CUSTOM BUILD ARC-170 CLONE FIGHTER

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Hello and welcome to another Jetto Hobby blog post! I am back with another custom build episode! This time I have brought my wife into this journey with me, the ARC-170 Clone Fighter is her first ever model kit in her life. But what’s more interesting is that she picked up and used an airbrush for the first time and painted her very own Clone Fighter! To see how it’s done in action, I have packaged everything nicely into a short 6-minute video here. I present you my first video of 2021, Custom Build Ep.7: Arc-170 Clone Fighter | Star Wars: Rogue One. 

 Read Time: 5-10 minutes

Disclosure: Hyperlinks in this blog post may include Amazon Affiliate Links, which will bring you directly to the product sites. It will not mark up any of the prices, but if you do purchase items through my links, I will earn a tiny commission from it. This is one of the ways you can support me if you’d like to! :D

First, let’s take a look at what I’ve taught her:

  1. Cleaning nub marks
  2. Priming
  3. Pre-shading
  4. Selective painting
  5. Masking
  6. Color Scheme
  7. Painting with metallic colours
  8. Acrylic Wash
  9. Water Slide Decals
  10. Top Coat

If you are a beginner it may seem like there is a lot to do, but everyone of us have been there, and if you are reading this that means you are here to learn. I have no doubt you are willing to put in the effort and make your model kit truly yours. At the end of the day, you will be so proud of yourself. In this blog, I’m going to briefly walk you through all the tips and tricks that I have given to my wife, because she did such an amazing job that even I have a hard time being able to tell this is her first ever painted model kit!

CLEANING NUB MARKS

When you’re starting out, you’ll see all the parts still on the sprue/runners. Well, how do you properly take them out? Super easy, just do the double-snip trick. 

First snips

First snips should leave you with some sprue still on the parts and you should do it with any cheap nippers you have. It does not matter how much you leave the sprues on at all, just repeat your first snips until the part is completely taken out of the runner. Once you’ve taken the part off the runner, you can begin the second snip. 

Second snips

The second snip should be done with the sharpest nipper that you have, ideally with a thin one-sided nipper like GodHand Ultimate Nipper. Alternatively, you can get cheaper alternatives from brands like MadWorks or Dispae. Now, what you’ll need to do is position the flat side of your nipper against the part so that the blade of a sharp nipper can slice the remaining sprue off effortlessly, leaving you with minimal stress marks on the part. You can actually do the same by using a sharp hobby knife, but it is not recommended because we are humans and we may make mistakes. Having a high quality nipper to do the second snips will just save you a lot of time and give you consistent quality cuts.

Sanding

Sometimes you just won’t be able to completely get rid of the sprue or it may still leave some stress mark. They can be simply removed using #800 grit sanding sticks/sponge. It is very easy to over-sand a part, so to avoid that, make sure you sand lightly and check the part as frequently as you can. And that’s the basics of how to clean up nub marks! 

PRIMING

Priming plays a big part in getting an excellent paint job. For one, it makes the part’s defects more prominent – and that’s a good thing! Because you primed, now you can easily see where the defects are and you can sand them away. Just make sure you prime them again after sanding. Another reason why we prime our parts is because it creates a surface that your paint can bond easily with. If we don’t prime our parts, the paints may easily come off - especially when we plan to do masked-painting.

The primer that we used for this project is Mr. Finishing Surfacer 1500 White, thinned with Mr. Color Leveling Thinner 400. The thinning ratio is 1:2-3 (Primer:Thinner).

PRE-SHADING

Pre-shading is one of the beginner techniques that you can try. If you are going to paint lighter colors over the shades like white or yellow, you can just pre-shade with black. We personally used GPaint Black as it comes pre-thinned and all we have to do is just shake it, pour it, and spray it. 

What you need to do now is set a limiter on your airbrush. Most airbrushes have a knob at the end that you can turn. What this does is limit how far you can pull the trigger back. Doing so can easily control how much you spray consistently. Harder and Steenbeck Infinity CR Plus is the one I’m using, and the good thing about this is it has a removable cup, easily switchable needle size across all Harder and Steenbeck models and the limiter at the end can be on/off just by clicking it. 

Once you have dialed in the spray limit, you can now go across all the panel lines and wherever you think should have some sort of shadows on the parts in a slow and steady manner. If you are getting ‘tip dry’ on your airbrush, you could play around with the compressor pressure (20~35 psi) and add a little more thinner to the mix. If you overdid the pre-shades making the part too black, don’t worry about it, the next step will cover it!

SELECTIVE PAINTING

When you have all the pre-shading done, you can start painting it! We used GPaint White for this job.

But… don’t get too excited and just spray all over the parts, you have to selectively spray them. And what I mean by that is to spray sort of like a circular motion on the area surrounded by the pre-shades. You don’t want to cover all the pre-shades, but you don’t want to leave too much on it as well. One key word is at play here, ‘subtle’. Keep the pre-shades ‘subtle’. It may be hard to understand so I’ll say just go for it, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. After a few tries I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it! 

MASKING

If you have read my blog or have been following me for some time, you’ll know that masking is my jam :D Yes, it is tedious, it is not the most enjoyable part of the project, but what kept me going is the fact that you will be rewarded handsomely if you have done a good masking job! Just make sure you double check the edges of your mask work, use a toothpick to go over the masking edge if you need to. 

For this particular transparent part of the Arc-170 Clone Fighter, you need to mask it before priming. Here’s another picture of my mask work.

COLOR SCHEME

Before we even began the project, we had already planned out our color scheme. I went with medium blue and she went with yellow. But not just any kind of yellow, it’s her very own warm yellow mix! One thing I like about airbrushing is how we can tune our color easily with GPaint, as long as you have the primary color + black and white, you can basically reproduce any color you can imagine. Just need a little bit of trial and error plus a research on color mixing ratio. With GPaint, you don’t need to add any thinner to them at all, just pour them together and start stirring. Here’s our simple mix:

Medium Blue

2 Blue: 1 White

Warm Yellow

40 Yellow: 1 Red

PAINTING WITH METALLIC COLORS

To make metallic colors extra ‘bling’, we have laid some super glossy black as the base. The black we used is the Mr. Color GX-2 Ueno Black thinned with Mr. Color Leveling Thinner 400. The thinning ratio is 1:1-3 (Paint:Thinner).

Here’s how glossy it looked!

Once the black base is ready, we can move on to the shiny paints! Let me introduce you to two of my favourite metallic paints! The Mr. Super Metallic 2 SM-206 Super Chrome Silver II (That’s a lot of super XD) and the Mr. Metal Color MC-215 Copper. Again, thin them with Mr. Color Leveling thinner 400 with a thinning ratio of 1:2 (Paint:Thinner).

TOP COAT

When you’re done with the painting, you’re not actually really done. You have to protect all the hard work that you have put in! Otherwise you’ll risk ruining the underlying paint when you are going to panel line or do some weathering! We used Mr. Color GX-100 Super Clear III thinned with Mr. Leveling thinner 400 with thinning ratio of 1:1-3 (Paint:Thinner). The reason why we normally go with a gloss coat is because the smooth glossy surface lets the paint/ink flow easier in the panel lines and your water slide decals will thank you for it :D

When you’re done with all your work, make sure to top coat again to protect the new elements (panel line/weathering/decals). But this time around you can choose to top coat with any finish you like: matt / satin / semi-gloss / gloss

ACRYLIC WASH

At this stage, most gunpla builders will use Tamiya Accent Color Black to apply the panel lines. But unfortunately for me, living in Ireland means it is super hard for me to get my hands on Tamiya panel liner. I am still constantly waiting for my local hobby supply to restock them…. However, I can still achieve the same result by thinning some black Vallejo Model Air Black. Since all my underlying paints so far are lacquer based, I have to make sure I don’t use lacquer for this job as it will eat through the lacquer top coat that I have previously painted. So when you have your thinned black acrylic, just generously go over the panel lines and let the paint fill in all the crevices. Don’t worry about making a mess, the acrylic mistakes are super easy to fix.

Do the same for all the parts with panel lines. By the time you finish the last part, the acrylic wash on the first part should be dried and ready. To clean up the parts, grab some cotton buds and wet it with some acrylic thinner (I just used Vallejo Airbrush Thinner), then gently wipe off the excess acrylics. Wipe in the direction perpendicular to the panel lines will prevent removing the acrylic in the panel lines itself. If you happen to remove too much of the panel lines, just repeat the wash process, let dry, and do it again.

WATER SLIDE DECALS

We are reaching the last part of the project now. Some model kits come with water slide decals while for some other model kits you might have to source for the generic warning signs decals. But no matter what, putting on the decals will make your model kits look so much better and it is so easy to do! First, cut out the decal you need.

Second, dip them in water and set aside.

Prepare the decal area with some Mr. Mark Setter.

Slide the decal off the sheet and place it onto the desired place. Adjust the position with a toothpick or a slightly wet cotton bud.

Once it is in place, use a cotton bud to gently squeeze out all the excess liquid starting from the center of the decal. If it is a curved surface, put some Mr. Mark Softer on the decal to soften it, then squeeze out the liquid you’re ready.

Just a reminder, put one last layer of top coat to protect your work!

FINAL THOUGHTS

I hope I have provided enough information and detail on what you can do or how to start your first ever model kit just like my wife did. Everyone has to start somewhere, and I certainly did learn all of these from YouTube, blog posts and my own trials and errors. It may sound like a lot of stuff but all of these will easily become your second nature as you build more and build model kits. By the way, what do you guys think of my wife’s first ever painted model kit :D? 

BEFORE YOU GO

If you are interested in my last custom build project please check it out here <Custom Build Gundam Astaroth> and/or if you want to see my latest 3D printed and painted project check it out here! <Charmander | 3D Printed and Painted> Please do come over to my YouTube Channel to have a look at what I’ve built so far! I am constantly improving my filming and editing techniques to make somewhat cinematic content for my viewers to have an enjoyable experience. If you like what I’ve done up to this point, why not follow me on Facebook and Instagram while you’re at it. I plan to post more Work in progress posts on my Instagram for the coming projects! :D

See you there!

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