Monday, June 08, 2015

30 year old Zaku II: Part 2

The parts of the first generation Mobile Suit Gundam Zaku II kit after having been airbrushed.

Last time I talked about the first part of the process of air brushing the parts for this kit, priming them with the Vallejo acrylic-polyurethane surface primer, pre-shading the parts and then applying the base color of green on the model. So what’s next? Well now we’ve got the second color of green to apply to the model, which means I need to talk about masking the model parts.

Ever paint a room but want to have the trip a different color then the rest of the room? What do you do? You use painters tape to put down a barrier so the two paints don’t go where you don’t want them to go. Masking is basically the same thing. It’s the process of taping off a part to ensure the paint doesn’t go where you don’t it to.

I used the tape to mask off the leg leaving only the knee cap exposed. The tape itself is Tamiyia brand masking tape. It’s essentially 2cm wide masking tape.  Easy to apply, and doesn’t adhere too heavily to the painted section of the model. 
Here you can see a majority of the parts masked and with the second darker green applied on some parts and the black applied on other parts. Well… here is where I encountered my first real major problem. I thought I had properly masked out all of the spots to stop any paint from going anywhere I didn’t want it to. Well.. turns out I over thinned the black paint I used on the knee joints.

 I attempted to fix my error by coming back with the original green paint and brush painting to cover up the black bleed over. Well, brush painting doesn’t put the paint on the same way the air brush does. So the colors don’t exactly match.  That’s why there’s the hard line of different colors on the thigh of the model here. So not a perfect cover up but this project was all about learning so as long as I can ID the problem and look at why the problem occurred I’ll call it a win since it’s something I can avoid doing next time.

So with the air brushing done I moved on to assembly. And this is where I noticed a fairly large error I had made early on. The left leg. More specifically the inner assembly of the left leg. See the inner part of the leg is a support strut that serves as the ankle and the mounting for the front and back of the lower leg itself. The pieces are specific to the right leg and left leg respectively AND they have to go in the right way. So what did I do? Well I put the left foot on the right strut with the strut itself upside down. Ouch. So what did I do? Well I have glued the parts together so I couldn’t just pop the parts apart and switch the parts. Now the problem here is that I couldn’t actually tell that the wrong feet were on the wrong struts, at this point I only knew that I had put one strut in upside down.  So I used my pin vise to drill out the mounting point for the ankle, cut away the few remains of plastic that was keeping the foot on, and turned the strut around while using a piece of styrene rod to rebuild the ankle joint.

So with that leg taken care of, I proceeded to continue assembling the kit. Well here is where I found my largest learning point regarding air brushing. Not so much with the technique, but in regards to planning. See Airburshing doesn’t put down a truly uniform layer of paint. The differences are very hard to see when it’s one continuous application across one part. But I didn’t assemble the parts, beyond the feet and the mounting struts for the legs, before painting them. So what does this mean? Well here is a good example:

The front part of the shoulder armor is a lighter green then the back half, even though they were painted at the same time with the same paint from the same air brush. This is because of the non-uniform application of the paint combined with the uneven application of the black paint in the pre-shading stage. So planning your build relative to how you will paint the kit is a necessity when you’re working with an air brush. 

So got the model painted and assembled. All done right? Well no. Remember that Gouf Custom I did a while back? The big thing there was the application of pigments. Well, I took what I had learned about pigments, from the Gouf, and applied it to this Zaku.

Nothing was substantially different here from what I did with the Gouf save that I didn’t use any white pigment since the Zaku II was primarily a space based mobile suit. Don’t see a lot of concrete in space after all. I mainly used the black and grey pigments to add shading and dirt to the model. The additional discoloration added some more definition to the model.
As an attempt to address the mis-matched feet problem I built a flying stand for the model by cutting a length of brass rod, mounting the rod on a platform and then drilling an accompanying hole into the crotch of the model itself. This allowed me to position the model as if it were floating and mostly hide the feet. 

So a 30-something year old model. First real usage of an Air brush. Applying weathering Pigments. And finally addressing several mistakes and errors. Overall I’m glad I did this project. It has been a worthwhile education and was a real challenge over all.


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