How I customised my HG Gundam TR-1 [Advanced Hazel] “REX”
Read time: 5-10 minutes
Hi there creatives, Kelga Creations of GSquad here! In this blog post, I want to share some unique insights and techniques I used with my HG Advanced Hazel that I didn’t cover or show in my video. I would highly recommend you guys to watch the video first~ I’ll wait for you here! ;)
Table of contents covering unique processes on this build
- Introduction and build concept
- Modification - Railgun kitbash and feet detail up
- Painting - Black basing technique
- Detailing - Mixing custom panel line paint
- Detailing - Gunk wash with cheap and accessible watercolour paints
- Detailing - Paint chipping with acrylic based paint
- Detailing - Paint fading and highlights with watercolour pencils
- Diorama - Cheap and easy, find and use real rocks!
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1. Introduction and build concept
First of all, I was given this kit assembled from a friend a few years ago who unfortunately stopped Gunpla as a hobby, now I want to do some justice to the kit and make my friend proud with my build as a way to thank him for this opportunity.
The concept is referenced from Metal Gear Rex from the Metal Gear Solid game. This game shaped my childhood and life to understand the power of gaming as a medium of interactive storytelling and make us think about the society we live in.
The Advance Hazel have quite a few design synergy with the Metal Gear Rex already, so it was like a match in heaven! (Or… Outer Heaven? MGS reference ;p) For example the heeled feet, it has hidden “T-Rex” like arms and a protruding upper part in its backpack.
It also shares a similar design language of straight lines and boxy shapes.
So I wanted to kitbash a railgun and also make the toes of hydraulic stakes that would make the kit feel more grounded and stablised with the extra weight of the railgun and support the balance while firing that monster of a weapon!
As for the paint job and finish look, I wanted to make it feel realistic and something functional in the military. With that end goal in mind, the techniques would have to support that goal. The unique painting processes that went into this build will be black basing technique, mixing custom panel line paint, gunk wash, paint chipping and paint fading on edges.
2. Modification - Railgun kitbash and feet detail up
The railgun was kitbashed using parts from about 4 other model kits and also some styrene strips for custom detail. The joint connection was made from recycled runners and spare PC joints. So always keep spare parts, you never know when you will need them!
The bottom portion of the railgun also droops from the weight, so to support that, I drilled two holes on the back of the joint where it's not visible, and plug a short wire into either hole to keep it stabilized depending when the railgun is closed or open for firing.
As for the feet, I used a part from a gatling gun, sawed it in 4s for hydraulics, and inserted the stakes parts made from recycled runner, sanding down the thickness a little and sharpening the points. Then further adding plated details with styrene strips for a more stable look.
3. Painting - Black basing technique
Often times among Gunpla painters, pre-shading technique is often heard and more commonly used. Personally I feel pre-shading has a more toy-like, figure-like look. The black basing technique is more common with military and plane modellers. Since my concept is going for that “realistic military weapon in service” look and feel, black basing is a no brainer.
It is my second time using this technique, but I’m loving it already over pre-shading as I lean towards a more realistic aesthetic. The idea is to achieve a look that the paint job is fading from the natural elements, the sun, rain, etc. Looking at real world references, the top side of planes or tanks would have more exposure to the elements and have more fading compared to the underside.
How to go about the application of black basing? As the name suggests, you start with a black primer instead of the usual grey, as metal black or dark primers are generally used for real military. I don’t have black primer yet, so I went with the usual grey lacquer primer, followed by black lacquer based GPaint. (As a member of the GSquad, you get 5% off of GPaint if you purchase using my promo code: KELGACREATIONS) Then you will apply the first layer of paint, called the marble layer, you spray the paint in small spots, close to the pieces and low PSI so it doesn't web. Spray in a random pattern with gaps of the black basing showing through. Keep in mind, areas that’s facing upwards towards the sky would have bigger gaps, sides less and bottom are tighter, due to the exposure to natural elements as mentioned earlier. Now the second layer will blend, using the same colour paint as first, but now drop a bit of thinner to thin it down. Spray further away from the piece and blend it all together. How much of a faded look you are going for, that’s up to you~ For Advanced Hazel Rex, I imagined that it is a special force’s unit, and only get sent out for certain missions, and wouldn’t stay out in the field for too long, compared to say a sniper unit, so just a subtle fading is what I’m going for, very hard to notice on camera.
4. Detailing - Mixing custom panel line paint
As for inking the panel lines, I like to mix my own paint between different enamel based paints instead of using one color for example black. The reason is for that more realistic goal. Using a single color like black will result in a more toy-like feel. Panel lines from real world objects are mostly shadows and/or dirt, and they are not solid black, or grey. With a custom mix, you can help achieve an illusion on the size of the kit to be bigger than it actually is!
5. Detailing - Gunk wash with cheap and accessible watercolour paints
Gunk wash is another technique that will further enhance the sense of realism, dirt and grime naturally will collect in tight spaces. Even if this unit is serviced and cleaned between missions, some tight areas won’t get cleaned, especially under the armour or tight spaces between joints, this is a tool of destruction, not a Ferrari! XD
Go wild and apply the paint, once dry, just clean it up with lots of damp cotton buds, again, how much clean up is up to you. If a unit is out in the field for days, then there would be more dirt on the general areas.
6. Detailing - Paint chipping with acrylic based paint
For paint chips on this kit, I used Tamiya Acrylic XF69 NATO Black and Tamiya Acrylic XF56 Metallic Grey. First I dry brush with the Nato black, instead of using pure black, again for the sense of realism. This would serve as lighter paint chipping to the primer layer. Apply mostly on edges, and more to the front and side of the kit are most exposed to getting scratched from movement, environment and from battle. Followed by the Metallic Grey for deeper chipping to the steel level. I use the smallest brush I have and sip up paint from the cap of the bottle after shaking. Don’t have too much paint on the brush, and with precision, apply within the primer level scratches, not all of them, just in the areas you feel would get most scratches. Pro tip: You can use this technique to cover up any paint scratching off from joint friction or from unmasking! ;)
7. Detailing - Paint fading and highlights with watercolour pencils
Another way to enhance the realism of a kit. Edges generally have the thinnest paint applied as paint doesn't pool on edges, which means the paint on edges would fade first. So with the watercolour pencils, using a colour that’s close and lighter to the paintjob, draw it on the edges. You can refine and blend with water wet brush or dump cotton buds to your desired result. All the techniques above can be subtle and hardly noticeable from a distance, but they all add up and you will see them working together up close!
8. Diorama - Cheap and easy, find and use real rocks!
Last but not least, to set a stage for a realistic build, dioramas are great. What’s even greater is to think about an effective, a cheap and quick way to set that stage, with modules of rocks! Go out there and get some for free, or at a pet store by the section for fish tank decorations, I have bought 2 for my Zaku I Sniper video, they were cheap and priced by weight. The tip on choosing what rocks to pick, would be to go for ones that have high detail, with variations, flat sides, etc. That way it will make your kits look even bigger, plus they can be modular, arrange them differently and turn them to the other side, or even prop them up as walls! Smart hey~? ;)
In conclusion, this build took me 4 weeks of week nights and weekends to complete. This kit, despite being released 15 years ago, is quite a solid HG kit with lots of details that Advanced of Zeta suit designs are known for. Which meant quite a few masking processes between colours. As an old HG kit, It also has quite a bit of seam lines to remove with modifications needed for the parts to be able to reassemble after painting. The scratch built of the railgun has definitely pushed my skills and most rewarding.
Check this link for FREE wallpapers for 4K resolution, tablet and mobile from this kit's photoshoot!
If you have questions on your own builds in terms of techniques or anything, feel free to ask around the growing community that we have on the Studio G subreddit. We have many great builders that can help or give you feedback on your building journey!
Thank you for your time reading this article, I’m Jeff from Kelga Creations, you can check out my YouTube Channel for more build videos and Instagram & Facebook for behind the scenes work in progress photos. Till we meet again, let’s #KeepOnCreating!