After building your first few Gundam kits, there will come a time when you may feel the need to step up your game. One of the things that you can do to improve your Gunpla kit is painting. You can use spray cans and airbrush kits but they are expensive and might we add—dangerous to use indoors. Some people will want to opt for cheaper and safer methods like hand painting with acrylics. Today we’ll show you how to paint using Tamiya Acrylic paints. Be sure to check out the bottom for videos!
First you will need to prepare some materials for your Gunpla hand painting project; these include:
There are four recommended types of brushes (refer to the image above when reading each brush’s description):
a. Flat Brush
The flat brush is the one on the left-most side of the photo. It’s used to apply base coats or painting large parts or areas.
b. Small Flat Brush
The small flat brush is the one second to the left. It’s used to paint smaller details that have a rectangular like surface area like rims of weapons or thrusters.
c. Small Pointed Round Brush
The small pointed round brush is the one with white bristles. It’s used for painting smaller generic details and small areas like hydraulics and pipes.
d. Detail Round Brush
As far as brushes go, the detail round brush is a great investment. This will help you paint the smallest of details with pinpoint accuracy and precision. Coupled with steady hand techniques, you’ll be painting the smallest of details in no time. Like painting the small vulcans on an Amazing Red Warrior’s head unit (see below).
Pro Tip: Caring for Brushes
It’s important to take care of your brushes especially the smaller ones so that the brush ends won’t get damaged or frizzed which would make painting harder and messy. Don’t let the paint dry on your brush, as soon as you’re done using the brush, dip it in water and let it sit there for a while for the paint to soften. Then you can clean it further using cotton buds or swabs and carefully remove paint residues from the brush tip.
A great brand for Gundam model enthusiasts is Tamiya Acrylic Paint, due to the wide selection of colors to choose from.
The 5 above are considered to be essential colors, and include:
- Flat Base
- Gold Leaf
- Gun Metal
- Flat Aluminum
You can use these basic metallic colors to easily make your Gunpla kit look more realistic. One of the most basic techniques is to paint the joints, hydraulics, pipes and any other parts that should look like metal with Gun Metal, then paint the smaller details using the combination of Gold Leaf, Copper and Flat Aluminum. There are more metallic colors to choose from like metallic blue, it’s up to your discretion which combination you would like to use. After all Gunpla painting is art.
Flat Base is used as a primer so that paint will stick properly to the plastic surface, especially on colored parts. However, it’s good to note that you probably don’t need to use a primer when painting grey joint parts using the metallic paints like Gun Metal because metallic paints are easier to adhere to the plastic surface for some reason compared to normal opaque paints. This tip can reduce the time and effort when improving your Gunpla kit.
Pro Tip: Caring for Paint Bottles
Yes, paint bottles are also need to be looked after. Or else, you will end up one day needing one of your paints but can’t open it anymore because the lid is dried shut. This happens when you use the paint bottle edges in removing excess paint from your brush. Don’t do that! Instead use a paint mixing spoon to take paint out of the bottle and into a mixing palette, then close the bottle immediately to avoid exposure to air that can reduce the quality of your acrylic paint. Do not shake your paint bottle, too! As you will risk paint spilling on the rims that can dry up and lock up your bottle. Just use the paint mixing spoon that is discussed below when mixing paint that has begun to separate.
Paint Mixing Spoons
And here are the paint mixing spoons. They are easy to clean, just use some paint thinner and cotton swabs. As mentioned, these are mainly used when mixing paint in the bottles and transferring the paint to a mixing palette.