August 25, 2012 I started this kit a few months back and slowly during the build gatherings have been cutting, sanding, and assembling the kit together. This past build gathering, I finally finished sanding the Zaku Minelayer. Later that night, I got the parts washed and run through the ultra sonic cleaner. Sunday night, I set to getting some paint onto the kit. I’m once again experimenting with a paint scheme and doing a fairly non traditional painting plan. I have the parts in sub-assemblies and have painted them. This was done for simplicity and speed. The major appendage parts are painted in Finisher’s gloss black and the center armor pieces are painted in Finisher’s Silk Red. Last night, I sprayed on a clear gloss for all the black pieces.

August 27, 2012 Monday, the black parts were sprayed with clear gloss. And some of the thruster pieces were painted with stainless steel.

August 28, 2012 Tuesday, after allowing the clear gloss to cure for a day, I applied some water slide decals to the black parts. The decals in place, decal softer was applied and allowed to dry completely.

August 29, 2012 Wednesday, with the decals set and dried, clear gloss is sprayed over the decal areas to protect and hide the decal lines so that the decals look as if they were painted onto the parts. The parts are now ultra shiny.

The backpack internals and thrusters were painted using alclad metallic paints. The main backpack body was sprayed with alclad magnesium, the thruster internals with alclad burnt metal, the thruster externals with alclad stainless steel, and the tubing with alclad polished brass. I didn’t do any masking, and just free handed all the painting. Since most of it is covered up and keeping in the goal of a speed build, I didn’t feel like spending the time to mask and paint for this particular piece. Some pieces of the gun and other small internal areas were also painted.

September 4, 2012: The Zaku’s clear gloss cured, the bugger is snapped together for the next phase. The black even with the ultra glossy finish is just too one dimensional; but my paint scheme plans called for this step first. This gives me a great opportunity to snap pictures of a suit painted mostly black to further illustrate the lack of depth in just using black as the primary. That said, the next step applied masking tape of different widths. I’m following the same masking scheme as I did with the Gouf Custom.

Learning from the previous experience with this style of masking, I did the quick main strips over the entire body first, then cut apart the strips to mask off specific areas. I started with the shield first. It also worked as a test piece for the paint scheme. The shield is masked off then sprayed with a flat coat. Once the flat coat dried, the masking tape is removed revealing the paint scheme; flat vs gloss of the same black paint. The main color is actually a muted matte black with highlights of gloss black.

With the shield successful, I moved on to the shoulder, and one arm. These two pieces awe masked off then flat coated. And each appendage was worked in this manner. From the last time I did this, the masking was just laborious and when I was done masking, some of the parts masked off at the beginning of the process started to lift. So I used this part by part procedure. Over the weekend, I slowly finished up the arms and legs.

With the appendages painted, the arms and leg armors were pulled from the frame and placed on separate boards to keep everything organized. The head and shoulders are masked and flat coated, and the backpack is masked and painted with Mr Color Tire Black.

The last unmasked parts are the main torso and waist. These should be finished sometime this week. Which should complete the collection of partially painted frame pieces. Once I have all the frame pieces ready, these can be painted. Further paint scheme depth can be achieved with the frame. Painted gloss black along with the armor facilitated the monochromatic feel to the kit; which will hopefully change when the frame is finally painted and put together with the dual tone flat vs gloss black finish.

September 12, 2012: There was quite a bit of masking involved in this project. Skipping past all the masking for the gloss/flat black effect, the hands were painted then masked for the red finger tips. I figured I was already doing the artsy paint style, why not add the red accents to the finger tips. I think it balances things a little.

For the rest of the suit, the chest, skirt, and backpack areas were last seen in Finisher’s silk red with varying thicknesses of masking tape crisscrossing here and there. I used two grey tones. The knee, elbow, center chest piece and backpack got Mr Color Tire Black, and I used Mr Color Dark Sea Grey for the main body and skirts. Early last week, Angel came over as we carpool to our respective jobs every morning; noticed that the dark sea grey used didn’t fully cover the red, and the silk red was bleeding through. I’m red-green color blind, so this is pretty much news to me. If I concentrated enough, I think I could see it; but regardless, I acquiesced as I knew that the dark sea grey I used was a bit on the thin side as I was running low and the pigmentation was definitely not at full strength to completely cover the red. A trip to Robot4Less after work found a color one number higher than the dark sea grey, Extra Dark Sea Grey. So I grabbed this and then had to re mask all the red that was masked off previously. With this done, the following day had clear gloss sprayed over everything to prepare the surfaces for decals. Decals were placed over the weekend with a final clear gloss sandwiching the decals.

The thought of just spraying a clear flat over the main body passed through my brain; but since the main idea of this paint scheme was a gloss striping against a matte surface; the thought left as quietly as it came. The chest, skirt, and backpack are masked again (third time for the chest and skirt pieces for those of you counting) and then sprayed with the flat coat leaving the red stripes glossy.

Towards the tail end of the above process, I started work on the stand. It’s a very simple, wood base and acrylic rod stand. To add some dynamics, I wanted to create an asteroid like surface. The first search brought up some left over resin from the Sazabi base build. Cutting the resin would be a chore and I wanted something more precise to fit onto the small circular base. Looking around my workshop, I found a little aluminum cover for my digital scale. Picking that up and measure it against the wood base, it looked like a perfect fit.

And so begins the adventure. Starting off with the silicone mold that I made late last year, the metal cover is placed over the mold. Next up, I rolled out some play dough and made a ring using the metal cover as a template.

With the ring over a satisfactory location, the metal cover is removed. I then mixed some hydrocal and poured the mixture into the mold and let it sit over night to cure.

It didn’t quite fully cure until a few days later; but was cured enough for safe handling. And with that, a quick test fit over the wood base. Perfect.

The next step was to focus on the wood base itself. The base was sanded, cleaned, then stained with a medium tone stain. This brings out the grain details in the wood and adds to that finished look. After the stain dries, several coats of clear gloss is sprayed. The wood is quite absorbent, so it will take several layers of clear gloss to build up the glossy finish. Several days later, another test fit with the unfinished asteroid piece.

The final step is to sand down and drill a hole for the acrylic rod on the formed hydrocal part and paint it. Sanding is quite easy as it is very similar to plaster. The only issue is the dust particles that result from the sanding process. Wet sanding is just a mess, so I recommend doing this outside with good ventilation. Once sanded, the part is dusted off and painted using enamel washes. The hydrocal is quite porous so it takes washes very easily. The first step was some dry brushing with silver, followed by gold, followed by a quick wash with dark earth. The final wash was done with black to tie everything together.

The finished asteroid piece is then glued to the surface of the wood block and the acrylic rod is inserted. With that, I have a simple stand that was very easy to build and helps accent the finished Zaku.

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