Jul 292019

The old adage that if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it; is very true. I did some 3D designs for the Dom Barrage project but once those pieces were designed and printed and I spent more time with the hands-on side of things to finish the build; the 3D design skills flew out the door. Since the Dom project was fairly intense, I wanted to relax a bit and work on something simple like the Zaku Exceed head. I finished the Gundam Exceed head while in the middle of working on the Dom project as a quick break. But as I started looking at the Zaku heads and thinking more, I realized that I should keep practice on the 3D design. I needed to relearn a few things but it is kind alike riding a bike, once you get used to the balance and everything, it just becomes muscle memory. So my quick and simple project kinda blew up into a full blown custom project….converting the Zaku Exceed head into a Gouf Custom head with a full bust.

I’m getting much more comfortable with the design, but I’m still VERY novice at it so the end result isn’t the greatest in terms of properly designed 3D files. This first set of pictures are the initial build progression via Blender. The basic idea is to block out the design using reference pictures I took from the NeoGrade Gouf Custom Conversion kit I built years ago. Once the blocks are laid out, details and shaping can be done.

Read more about the project after the jump!

The design process didn’t take too long this time around since I learned so much from the Dom project. I just needed to relearn a few of the shortcuts and techniques are easily forgotten with disuse. I learned a bunch more while working on the design this time around too. The whole design process took about 4 or 5 days. Not too shabby. Since there is nothing physical, it is difficult to stop and take progress pictures but I did take a few in progress screenshots via Blender.

I was originally going to just do the chest piece; but sometime last week, I started working on the backpack and I think this helps balance things out. I also designed this in pieces for easier print and to leave the project open for making an exceed model conversion kit. Folks have been asking for the STL files, but honestly, the design isn’t solid enough. There are TONS of issues because I’m still learning correct order of operation and good 3D design methodology. I want to take another couple of classes on 3D design so that I get faster and better at the process. The Form 2’s slicer is VERY forgiving and my poor designs are actually printable because the slicer does a pretty good job at guessing the mess that I was trying to build and then print it.

Once I started getting close to finishing the design, I printed out a quick test piece. This piece will determine the actual scaling for the rest of the bust design. The collar piece will connect the rest of the bust to the Zaku Exceed Head model. I measured the diameter for the bottom of the head and did the math to figure out the correct scaling from the Blender files to the Form 2. From my design, I need to scale this at 14.14 times. And the collar is a small enough piece that if I printed it at 100 microns (.1mm resolution) it shouldn’t take too long to print.

The collar printed in a few hours and after clean up and some extra UV curing, the test fit is perfect. I now know the scale factor for the rest of the design and kick off the main chest piece design in the printer. The chest piece is separated into 5 pieces, the two cockpit window inserts, the side chest details and the center chest block. I printed the center chest piece at 50 microns (.05 mm). The print time estimation was 25 hours.

I picked up the red Zaku head on my trip to Japan several years ago and picked up several green Zaku heads recently at AX. Since I only had the 1 red with the commander fin; the first step is to make a copy; so a lego box was made with playdough lining the bottom and the part is covered with liquid silicone to make some molds. The same is done with the commander fin.

The chest block actually took 27 hours to print. The block of resin was transferred to a isopropanol alcohol bath and left to soak for about 15-20 minutes. Once done soaking, it was rinsed off and dried and UV cured in some sunlight. The supports are clipped and pulled away leaving a giant block of 3D printed resin.

This block of resin needs some clean up, and again, since my skills with 3D design isn’t quite there yet, there is A LOT of post processing that needs to happen to get this to the priming phase. But in just 27 hours, the chest block is printed and looks pretty good IMO.

Now some test fitting with the collar and Zaku head. There are a few problems discovered here. 1. the collar doesn’t sit into the chest block. Poor design and lack of forethought. The bottom of the collar piece is angled incorrectly and too large to fit the angled slot of the chest contact area. This is purely a mistake in design. Having the collar as a test piece was perfect to catch any gotchas that I can then translate to the rest of the kit that hasn’t been printed. I just went back into blender and modified the collar to correct the fit issue. 2. The collar was too short, the Zaku’s nose doesn’t clear the front of the chest. So regardless, the collar piece needs to be adjusted and reprinted. This bust piece is going to be large. The comparison to the MG sized torso piece should be a pretty good indicator.

The molds for the commander Zaku are done so a few casts are made. Time to get to more cosmetic mods to the Zaku. It is NOT a Zaku boy; so we need to bring out the cutting tools. Hobby saws are brought out and just like dropping the top like one would do a top chop for a hotrod. I just ran carefully along the top indented edge of the head and cut the head side pieces in halves.

Tamiya tape is used to draw in the amount of plastic to remove and the lower halves of the head are sanded down to remove plastic material. Measuring is important since the two halves are being sanded down independently. I don’t want to over sand. Once the two sides are measured and sanded down correctly, the tops are glued back into place. And a quick comparison with the original Zaku look should be fairly visible. The window pillar was also removed.

Time to get starting on the nose job for the Gouf. I measured the MG Gouf Custom’s nose and scaled it up to start gluing plastic and cutting excess plastic. The Gouf’s nose is flatter and shorter in height and longer in length compared to the Zaku. Some styrene is glued to the front of the snout to help extend that while keeping the vents. The top of the snout is trimmed off and the front piece is extended from the main nose piece. Bondo is used as the quick filler here.

At this point, the new collar has been printed and it fits perfectly on both sides and the clearance between the Gouf head and the body is good. The first side piece of the chest is printed along with the backpack cable connection details finish printing after 29 hours. The parts are combined with the new collar and the side piece for the picture below. I designed some internal actuators and gears for the side chest details where the arms would effectively attach.

When the new collar was printed, I also printed out the thrusters and backpack cable attachment point. Since I will not have the waist cables, I still need the attachment point on the backpack. I did some guess work for the internal attachment point design. I think it looks pretty good and I got more practice with detail work in Blender.

Epoxy putty is used to fill out the top and sides. Bondo isn’t friendly to scribing, but is a good cheap solution to filling. Epoxy putty is good for scribing but I don’t want to use that much of it as a filler.
More epoxy putty for the resin commander fin copy and the internal sides of the Zaku head. The epoxy putty for the nose finishes up the filling and shape. The commander fin is completely different for the Gouf custom, so epoxy putty is used here to start building this up. The epoxy putty inside the head is for anticipation of the sanding work on the sides of the head to reshape it from a Zaku to No Zaku. Epoxy putty is used as a filler here since bondo will not work well for the future detailing once the plastic area is sanded away exposing the epoxy putty.

Some light curing putty finishes the build up progress for the commander fin. Here’s a comparison with the original Zaku head.

The backpack took 29 hours as well to complete printing. The thruster bells and cable attachment detail are attached with sticky tack and the bust is 1 piece shy of completion. As of this posting, there is still another 3-4 hours left in the estimated 20 hour print. I added the legs back to the NeoGrade Gouf Custom for a more complete comparison between the 1/100 and the bust. If you look carefully at the back area of the gouf’s visor you should see that I’ve glued in some styrene. The Gouf’s visor differs from the Zaku in that this area is angled and not a rectangle shape. The styrene is glued in as support.

Since I have a copy of the commander head piece, i can get to modifying the original part. Light curing putty is used to build up and shape the sort-of-widow’s peak on the front of the Gouf’s visor. Light curing putty is also applied to the back of the visor areas using the glued in styrene strips as structural support. Sanded down, the head is starting to look more and more Goufy.

Here are some more comparison shots with almost all the pieces of the bust printed. So much for a quick and dirty little Zaku Exceed Head project. This may even turn out to be a conversion kit. This will depend on how much it’ll cost to mold and cast all these. I’ve never molded/casted anything of this size so more unknown territory for me.

This last bit here has nothing to do with the project and everything to do with shameless plugging for SCGMC and our shirts! We reprinted the Kampfer and Alex shirts and with the Alex shirt, we printed those with color discharge inks so the feel of the shirt is completely different from our previous Alex shirts. We also reprinted the Gunpla Elitist shirt which we did a very limited run when we first printed them. In addition to the small run we did now, we also printed the design on black shirts. The design over a black shirt really pops!

Click the store link above or click this link to check out the rest of our shirts we have for sale! Again, limited quantities so get your shirts today!

Jul 292019

SCGMC Shirt reprints! We just received our reprints for the Alex Build, Kampfer, and Gunpla Elitist! Folks have been requesting these shirts so here they are! We did a different print style for the Alex Build using ink discharge printing, we also removed the TGG logo from the sleeve; so the first run Alex Build shirts are still special. With ink discharge, the feel is completely different as the shirt is actually dyed instead of a layer of ink. If these are successful, we will be looking to do future reprints with this style of screen printing.

The Gunpla Elitist also got a print on a black shirt, so for you guys that like dark shirts and skipped out on the Elitist shirt earlier, you can grab it in black!

These shirts are limited and they go to fund SCGMC, so don’t wait, support SCGMC and buy a shirt! Click on the store link above or click on this link for all our SCGMC shirts.

Jul 122019

As promised, there were only a few last steps for this project. The kit has been broken down into major subsections. Some subsections bigger than others. And I start off with applying some paint chipping using an enamel based metallic grey. A very small brush is used and I just slowly and carefully apply some chips here and there. I don’t want to go overboard, I just want to see that the suit has seen “some” use.

The rest of the final weathering steps as well as the final pictures for the kit after the jump.

The arms are paint chipped and I have one that wasn’t touch as a comparison to one that I started weathering. It is a very slight touch of chipping. Next up I clear glossed the parts and started in on the filter.

The filter is composed of 3 main paints, zinc (yellow), white, and dark earth. A 4th color of rust is added but only in small select areas. Once the parts are dotted up, I take a stiff brush and lighter fluid and proceed to wipe away the dots creating a blended faded effect that changes the tons of the parts.

Light fluid works very well. I had some problems removing the white so I dipped my brush into some testor enamel thinner and that stuff was WAY too strong and started removing a little too many layers. I think I salvaged it a bit, but the right side of the rear skirt took the brunt of that mistake. Below is a quick picture of where I stopped with the filter on these parts.

A few updates ago when I glued the smaller missile pods into position, I failed in test fitting and test functioning the opening mechanics of those pods. Had I did it correctly, I wouldn’t have had the problem I had now. Those doors did not open, or if they did, they barely opened. The back of the pods did not have enough room. I left this as is and just figured I’d only open the bigger missile pods. While doing the weathering, the fact that I spend considerable time designing and working on the smaller pod doors, it just ate at me because it seemed a complete waste if I didn’t go and just fix it. Last night, I couldn’t sleep so I got out of bed and started chiseling away the excess plastic making room for the pod doors to open. Here is a comparison with one of the doors before and after.

The BMC 2mm chisel is used to scrape away plastic slowly and in a fairly straight edge. Once that was done, the other side was fixed and then lightly sanded.

Both doors work so I added some details to the missile pods and painted the repaired area as well as the missile pod details.

Today, after a clear flat sprayed last night over the dried filtered pieces, I applied the tamiya makeup kits and did some pigment weathering for the kit.

Once done with that, the work desk was transformed into a photo table and the kit was put together and final pictures were taken.

Jul 122019

A while ago, I found these pictures on a facebook page that I don’t remember what it was, *edit* someone let me know: https://www.facebook.com/Dioramasphere/ but I had the forethought enough to download all the pictures to my phone. And randomly, there was a guy asking about how to do ground work for dioramas and I remembered I had these pictures. I couldn’t find the facebook page, so I transferred the files to my computer and uploaded them to my webpage so I can create a tutorial using these pictures. Again, I do not remember who originally made this, so if someone recognizes this, message me so I can properly credit them.

I’ve used hydrocal and tulle fabric for different reasons and didn’t even think about combining the two. The pictures and texts in the pictures are pretty descriptive but I’ll add in my color commentary for the sake of expanding on the steps as I understand them.

Everything starts with a template. Here, the builder is using styrene to measure out and create the templates. Fro the look of things, this could be a sidewalk. The same templating can be done to create roadways, stairs, etc. To hold things together, tulle is used and this is just fabric from any fabric or arts and crafts store. The fabric is cut to the size of the templates. In this picture, these look like sidewalk blocks. The best thing to do is to take pictures while you’re out in the while and translate those pictures to templates in styrene for recreation.

Next up, there is a mixture of plaster, sand, and hydrocal. I’ve used hydrocal and the consistency is very chalky, so I see the benefit in addition of sand and plaster. The finer the sand/plaster, the finer your ground is going to be. So for scale reasons, keep this in mind since at 1/100 the little rocks and cracks are going to be much finer in scale.

The acrylic paint and flat finish is a guess to me, but I would bet that this is to help color the ground work. Again, refer to your pictures of the wild ground works you see around you and add in the appropriate colors. Acrylics mix will with water which is the next step to activate the hydrocal and get it to start forming the concrete. I would recommend mixing according to the hydrocal instructions which is to let the water sit for a minute or so, then start mixing for another minute of so.

Once you have your mixture as a wet cement like paste, spoon or pour over the templates. The next pictures shows straight edge to run along the top of the template runners to get a smooth and flat surface to the poured concrete. While still wet, lay the tulle down.

Then follow up with some more concrete and the pass with the straight edge. The idea is to embed the tulle fabric into the concrete so later, there’s something to hold the concrete together when we start making the cracks. I’m not entirely sure why dry hydrocal is sprinkled on top after the tulle embed, but this doesn’t hurt. My best guess is to get some fine pot marks for when this is broken up later.

From the looks of the picture, it seems the block has had time to dry a bit. It is not as wet looking and will hold paint and glue brushed onto the surface. My guess is that the paint is used to pigment the top layer while the white glue is used as a binding agent for the block.

Once the block is completely dry, pop it out of the templates and you can start making the crack designs. With different acrylic pigments, you can create concrete colors, asphalt colors, or however many colors your reference sidewalks look.

The next step seems the most fun, breaking things. The builder is using different objects to lay the slabs over and create different crack effects. The embedded tulle holds the slabs together.

A brush is used to remove all the small bits of plaster, sand, and hydrocal. You are effectively creating the little pot marks and exposing the cracks more in this process. The successive pictures shows a closeup. Again, from the earlier step of how fine your sand/plaster is, results in how “to scale” your slab is for your project.

Not shown is the slab glued to the diorama base. Once the slabs and roadways are glued to the diorama base, the work to weather and blend it into the overall diorama begins with washes or pigments. The artist here uses acrylic washes which is good, but I believe enamel washes will also work here. Allowing each layer to dry and possibly clear coating each layer in a lacquer based product may actually help create the ground works with more depth. Layers create depth.

Again, thanks to the original artist that did this, I will be doing this on my next diorama, so some future WIP will have these steps. I just wanted to create this so that there’s something I can refer to when I need it.

Jul 052019

No update earlier this week since I went out of town for a quick vacation with the wife and corgis. My documentation didn’t stop before the trip, so I have some things that happened to the kit right before that and right after – most of what happened after anyways. Odds and ends are being worked on as the kit is in an odd limbo of different stages of paint. Some of the 3D printed parts need a decent amount of attention so there is work there to fix things. I also cut out a styrene frame for the rear skirt and that was glued to the base of the rear skirt. The shoulders were masked and painted and then masked and painted and then yet another level of masking and painting. Think inception for painting, start at the bottom layer first, then continue masking and painting until the very top layer; then unmasking everything layer by layer until you reach reality and spin your totem…

More details after the jump.

Aside from the underskirt frame detail, the bottom needed a little more work. I added a piece of plastic at the top as a sort of shelf. This also hides all the contact points to the waist piece and while I was upskirting the suit in the game (not creepy at all…) I saw this detail. The part is putted to make it look like it is part of the skirt and a notch for the center of the waist is cut so that the skirt fits with the waist frame. The sides of the skirt are puttied to blend the internal frame piece with the rest of the under skirt. The white of the resin with the partially sanded primer and the light curing putty look pretty cool under the UV lights used to cure the putty.

Once cured, the putty is sanded and the top sides of the skirt are also sanded to remove the rough spots and fill any other defects. Primer shows a pretty good finish so I can get to painting. There are still issues with the underskirt, but since it IS the underskirt, I’m not too worried about perfection here. I just need this to be good enough for my standards – which are pretty low to start.

The gun is primed and some areas have dents that need to be addressed. Similar dents can be seen in the first picture of this post for the ammo canister. Light curing putty comes to the rescue here and the ammo can piece too and those areas are puttied and sanded.

The rest of the kit gets a quick test fit to make sure things are looking ok. And the ammo belt is disassembled and painted.

Most of the parts are painted and drying/curing with a help of a dehydrator. The dehydrator is a HUGE time saver and help cut down the dry times I used to have between paint layers.

A clear gloss is sprayed onto the parts to prep them for the decal process.

The decals sheets are brought out and I sift through them to find the appropriate misworded/spelled warning labels to use on the Dom. I may have gone a little overboard, there are 22 individual decals on the chest piece. Ver Ka style decaling I guess – it’s all the rage with the gunpla builders.

Once decaled, I have a arm comparison for the before and after.

The skirt is painted and masked, and painted and masked some more to finish painting the entire rear skirt.

I did a quick light test using a battery and a reed switch. The process is pretty simple, the reed switch is magnetically operated as the two contacts inside the glass tube are attracted to one another in the presence of a magnet which completes the circuit and turns on the LEDs.

Another gloss coat is applied to sandwich the decals and help hide the decal lines. Once that cures, it’s time for the panel lining which brings out all the little details – especially those in the photoetch accent pieces.

This past Wednesday night, I started working on getting the electronics combined. Batteries and reed switches are placed around the kit, 1 in each foot and one set in the chest. And after successful tests, the wiring is soldered together and it’s about ready to final assembly; sort of.

Here is the assembly process. Too focused to take more pictures since it was pushing 2AM Thursday morning.

Pictures stop here because I was more focused on finishing the project for AX than anything. But my rushing has resulted in some problems that will need to be addressed when I get the kit back from being displayed at Anime Expo 2019. I’m not a perfectionist, and I can live with the mistakes, I just wanted it in the case so I didn’t have to worry about it and sorta enjoy the rest of the week at AX. Once I get it back, I will probably apply a slight bit of weathering just to complete it. The kit just feels like it should be weathered; not necessarily heavily, but at least SOME weathering. And my screwed up decal can sorta help with that.

Jun 242019

The week 4 update is here. And so much to go over for a short post. I’ve gone full blown painting now, but there are still some bits and pieces that need clean up and build work. Namely the rear skirt, ammo drum, ammo belt, and gatling gun. But as of this post, everything is almost done with principal painting. But let’s rewind to earlier this week and since the last update. I was still doing minor detail work. The last update introduced some photoetch addon details. Continuing with that, I added some of these detail bits to the knee joint circular covers. I did have to make a slight modification to the part so that the detail bit would sit flush. There are four plastic details that extend slightly towards the center of the round and those needed to be chiseled away. I did a video while I was working on these but I haven’t had the time to edit and upload it. I’m pushing pretty hard on the kit so I’ll probably get that video up once I’m done with the project.

More detailing and getting down with the paint after the jump.

The bottom of the feet as well as the sides of the ammo drum get some of the photoetch details glued into place with your everyday, child eating, elmer’s glue. Once the glue sets, I’ll prime and paint these parts.

While things are being painted and drying, I return to the gatling gun and get to cleaning it up and just gluing the parts together. The frame is glued to the main gun body and the lower sections of the frame are also glued in and the front bottom detail piece. The alignment of the part isn’t the greatest so I needed to glue in some plastic styrene for some of the gaps in the front of the frame piece where it attaches to the bottom detail bit. Next up for the gun is the sanding work.

Actual paint is sprayed now. I typically paint the insides or underbellies first, then the outside. So here are some internals getting black based coated then painted with some metallics. I painted up the thrusters then added in some LEDs. Typically, I stop here and move on to the next part. But having the LED just inside the thruster bell felt like just shoving a lightbulb inside. So for something different, I casted some thruster details and glued them into place after painting and with the LEDs lit up, the light is more subdued and I get a more interesting light effect coming through the details. It is a slight change from my usual LED thruster work.

I wanted to add a slight bit of detail inside the missile pods so time to test out the precision of the cricut. I drew out a frame piece and had it cut with the cricut, it worked amazingly. The fit was perfect and since I had the frame piece already designed and measured, I just needed to use the same design with some masking tape attached to a sheet of vinyl sticker and run the machine again with different material settings. The backing on the cricut cutting board is sticky, so sticking masking tape to a sticky surface isn’t the best thing to do. The vinyl tape works perfectly for easy removal of the masking tape after the cut. So with the frame design run through the cricut and instead of cutting plastic, I cut the masking tape, I have a perfect masking templates for the part. The internals were painted with alclad magnesium, masked off, then painted with alclad dark aluminum, and done. It is a VERY small bit of detail and only visible when the bays are open so I’m not too worried about cleaning up the rough edges.

Back to the cricut, more masks are made for the side and front skirts.

Just cut and apply the mask then paint. That’s really all she wrote on the subject.

Now onto the exterior armor pieces. Again, I paint inside first then out. Since some of the parts are glued, I painted the internal frames first then glued the exterior armor to fix seams around the painted frames. These frames are then masked off so that the exterior armor can be painted.

Color choices. I’m going default color scheme so I grabbed some more screenshots from the game and tried to match the colors as best I could. Below are the paints I had. I then went and bought a bunch more paint after researching and comparing the colors more.

THe paint process I use is straight forward. Over the primed surface, I have the base color. Over the base color, I spray on white with fairly stark shadows. After this, the main colors are sprayed. For the arms, legs, missile pod covers and belt pieces, I started with Mr Color Brown (#7). White is then sprayed to create brown shaded armor pieces. The skirts and part of the foot are based coated in black followed by the white to shade it. The different colors give a different tonal effect to the final color. I also do this to create a color lift effect instead of just a stark dark tone under the final color. The top color effectively blends things together and I get a subtle shading effect.

The top layers of colors are sprayed and here’s the result. And with that, I noticed a problem in the left front skirt piece. There’s an uneven surface from the CA glue I used to attach the front skirt detail to the main skirt. CA glue is difficult to sand because it dries rock solid and is much harder than plastic, bondo, resin, etc. Do I fix this? Yes, I kind of have to.

The process to fix the issue is pretty simple. Starting with the part, I lightly sand the surface to give it a rough edge. Then light curing putty is applied with a putty knife to get a smooth surface. I’m basically building up the area around the hardened CA glue. Now, I could have gone the sanding method and just tried to level out the CA glue with a sanding stick or metal files. But sanding CA glue is like sanding a damn rock. So I thought it was less work to putty over it and then sand the surface smooth to remove the bump visual. With everything, there are multiple ways to do basically the same things; so it is only a matter of preference – or the easy way vs the hard way.

A quick sanding session to smooth things out, a primer session and a paint session. And done right?

Here’s a mock up of the parts. Notice that the left skirt (one I fixed above) is now darker in tone. The is an inherent problem with airbrush shading. It is VERY easy to spray too much paint over a part and get different tones. It is also why I tend to paint in major subsections like the arm, the leg, etc. So this will need to be fixed. The missile pods are glued into position so they need to be masked and for this fix, I just sprayed on some white to reshade the part white and painted over the white with the brown I had created for the skirts. This time, I sprayed slowly and constantly compared the part to the other skirt piece with each pass of paint so I could match the tone as best I could. The tone also slightly changes as it dries too.

I think I got pretty close. I have some pretty bright lights shining so every little defect can be seen. In regular everyday lighting, this should look decent.

Mistakes are everywhere. Especially when masking; you will miss spots, you will tear the mask. So accept this and just fix it. I remasked the back of the legs and painted in the metallics for the frame pieces that got painted with the exterior armor; and done.

The head was repainted with the correct color scheme; early in the progress for the project, I finished the head first and got it all painted up. The problem was that I used a reference from pictures with an altered paint scheme so I wasn’t using the default scheme I reference now. So the head gets a repaint. The chest is base coated with Mr Color #7 brown and then sprayed with white. The cockpit hatch is the same color as the skirts, so that was painted first, and then masked off to paint the rest of the chest.

The last bit of work this weekend went to the bottoms of the feet. I added some photo etch details at the start of this post, so it makes for a nice bookend to this update that I finish with them. The round details were painted with alclad stainless steel over a gloss black base. The main thruster piece was painted with alclad burnt metal. That was masked off as well as the stainless steel rounds and the rest was painted free hand using alclad magnesium for the outer ring, alclad manifold exhaust for the first layer down, then the bottom layer and middle top sections were done with alclad steel. The thruster exterior is painted with alclad dark aluminum. At low pressure and spraying close, the airbrush can be quite precise and with practice, overspray can be minimized. The masking on the main thruster is removed and the center area was painted with alclad burnt iron. Some of the alclad colors have a very slight tonal variation which is what I was going for. I will definitely need to display this on a raise mirror base to show off some of these details. I didn’t bother painting the round vent details a different color as I think it works well in with the rest of that area. A panel line wash should help the details pop a little better. But I still have a ways before I get to that. The last bit of work was painting the shoulders. There are 5 colors for the shoulders which mean at least 4 layers of masking. So I’m in the middle of that process as I write this post.

The project is coming along and the light at the end of the tunnel is getting much brighter now.

Jun 172019

Holy crap, holy crap… I’m finally getting into actual paint that isn’t primer! This is a small update, but only because things are slowing down with the build and I’ve been doing more detail work since the big blocking and building. This post starts with the arms. Looking at the reference pictures, the arms are more boxy than the standard Dom, so I started gluing plastic strips to the arms. Once that cured, I added some putty to fill in gaps and sanded and shaped the part. Then a layer of primer to check the modification. The process for beefing up and squaring up the arm piece is pretty straight forward. Styrene for blocking, putty for gaps and filling in missed areas, then sanding the thing to shape it out.

The arms are pretty plain for now, but the detailing comes next after the jump.

I did a quick test fit with the whole arms for a before and after. The arm piece has been extended slightly and the sides are less round and beefed up a bit. The top of the arm piece is a little flatter now. There is still a high point in middle back of the part but it isn’t as pronounced. The last picture in the set below is the top down to see how the sides and the length are different. It is a very slight mod, but the difference is pretty visual.

Not pictured are the several cycles of priming and sanding to fine tune the cosmetics. But once that was done, I can get down to drawing out some new detail lines and scribing. The process is pretty simple. I use masking tape of different thicknesses to measure out the area I want the details. The masking tape acts as a guide for some pencil lines. Once the lines are drawn, the masking tape is removed and dymo tape is employed as the guide for the BMC chisels. I’m using the .2mm chisel. The scribing process is just a light drag of the chisel across the plastic along the edges of the tape. I tend to count the number of passes so that when I do the other side, I get a similar depth. Each pass of the chisel will scrape a thin layer of plastic. Do not press down and try to gouge out the line in one pass. This requires patience and your results will be much better if done slowly. Once the scribing is complete, some light sanding to remove any excess burrs or by products of the scribing process and then a layer of primer to check on mistakes or get surprised that it came out well.

While doing the above, I live streamed the process for about 2.5 hours. You can check out the video here:

The scribing is done in sections. I did the front area first. Then moved onto the middle area. then on to the back. For me, it is easier to do this so that when I make a mistake, I can easily fix it first, then move on to the next area. I also applied a bevel to the edges with the beveling tool.

Moving back to the side skirts; I designed and cut out internal frames for them. This is another piece of detail that will never be seen unless upskirting the Dom. I didn’t want to leave the area completely bare, so this was a quick cut, glue, putty, sand, and prime session. With light curing putty, the process was very quickly done. Here’s a comparison between the glued frame and the puttied/primed frame. Note that since I know that this is a throw away detail that is difficult to see; I didn’t spent a great deal of time making it look good. I wanted something there, but I didn’t want to spend an obsessive amount of time making it look good at a close distance. Since it will be hard to see at a close distance. This is cutting corners, but I also want this thing done!

Back to the arms (upper arm piece) for more detail scribing here and there. I got a macro extension tube for my camera and tested it out with the upper arm piece. This part was scribed and sanded down. The plastic dust in the scribed lines work to show the lines before priming. I have an old toothbrush on my work desk to clean parts like this before getting them ready for primer.

Continuing with the addition of details that will rarely see the light of day, the feet internals looked like a great candidate for such details. Left to right, I added a metal minus mold detail; a koto plastic detail round, and the tiny detail in the last round is a photo etch piece. I picked up the photo etch part from NewTypeHQ There are a bunch of these to pick from. They are amazingly designed as the detail bits are sandwiched between two sheets of tape. They’re completely precut so for those that have used photoetch in the past, there’s no need to clean up after cutting them from runners.

The koto plastic bit was glued into position with regular tamiya extra thin cement. The metal part and this small photo etch detail is glued with regular elmer’s white glue. CA glue (super glue) has a tendency to frost or attack any oils that may be on the parts. And CA glue cures way to fast for positioning the detail bit. White glue is a slow cure and I can position the part correctly then let it set up for a few minutes. Once it has started setting up, I can take a damp q-tip or even a paint brush with some water can clean up any excess glue. The part is left to sit overnight and it is glued very securely. A priming session ties everything together. The photo etch detail adds a great deal of 3 dimensional detail to the part. Here is a before and after comparison as well as the primed part.

Next up, I debated on how to detail the belt piece of the side skirts – something 3 dimensional or scribing. The reference photos show a little detail here other than just the plain belt; so time to get working on that. Similar to scribing, I measured out the area with masking tape and pencil lined the area I wanted to detail. I laid down some madworks carving tape as the guides. From here on out; madworks carving tape replaces the dymo tape. They are just so much better than using the dymo tape in that they’re clear and semi reusable over the one time use solid colored label tape.

I cut in a channel into the part and glued in some styrene strips. The detail is just built up styrene strips. Once cured, I did some sanding work to finalize the shape and add some bevels and then primed the part. I think this looks better than the plain undetailed surface. I wanted something more than just scribing, so plastic plates help give some depth to the details.

More scribing with the madworks tape and the BMC .2mm chisel for the foot piece. Again, masking tape for guildes and drawing the lines, then the guide tape and chisel to scrape out the detail lines. I don’t want to go overboard with scribed lines, but a little here and there adds enough detail without looking too busy. Personal tastes.

I’m starting to work on the electronics. The thrusters will get some LED lighting, so here are the beginnings for those detail areas. LEDs laid out, wires ready for stripping and wrapping, and the test fitting with the thruster pieces.

Another photo etch detail session for the feet. Paint on some white glue, position the photo etch detail, and done.

The amount of parts left for detail and clean up work is winding down to a handful. This means the rest of the parts are all skewered and headed for various stages of paint that isn’t just primer.

And here we go. Finally some paint. Black base coats for the metallics and some metallic sprays, and another set just primed and waiting for the first base layer of paint.

The next update should be interesting once I start getting more paint down.