THE IMPORTANCE OF EXPERIMENTING, LEARNING, AND FAILURE
(Read Time: 5-10 Minutes)
Hello everyone, it’s Liam from Millennial Model Mayhem here to give you some advice for the new year! I’m going to outline my basic customization of the HG Sengoku Astray Gundam, then explain what went wrong, and how I used failure to my advantage! If you would rather experience this story in video form, I recommend checking out the link below for some entertaining Gunpla content ;)
(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!)
The Build Process
When it came to building this kit, I didn’t do anything fancy or complicated. I used mediocre nippers to do the first cut off the runner, then nice nippers to cleanly remove the nubs. Once the kit was assembled, I did some test poses and decided to remove the sword holster clips on the shoulders because they were too distracting, and the swords were always going to be hand-held in some fashion. I also removed an asymmetrical nub on top of the head to further remove distracting elements.
Once the modifications were complete, I disassembled and sanded the pieces with 600, 800, and 1000 grit sanding sponges. Finally, I gave the parts a wash with soapy water, and then got them ready for painting!
Painting and Detailing
For painting this kit, my plan was to try using GPaints for the first time! This was exciting because I’ve heard nothing but good reviews, and I’m used to working with Acrylic paint, which is much weaker than lacquer-based paints like GPaint (but ventilation will be more important!). When it came to colour inspiration, I looked through one of the tabletop gaming books featured in my previous video for some artwork I liked, extracted some samples, then mixed GPaint white, blue, and black accordingly.
Once everything was sorted out by colour I primed the majority of the pieces with Mr. Surfacer 1200. The swords, v-fin, and a few small pieces got primed with Black Vallejo surface primer because I wanted to use Silver Pink Shifter paint to add a fun accent colour to the scheme. Before I moved on to applying the GPaint, I wanted to try an experiment inspired by the technique of pre-shading.
If you’re unfamiliar with the technique, it involves painting a dark colour to the outlines and panel lines before the main colour is applied in order to achieve more depth in the final coat. I wanted to see if it was possible to achieve similar results by applying the pre-shade with a brush, so I grabbed my trustworthy Winsor & Newton and started adding the Vallejo surface primer to the main pieces of the kit. Going into this experiment I didn’t know whether the mixed layers of lacquer and acrylic paints would co-operate, or if my brush-pre-shading would appear in a similar way to the regular technique. My main goals for this project were to experiment and learn new things, because if I never step outside of my comfort zone, I’ll never improve my skills!
Applying the final coats of paint was straightforward. The underframe of the kit got straight-up GPaint Dark Iron, and the remaining pieces either got one of the custom GPaint mixes or Silver Pink Shifter paint. When the airbrushing was over, I returned to brush painting to apply the same Shifter paint to sections of the armour that were supposed to get stickers (the only sticker I used from the kit was the eyes). Then I added Vallejo Model Colour Brass to the sword details and areas surrounding the Silver Pink. Since these paints are acrylic, the details first received a coat of Vallejo surface primer; and I used mediocre brushes because metallic paints can easily wear down a nice sable brush. After all the paint was given sufficient time to cure, I partially reassembled the kit and applied a semi-gloss top-coat. The final detailing was to add some Tamiya Black Panel Liner and then clean up with mineral spirits.
I’m pleased with the balance and contrast of colours I came up with for the scheme, but the pre-shading experiment wasn’t as obvious as I was hoping it would be. The brushwork didn’t show through that well on the darkest blue sections, which wasn’t surprising, and I believe my attempt to achieve an even coat of the light blue was a little too thick. The middle blue had the best results of the 3, so I’d like to continue experimenting, or maybe even try standard pre-shading regularly...
Unfortunately, everything started going downhill when I gave everything a final topcoat with a can of Vallejo Matte Varnish. Despite properly warming and shaking the rattle can, and trying to be conservative with the spray, the varnish ended up drying into cloudy, frosted-looking patches on various parts all over the model… Definitely not using this product ever again!
My initial reaction was disgust, followed by disappointment, then dread. Before I fell deeper into this all-too-familiar spiral I had a realization: The only thing I could do in this situation was to turn my failure into a learning experience. It’s arrogant of me to think that every project I do will be a satisfying success, and there is no way that all the other builders and painters I admire haven’t gone through similar failures. If I let one bad coat of varnish put me down, then I shouldn’t be in this hobby in the first place. It’s like what @studio_gundam says, “NEVER STOP BUILDING.” I have to keep going on my creative journey and improve one project at a time. Now I’ve turned this negative experience around, and transformed my frustration into excitement for the next project!
Thank you for reading to the end, and I hope you found my musings useful to apply to your own creative journey. If you enjoyed this content, subscribe to my Youtube Channel and follow me on Instagram to see more model mayhem!