Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Bandai Millennium Falcon [WIP - Hull plating within the vicinity of the cockpit, before assembly and weathering]

Five years into the hobby and this is my first attempt at painting the surface/hull of a large vehicle model kit. Sigh, how lame is that. And being the obsessive compulsive perfectionist that I seemingly am, I took a fairly insane amount of time researching the various methods before I even started. That and the time consuming hunts for paint supplies meant this first attempt took forever to begin. Just a quick note: the following techniques were based on the knowledge of how different types of paint interacted with each other; sourced from an online article titled Enamel, Acrylic, Lacquer paint?

Hull plating of the Bandai Millennium Falcon cockpit area sans weathering

Phase 1: Primer, Basecoat and a Gloss Clear Coat
After priming of the plastic parts with a light grey Tamiya Fine Surface Primer, I then followed up with a layer of Tamiya AS-20 Insignia White lacquer spray paint. Within minutes of applying this basecoat, a light clear gloss coat (Tamiya TS-13 Clear) was then sprayed on. Use of a lacquer clear coat serves a trio of purposes. First, it creates a protective layer that prevents damage to the basecoat that may arise from subsequent work on the hull. Second, it creates a smooth surface that makes it easier for decals to adhere to. Third, capillary action of the wash works better on a smooth surface. 

A basecoat of Tamiya AS-20 Insignia White was sprayed over a light grey primer coat, followed by a clear gloss coat
Phase 1 ends with a base colour for the Millennium Falcon and the surface prepped for panel lining and decals 

Phase 2: Panel Lining with an Enamel Wash
Using either Tamiya's black or grey wash by itself wasn't quite going to cut it because the former was too dark while the latter too light. So I mixed a batch in a ratio of two parts black to one part grey wash. As mentioned earlier, the capillary action of a wash works better on a smooth surface. Hence the layer of clear gloss coat allowed the Tamiya Panel Line Accent Color to achieve the same results as when used on a smooth bare piece of unprimed and unpainted plastic model kit part. Moreover, the layer of clear coat allowed the basecoat to withstand repeated wipes of the Tamiya X-20 thinner, which I used to clean excess wash stains that strayed from the grooves onto the hull surface.  

A 2:1 ratio of black to grey wash was mixed in a glass jar (third from left)
Cockpit hull plating after panel lining and the excess wash stains wiped off using enamel paint thinner

Phase 3: Decals and Matt Clear Coat
Based on my experience, I have found Bandai's water decals to be of extremely good quality. But the key to making the Bandai decals work really well is through the use with a Mr.Hobby product called Mr.Mark Softer (not pictured here). Basically, it's a solution which softens the decals so that they conform easily to shape of the model part they are placed on. This is especially important when dealing with tiny decals (some as small as a few millimeters in width/length). To cap off this phase, another Mr.Hobby product - an acrylic matt clear coat called TopCoat - was used to provide a rougher surface more suited for weathering purposes, and to make the decals blend into the painted hull.

Bandai water decals for the Millennium Falcon pictured together with the Mr.Hobby Topcoat
Cockpit hull plating, before assembly sans weathering

At this stage, no weathering has been done yet. Weathering will most likely be applied only after the cockpit area is attached to the main hull. At least that's the plan for now. Also before any of the above steps were attempted, I tested them out on unwanted parts. I highly recommend you do this especially to see how your area's weather conditions affect the spray paints (opaque or clear). In the hot and humid conditions I work in, I usually spraying from a distance of less than one feet (roughly 30 cm) for the best results. Actual distance varies from between six to 10 inches (~ 15 to 25 cm) depending on the pressure I put on the nozzle. Up next will be the assembly of the hull plating over the cockpit interior. Only then will I know if the figures and interior will still be visible to the naked eye.


  1. That's is an awful lot of work, but the results speak for themselves - splendid work.

    1. Thank you Michael ... you're right, it is a lot of work. Sometimes I feel it's a bit much but then again I think this is the best way to go about painting the Falcon's hull.

  2. As Michael says, an inordinate amount of work, but with your incredible application, superb skill and enough time I think this will be a stunning piece. :)

    1. You are way too kind. Thank you very much :) Let's hope the final end result justifies all this steps.

  3. Wow, it's certainly paying off. Go on, cool work!

  4. Great research led to great result!

    1. Thank you Luca. It's wonderful there is so much painting/modelling knowledge being shared freely and unselfishly by so many talented people in the blogosphere.


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