Gunpla Paint Guide | Most Helpful Tips

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Most kits nowadays look good right out of the box, with no additional painting required, but there will come a time when you will want more from your model. 

Painting a Gunpla kit adds a new level of fun and excitement to miniature battle figures, as well as a new look.

In this article, I will answer a few questions and provide some tips for painting your gunpla kit. 

The information in this post will help you understand Gunpla paints, the different types, and how to apply them.

What Type Of Paint Should I Use On Gunpla?

Painting Gunpla kits can be difficult, especially when the model is small and has tiny and complicated pieces. However, for me, it is just as much fun as putting together the kits themselves.

There are various paint types for Gunpla kits, some of which are more commonly used than others. 

The three most commonly used paint types for painting Gunpla pieces are acrylic, enamel, and lacquer.

· Acrylic Paint For Gunpla

Acrylic paints are color pigment solutions that are alcohol or water-based and are made from acrylic resin and polymer solution. They are typically soluble, meaning that they dissolve in liquids, and can be cleaned with soap and water.

Most acrylic paints are too thick to be used directly on your Gunpla model.
Thinned acrylic paint will work better, but it takes skill to achieve. 

Acrylic paint for Gundam models dry faster than enamel paints and become water-resistant once dry. 

Acrylic paints are long-lasting and easy to apply by spraying or brushing, but they also chip easily.

· Enamel\ Oil Paint For Gunpla Model

Enamel paints are oil-based paints that contain color pigments as well as drying oil. The oil, typically Linseed oil, serves as both a solvent for dissolving the color pigment and a binder for hardening the paint after it has been applied.

Before acrylic, this was the most commonly used type of paint. Enamel dries the slowest, making it ideal for painting with a brush.

Oil paint for Gunpla shouldn’t be too thin or too thick.

If it is too thin, then the paint will run off.
If it is too thick, it will be difficult for you to paint your gunpla and your work will be uneven.

It takes some trial and error to figure out what is the best viscosity for you and for your models.

· Lacquer Paint

Lacquer paints are typically alcohol-based paints made from lac derived from tree sap and color pigments. 

They dry faster than the other two types, are more durable, and perform best when airbrushed.

They are, however, the least used paints on Gunpla models due to their difficulty of use. Lacquer paints do not allow for mistakes, they dry quickly, and once dry, they are difficult to remove without damaging the plastic.

Which Type Of Paint Should You Choose For Gundam Models

The best type you should use to paint a Gunpla kit depends on several factors, including the type of kit you want to paint, the material the kit is made of, and the painting material you want to use.

  • It is best to use Lacquer or Acrylic paint if you intend to use an airbrush
  • If you have a paintbrush, Enamel is the best choice. 
  • Enamel paints are a good choice if you want something that will last a long time.
  • If you’re going to paint your Gunpla kit with lacquer paints, use caution because lacquer thinner eats into ABC plastic and can harden it, causing it to break.

Will Any Acrylic Paint Work On Gunpla?

Yes, acrylic works well on Gunpla. 

Acrylic paint is generally popular, especially because it can be used to paint any surface with ease. This includes plastics and metals.

On the other hand, random acrylic paint will not give you the best result for your Gundam model

IMO Tamiya Acrylic is the best type to use. This acrylic will not eat into plastic and will not harm your Gunpla kit.

However, Tamiya acrylic paint does not last as long as enamel or lacquer paints and is easily chipped away. 

If you expect your Gunpla model to be used frequently, you should avoid using acrylic paints. Otherwise, it is perfectly safe to use.

Can I Use Oil Paint On Gunpla?

Yes, oil paints can be used on Gunpla. 

Oil paints are best used to give Gunpla models a weathered or rugged appearance. Although oil paints are not as widely used as acrylic, enamel, and lacquer paints, they are still perfectly safe.

Because they are thick, they dry slowly. If you decide to use oil paint on your Gunpla kit, mix it with mineral spirits to make it lighter. Mineral spirits serve as a thinner for oil paints, allowing them to dry faster. 

Oil paints are best applied by hand brush; they should never be sprayed or airbrushed.

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How I Prepare My Gundams For Paint

Before I begin painting a Gunpla kit, I make some preparations, regardless of the type of paint or painting technique I intend to use. 

  • First, use the instruction manual to snap-fit the model.
  • Take note of the parts that require modification and painting, as well as other workings, as you build. 
  • Following that, disassemble the model and complete any necessary work like carving out seam lines, making modifications, adding detailing parts, and so on.
  • The model must then be carefully sanded to ensure that the paint adheres better to the plastic and to remove clip marks and bumps.
  • Finally, use a primer or surfacer to coat the parts. These ensure that the material, regardless of its initial color, is ready to be painted with any color. A primer or surfacer can be white, black, or gray. It is best to use the one that is most appropriate for the paint you intend to use.

Organize Gunpla Parts For Painting By Groups

Painting Gunpla models can be challenging, especially when there are many small parts to contend with. 

Parts may go missing if they are not carefully organized, and the wrong color may be applied to them.

To properly organize your Gunpla parts, consult the kit’s instruction manual for a prototype of how the model should look, and cut out the parts as if you were only building the figure without painting. The manual will show you where each part is supposed to go and which parts share the same color.

Although the big parts are usually fairly easy to distinguish from one another, the smaller, intricate parts may confuse you, but the manual will be there to help you.

Leave out any parts that do not require painting, such as Polycarp. 

Separate the Gunpla parts into groups, with the parts that will be painted the same color together, and then apply the paints accordingly.

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Tips For Painting A Gunpla With A Brush

Painting a Gunpla with a brush is a simple process. There are some things you must have in place before beginning a hand-painting project, just as you would before airbrushing or spray painting.

  • First, ensure that the parts you intend to paint have been properly sanded and primed and that they are well organized.
  • Next, you should have the appropriate brush. There are three types of brushes used to paint Gunpla kits: plain brush, plain tiny brush, and circular brush, each with its own set of features and applications.
  • Then, get the paint ready. You’ll most likely be using acrylic or enamel paints; Whatever paint you use, you’ll need to thin it with the appropriate solvent. Acrylic is water-soluble, whereas enamel requires a thinning agent.

You can now begin painting. 

When painting, apply thin coats one after the other until you achieve the desired consistency. Brush on each layer, being careful to apply just the right amount of paint to avoid paint beads forming at the tips of your figures. 

Allow each layer to dry completely before applying the next to avoid brushing away the previous layer.

Apply a protective coat between color coats or before doing any detailing with different colors or shades of paint. The protective coat keeps the paints from mixing and reacting, which is especially important when the paints are of different types.

A Guide For Airbrushing A Gunpla

There are three ways to paint a Gunpla kit, with airbrushing being the most difficult due to the precision required. 

Airbrushing a Gunpla can be time-consuming, but it is much faster than brush painting, and the time and effort you put in will eventually pay off with the best paint jobs you will find on a Gunpla model.

To airbrush a Gunpla, you’ll need the airbrush itself, a compressor, and, depending on the type of compressor and airbrush you buy, an additional hose to connect them. You should also make sure it is done in a well-ventilated place and that you wear a respirator when using it, as it releases toxic fumes that should not be inhaled.

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Prepare your Gundam model parts for painting as described above, and sort them by color. 

After that, attach the pieces to skewers or alligator clips in a way that does not interfere with the part you want to paint. 

Make sure to prime the parts first, as this helps to set them up nicely before airbrushing.

Thinning your paint is important because it ensures a smooth coat. Apply the thinner according to the manufacturer’s instructions, but as a general rule, start with a ratio of 75% paint and 25% thinner and build from there until you achieve the desired consistency.

Set up your airbrushing gear. Connect the compressor to the power supply and the gun to the compressor. Fill the gun’s paint cup with thinned paint and begin painting.

When airbrushing your Gunpla model try to keep even distance for each layer so you’ll get an even coat.

The best way to airbrush Gunpla parts is to move from one side to the other and start spraying the paint before it meets the part and after you passed the part. That way you ensure that the borders of the part have an even coat.

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Weather Your Gunpla Model

Weathering a Gunpla model gives it a realistic appearance and makes it appear to have been through some battles. After all, they are doppelgangers of real-life Gundam series characters.

There are numerous weathering techniques, and the best one for you will be determined by what works best for you. 

However, the most common technique is dry painting. This is the simplest technique, and it entails painting the kit with a dry brush.

To use this technique, dab your brush in paint and wipe it away until only a small amount of paint remains. 

Then, using the dry brush, apply the paint to the desired area. This gives the kit a worn-out appearance as if it were found on the battlefield.

Weathering sets (Gundam or Tamiya), paint chipping, and decal distressing are some other techniques.

Read more to give your Gunpla a better look:

Everything About Gundam Markers (FAQ)
Are Gundam Markers Worth It
8 Gundam marker alternatives

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How And When To Fix Gunpla Paint?

If your Gunpla paint is damaged or scratched, you should repair it. 

Sometimes a scratch on your Gundam model is so severe that it dents the plastic and disfigures the model. Of course, you can see it as “spoils of war,” but let’s face it, it’s not a pretty sight, and when this happens, it’s best to fix it.

The extent of the damage determines how to repair a damaged Gunpla paint. 

The general solution is to sand that area first (disassemble it if you need).
This will level the surface and prepare it for repainting or other types of repair. Before applying your paint, apply primer and allow it to cure. After that, repaint it.

How To Dry Your Gunpla Paint?

Gunpla paints generally dry quickly. Most paints would be dry enough to apply another coat in an hour. 

Most types of paint start to dry out immediately after application. However, it takes about 2-4 hours to show a dry surface. Even after this time, the model is not fully set for handling.

Setting takes about 24 hours or less depending on the type of paint you use. Preferably, you should leave your kit standing for a day or two, unless you choose to apply an overcoat.

A light wind from a fan or air conditioning system can help, but it is not necessary. In my opinion, allowing your Gunpla to dry by itself at normal room temperature is the best choice.

However, it never hurts to be sure, so if you want to manually dry your kits while painting, attach each part to a skewer, toothpick, or alligator clip, wrap them in foil and place them in the sun to dry. It should be completed in no time.

Curing Your Gunpla

Paint curing differs from paint drying. When the paint has completed its chemical bonding process and is completely bonded to the plastic, it is said to be cured.

Cure time varies depending on the type of paint used. Acrylic usually takes a week to cure, whereas enamel only takes a day or two. Lacquer, on the other hand, cures quickly, within a day. 

Allowing the paint to cure is important to keep the paint on your Gunpla for a long time without any scratches.

Top Tip: Test Before You Paint For Colorshift

Color shift is a change in the color of ink caused by a variety of factors such as ink density differences, white balance or transfer, or, in the case of some paints, exposure to air. 

If you are not familiar with the color or type of paint you are using, it’s a good idea to keep a color palette or an extra piece of paper on hand to test the color before applying it to your Gunpla model.

Conclusion

I hope that after reading this post, you will be able to make a more accurate and informed decision about the Gunpla paints that will best suit your needs.

Painting a gunpla model is not hard, as long as you are doing it right and as long as you follow the steps listed above.

Preparing your gundam parts for painting, as well as organaizing them to paint is, in my eyes, the most important part in painting your gunpla.