All my kit builds typically follow this layering concept. Starting with the bare plastic to spraying color to applying the final clear coat follow these steps. Depending on the final finish, some of the last optional steps may be ignored.

Now beginning from the bare plastic, this tutorial begins after completing the initial sanding work. The first layer sprayed onto the plastic parts is primer. Primer does the following:

  • Wipes out the color giving a single neutral color to start from
  • Fills in small scratches left over from the sanding process
  • Shows areas of rough sanding, mistakes in sanding, and pinholes that were unseen before (applies mostly to resin kits)
  • Primer also gives a nice surface for paint to stick

Since most bandai gunpla kits come pre-colored, it is always a good idea to prime the kit as this wipes out the color and gives a uniform color to begin from. For example, if you wanted to paint a kit red, but the original color of the parts were black, the red would take on a much darker tone due to the black base color. Neutralizing this with a grey or white primer will give the red a more natural tone that is truer to the paint’s intended color tones.

Primer is also a small filler and will fill in small scratches left over from the sanding process. The primer will also show areas where additional sanding work is needed. This happens often as the initial sanding phase does quite a bit of work, but some areas are missed. With additional sanding work done, reprime the part and you will notice a significant improvement in the surface.

Following the primer is the base color and preshade color. Preshading is optional as it is a technique to create shading effects. The base color is typically a darker tone or variation of the final color. This creates a subtle shading effect if done correctly.

Following the color layers, is a gloss clear coat. This is to protect the paint and create a surface most suitable for decals. For more information on applying decals, click here.

The waterslide layer is then protected with another gloss clear coat. For the next step, it is important to pay close attention to the type of clear coat you used. I typically use lacquer or acrylic gloss clear coats to seal in the decals layer. The next layer employs a wash using enamel paints. For more information on the panel line wash layer, click here.

An optional layer here is a fade or filter with employs enamel based paints to create subtle weathering effects like rain marks, faded paint, sun faded damage, etc.

Following the wash layer, you can choose to apply your final sealing finish coat; gloss, matte, or flat; depending on the final finish you want on your kit; or you can apply a flat coat and add an additional layer of weathering: pastel/pigment weathering.

Once the pastels/pigment weathering has been completed, the final clear coat can be applied as an option. A final clear coat will diminish the effects of the pastel/pigment weathering, but will seal the kit so that it can be handled. If you know you will never handle the kit, you can skip this step. But if you want to eventually move, repose, or generally handle the kit, it is best to seal it. Your final finish is to your taste, but typically, if pastels were added, the final look of the kit should be flat or matte.

Metallic paint layers differ from the general layers in that the base color prior to the metallics is always a gloss black. The gloss black is the best base color that brings out the luster and effects of the metallic paints. Weathering is typically avoided since a flat coat dulls the luster of a metallic paint finish. It is best to use semigloss(matte) or gloss as the final clear coat.

The following is a chart for painting candy coats, which is basically the same as metallic painting, but with the addition of spraying a clear color over the metallic which creates a metallic color.


December 17, 2007: This section will discuss the use of different clear coats.

Gloss Coat: (Under construction)

Semi Gloss/Matte (Under construction

Flat Coat: Flat coats are applied prior to the application of pastel weathering. Pastels and similar pigments such as those from MIG, tamiya weathering kits, your mom/girlfriend/you own make up kits, etc; will not stick to a glossy surface. They stick the best when applied to a flat coated surface. Additionally, if you want a final flat finish, you can spray a flat coat over any other clear coat and create an overall flat finish.Below is a video showing the application of a flat coat to a part that is glossy:

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This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. corey

    Hi there, I’ve gotten a lot of information from your tutorials, thanks. I’m starting to build a princess tutu figure for my wife, and without your information it would surely be less of a finished model. Your stuff is good, especially the HGUC Sazabi, nice work. Corey.

  2. Aileon

    I really like your tutorial especially with the sanding and paint part.

  3. Zongren

    Thanks for the tutorials. I was wondering if the clear color coats or the top coats need to be thinned if they’re the Mr. Hobby brand. Thanks!

  4. GameraBaenre

    Clear coats out of the bottle from Mr Color (Mr Super Clear definitely need to be thinned with Mr Color Thinner. It’s really too thick out of the bottle for use in the airbrush. I tend to decant my clear from spray cans of Mr Super Clear, and with that, it’s not really necessary to thin, but I add a small amount of Mr Color Thinner to it anyways.

  5. Zongren


  6. Jackson

    What happens if you use a flat top coat over metallic paint? I want to paint my kit with metallic colors but not glossy. Will the flat top coat reduce the luster of the metallic paint or will it be fine?

  7. GameraBaenre

    Metallic paints are by nature, supposed to be shiny. I would recommend doing a semi gloss, or a satin finish, where you get the metallic shine, but it’s not overly glossy. In general, if you flat coat a metallic finish, it kind of diminshes the effect. BUT, if that’s the effect you’re going for (think a dusty piece of aluminum that’s been left out in the sun) it’s not shiny but looks dirty.

    I recommend getting some plastic spoons, spraying the metallic over three spoons, then spray each spoon with a gloss, semi gloss, and then a flat, and decide which finish you like best.

    It’s a subjective matter, and personal preference, so do some tests and what ever you like, go with it! There’s never anything wrong with something you like 😀

  8. Jackson

    Great idea, I’ll give the spoons a try.

  9. Ken

    I have a question. I’m painting a sazabi ver ka in the future and I want to make it 3 shades of this clear coat.

    I’ve tried this color with a alclad chrome base coat (above a gloss black base).
    In order to get the color separation, can I do something as simple as change the metallic coat? IE, use polished brass, and gold and chrome as the three different mettalic layers to get three different shades of purple?

  10. GameraBaenre

    Yes, you will have three shades of that purple of you do that. The gold and polished brass may be pretty close in tone; but it may work, try it out and test this on some plastic spoons. Test all the color combinations on plastic spoons, that way you see exactly how they will come out.

  11. Ted Kumagai

    Quick Question: Where does Panel Scribing fit into the chart?

  12. GameraBaenre

    Ted, sorry for the late response, I was in AZ. Panel line scribing sits right above bare plastic.

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