Layman's Gunpla Guide

Layman's Gunpla Guide - Paint Types

Discussing paint types is perhaps the most difficult thing I've done on this guide. Frankly, I have a limited experience when it comes to working with different types of paint. When I find something that works for me I tend to stick with it rather than risk messing up a kit or investing in paint I'll never use. While my experiences generally match those of professional modelers I've found that those professional experiences at times conflict with each other. All I can do is offer what I believe to be the best, most useful information for a general builder.


Paint Types

In the hobby world there are typically three different types of paint we use, enamels, acrylic, and lacquer.

Layman's Gunpla Guide - Gunpla Project Flowchart

This is an idea I've been tinkering with since 2012. New friends to the hobby often ask questions about what order to perform some steps, or whether or not one is even necessary for their project. To help answer I've created this little flowchart with some of the most basic steps that goes into an average build. Over all I tried to keep it as simple as possible so it's easy to understand and applies to the greater number of builders. It's okay to add or remove steps here and there if it fits your personal style or is necessary for the project you're working on. I've added comments below the chart to highlight some key talking points and related tutorials. Make sure you check them out.


Gunpla Flowchart


Layman's Gunpla Guide - Paint References

As I mentioned over here, I've started to test all of my paints on cheap plastic spoons to get the feel for a colour before applying it to a kit. Instead of just hogging them for myself, I've decided to share them here. Granted, there's no better experience then testing out the colours yourself. The true colour of the paints will vary from the photos due to fluctuating camera settings and even the setup of your own monitor.


Note - The shade of these colors may change based on usage, especially the underlying base coat. All of these paint samples done straight on top of white plastic spoons. Unless otherwise stated there no primer or topcoat has been used. You can read more on how primer effects paint colours here.


Layman's Gunpla Guide - Hand Painting Tutorial

Hand painting is the traditional method of detailing up a kit. While it takes considerable patience, one can achieve the same great look as though the work was done with an air brush. It's also the best way to touch up and detail kits. The Devil is in the details, or so they say.



There are many different types of brushes out there, with many different bristle types. While they play an important part in conventional painting, I have yet to experience an issues when working on Gunpla. Instead, look for a size and hardness that suits your need. For small, detail work, a thin stiff head would be most appropriate. If you're working on a larger area a wider, little softer brush, would probably suit your needs. Brushes can get fairly expensive, especially when purchased individually. Luckily many craft stores sell reasonably priced bundles with various shapes and sizes. With proper care a brush will last you a long time.

Layman's Gunpla Guide - Paint Space Prep

Before you start to paint, whether by hand or airbrush, it's important to prepare your workspace before hand. Proper prep will help keep your space clean as the project proceeds and help facilitate cleanup when it's all said and done.


Reusable & Washable Drop Cloth

I recommend getting some sort of reusable drop cloth to use while painting. I picked up a fairly large one from a home improvement store for a lot less than I would have thought. It's protected my floors against unexpected paint drops and particulates (see below). The best part is that it's washable, making it a lot easier to clean up than my carpet (which already has enough paint on it).


Layman's Gunpla Guide - Masking Tutorial

Masking is a very important step when it comes to detailed painting. Once you venture from painting whole pieces, you will find that great detail can come from treating different parts of the same piece differently. To do so, you'll need to mask the pieces to avoid getting paint on the rest of the piece. While primarily used when applying paint via a can or airbrush, it can be used during hand painting to ensure a straight line.


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Layman's Gunpla Guide - Spray Can Tutorial

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For awhile I tried the simple approach to painting gunpla by using spray cans. It's certainly easier than air brushing since there's no mixing of paints or equipment cleanup afterward. Truth be told, it's possible to achieve great results. Take a look at my MG Nu for example. Unfortunately, there are some negative trade offs vs. using an air brush.


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