Customizing your Gundam | Beginner Gunpla Techniques
Custom Gunpla is pretty standard today, but not everyone knows where to start. A little detail goes a long way for custom pieces, as you can tell with the HGBF GM/GM custom job I did here.
So let me guide you through my process.
- Airbrushing/Hand Painting
- Panel Lining
- Decals/Water Slides
The RGM-79 from Thunderbolt was the inspiration for this Custom Gunpla. I needed to figure which part I was changing the colors, and marked them our in the instruction sheets.
By using the instruction manual, I was able to sort the parts into their different color categories. This helped me organize which parts I had to paint which color without much hassle.
Once I knew which parts to paint, I went ahead to do the whole Gundam, and then top coated it for the next step. If you want to know more about this step, here’s a guide on how to Airbrush Gundam.
I went ahead to cut out, file, and portion the Gunpla parts separately. After painting, it was just assembly that needed to be done.
Something to take note of. As a beginner, I do not recommend hand painting your Gunpla.
When I first started, I was painting D&D and Warhammer 40k models. Gundam have a much larger surface area, and consistent paint throughout is difficult to accomplish. Unless you are doing the “anime style gundam”, weathering, energy weapons, or the Gundam Pilots, hand paint ends up streaky and ugly.
The difficulty of this build was making clean panel lines after airbrushing. Usually, Mr Hobby Accent Color can be used to slather everywhere, then enamel thinner and Q-tips to remove excess solution.
This is a huge problem here because painted surface of this Custom Gunpla would be wiped off along with the accent color. So that ruled it out as an option.
The two basic methods for panel lining are
- Dropper/Applicator, or
- Panel Marker
I chose a panel marker for this job. Copic’s Multiliner SP 0.03 serve better for me than Gundam Markers, because they’re thinner and less ink run. A steady hand is ABSOLUTELY crucial for this. It was not as clean and the lines were thicker, but I didn’t need to wipe any extra ink away.
Panel lining is a no brainer job. Find lines that are recessed, or broken up, and draw over them. In cases of seams, a little filing and scribing will make the seam line look like a panel line instead (but that’s more advanced). Anyway, PANEL TIME!
Decals for Gundam come in 3 forms, Clear Stickers, Dry Transfer, and Water Slides. These are in order of least to best looking. With a little care, attention, and something called Mr. Mark Setter, water slides are superior in almost every way.
My client provided me with the water slides for this job. They’re cheap, comes in a good pack with many variations, and can be used for multiple Gundam with a small pack.
A necessary addition to water slides, or any decals in general, is both Mr. Mark Softer and Mr. Mark Setter. Softer melts the decals placed to conform them to the edges of the Gundam, and Setter adheres it to the plastic for maximum durability.
They’re cheap, so grab a bottle of each.
With water slides, I realized I didn’t need to submerge them for the full duration. All I had to do was dip them for an instant and wait a minute. The slides then, well, slide right off onto the plastic.
Having a few Q-tips handy will help. I needed just 2 this entire Gundam. One Q-tip for wetness and moving the decal around, and one for soaking excess water and softer. If they’re too stiff, just add water, dab, and slide.
All things said and done, the credit for the kit should be given to Bandai. Small details make a great difference, and you'll be able to do the same too!