Friday, November 25, 2016

Mk-II Walkthrough Part 4: Painting Outer Armor

With our inner-frame complete, it's time to cover it all up! In all seriousness, the concealment of the inner working is an eventuality...but what we're hoping to craft preceding this traumatic event is an outer armored layer so polished, so precisely executed, that you won't even mind covering up the majority of those shiny interior mechanics. Read on to learn how!

If you have been following along since the first stages of this build, you'll have already sanded all of your nub marks and your pieces are ready for priming. If you're just now joining us, welcome! Now grab your sanding stick, preferably not any coarser than 400 grit and get those nub marks ground away. I work my way from 400, to 600, to 1000 to achieve a finish thats kind of scratchy but not so rough that the primer won't fill the cracks.

Another example of how the pieces look after sanding, but before priming.

Pretty incredible how well the primer works to prepare your piece for paint, the sanding marks are completely gone! I use Mr. Surfacer 1200 for all of my priming, just as I used for the inner frame pieces. If you're curious about how to mix or spray the primer, definitely take a quick look at the inner-frame guide!

For the color on this Mk-II, I really wanted to nail a dark blue that wasn't purple, but still felt Titan-esque. As usual, I used all Mr. Color brand lacquer paints, and Mr. Leveling Thinner. For the mix, I used Cobalt Blue, Black, and a bit of Red to give it that purplish hue that the Titan Mk-II needs.

**Whenever you custom mix a color that you are going to be using on a large portion of your kit, it is important to make sure you have pre-mixed enough of the color to last the entire project. It will be impossible to perfectly replicate the same color ever again! The added bonus is that you can also pre-thin the paint and just dump some in your airbrush cup whenever you need it.

 The thigh armor before pigment...
 After a light dusting, creating a tacky layer...
And, after a full coat of pigment. In my experience, first you want to lay a base coat, something for the paint to stick to, then go in for a heavy coat, being sure to leave the paint looking just a little wet. The leveling thinner will help the paint disperse evenly as it dries, and the color will be rich.

While we're at it, let's talk about the consistency of your paint! The above is a little bit of clear orange that I mixed up for the inside of the thrusters, and as you can see it's not too watery, in fact it's kind of milky; this is the consistency that you want your paint to be before spraying. 

If your paint is thinned correctly it will flow evenly when sprayed onto a piece of test paper, it will not run or appear watery, and it won't speckle and spurt. You can actually hear the difference between thin and thick paints while spraying; of course this is a niche skill that takes some time to develop, the nuances of thinning paints can be pretty tough to handle when you're first starting with an airbrush!

**For people with regulator controlled compressors: If your paint is a just a little too thin, turn the PSI down a couple, if your paint is too thick, it can often work to turn the PSI up by 3-5 PSI.

I really like to paint my sensors with a candy-ish coat in order for them to appear as if they are glowing; the first step is to prime the piece and hit it with a silver of your choice, I used Alclad II Duraluminum.

For this particular piece, I'm going to be painting the top sensor blue, so I masked off the bottom half and sprayed a few coats of clear blue over the top sensor.

I then repeated the process, but the other way around, using clear green on the eyes...

 And I used the same technique for the sensors found on the outside of the kit. A lot of newer kits, such as the RX-78-2 ver 3.0, have clear pieces that fit inside these openings. This makes the process much simpler as you can simply paint that piece using this technique, and then insert it later, no need for masking.

The last step is to paint the top with an enamel black, then use a q-tip and some lighter fluid to reverse wash the eyes back into existence! 

After painting the green sensors on the chest piece, obviously we're going to need to mask things off in order to paint the main color. The simplest solution I have found to painting things like this is to save the sticker decals that are included with your kit, rather than using them during the build. When the time comes you can simply apply the green sensor decal as a pre-sized, perfectly fitted piece of "masking tape". However, for the purposes of this tutorial I decided to showcase a different technique. 

The first step is to fit a large piece of masking tape over the sensor. Then, carefully use a mechanical pencil to trace the outline of the opening.

Remove the masking tape from the piece, and place it on your cutting mat, or similar slice proof surface; no, you shouldn't place the tape on your family dining table before cutting it. (I learned that the hard way when I was an adolescent Gunpla-er...) Use the pencil outline to cut out the tape, then apply it to your area with tweezers. Perfect masks, every time! I used this technique for the head sensor as well.

After all the armor panels have been painted, the only thing left before panel lining is to apply a clear gloss coat. This coat acts as a protectant against the enamel paint I'll be using to panel line, as well as the lighter fluid I will be using to clean up my lines. This is a very important step because it also smooths the surface in preparation for decals, whether that be dry-etch or waterslide. 

When I first started painting, I read a lot about people using future floor polish or other similar products; I feel as if this is sort of asking for trouble, although I can't really judge, I've never tried it. The fact remains that it is a product that was never intended for hobby use. I choose to just use Mr. Color GX Super Clear Gloss.

A shiny, glossy piece, ready for panel lines and painstakingly applied decals! I'm very excited to finally be continuing this tutorial series and completing my Mk-II, so as always, thank you for reading! Part 5: Panel Lining, Decaling, and Assembly coming very soon!