Tools And How-To

Most other sites have one of these pages so people can get a better look at how the author does what they do best. While by and far I’m still new to the game I’ve managed to pick up a few techniques that prove to be helpful over and over.

First off, most of the things I do I learned from reading Martin Wandering’s Gunpla 101 tutorial over and over. The guide is very well organized and worded in a nice easy-to-understand manner. I highly suggest checking it out if you’re looking for tips. Like Z, I do not advise going out and buying everything you might need right away. Generally you should take a look at the model, decide what you’re going to want to do with it (be it something new or simply refreshing your current supplies) and go from there. Having an idea of what you want to do with the model will make it a little easier on you in the long run..

So, you’ve got your gunpla.

This is where everything begins! Let’s crack that bad boy open and see what we’ve got to work with.

They always put the manual at the bottom of these things…why is beyond me. Find that and flip through it to familiarize yourself with the model and figure out where you’re going to start. Some people like to build strictly by-the-book, others like me like to skip around and build weapons first, then go back and work on other areas. I find that building the weapons first is a nice countermeasure to the dreaded ‘weapons block’, which is what happens when you get to the end of a long project and just conk out and only put a little work in to the weapons. It sucks, and if you get it done early that might mean they’ll look that much better. While perusing the manual, if you’ve got anything special in mind for the model now is a good time to figure it out. If you have a plan of action for paint schemes, decals or other little details it’s much easier to execute when you’ve worked out some of the specifics ahead of time. Sometimes things don’t always go as planned, but if you can build a model you can usually come up with some sort of solution to any problems that may arise.

Once you’re all set, you’re going to have to clip out the parts you need. The manual actually shows the proper way to do this, with clipping a few millimeters away from the actual edge of the part. This is to make sure you don’t scratch or otherwise damage the part while cutting it off of the tree.

I usually clip out everything I need ahead of time so I don’t have to keep stopping to clip another part out. This way I can clean everything up all at once and assemble at the same time.

Here’s a big secret: I don’t use sand paper. After clipping the part off the tree, I cut down the flash with a hobby knife. It’s dangerous in some regards since, you know, there’s a chance you’ll ruin the part if you slip up with the blade. I’ve never had this happen though, so I guess until then I’ll stick with this method. What I do is put the blade against the nub as pictured and push against it with the blade angled up so if I do put too much force on it the blade goes away instead of down on to the part. Repeat this a few times and do the same from the opposite side to make sure the nub is gone all the way! After that, if there’s any white residue left over you can just scratch it with your thumbnail and it should hide it well enough (though this isn’t a big deal if you’re painting anyway). After the part is all cleaned up, it’s time to move on to painting (and if you’re not, just skip to the part about panel lining and decaling). The other big con is plenty evident by looking at my index finger…

Another big shocker: I don’t prime my models prior to painting. This is due to the fact that I’ve always liked darker colors or paint things in a fashion similar to the original scheme, neither of which really require primer. If you’re going to be painting something a lighter color, use primer before you realize it just doesn’t work. Trust me, I’ve tried. Moving on, if you’re going to go the route of spray painting via can Tamiya’s TS-xx series of paints have always given me great results. I organize everything by what color I’m going to paint them, grab a box, head outside and get to work.

And there you have it. If both sides need to be painted just wait about an hour, flip them over and go to it. Ideally, one sprays about 30cm away from the parts and lets a fine mist hit the stuff to be painted. This prevents paint building up on one area of the model. Another important thing to avoid is stopping with the spray on the part- always make sure to spray past the stuff being painted. For tiny details, I’ve got a tamiya size 0 brush or I just use one of the many gundam markers I have.

after painting, it’s time to fill in the panel lines. I’ve got no experience with panel line washes, so for now that method of panel lining can’t be covered here. For using the fine tipped gundam markers, I typically prefer to use those since the way they tend to spill ink out over the line makes it easy to simply rub of the extra with your thumb or an eraser and be left with a nice thin line. I also have a few copic pens, but since they’re warm grey in color they only really come in handy for white surfaces only. There’s not much extra here to explain…some people use pencils and the like for panel lining which works good too. Experiment and see what method you like best.

Gunpla models come with three different kinds of marking methods. Clear stickers, foil stickers and dry transfer decals. The application of the first two are pretty straightforward, though I know some people can be thrown off by the dry transfers if they haven’t dealt with them before. I find taping the dry transfer down (remember, glossy side up!) and rubbing it on with the blue part separator they give you with some MG kits work great. Make sure the decal is applied completely, you only get one chance with these things. I’ve noticed on older kits like my Ez8 they don’t go on so easy, but for stuff like the Sinanju and Zeta 2.0 they go on hassle-free.

If you’re not in the mood to deal with stickers and dry tranfers, you can just pick up a set of waterslide decals that usually include all of the normal stickers and the dry transfers. If they’re available I’ll usually get these since they look so much better on the finished model than a sticker. For some kits, like the Unicorn and Sinannju (or any ver. Ka kit, really), I feel that waterslide decals are a must. As far as applying the waterslides I’ve learned (thanks Sonar!) that a clear gloss coat should be applied before the decals to ensure you can move them around easily! After you’ve got it in place just roll over it with a q-tip to push the extra water out. After a few minutes of drying apply some Mr. Mark Softer and let dry overnight and you’ll have a decal with almost no visible edge!

after the decals have been applied and have dried properly (be very careful with them after the softer has been applied, you don’t want it to rip!) all that’s left is a finishing touch. If you’re going to weather your kit, give the model a flat topcoat, being sure to remove any clear parts unless you want them fogged up by the chemical. The flat topcoat helps the weathering stick a little better (or at least, the weathering compact I used- I’m no good at drybrushing) and after applying the weathering give it another flat topcoat. For most models, a flat topcoat is what you’re going to want to spring for since it takes away that shiny plastic toy look. Of course, if you’ve gone the route of metallics (as I often find myself doing) a nice coat of gloss will really make the model shine.

For brands, I used to exclusively use Mr. Hobby topcoat but due to recent restrictions on shipping that require companies to spend too much effort packing they are not exporting that particular brand any more. Luckily there are a lot of other variants out there, such as Tamiya’s flat/semi-gloss/gloss/pearl clears which are what I’ll be using from now on, having found the Tamiya gloss clear to have a better shine than Mr. Hobby’s gloss topcoat.

You can topcoat the model however you like, just follow the same rules as spray painting- some of you might prefer to topcoat each part individually to make sure you cover the whole part and others like myself just leave the model assembled and spray away. Depends on how thorough you’re being, really.

And there you have it! Once the topcoat dries go pose your model on your shelf, with or without a stand and sit back and bask in the glory of your hard work. While some people will complain if you don’t paint/panel line/ect a model, I’m of the belief that it’s your model, do what you want and get what you want out of it. Don’t be afraid to try new things though, there are a lot of resources out there that you can consult if you’re not sure how to go about doing something.

Have fun!

  1. #1 by Torianna on August 4, 2009 - 20:25

    Thanks for the list of tools needed for building a Gundam model. I’m looking forward to when I’ll be able to share a picture with that many Gundam models in it!

    Btw… Now, I REALLY like that quote of yours! 🙂

  2. #2 by ant1ph0n on November 17, 2009 - 13:23

    ahhh shit, ignore what i said in your older unicorn build.

    you’re the person i found comfort in knowing you used the technique i use for nubs! XD

  3. #3 by Otakuman1523 on December 8, 2009 - 00:28

    Great tutorial

  4. #4 by gman1523 on December 15, 2009 - 01:36

    Question what kind of primer do you use and if mr.surfacer is a good brand. And what do u recomend brush or spray

  5. #5 by Lupes on December 21, 2009 - 02:06

    I usually don’t prime thanks to the fact that I prefer darker colors, but Mr. Surfacer 1200 primed just fine. SPray/Airbrush will net you much better results than a brush as long as you exercise proper technique, I believe.

  6. #6 by Jonathan on January 2, 2010 - 01:54

    Hi Lupes,

    That’s a comprehensive guide. Wanna ask about metallic colors though.. should I apply metallic colors before painting? Or mix the base color with the metallic colors to paint? Since I’m using normal brushing.. kinda important to have the mix consistent throughout right?
    Can’t find GSI SM07 around.. any online store that I can order from? Would love to get my hands on these babies soon..

    Cheers and happy new year!!

  7. #7 by lupes on January 2, 2010 - 17:11

    Hey Jonathan, thanks for stopping by and I hope you had a good new year as well. To answer your question, I’m not 100% sure since I don’t really hand paint anything anymore except for fine details, but I’d assume that you should mix the paints together prior to painting..but then again, most colors out there have a metallic variant that you can just buy.

    Never used GSI’s paints, but it does look like it’ll be a better solution than the plated silver gundam marker. No idea where you can get them though. 😦 Sorry!

  8. #8 by Leo on February 1, 2010 - 20:10

    Hey, I just stumbled across your site, and I have to say I love your work. Your paint jobs look pretty clean and sleek, so I was just wondering how you got the black on the 00 raiser and exia to look that clean. Did you use spray paint and how did you get your beam sabers read like that?

  9. #9 by lupes on February 2, 2010 - 23:56

    @Leo: Thanks a ton! I always spray paint nowadays, and the clear red is no exception. Tamiya stuff has always been great to me!

  10. #10 by David on June 18, 2010 - 05:47

    I love the colours you are using. What colour Tamiya spray paints do you use? I am trying to get the colours for the strike, not too sure what white, red or blue to use……

  11. #11 by lupes on June 19, 2010 - 16:35

    I don’t usually spray in the normal colors, but I would say racing white, italian red and brilliant or french blue should cut it nicely.

  12. #12 by eman on August 14, 2010 - 16:19

    where’d you get the clear parts for your red astray. i bought the fully clear version for both red and blue astray

  13. #13 by lupes on August 14, 2010 - 16:20

    They came with the kit, I preordered the PG way back before it was first announced so I got the bonus clear parts and second sword.

  14. #14 by Bam on August 29, 2010 - 23:36

    my index finger looks similar to yours i must say v.v

  15. #15 by DF on December 30, 2010 - 03:33

    I think you should avoid getting anything with a finger print scanner if you’re still using the hobby knife.

  16. #16 by Tom on March 15, 2011 - 20:47

    So, I don’t need primer if I’m recoloring a piece from a dark color to a lighter color?

  17. #17 by lupes on March 15, 2011 - 20:53

    Tom :

    So, I don’t need primer if I’m recoloring a piece from a dark color to a lighter color?

    Other way around, it’d take way to many coats for painting dark to light to be effective. You’re much better off priming if you’re painting say, a blue part white.

  18. #18 by Will on December 1, 2011 - 04:35

    Very Nice Thanks Man!!

  19. #19 by KsK on January 15, 2012 - 04:05

    @ lupes
    good info just wanted as 2 question as i don’t see it in there?
    1.if i wanted to paint my gunpla with type of paint should be on top of each other(
    acrylic,lacquer,enamel) ?
    2. should i top coat it before wash panel line (enamel black) ?

    sorry there is no local gunpla shop here that i can ask for info in my country… ;_;

  20. #20 by lupes on February 18, 2012 - 04:08

    KsK :

    @ lupes
    good info just wanted as 2 question as i don’t see it in there?
    1.if i wanted to paint my gunpla with type of paint should be on top of each other(
    acrylic,lacquer,enamel) ?
    2. should i top coat it before wash panel line (enamel black) ?

    sorry there is no local gunpla shop here that i can ask for info in my country… ;_;

    Lacquer is the strongest of the three, so base lacquer then enamel and then acrylic. As for top coating before panel lining, it is always best to put down a solid gloss coat beforehead to let the paint flow better along the panel.

  21. #21 by ksk on February 28, 2012 - 06:55

    ha thank i will keep that in mind when i order paint(hope fully on mach)….thank you

  22. #22 by Alberto from Italy on June 12, 2012 - 10:22

    @ Lupes. First of all, compliments for the tutorial. One thing, anyway. You say that a flat topcoat works better with weathering compacts. Do you mean I should topcoat the model before weathering and then topcoat again, or am I mistaken? I thought topcoating must be done only once, at the end of all painting/stickering/weathering etc…

  23. #23 by lupes on June 12, 2012 - 11:44

    Alberto: Top a flat topcoat perse, but definitely a flat clear coat (Tamiya, Molder Master, Krylon or what have you) to make sure the compact sticks well to the model and doesn’t get blown away by the spray from the following coat.

  24. #24 by Alberto from Italy on June 13, 2012 - 07:22

    Oh, thank you, lupes. I must admit I usually weather/gradate colours with brushes, but some day I’ll try the compacts too.

  25. #25 by Alberto from Italy on June 29, 2012 - 08:11

    May I ask further information about primers, please? Do you use a primer when you spray a metallic colour, eg mithril silver or gold leaf? When I paint with brushes I find a black primer does help in making the colour stand out better and helps to find out imperfections or unpainted areas… What about when spraying a metallic colour?

  26. #26 by lupes on June 29, 2012 - 10:04

    I’m a horrible slacker and notorious for it at times, too. By all means, spraying a black base coat is definitely a solid choice to make metallic colors I find it to be rather uneconomical if you aren’t using an airbrush. If you don’t mind spending the extra money though by all means go for it.

  27. #27 by jenssen Haygood on July 30, 2012 - 05:55

    can i ask you what paint and top coat did you use on your blue sinanju? you can mail me at coz i’m thinking twice if i will buy aan titanium finish sinanju or just the normal mg and paint it

  28. #28 by LaWoof on January 14, 2013 - 23:44

    I just bought a Tamiya Topcoat Flat and on the cap it said that not to spray on decals, it is bad on gundam decals?

  29. #29 by Kevin on September 10, 2014 - 22:54

    Hey there Lupes,

    I’ve been working on a third party waterslide decal. Since it was hard to find, I don’t want to ruin it. I just want to apply flat top coat on my model kit since the decals I’ve been putting has dried for some nights now.
    Questions, should I apply mark softer before top coat? Or just went straight to top coat?
    Is it okay to apply mark softer even if the decal has completely dry?

    Hope you can answer all my questions.

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