Up until now I had been working with gundam markers. At first, they were nice since sometimes the plastic is the wrong color. I could fix that using gundam markers. However, I began to realize that gundam markers don’t look too great when used on larger areas. You can see marks from the tip of the marker and things like that. I had read that the great modelers tend to use airbrushes so I decided to get an airbrush. I purchased an Iwata HP-C Plus because I read it had good reviews. Of course, this is not the cheapest airbrush, but I was in a spending mood (I tend to be…) and figured I should get a good one if I was going to spend money on an airbrush.
This model would be my practice model for airbrushing. I sure am glad I used another cheap model to practice on because it didn’t turn out too pretty! (Notice the forming pattern: practice on cheap models! When trying something new I don’t want to ruin something that costs good money. I tend to do poorly on the first try, so using cheap models is a good way to go).
The model itself is pretty cheap quality. It is similar to the NG 1/144 Gunner Zaku I did previously, except I like the look of the Zaku more. Still doesn’t compare to the NG 1/144 Gundam Wing kits for sure.
I airbrushed the green and black, and used the gundam markers for some smaller areas and detailing. For paint, I use Mr. Color paint. The main issue I ran into with this was thinning the paint properly. I had never used an airbrush before and, like usual, had no idea what I was doing. I read online I should thin it, but of course you really never learn it properly until you just start doing it.
I didn’t thin it enough, and as such it came out stringy and thick. There are some string marks on this model here and there from webbing (not enough thinner). I hand painted a couple parts here and there (like the light green on the back of the model) but didn’t thin at all and painted too slow. It went on thick and wasn’t very smooth. I used some gundam markers on the weapon and other little parts.
Overall, the paint job on this model is terrible, but I learned many things. It was the first time I was using paint bottles instead of gundam markers. First time airbrushing and using a regular brush. While a good learning exercise, this model usually stands off where I cannot see it, because it’s not too pretty…
Later on, I went back and tried an enamel wash for detailing on this model as opposed to panel lining with a gundam marker (see right wing unit image of enamel wash. Other images have some gundam marker panel lines). The thick paint caused the enamel wash to not work too well, so just remember this as just another reason too thick paint isn’t good.
- Airbrushing is fun and totally worth it! It might just be my favorite part about building these models. However, it does take a little practice at first. Learning how to use the double action airbrush wasn’t the hard part (I had read online that double action airbrushes are not for beginners and take practice, but using it actually isn’t hard at all and only takes minimal practice before being able to use it. Of course, you can get finer details with more practice, but they aren’t as hard as you might thing initially). Instead, the hard part was working with the paint. Thinning the paint properly takes practice. If it isn’t thinned properly, you get an ugly paint job, webbing (stringy paint), and a hard to clean airbrush. Be sure to use enough thinner when airbrushing. I tend to do 50 / 50 paint : thinner ratio but I still don’t measure exactly even to this day. I start out with about 50 / 50 and add more thinner / paint as needed until it is right. If it is webbing and not spraying smoothly, add more thinner. If it isn’t very colorful and runs a lot, add more paint.
In addition to seamline removal, airbrushing a model is a great way to take it from looking like a plastic toy for kids to a model. Of course, this kit is not the greatest example of that, but as I continue to build models and airbrush it’s easy to see the change in quality from before airbrushing to after airbrushing.Unfortunately, there is a large initial cost for airbrushing. You need an airbrush, an air compressor (preferably one made for airbrush rather than a huge workshop one), and paint. Paint is the cheap part and in the long run more affordable than gundam markers or spray cans. However, getting a decent airbrush and compressor can cost money. My Iwata HP-C Plus + airbrush compressor (with air control flow knob and quiet) cost around $280 shipped. Great fun though if you make the purchase!
- Handbrushing Mr. Color paint straight out of the bottle still isn’t a great idea. I think thinning it a little bit helps, even though I thought I could handbrush it using as is from bottle. It begins to dry and get sticky pretty fast if you do not thin it or use retarder, causing a rough surface.