Hello! Jetto Hobby here, I normally do 3D printed builds but occasionally I’d like to work on something different like gunpla. And this is one of the times! I present you, my SDCS Freedom ‘自由 (zi you)’ Gundam!
I have packaged everything nicely into a short 7-minute here. If you like Gunpla and Studio G, (which is why you’re here anyway :D) I promise you this will be a very enjoyable 7 minutes experience. (p.s. It’s fully action-packed!)
Read Time: 10 - 15 minutes
Now let’s take a general look at what I’ve done to my little Freedom.
- Custom scribing
- Added Pla Plates
- Custom painting
- Acrylic wash
- Added Chinese writing
- Water slide decals
- Added LED
I have envisioned this Freedom to be the stepping stone of upping my skills, not just in Gunpla, but in the world of customisation itself. Before I even put the Freedom together, I had the image of the Chinese writing on its shoulders, and I wanted it to be the exact word that defines Freedom, ‘自由’ (pronounced as Zi You). Freedom does not come free, it needs to be earned through efforts. In real life, I wanted to earn my freedom by fighting my current hardships. So to make it more representable to me, I have chosen the color scheme after my own brand (Jetto Hobby).
What I used:
Professional scribers and scribing tapes that come in various sizes are very hard to come by for where I live (Ireland). So I have resorted to using what I can get through Amazon.uk. Using Dymo Tapes gave me the disadvantage of not being able to clearly see where I place the tapes, as the tapes are opaque and white in color. And the Tamiya Scriber II was not best fitted for custom scribing designs, it cuts V grooves instead of |_| grooves (flat channel). There is no way for me to make clean thicker scribe lines, for now. But these are the only tools I have, so let's make the best use out of it!
Luckily, the existing panel line design on the wing backpack was good enough in my opinion. The majority of my custom scribed lines went to:
- Ankle Armor
Scribing is fun! After building this Freedom, I fully understood why Studio G’s favourite part of any builds is the scribing, because it truly gives you the FREEDOM to make your own panel line designs.
But how to scribe with dymo tapes?
First thing first!
- Cut out a length of dymo tape (approximately 30cm)
- Place it flat and straight on a cutting mat
Tape the dymo tape with cellophane tape or masking tape on each end on the cutting mat
(That’s a lot of tapes in one sentence...)
- Measuring carefully, cut out strips of dymo tapes in various widths. I did 2mm and 3mm.
- Now you should have several thin dymo tapes of 2mm and 3mm width in approximately 30cm length
With the thinner strips of dymo tapes, and you can choose between 2mm or 3mm, you can now cut them in lengths and start placing them along the edges of your parts. With that, you’ll get the perfect parallel lines to the edge, let your creativity flow! One thing to keep in mind, on your first stroke of scribe, do it as light as possible. I personally let gravity do the job, rest the side of the scriber tip against the dymo tapes, just pull along the direction of your tape gently. TRUST YOUR TAPE. Once you have your first ever lightly scribed straight lines, you can now do it a few more times (gently) and voila! You got yourself a clean custom scribed line!
Pla Plates are basically thin Polystyrene Sheets widely used by miniature builders and modellers. A lot of gunpla builders also use pla plates to add more details to their kits. On the Freedom, I have added Pla Plates to accentuate certain parts of the kit, here are the list of added pla plates:
- Shoulders: 4 (each)
- Ankle Armors: 3 (each)
- Foot: 3 (each)
- Arms: 4 (each)
- Hands: 1 (each)
- Rifle: 2
The way I design the pla plates are very basic! Pla-plating and scribing are actually part of the same phase of customising. For the part I wanted to add pla plates, I lay down dymo tapes and scribe out the design. Before I removed the tapes, I added cellophane tapes over it and using dymo tapes as the guide, I can easily draw straight lines with a Fine Point Sharpie Pen, tracing along the dymo tapes. Now transfer the cellophane tape with the pla plate design onto the thin pla plates sheets and start cutting out your very own pla plate designs!
You can replicate the pla plates using ‘tack welding’ method, Gogogadget Gunpla taught me this! Check him out too! Basically, use a super tiny droplet of super glue and stick your custom pla plate onto the polystyrene sheet and cut it out, do it as many times as you want to duplicate. Before splitting them up into individual pieces, sand the edges so that all of them have the exact same dimension. Now you can use an Exacto Knife to pry it apart!
Once, you’re ready, position your pla plates design on the part that you wanted to attach, remember that I scribed the design on the parts before I cut out pla plates? The scribed lines serve as the positioning marker! To stick the pla plates on the parts, wipe the edge between a pla plate and a part with Tamiya Ultra Thin Cement and hold it for around 30 seconds (Remember to wipe the bristle along the rim of the bottle first to get rid of the excess cement, too much cement will ruin your part!). Once the pla plates are welded in place, you can start trimming off the excess and start sanding them, don't forget to create the bevel edges!
Remember what I said about Jetto Hobby color scheme :D
Here’s what I used:
Color #1: White
Color #3: Gun Metal
GPaint Gun Metal
Color #4: Dark Iron
GPaint Dark Iron
Color #5: Black
Color #6: Bright Brass
Vallejo Model Air Metallic - Bright Brass
Color #7: Black (Acrylic)
Vallejo Model Air - Black
Get your GPaints here (click the embed link)! Use coupon code: JETTOHOBBY for 5% discount! Before you paint your kit, make sure you prime it first. I primed mine with Mr. Surfacer 1000, but you can use Mr. Surfacer 1200 for even finer details!
There isn't many color mixing for this build, the only mix was Color #2 and it is a simple 1:1 ratio mix! Color #1 - Color #5 are the base colors of the Freedom, Color #6 were used sparingly as an accent color and it can be found only on the Chest, Skirts, Backpack, Skirt Gun and Backpack Gun? (I don't know what those guns are called). Last but not least Color #7 was used for Acrylic Wash and the Chinese Writing.
Why the acrylic wash? Well, because at the time of writing, I could not source a Tamiya Panel Line Color! So what I did was using Color #7 and thinned it down with Vallejo Airbrush Thinner. Using a fine tip brush and paint the acrylic black wash on the panel lines, they should be dried pretty quickly. Now using a Cotton Bud with a few drops of Vallejo Airbrush Thinner, you can clean up the excess wash by gently wiping it. You should now get a clean panel line!
Did I handpainted the Chinese Writing? Of course not! I’m not that good XD! I used a web-based Chinese Calligraphy Generator to generate the font. On the web page, just click on the font style and size, type in the chinese word ‘自由’ and hit ‘Get a Calligraphy’! Copy the downloaded png file over to Microsoft Word, and resize it to your liking and print it out.
The next step is the challenge, tape your Tamiya Masking Tape on your Cutting Mat. Fixate the printed font over the masking tape. Now start cutting out the font! This step is all about being extra careful. Transfer the cut-out masking tape onto the shoulder and start spraying it with Vallejo Model Air - Black!
Mr. Super Clear Gloss is what I used to protect the underlying paints, use this as a ‘checkpoint’ to save your progress. Make sure the edges of the masking tape around the Chinese Writing design are all sealed up, just spend extra time and effort than normal! Why the acrylic though? Because if I made a mistake, I can use Vallejo Airbrush Thinner to easily clean it all up and try again without affecting the base GPaint which is lacquer based!
I have done custom LED on SD kits before but this time it’s different! This time I did it in a way that no wires are sticking out at all. Here’s I used:
- Pre-soldered Micro LED
- Button Cell Batteries
- Precision Pin Vise Hand Drill
- Blu Tack
- Kitchen Aluminium Foil
First, I cut out a slot for the batteries right behind the eye piece. With just a little bit of sanding, the batteries will fit snugly! Then, drill some holes for wiring routing, one hole each of the eyes and one around the back. I hope the picture helps!
The Micro LED can be easily fixed in place with the Blu Tack. Excessive long wires can be folded in half and be twisted into something like a form fabric strings, just make sure they are the same polarity and the insulation coating is removed. Do not twist positive and negative wires together. For the type of Micro LED I used, I removed the insulation by burning it just for a split second, you will start seeing the insulation coating being lit up and extinguish on its own right after that, make sure you check with your supplier before doing so. Different Micro LED manufacturers could use different insulation coating.
Blu Tack is amazing, I used it to fix the wires and the aluminium foil in place. The aluminium foil works like a dream as a conductive material, it improves the connection between your battery and the wires, creating a robust circuit!
So, I hope you learn a thing or two from reading this blog post. I have certainly gained a lot by simply doing this project, it has boosted my confidence in doing custom Chinese writing on a gunpla and I am definitely doing it again in the future for sure! I did not mention anything about water slide decals as they are pretty straight forward, the water slide decals I used were the only water slide decal designs that I have. Getting supplies in Ireland is difficult! But this will not stop me from doing what I love to do! In fact, I have created this very project that I am super proud of! I HAVE GAINED MY VERY OWN ‘自由’ FREEDOM!!! I’m being so dramatic here….
I will expand my crafts and improve my skills to create something even better! As Studio G says ‘NEVER STOP BUILDING’. So what do you guys think of my Freedom? :D
Before You Go
Please do come over to my YouTube Channel to check 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. As a little bonus, I have made some HD wallpapers based on my Custom Build Freedom for Desktop and Mobile phones here. If you like what I’ve done so far, why not follow me on Facebook and Instagram while you’re at it :D
See you there!