Saturday, 11 May 2019

Transformers Bumblebee in Volkswagen Beetle form [WIP - Finding a Close Match of the Bumblebee Yellow]

In this latest stage of my work on the Volkswagen Beetle form of Transformers Bumblebee, no assembly of parts was carried out at all. Instead, I began looking for a close approximation of the iconic Bumblebee Yellow using the paints I had in my possession. The closest I had was a yellow lacquer paint from the Mr. Color GX series which is supposed to be brighter in tone, stronger in coating and greater in coverage. It can be argued that a lighter shade of yellow wouldn't have been out of place too but it's this particular tone of yellow (see below) I decided to go with.

Tamiya 1/24 Volkswagen 1300 Beetle (1966 Model) work-in-progress: First layer of Bumblebee Yellow

Any online research for colors can never rally be 100% accurate. There are too many uncontrollable variables at play such as the image might have been edited, the display monitor may have low color space (sRGB/Adobe RGB) accuracy, etc. So short of being physically next to the actual vehicle used in the movie set, you just never know for sure. So after a fair bit of research, I came across three reasonably consistent images of the Bumblebee Beetle under three different lighting conditions namely cloudy, sunny and artificial light (see below). The yellow in question is both bright and light.

A Volkswagen Beetle on the Bumblebee film set during what looks like a cloudy day
Said Volkswagen Beetle, this time located in arid conditions on a sunny day
Last but not least, the Bumblebee Volkswagen Beetle indoors under artificial lighting

For variations in the yellow I decided to play around with the underlying primer coat instead of mixing different tints of the hue. With this objective in mind, I used the Mr. Finishing Surfacer 1500 (Black), Tamiya Fine Surface Primer (Light Gray) and Tamiya Fine Surface Primer (White).

Primers used in  color test: Mr Finishing Surfacer 1500 Black, Tamiya Fine Surface Primer Light Gray and White 
Color test using plastic spoons primed with the aforementioned primer spray cans (see photo above)

Meanwhile as to the yellow itself, I used the Mr. Color GX 4 Chiara Yellow thinned with Mr. Color Leveling Thinner at a ratio of 1:1. This was subsequently sprayed onto the spoons with different colored primer coats. As expected, the spoon with the white primer coat had the brightest yellow while the one with the black primer coat had the most muted yellow. On the spoon with a light gray prime coat, the yellow had a mid-range brightness but seem to be the most light. It seemed closest to the Bumblebee Yellow I was after. It made sense too as most real-life cars are primed in gray.

Closet hue to the Bumble Yellow I had was the Mr Color GX4 Chiara Yellow
Chiara Yellow painted on top of plastic spoons with (from left to right) black, light gray and white primer

One disadvantage to airbrushing is the tedious need to mask areas that require or have been painted with other colors. For this I used Tamiya masking tapes and some cheap cling wrap.

Masking of the assembled part thus far using a combination of masking tape and cling wrap
Only this half-hexagonal shaped flat surface will received a coat of Mr.Color GX Chiara Yellow

To be frank I suck at masking, at least for now. It would seem like a no-brainer task but like all techniques they require some trial and error as well as experience to get right. I'm not there yet. Even after covering up everything with cling wrap and masking tape, some holes still inexplicably existed that allowed the paint to get in as far as to the engine at the back. Luckily the damage caused by the paint overspray wasn't overly bad. I managed to fix the issues with some brush painting by hand. 

A light gray version of the Tamiya Fine Surface Primer was chosen as the primer coat
Despite my best efforts at masking, some overspray of paint unfortunately seeped inside to the parts
Light reflecting of the yellows seem to give the surrounding background surface a yellowish green tint
Despite my best efforts at masking, paint overspray unfortunately still seeped inside
Thankfully effects of the paint overpsray wasn't too bad and I could hand paint over the resulting damage
First section of the Volkswagen Beetle painted with yellow and now awaiting weathering
So the first yellows have been laid down. And things are only going to get tougher from here on out as Bumblebee in Beetle form slowly takes shape. But challenges should be relished if we are to enjoy our hobby and I definitely intend to. So much so that I plan to pile even more projects onto my already cluttered worktable. The rationale being to keep myself so busy that I don't have the time to think and unnecessarily fuss over minute details like only a silly perfectionist can. Anyway, the weekend is here so here's wishing you get to spend it the way you want it. Cheers!


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you for your confidence in this project Michal.

  2. Nailed that yellow, great choice.

    1. Thanks Michael ... I nearly went with a darker shade of yellow before I remembered I had a bottle of Chiara Yellow hidden somewhere.

  3. Judging from the pictures it looks spot on!

  4. I feel like you chose the right yellow: the one with the grey undercoat.
    As there will be highlights and weathering afterwards it's hard to tell whether or not it will match the colour from the movies, but as you didn't find a picture where the yellow is clearly shown for what it was, it probably won't matter much.

    1. True enough :) Sometimes I wonder why I bother to try and match colors at all but I guess I can't not do it. XD

  5. Looking forward to seeing this one done.

    1. Thank you Simon for following the progress so far.

  6. Yellow is a terrifying colour. I wish you all the best, but I can foresee an amazing job incoming :)


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