PAINTING GLOW EFFECTS AND FREEHAND ON GUNPLA
(Read time: 5-10 mins)
Hello people! Liam from Millennial Model Mayhem here to talk to you about the glow effects and freehand details on my latest project, the Red Bull God Gundam! Instead of covering the entire customization process for this HG kit, I’m going to focus on how I did the brush-painting sections in greater detail. If you’d like to see the entire project from start to finish, as well as some extra-spicy memes, I encourage you to check out my Youtube video:
(Disclaimer - I’ve included Amazon Affiliate links for some of the products included in this project. Using the links will incur no additional cost, but will provide me with a small commission that helps support Millennial Model Mayhem!)
Materials and Rationale
I used water-based acrylics for both techniques in this article for a multitude of reasons. My background is in miniature painting, so I already have a variety of paints designed for miniatures that are relatively affordable and readily available. Acrylics are less-popular in the Gunpla sphere due to Laquer and Enamel paints being more scratch-resistant, but they have the advantage of being much easier to work with. I don’t have to worry about paint fumes with acrylics, and I don’t have to use a specific thinner either, water works fine. Furthermore, the weaker paint means it’s easier to clean up any mistakes made; and the areas I’ll be painting are at low risk of rubbing against other parts.
When I’m hand-painting fine details I prefer to use my nice Winsor and Newton sable brushes (unless using metallic colours) because they hold the best point and make the work easier. The problem with nice sable brushes is the hair used is more fragile than cheaper synthetic brushes, so I don’t ever want to risk ruining my expensive brushes with lacquer paint/thinner. With all that being said, it is still 100% possible to hand paint with lacquer paints, and I’m going to give it a shot with some synthetic brushes and GPaint eventually!
Painting Glow Effects
Painting the glowing effects on the legs, chest, and eyes started with a base layer of white to help keep the colours vibrant. I’m always thinning my acrylic paint with water to varying degrees by eye-balling the ratio and testing it on my palette. For this project I needed it to be as thin as possible while being just thick enough to have proper control with the brush. Once the white base is on, I move to the main orange colour and cover the entire area, as well as the outer edge with a very thin glaze to simulate the glow spreading from the light source. After the orange layer is done, I continue to add thin layers with yellow mixed in, then eventually pure yellow, and white. When the paint is wet it will look brighter than the final result, so this stage requires patience as you wait for the paint to dry and add multiple thin glazes to reach a satisfying gradient. The final step is to go back to the main orange for one last glaze around the edges to tidy up any mistakes and reinforce the glowing effect.
Painting Freehand Designs
For painting the freehand designs, thinning the paint to the same degree as before is required, as well as a very slow and steady hand, and a lot of patience. I didn’t want to try copying the official red bull logo because I’m not confident enough in my abilities. Instead, I decided to just paint the rough outline of a bull shape in the same orange as the glow effects, then work up the same gradient to the middle of the shape. I like how this turned out because it helped tie the different parts of the kit together by adding more of the orange/yellow glow rather than introducing a new red colour into the mix.
For the text sections on the legs, I start as small as possible and slowly copy from my reference to make sure the spacing is even and centred, and only start filling out the characters once the entire design is laid out. The first few layers of paint in this stage will look uneven due to how thin the paint is but will come together with more carefully-applied layers. Apply too many layers though and you will start to lose the smoothness, so it’s better to take it slow! If mistakes are made, the weaker nature of acrylics thankfully makes it possible to erase markings. However, this depends on how many layers have already been applied, and there is still a chance of the layers of stranger paint underneath affected. I had to re-do part of the ‘250ml’ design and noticed a small amount of the gloss varnish get removed, so use this technique sparingly (and practice your freehand on something else before you tackle the real thing!).
I’m really satisfied with how the brush painting on this project turned out. It’s something I’ve wanted to try on Gunpla for a while, and I will experiment more with it in the future! However, there are still a couple of things I could have improved on in this project. I should have been wearing gloves while handling the parts! Even though I was regularly washing the Dorito dust off my fingers, and there was a gloss varnish projecting the airbrushed paint, oils from my skin were still transferring to the model. I also could have been thinning my paints with glaze medium instead of water; which, isn’t as essential a step as wearing gloves, but would have brought more consistency and control when it came to glazing colours for the glow effects.
Thank you for reading my article on how I used acrylics on this fun custom Gunpla project! If you enjoyed reading, I encourage you to check out my other content on my Youtube Channel and Instagram Page. I’ll be painting more Gunpla with acrylics again soon, but with a different technique!