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Glossary and Techniques

I’ve had quite a few questions asked both here and on other sites asking for advice on how to do stuff from specific techniques to a general look on how to make a whole figure. So I thought it would be helpful to have a page where I would explain the basic outline of how to make a figure as well as provide an explanation for  some of the terminology I use during my posts. A lot of the info comes from my earliest posts but to make things a bit easier to find, I though I would consolidate it all on this page.

Note that this isn’t an in depth tutorial. It’s just meant to clear a few thing up and push other builders, whether they be a little experienced or completely new at this, in the right direction. if you want more detailed help, I would suggest checking out the tutorial on Cody’s Coop or Gamera Baenrae

resin kit building can be broken down in to 4 main sections,

  • Removal of flash, sanding down of excess resin and seam lines and pinning
  • Washing, priming and further removal of seam lines
  • Painting and detailing
  • final touches

I would suggest using the “find” feature on your browser (CTRL +  F) and typing in one of the above topics to jump straight to it if you’re interested in any of the specifics.

1) Removal of flash, sanding down of excess resin and seam lines and pinning

Flash: This is what we call the very large parts of excess resin you often find on resin kits. Often, they are the where the resin is introduced into the mold so there is inevitably some build up in the opening which remains. Examples can be found here.

The bulk of the flash is removed using a pair of cutters but that will still leave some uneven marks on the surface

Parts will also have visible seam lines, where the parts of the mold came together, leaving marks which will have to be removed, like the one seen in the image below

To remove them, it takes a little work and some sandpaper to sand the parts down until they are smooth. This can be a time consuming process depending on a lot of factors such as the quality of the kit. Often, recasts will require much more work in this area than official kits. Generally speaking, I use 400 grip sandpaper for the majority of the work and 800 grit (higher numbers means finer sandpaper) for the detailed areas.

Here’s an example of a part of Getsumento heiki Mina before and after sanding.

Pinning: Pinning is the technique of drilling small holes in the parts where they will connect to eachother. You then stick a metal rod into the holes and they provide a peg to hold the parts in place while glue dries as well as provide greater strength to the connection.

I tend to use 1mm diameter brass rods for my pins, but you can use pretty much anything that fits the bill. Prior to using rods, I used paper clips for my earliest models.

You can also use the opportunity to use putty to fill in any large gaps between parts. Most official kits are good in that the parts fit in very snugly but on occasion, you will find that some parts have gaps between them and will need to be filled. Personally, I use milliput to cover the holes and I apply Vasoline to one part to ensure that it doesn’t stick to both parts.

2) Washing, priming and further removal of seam lines

An often forgotten point about resin kits (and gunpla) is that the parts have a thin chemical layer on them which makes paint difficult to stick on them. Luckily, removing it is easy. For myself, I soak the parts in very hot water mixed in with dishwasher powder. the powder removes most of the chemical layer and, once the water is cooled, I scrub the parts with an old toothbrush. Not only with this remove the layer from harder to reach parts, but it will also remove any resin powder remaining after the sanding process.

Priming: This is when you spray the parts with a base coat in order to give the main paints a better surface to stick on. Prior to spraying the primer, I drill a hole in the parts (where possible) and stick a long brass rod to it. Similar to the pinning technique, these parts provide a handle to hold onto while the paint is being sprayed and it also provides a holder to prevent the parts from touching any surfaces when they dry. But you have to be careful and ensure that the parts you drill are not visible on the completed figure.

Without the washing and priming, you will find that the paints simply will not stick to the parts so they are very important steps.
Priming will also allow you to see any further seam lines or imperfections on the parts. If any are found, the part has to be sanded down and primed again (you can skip the cleaning part for the 2nd time).

As for primer, I use Tamiya light grey primer. A little expensive but it has a few advantages over Citadel white undercoat, which was what I was using before.
Tamiya dries faster and provided a much smoother coat. It also highlightes the seam lines better but it’s up to the end user to decide what they wish to use.

3) Painting and detailing

And here we are to what most people think of when they consider building resin kits. It’s also the point where relatively little advice can be given as it’s more about the painter in this section than any other.
But I will still be able to share some techniques, such as the one I use for painting eyes (the optical kind) and a brief word on my tools

Airbrushes: to own or not to own? – First up the main tools. Lets get this out of the way first, I own an airbrush. I have painted quite a few model kits with it and it’s my most valued tool in my collection. Having said that, I would not recommend users who are just starting up to go out and get one.

This is actually a picture of my old setup. My original airbrush has since died and been replaced with an Iwata Eclipse CS. but it highlights an important point.
One thing new builders forget, during their quest to buy an airbrush is that alone, the airbrush does nothing. It needs something to push the air through it to transfer the paint. That something can be one of 2 things, Compressed air cans or a compressor, like you see above.
Compressed air cans are cheap but don’t last long and don’t provide constant pressure (the get lower as the air runs out) so I really wouldn’t recommend using them. They are also very expensive in the long run as you need to keep buying replacements.
Compressors are big, heavy and rather expensive. The one above was rather cheap at £100 when I purchased it in Hong Kong several years ago.  A compressor is what you will need if you plan to continue making kits, but if you decide to stop after 1 (or even less) then it’s just a waste of money. Also bear in mind that the airbrush is expensive too. My Iwata cost me £63 second hand.

So if you go straight into the deep end, that’s £163 for the full set. It’s fine for myself as I have used it to paint a number of kits and had done several prior to owning the set so I knew that I was going to continue, but for new starters I would highly advise trying at least 1 with just a set of hand brushes. Afterall, even with an airbrush, there are several parts which cannot be done without handbrushes so it’s good to build up your techniques and also, it will help you decide if you really plan on making more model kits. If you are, then start considering an airbrush and compressor.

Handbrushes: Never underestimate the handbrushes. Unless you are a god of masking with patience passing that of a saint, there will always be parts which will require the use of handbrushes, notably the eyes. There’s nothing wrong with doing an entire kit using brushes either. The main advantages of using an airbrush are the time it takes to do parts and the fact that it’s easier to get a perfectly even coat using an airbrush. Note I said easier. Brushes can get the even coats, without brush marks as well, it just takes longer and more work. but you can still get some decent works out of them. My Jam Kuradoberi and Kazami Mizuho, 2 of my earliest kits, were both done using brushes!

Paint Types: This is where it gets a little complicated. Basically, there are 3 types of paints available for figure painters, Acrylic, enamel and laquer. Acrylics are the most common and are water based. They are non toxic, easy to thin, dry relatively quickly and come in a very large range of colours. However, they scratch easily. I tend to use these most of all.
Enamels are the ones you find in small pots in model shops. They are rather toxic, so if you’re going to airbrush with these, make sure you have very good ventilation to remove the fumes from your workstation. on the plus side, they are pretty tough when dry and don’t mix with other paint types.  They also self level really well, which is why I use it as the base for my eyes.
Laqueur paints, I hardly use at all as they are rather hard to get. They are also by far the most toxic of the 3! I haven’t really had much experience with this type but it seems to dry very quickly.

Choose whichever works for yourself and your environment. As I said before, I tend to use acrylics, mainly for their non-toxic quality and availability. Cody Kwok has a good page on the pros and cons of the paint types.

Misting: Sometimes, I mention that I “mist over” some parts with a specific paint colour.  This isn’t as complicated as you may think as it simple means that I spray the paint over a larger distance than usual. The idea is that the paint particles will be much finer at that distance so the colour will not overwhelm the one already in place. the end result should be a good mix between the underlying (often darker) colour and the lighter colour you chose to mist with. The skintone for my figures is the probably the best example of when i use this technique.

painting eyes: After all these years and so many kits, I still dread painting the eyes on a figure. They are by far the most consistently difficult and annoying parts of any figure but they must be done. everyone has a different technique on how to paint them but I’ll go over my technique which has served me well so far. I went into detail about it on my Getsumento Heiki mina kit and again on my Gurren Lagann Yoko figure so I’ll just copy and paste it from Mina. The technique hasn’t really changed in all this time. The only thing which is different is that the black lines for the eyelashes and outlines are now handled by my Rapidograph pen instead of a very fine tipped brush. The rapidograph pen allows for much more uniform and tidy lines compared to painting them by hand and are much easier to handle, but before you rush off and buy one, I just have to warn you that they have expensive, pant staining prices!!

For examples, the eyes of Shirley and Kagami were done using the pen.

The first thing we need to do is paint the whites of the eyes. This is pretty much the only time I use something other than acrylic paints on my kit. For this stage, I use enamel paint. The reason being that being that enamel paint doesn’t react with paint thinner, so if you make some big mistakes later on, you can use thinner to wipe out all the acrylic paint on top but the enamel will always remain so there’s one step less to worry about. Just be careful when wiping the paint off. You don’t want to overdo it and rub off some of the skin paint around the eyes by accident… orz

After that, The eyelashes are painted in. These are basically just a thin line of black painted on the top and bottom of the eyes. You have to be careful on how much paint you put on. You don’t want your kit looking all goth afterall, do you?

It can be rather hard for newbies to get the level right, so I suggest that first time painters should work to get the excess black onto the eyes at first, since you can just go over the excess black with the enamel white afterwards. That’s much easier than trying to paint over the excess black on the skin.

The next stage isn’t actually necessary but it can be quite useful to prevent problems later. Using a lead/mechanical pencil, I drew in the pupils and the outer boarders of the eyes to give a rough indication of where the colours will be.

The idea is that the guidelines should, hopefully, assist in making the eyes symmetrical and prevent them from looking cross eyed. In theory…

After that, the outer parts of the eyes were painted in using a thin line of black. A similar technique to the eyelash painting was used and is something which will become easier as you do more of them.

This is where I diverged a bit as I found quite an interesting tutorial for eye painting in Hobby maniacs vol 28. Instead of using my usual technique, I thought I would try the one shown in the mag. It’s not too dissimilar but they are far from identical.

Firstly, the whole inner eye was painted in the base colour. In this case, purple.

Next, the pupils were painted in using a small amount of black paint. It’s a little hard to see in this pic…

After that, the upper part of the eye above the pupil was also painted black and at an angle. This was to provide the necessary shadow on the eyes.

Finally, a lighter shade of purple was mixed (1:1 white and purple mix) and a thin line was painted on the purple area underneath the pupil. This is probably the trickiest part to do and I’m afraid there’s no easy way around it.

You can more clearly see the black painted in the upper area in the above pic.

Finally, a few dots of white paint were placed in certain areas to simulate the light shining off the eyes. Check out any anime character pic or figure, they all have them!

Generally speaking, I use a white spot in the upper right part of the eye and either another spot or a small line on the lower right. Of course, this depends on the character but the ares remain fairly constant throughout all my kits.”

4) final touches

And once all that work is done, there’s just the final touches left to do. the workload here can vary quite a bit. Sometimes, there’s a lot to do, other times, there’s almost nothing.

This stage is just a look through the work and see if there are any parts which could do with cleanup or redoing. It’s often done as the parts are put together. It’s sometimes easier to see some problems when they are close together instead of as separate parts.