blessed with flowing charisma, in which case they don’t even need to edit – most of us are not.

You don’t need huge production values

Just a good camera, good sound and good lighting. You need not be an expert film maker, but you can tell at least when something is watchable, so always watch your own vids back. You don’t need a flashy, graphical 30 second intro, but it helps to have a little something that give’s your vids familiarity, even if it’s just a still.

Be regular

Humans love routine! On a Friday, I get home from work and I watch a few regular shows that are a nice highlight to the end of the week for me. Knowing when the next vid is coming makes watching them habitual – and this is something you want to get people doing. Just make sure the content warrants habitual viewing 🙂

Keep the content consistent, and throw in something different now and again

When I used to do regular vids, I did one every Sunday – normally just a WIP of my current model. Then, every couple of months I would have a kind of “catch up” where I discuss community things, stuff I have bought, new paints, tools and so on. Mixing it up from the usual now and again keeps it fresh.

Don’t beg for stuff

Want to open up a fresh can of hate? Then ask people for stuff. Honestly, this is a very dumb thing to do, especially when you have a low amount of subscribers. Unfortunately, a promise in return for products is not enough. If you are established, have great, regular content and a positive following you’ll know how to ask in the best possible way, because you will know your audience – and they’ll know what they can expect from you.

Don’t be conned into positively promoting shit

Being contacted by a potential sponsor is great, although you should be aware that you need to make it clear that you are being sponsored. Some sponsors may ask you to promote a product you know is terrible – either decline it, or just be honest and say it’s shit in your review. People do not like people without integrity who are obviously lying through their teeth. Honesty is a far better route. A retailer that respects your opinion of a product, positively or negatively is a great retailer to work with.

Don’t misuse Patreon

Patreon is a smashing platform to offer up a ‘tip jar’ to your audience, who can regularly donate small amounts of cash to help you produce more content. Offering up your Patreon page, and just starting “help me do my hobby” is the wrong way to do it, especially when you are just starting out in the hobby and no one really knows you. “help me make better content for you, and offer you some extra nice things” is the right way to do it. I recently too saw a very prominent youtuber make the most terrible pitch for Patreon I have ever seen – offering another video of the same kind of content they had previously done in a completely nonchalant manner. If you are considering this, get a good pitch going and research into what works best for you, and your audience. Speak with some other YouTubers in the community and ask what they did. Look at how your videos can be improved – set a target perhaps to purchase a new microphone or camera to improve the quality – at least then the audience will experience what they have tipped you for.

Personal problems? Need to check out for a while?

Then do. If you’re starting to feel like it’s not fun, then stop – just let your audience know you’re going away for a bit. Everyone know’s we all have lives we need to live, letting people know you’re taking a break is a positive courtesy and allows your return to be welcoming.

Sub-for-Sub

This is the dumbest route to get subscribers who will never watch your videos. It’ll also make you look like you want to ‘cheat the system’ without providing anything worth watching. Don’t be one of these people.

Interact with other channels

Comment, like and subscribe to other channels you like in the same hobby. The more interactive you get, the more YouTube is likely to feature you in searches – not only this you’ll get to know others who are doing the same stuff as you, which can lead to channel shout-outs, collaborations, build-offs and more.

Let people know what you do

Don’t be too worried about promoting your channel through other social networks or forums, just make sure you read and understand any rules in these places regarding spamming.  Creating Facebook and Instagram accounts for your hobby is a good way to promote what you are doing too, and offer up a little more interaction. it’s good too to separate this from your personal Facebook – it’s likely people want to see what you’re doing Gunpla-wise rather than what you are eating for dinner, or what you think about Kanye West.

Hopefully something here will help you out. There is a ton of really excellent channels out there so you’ve got plenty of inspiration to draw from, so get out there and start interacting and talking. From my perspective, I like to share on a bite-size level the hours I spend making models, and I am glad a few folks enjoy watching what I do. I’m not all that fussed about gaining a huge following (although it would be nice) but I do want to make content that’s worth watching and to contribute something to the community at least. I’m still refining and interacting as much as I can to improve and still have a lot to learn. Hopefully I can get back to regularly posting, I just need to finish off Fallout 4..

 

Why should I prime my kits?

I recently saw a YouTuber comment in a video on the question “Why don’t you prime your models?” with the response “because I don’t have the time […] and the parts are too small”. Now, how we all work is down to the individual, but even if this is not intended advice, there may be some who follow suit and take it as gospel. You should, and most modellers will agree, prime your models.

If you want to have great results, you need to give your models time and attention. Not priming because of a lack of time is your decision, but expect sub-par results if you’re still learning the ropes, or are just plain lazy and impatient. It take’s some serious know-how to do it without, and get good results.

So what’s the problem? It looks great without priming, right? It’s likely that if you have not been mecha modeling for a while this will be your conclusion, and in some instances, you may very well be correct. The more you get into the hobby however the more you’ll probably strive to improve, and the more you’ll realise just how important this process is. On a personal note, when I see other modellers who have greater experience than my own not priming – and telling others it’s not necessary, it’s outright irresponsible and subjective.

Priming is a key binding process your model needs to add strength and a consistent finish to your models. Priming is the process of adding a porous layer to the surface, to enable paint to have better ‘grip’ as opposed to a less porous surface where there is much less friction. Without a priming layer your paint is at a significantly increased risk of sagging, running, bubbling and graining. It’ll also be very weak, be very prone to scratching and have a higher risk of stripping off if you want to do some masking.

The way you prime your model can also be dependent on your style or comfort. For instance, some people will use a rattlecan primer such as Tamiya grey primer, some will use an air brushing brand, and different colours will yield different results according to how vibrant they want certain colours to be. With this in mind, I urge anyone starting out to try out many different types and application methods, and find out what works best for you.

There will also be some cases where priming is actually not necessary. In my case, I don’t prime metallics in order to keep the shine as high as possible. In these cases I’ll use a good levelling enamel to form a good, hard coat. I’ll spray it in 2 layers – one for a ‘sticky’ light covering left to dry for 10-20 mins to aid cohesion, and a second to completely cover the piece. This is not however an argument against priming altogether.

For me, I started out using no primer at all and rattlecan paints. As you can imagine, after doing my very first painted model I noticed paint dripping and sagging all over the place, so on the next I used Tamiya primer – worked a treat. From there I have evolved into airbrushing, trying out all kinds of brand primers with varying results (over 3 years now). Now, I use alcad II black, white and grey primers & microfillers depending on the intended colour. I also double prime, meaning the first primer layer is wet-sanded, and a second is added and wet sanded again to make perfectly smooth surfaces that still remain porous. It’s a fair amount of work, but the results I am getting now are far better than I used to get, and have taught me the value of a good canvas to work on.

I guess I am not only saying it’s a fine idea to prime your model kits, I’m also saying don’t take any advice out of context from a popular source. You should also cross reference any advice with an alternative source, and check that the person giving the advice is qualified to do so (just take a look at their work in comparison to known pros, for starters).  See here, here and here to help you understand a little deeper from other people’s experiences, and professional advice as to why priming is a good idea.

Get yourself in a build-off!

So what’s a build-off, and why should you take part in them?

It’s pretty simple, someone or a group of modelers will suggest something to build, be it a type of kit, a specific kit or even a diorama over an agreed time, or no time limit at all – anything goes. Some groups will choose to do it just for fun, or even with a prize for the most well done. Whatever the rules, you should always take part whenever, and wherever you can. Generally, build-off’s are not competitive and more educational designed to help people improve. They also tend to not have any fixed rule about entering or even finishing a kit. Our Jesta build off from last year is still ongoing! It can be for just 2 people, or many more. Anything goes.

Why? Aside from the obvious test of your skills there is so much more to it. Building in a group enables you to get feedback from other participants in similar situations. Also, the more you interact with others, the more you’ll find friendship and opportunities to help each other out. Build-off’s can offer tests of interaction with other cultures from around the world helping you to better understand your mecha modelling brothers and sisters. It’ll also reveal those who you don’t want to interact with. Starting a closed group and a group chat on facebook is a really handy way to keep track of build-off’s, and for immediate interaction if you’re in a tight spot. It can also be a tremendous laugh, especially if the theme is particularly amusing. It need not be serious at all.

There’s tons of build-off’s going all over the social sphere right now, we’re even talking about doing one in the old gunpla forums facebook page. There’s also one (although the end date is fast approaching) over in the UK Gunpla Modellers group.

There are of course some modelers who only ever do huge, complex projects, commissions or competition standard kits so of course build-off’s won’t be for everyone.

So what are you waiting for? Build-off’s are great for a little relaxed build between bigger more complex projects. Give them a go when you can, and if you’re starting one, let me know!

My Way: Smooth and Subtle Armour Parts

I thought I would share with you my process of painting armour parts. This is subject to change of course, but is currently how it works for me with the mediums i’m used to.

The paints I use for armour parts in order are Alclad grey or black primer, glossy tamiya acrylics, hombrol enamel, alclad aquaclear and finally, Tamiya flat clear. You can replace the Tamiya paints here for Vallejo model air – something I am currently experimenting with.

The process is simple, but can be time consuming.

  1. Once all your armour parts are prepared and ready to paint, give it a normal coat of primer according to the brightness of your final colour on a low psi of around 15 right out of the bottle. Make sure everything is covered, not too thick and grainy but with a little texture to touch.
  2. Wet sand, using a very fine 1500 grit until all parts are silky smooth. Make sure you get right in the curves and details. Don’t worry if the edges start to show through. Give the parts a rinse in clean water after. You don’t need it to be glass-smooth so no need for any buffing.
  3. Repeat! Prime, wet sand again. You should have very nice, smooth surfaces at this point.
  4. Base coat in your chosen thinned Tamiya glossy acrylic at a normal 25psi.
  5. Pre-shade according to your chosen colour scheme, thinned at a low 10psi up close. get right into those details and recesses.
  6. Medium coat in your chosen ‘final’ colour at normal psi.
  7. Highlight in either a lighter tone, or the same tone as your final colour, light coats until you have a good looking depth, that’s not too overpoweringly contrasted.
  8. Do 1-3 light coats of aquaclear, check that nothing is gathering in detail.
  9. Panel line in enamel, thinned with enamel thinner. I find lighter fluid a little too destructive for the aquaclear to take, if it breaks through to the acrylic underneath it’ll come right off in clean-up.
  10. Do another light coat of aquaclear to seal in the panel lining.
  11. Apply decals.
  12. Another 1-3 coats of aquaclear to seal in the decals and close off any edges.
  13. Top coat in Tamiya flat, according to how matted you want it. (best to do this part when the entire model is assembled as a final step, for consistency).

And that’s it. The process of double-priming for me is key here – it get’s rid of any sinkage in the plastic parts, and any tiny flaws, while providing a good, strong and smooth base for the acrylic to grab onto. Aquaclear provides that extra protection when panel lining, and adds that extra touch of glossy smoothness. It seems a little contrary to be doing al this if you are going to ultimately flat-coat the kit in your final stages – but float-coating over a really nice and smooth paint surface looks gorgeous, and flawless. It’ll also give you a choice as to weather you ultimately flat or gloss coat in your topcoat – and not be forced to flat-coat to cover up any nasty, grainy work.

 

Colour Schemes – a few tips

Choosing a colour scheme can be a time consuming experience. For some, it’s easy, “I want to paint it red” is pretty straightforward. For others (myself included) it’s something I give a lot of thought to. I tend to take into account the models design, it’s ‘back-story’ (if there is one), and perhaps on a superficial level if someone else had done the same colour scheme before. With this in mind, for those of us who do arguably over think colour schemes, I thought I would write a few tips to help you out.

Inspiration for colour schemes can come from a wide variety of sources. Everyday life, nature, the internet – sometimes something just catches your eye and you think “That just might work“. Take a picture of it, and save it somehow! I have a whole folder in my computer, rammed full of pictures of interesting colour combinations. It helps a lot. I also keep a Pinterest board, reserved for some of my favourite models and colour schemes to help keep the brain juices flowing. It also helps to having a good understanding of colour theory, so let’s start with a few basic principles. Feel free to skip this bit if you ‘know your shit’, or give it a go if you ‘know you’re shit’.

Colour Types:

colour_types

Primary colours:

Red, Yellow, Blue

Secondary colours:

Orange, Purple, Green. Mixes of primary colours.

Tertiary colours:

Vermillion (red-orange), Amber (Orange-yellow), Chartreuse (Yellow-Green), Teal (Green-Blue), Violet (Blue-Purple), Magenta (Purple-Red). Mixes of Primary and Secondary colours.

Achromatic,  tint, tone  and shade colours:

Mixes of two teriary colours, or any colour mixed with white (tint), black (shade) or grey (tone). White, Black and Grey are ‘pure’ achromatic colours.

So, here are some basic starting categories of colour scheme you can think about:

colour_combos

Analogous colour scheme:

A sequence of colours on a colour wheel.

Complimentary colour scheme:

Opposite primary, secondary or tertiary colours on a colour wheel.

‘Real world’ colour scheme:

Military application camouflage or uniform colour scheme.

‘Bizarre’ colour scheme:

Non-complimentary, expressive or inconsistent. Nature, or fractal inspired.

Let’s refine it a little more in terms of Mecha Modelling.

‘Near-complimentary’

A lot of good colour schemes rely on a simple system of strong vs. weak, with tints and shades for detail. This is a combination of a colour with a high chroma (saturation or ‘intensity’), set against a achromatic colour, in effect almost a ‘near-complimentary’ colour scheme. For example, a strong red works well with a light grey. Using tints and shades of your chosen colours on various symmetrical panels on your model will work wonders adding detail – normally done in the achromatic part of the scheme. Subtle but discernible a good rule to follow. Too strong a difference in tint or shade will make it look like an additional colour, and make it look too busy. Experimentation is the key here.

Analogous ‘inflections’

In situations where the bulk of a scheme is made up from an analogous colour scheme, a complimentary or near-complimentary colour with high chroma is added in very small sections to really ‘set it off’. This is often applied to wing tips, trims, tips of feet or head decorations. Why this is appealing to so many of us I don’t know, but it works!

Camouflage

Camouflage can be tricky to get right. There is a huge amount of information on schemes available on-line, and through military scale modelling communities you can ask advice from, but it takes some practice to get something looking good. Keep in mind, the scale of the model you are working on and perhaps take a look at some real world examples for help. If you are aiming for realism, think of environment and back-story to help you out.

Weathering

That’s a whole new ball game. Although it is quite a big factor in the look of your overall model, it does not entirely apply to the colour scheme. For that reason, I’ll skip writing any more on this. I have quite literally no expertise here – but there is a wealth of resource available on the subject easily accessible from Google!

Metallics

For general impressions, a shiny model with well done metallics or candy-coats always gives you a nice sense of satisfaction and interest from admirers, but is hard to do right. Too many modellers when first experimenting with metallics go on an all-out chrome hard-on and make a model look like some kind of trophy – and while useful as a learning experience it does not create an entirely original looking model. Mixing metallics and non-metallics can also make a model look a little ‘unfinished’. Practice makes perfect here. Most stick to a single metallic colour for an overall scheme, or analogous. A mix of metallics could look too busy, or even too ‘toy’ like – but do experiment!

Finish

Finally, the finish is a very important factor to think about. Matt finishing a model adds consistent light dispersal – giving it a more ‘clean’ and consistent look. It also helps to disguise any decal edging, and is the easiest to produce. It’s also very useful for hiding any painting flaws! Gloss finishes are less common, but no less impressive, and require a lot of hard work to get right. Some modellers use highly toxic polyurethane top coats and buff over them using ceramic compounds for a truly glossy surface. I recommend lots of research before endeavouring to get that ‘sports gloss’ look.

Inner Frames

In general, inner frame or mechanical parts of a mecha model are painted in (obviously) metallics. Bandai promo shots normally show models in a flat grey. Even though an inner frame is most commonly, the least ‘seen’ part of a model it’s still important to think about. Exposed parts showing detail, such as pipes, pistons or joints painted using different colour metallics look great regardless of colour scheme in my opinion, and add that element of realism that really makes a great looking model. As a basic rule, I paint pistons in chrome, and the housing in gold. Some modellers add a red of blue candy coat to the housing too which looks fantastic. ‘Under armour’ such as frames underneath skirting is also worth attention and will give you bonus satisfaction points.

Remember, colour is perceptually subjective, influenced by mood, culture, personality and light. What’s important for you is that you are happy with what you are doing, and experiment as often as you can and find out some awesome combinations. Hopefully, this helps you out a little!

 

 

 

 

UK Customs Charges Calculator

Buying something from Japan in the UK? Not sure how much the glorious empire state UK customs are going to charge you?

I knocked up a little google spreadsheet for you, all you need to do is enter in the total cost of your goods and the shipping in the blue boxes, and it’ll work out the total ransom cost you’ll have to pay customs!

Remember though, if your order is over £135 you’ll need to add on Customs Duty, which is a whole new infinitely complicated ball game. I’ll update the spreadsheet when I can work it all out.

It also may not be 100% accurate due to HM customs exchange rates being taken at different times, but it’ll certainly be in the right ballpark. The handling fee is also charged by Royal Mail – so if you are using EMS shipping be prepared to pay it. Other couriers may charge different handling fees so bear this in mind!

Click here to view, or download a copy of the UK Customs Ransom Calculator. 

 

All of your Gunpla and Mecha news in one place!

Tired of sifting though page after page of ad-splattered and confusingly laid-out blogs about all the latest Gunpla and mecha related news?

Tired of going through the teeth-grinding ignorance and troll-like fanboyism of Gundam Guy’s comments system?

Then get yourself feedly! It’s an incredibly simple RSS feed organiser I have been using for years. Use it right in your browser, and it neatly organises all of the latest articles from blogs in one, handy reader. Some of you might already be using an RSS reader and thats cool, but some of you might not be aware, so I thought I would share with you the RSS feeds I have loaded into my feedly, to provide me with my daily-dose of up to date news and model showcases from the best Gunpla and mecha news sources.

Download and install Feedly here: (runs in your browser, and works cross-platform on your mobile too!)

http://feedly.com/index.html

Adn add these feeds for a great daily digest:

http://gundamguy.blogspot.com/

http://www.gunjap.net/

http://www.gundamkitscollection.com/

..and of course, add me!

http://www.gundamuk.com

And a few friends of mine for some awesome WIPs and tutorials:

http://modeller-innovation.blogspot.com/

http://edgundamsandfigures.blogspot.com/

http://zincium.net/

http://sneepersrobotgarage.blogspot.com/

http://justiniusbuilds.blogspot.com/

How to build and paint a gundam model? Part 1

Let’s start off by getting a few things clear before we delve into this. This guide is now I (currently) paint and customise my models. You can use part of this as a beginners guide, however if you are a complete beginner, need something a little more detailed or are finding this a little steep, I highly recommend downloading or purchasing a hard copy of this excellent beginners primer from Monoeye press, the beginners guide to mecha modelling. This guide also assumes you will be comfortable with operating and using an airbrush.

Gundam models are most commonly known as gunpla. There is a mind-boggling amount of models, varying in size, grade and complexity. If you want to understand more about this, then click here to read my blog post “what is mecha modelling?”.

There is no, definitive and widely accepted way to paint and customise your gunpla. The way you paint and customise, will be your journey alone, and you’ll find out over time in the hobby and by interacting with others in the community what works best for you. As explained at the beginning of this article, this is how I paint and customise my Gunpla, and as such should only be taken as one method. The materials and tools I use in this are what is avaiable to me here in the UK. Check out my resources page by clicking here for some handy links for UK modellers.

What follows is a step-by-step on how to paint your gunpla, which can be applied to any class or scale of model.

Let’s start with what tools you’ll need to get started.

Basic building tools:

Hobby Knife set
Hobby Knife set
Bastard File
Bastard File
Sandpaper, various grits
Sandpaper, various grits
Side-cutters or nippers. Modelling type.
Side-cutters or nippers. Modelling type.

-Side-cutters.
-Sandpaper (I go for 240 grit, 800, 1000, 1200). Waterproof is the best choice.
-Bastard file.
-Quality, sharp hobby knife.

Building your model

This part is a piece of cake. Open the instructions, and follow them! Yes, they are in Japanese, but following the pictures should not be any trouble at all. Some people will cut all of the parts off first, then “de-nub” the entire kit (the process of removing the excess plastic attached to the parts, after being cut off the runner), however I tend to build and de-nub at the same time as some parts will need more thorough de-nubbing than others.

I like to completely build my kits before I paint, so I can take a good look at it and understand its movement and design, so help me make the right decisions when it comes to painting the kit. Even if I am building and painting the kit OOB (Out Of Box, refers to the kit being painted the same colour as the parts). With this in mind, be mindful that later down the line you are going to be disassembling the kit.loose fitting” (some people refer to this as “test fitting“) is a good tactic here, not securely fitting the parts together but just enough for it to hold and be functional. Use common sense here, if you can see a part is going to be very hard to remove later down the line, or you are not confident that you’ll be able to mask-paint it later on, then either leave the part out, or trim down the fitting pegs a little to make it easier to remove.

A lot of the building process requires always thinking about how you are going to handle it later on, so always be mindful of the build as you progress.

Cutting parts from the runners and “de-nubbing”.

Using your side-cutters, cut each part away from the runner, leaving a little excess, like this:

P1040953

Once the part is free, it’ll look like this:

P1040956

If you have trouble getting your side cutters in, use a good sharp hobby knife to cut it out, staying well clear of cutting towards yourself. Trim off the excess nubs, leaving a little stub. It’s a good idea to do this rather than trim the lot off, because it will reduce the chance of the plastic stressing and warping.

P1040958 P1040959

You’ll want to sand down that last stub, so start off with a low-density sandpaper (I use 240 grit) to completely take off the stub. Once gone, sand over again in increasingly dense grits of sandpaper. You can see the process below. Sticking the sandpaper to a popsickle stick is a really helpful way to keep control of your sand paper, but you can simply fold it.

Varying grits of sandpaper
Varying grits of sandpaper
Sanding after 240 grit
Sanding after 240 grit
Sanding after 800, then 1000, then 1200 grit. Nice and smooth.
Sanding after 800, then 1000, then 1200 grit. Nice and smooth.

I do this for each piece as I progress through the instructions. It’s also worth keeping a damp cloth handy, or a large brush to brush off any sand residue.

Stickers and Decals

As you build you’ll notice now and again the instructions will point out the addition of a sticker or decal. If you are going to paint your kit, stickers largely a waste of time, leave them off. The only stickers (if I am feeling lazy) I use are the eye stickers, this saves a lot of time and some seriously precision painting later down the line (or a reverse wash, more on this in a later post). Water-slide decals are normally the first choice to be added to painted kits, if you have them with your kit, great! if not.. then you’ll have to either purchase some official ones for your kit, or look up a third-party supplier. There are a few of them around, one I use most often being samuel decal. Dry-rub transfers are another option too and are commonly found in master grade kits. Although not as easy to apply than water-slides, they look just as good. I’ll cover this too in a later post.

 So, that’s the very, very basics covered. Stay tuned for part 2 where we’ll be going over some basic seam line removal techniques, and starting the painting process!