This page was in dire need of an overhaul. I’ll be doing things bit by bit as I build, using the 1/100 MG Unicorn Gatling Guns as our subject. Sorry folks, the backlog is too big right now for me to crack open another kit just for the FAQ update. When I do get in to building fresh kits again I’ll be sure to take pictures with this in mind since there are some areas that can’t be covered with these things.
Let’s keep things basic for now. These are the tools I use to prep parts for painting or straightbuilding.
- Tamiya sharp side-cutters
- Some file that came with a gunpla tool kit I got ages ago
- X-Acto knife
- 320 grit sandpaper
- 1000 grit sandpaper
- Some sort of clamp thing who’s exact name escapes me
- CA Glue (AKA super glue)
Some can be skipped, like the CA glue and clamp unless you’re working with something that has particularly nasty seam lines. Bandai has gotten really good at making them blend with the kit, resulting in only really needing it for weapons or small things in general.
In any case, after clipping out the parts from the runner you should have something like this. The manuals recommend it and so do I. Leaving this little bit of extra sprue ensures that your part won’t be damaged by the side-cutters when you’re removing them from the part tree. This also makes it easier to cut and sand the part afterwards so you have some room to carefully dispose of the nub.
After clipping the parts free I’ll usually cut the nub off to just shy of flush with the x-acto knife, then sand it down with the file (slowly and without applying too much pressure as to avoid any weird marks left behind by the file) until the nub is completely gone. However, the file is still kind of rough so it’s not exactly the smoothest finish we could have.
Which is why we go over it with out 1000 grit sandpaper (wetsanding all the way, just get a little bit of water on the section of sandpaper you’re using and go to town) to really smooth things out.
Much better, right?
But since this particular part is composed of two halves, that leaves us with an ugly little seam line going right down the middle. This calls for our good fiends CA glue and the clamp. Apply superglue to the edge of the part in a decent capacity so it oozes out when you press the halves together. It goes without saying, but be sure to avoid getting it everywhere or on your hands! Once you have the parts together, apply the clamp.
See how the glue comes out where the parts go together? Give it a good hour or three to make sure it’s completely cured (though 24 hours couldn’t hurt if you have the time and aren’t impatient like me) then remove the clamps.
Start sanding the excess glue away with 320 grit sandpaper (again, wetsand!) until it appears to be pretty much gone then wetsand with 1000 grit again to smooth everything out. Be careful here not to oversand and screw up the part! Final result?
Some sexy albeit rough around the edge gatlings. This is just the beginning though. Next step: priming!
This section ison the short side, but it’s become a key step that I admittedly still neglect sometimes. Here’s a breakdown of what I use.
- Iwata HP-CS airbrush
- Tamiya anti-static model cleaning brush
- Alclad II white primer microfiller/Mr. Surfacer 1200
- Mr. color levelling thinner
- Bamboo skewers
Primer does come in cans if you do not have an airbrush, Tamiya and Mr. Surfacer are both options as well as other kinds I haven’t used. Before applying any sort of paint to my kits I give them a once over with the anti-static brush to remove any dust or foreign particles from the parts. This prevents any fuzzies or the like from getting trapped under the paint and screwing up a smooth finish. It’s an expensive tool at 26$ but if you’ve got the cash I find it to be something useful to have around.
Choosing the color of the primer can have an impact on things too. White primer is good for bright, vibrant colors and grey primer works better with darker colors. One thing I will note though is that when you’re painting white, use a light grey primer if you have one available. Painting white over white primer is kind of a pain due to the fact that it can be tricky to see how good your coverage is.
I usually leave my compressor set in the 10-15 range and get the best results out of it. Something that comes in time is a good technique for airbrushing and that’s something you’ll need to develop on your own. Trial and error will result in learning, folks! In any case, this PSI with a general lightness on the trigger on your airbrush should give you a nice even flow of paint. Attach the underside of the parts to the skewers via blue-tac and find something solid to put them in like a chunk of styrofoam. After that make multiple passes with light coats about 2 or 3 inches away from the part and go from there. Never fully open up with your airbrush at close range since it’ll just be a horrid mess.
I should note that while the Alclad II primer comes prethinned, the Mr. Surfacer kind does not. Because of this, you’ll need to get some thinner and given that cold weather is right around the corner I tend to use Mr. Color’s quick drying leveling thinner for best results. I’ve had a lot of success mixing it (like all the other paints) at a 50:50 ratio. If you’re having issues with this, try adding the thinner first to a small measuring cup (like the ones that come with medicine) and then adding the thinner until you have the correct ratio. The reason I say add thinner first because adding too much thinner results in spiderwebbing. When that happens instead of spraying paint it sprays irritating wisps of already-dried paint out of the airbrushing and I don’t need to tell you how irritating that is. If you’ve got too much paint in the mix it just won’t spray and you can just thin it down bit by bit until you hit the sweet spot. This is another thing that as time goes on, you get a feel for it and develop a system that works for you.
In any case, after priming you can see how much smoother the gatling’s drum looks. The primer fills in all those little scratch marks we made while sanding away the super glue! Primer will also show any areas that aren’t sanded properly so you can make sure the nubs are gone completely.
Perfect! The seam lines are completely gone on this drum. Right?
Nope! This is why it is important to inspect parts carefully. If you’ve got a desk lamp or the like it can come in real handy for things like this. While normal lighting makes everything look fine it is best to be diligent in your process and check it carefully. Yes, it can be tedious and boring but if it’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that you get out of a kit what you put in to it.
Look how blatant that is! It’s one of those things that most people won’t notice unless they’re looking insanely close at it, but it’s still something worth fixing. After all, if you’re going to the trouble to clean up seam lines why not make sure you do it all the way? This is exactly why we prime things so we can spot issues like this.
Bust out the 320 grit sandpaper and water again and get to work. Now it’s really obvious that I didn’t get it all, but it’s also easier to tell now if I managed to get it flush.
Now that the seam lines are dead-dead-dead, it’s time to give them the painting proper treatment! Something tha’s very important to remember when it comes to painting (no matter what method you use) is that developing good technique is something that comes in time and after a lot of practice and trial and error.
Now, this is something that I’m still learning. Preshading is when you lay down a darker color before the main color and then paint the lighter color over it. Paint the parts farther away from it regularly, then hit the darker area with a mist coat so some of the dark color is visible beneath it. I had mixed success with this, as I’m still getting the hang of it. Gamera Baenre has a good section for this in his own tutorial that I suggest checking out to get a good example.
I start my paint mixing by adding thinner directly to the airbrush’s cup. I used to use little measuring cups like the ones that come with medicine but after time went by I got used to eyeballing it accurately. The cup for the Iwata HP-CS is 1/3 of an ounce, so while I’m sorry that I can’t tell you how much thinner I put in it, I will say that I think around 50:50 or 40:60 (thinner:paint) is usually the ratio I aim for.
Post-paint. Make sure you mix up the paint in the bottle before you pour it in to the mixing cup or airbrush’s feed cup. I prefer the latter, mixing it with the thinner using a bamboo skewer while bubbling the mixture. You do this by slightly unscrewing the frontmost part of the airbrush nozzle and pulling back on the trigger. Milk-like consistency is what everyone will tell you to aim for but it still took some time for me to nail it down properly and mix paint consistently and in proper quantities. Airbrushes are extremely efficient when it comes to paint, on average I use less than 2mL for painting most MGs unless I’m using a lot of a particular color. I do find it pertinent to mix enough paint to make sure I can cover all of the parts that I’ll be painting that color to ensure that it’s the same shade, just in case. This is something that you’ll figure out with trial and error, much like most of the painting process.
Your first pass should be a light coat. Even with primer down try not to drown the part in paint and get sections runny or the like. This applies to spray cans too, though the technique is harder to develop for them due to the fact you’re either pressing the nozzle down or not. Distance and keeping the can moving are key for getting proper mist coats with cans. The same applies to an airbrush, though the distance you can get away with when it is much closer. Again, trial and error will develop your skills in this section.
Continue making multiple light passes, giving the parts 20-30 minutes to dry (remember: leveling thinner dries super fast). If you’re preshading, remember to move the airbrush farther away from the part to mist over that part so some of the dark color remains.
The next section we’ll be jumping over to my recently completed MG Deathscythe Hell Ver. EW to cover aftermarket thrusters!
Here are the parts for the MG Deathscythe ver. EW laid out. I prepared these a really long time ago so I don’t have WIP shots of what I did. However, you can see that I clipped off the parts the old thruster parts attached to (regular look of the parts here) and drilled holes so the new parts could sit flush.
A closer look. The parts used for the outer thursters are the parabellum M from Gundam Guy’s store and I really don’t remember what I used for the innermost ones. If you’re not sure on sizes, I highly recommend asking Gunday Guy/whoever you’re buying from about the size you need to prevent trial and error and wasting money buying incorrectly sized parts. Given how expensive these things can be, it’s much better to get it right on the first try. Since these come in a few parts, I also glue them together very carefully to avoid overrun. After a little sizing trial and error for where it connects it’s time to put everything together. Make sure you’re done mucking about with things and have it just how you want it, as while I’m sure there are other methods of attaching them I once again default to using superglue.
Something worth noting is color co-ordination. If the parts you pick have an inner part like these do, consider making them fall in line with the suits colors in one way or another. Red would probably normally look weird on this suit, but since I used red on the eyes and cameras for Deathscythe I find it to be acceptable. Your opinion may vary, of course. Gold is another nice color that generally looks pretty good on the inside part of verniers.
Or, another option. In this case I went with a clear blue since it blends with the rest of the suit’s scheme. This is a trial and error affair and does come down to personal preference in some cases. These are the chief after market parts I’ve used thusfar, but as I branch out and use other types I’ll expand this section to include them.