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Messages - tetsujin

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Model In-Progress / GM Command CAD WIP
« on: September 19, 2017, 07:59:52 PM »
I kind of dove into this project when the MG GM Sniper Ⅱ was announced, because I was upset about how Bandai was handling my favorite Gundam designs in the kit line. In the time since then I've continued the work on the CAD model, with the aim of ultimately 3D printing or scratch building it.

GM Command Project (2017-09-15 update)
The big surprise for me here was that when I compared my new CAD model to the MG GM Sniper Ⅱ, the two were actually much more similar than I would have guessed. There's a big aesthetic difference but it comes from fairly small differences in the shape and size of the parts. A lot of my initial analysis about what I felt ought to be changed with the GM Sniper Ⅱ was apparently just wrong, so I devote a bit of time to why I think that was the case, and what it means.

Model Gallery / "Fixed" HGUC Zaku
« on: August 06, 2011, 10:15:06 PM »
I'll probably still do some more work on this thing before I consider it "truly" finished, but here's how it looked at Otakon:

"Finished" (more or less)

I built this thing with animation in mind, and so even though I don't have a proper stop motion setup at this point I did a couple quick tests using just the camera:

Model In-Progress / Re: Fixing the HGUC Zaku
« on: June 13, 2011, 11:23:59 AM »

There's paint now...

Painting's not complete, of course, and there's some things I have to fix...  But I wanted to throw it together and see how it looks...

Model In-Progress / Re: UC Hardgraph Core Fighter [1/35 scale]
« on: May 11, 2011, 07:41:13 AM »
Seems like an odd mix: the core fighter's basically in a low-vis scheme, except for the tail which is a full-on high-vis scheme...

(EDIT): Well, no, I guess it's actually not far off from a high-vis Jolly Rogers scheme.  I guess it was just the lighter gray on the tail that was throwing me.

Capitalism Corner* / WTB: 1:72 scale VF-25 kits ("any condition")
« on: May 05, 2011, 09:52:47 AM »
I'm interested in building some VF-25's, and hoping for some kind of good deal on 'em.

I am considering some fixed-mode (non-transforming) builds, and some custom marking schemes, so I'd be open to kits in almost any state if that gets me a better price.  (For instance, ideally I'd want unpainted, unassembled kits with the decal sheet intact - but I could deal with missing or already-applied decals, assembled kits, broken parts, etc...)

If you have a '25 and might be interested in making a deal, send me a PM or an email (  Thanks...

Model In-Progress / Re: Fixing the HGUC Zaku
« on: April 09, 2011, 08:35:39 PM »

Part 5!

  • Torso wiring is done, chest block is sealed up
  • Internal 20mm coin cell holder plus an external power jack
  • Hands have been cast (still need cleanup) and they've been mounted with Kotobukiya HIPS joints
  • Head structure has changed a bit - the kit head now slides down on top of the interior head parts like a helmet
  • Head wiring is finalized
  • All the "power cables" have been replaced with 2.5mm Koto Mobile Pipe parts  (Also, the cable points on the legs have been redrilled in new locations, since the original ones were covered up in the leg alterations...)
  • Started work on a clear visor part for the kit's monoeye.

I'm really looking to close in on completion on this thing.  There's still a fair amount of cleanup to be done (including bits that were heat-damaged during soldering, etc.) but it's getting there.

I think the rifle is actually from the first HGUC Zaku I did - I mostly display that one with the bazooka, but I had apparently spent a bit of time assembling the machine gun and working on its seams, etc., so using that rifle instead of starting over with a new one saves me some time...

I think there's an error in the aspect ratio of the colored images of the Epyon.  Look at the chest gem, for instance, it's wider than it is tall...

I did a little photo edit, "correcting" the aspect ratio of the colored image of the Epyon and comparing it with an earlier single-color prototype photo.  It's on Hobbyfanatics:
My Epyon post

If somebody wants to pull the image and upload it somewhere else and repost it here, that's cool.  I'm not going to bother.  :)

If people are saying this version of Epyon is fat...  then I'd have to say they forgot what the Epyon looks like.  Huge Okawara barrel-chest, like the rest of the Winger Gundams...

Model In-Progress / Re: Fixing the HGUC Zaku
« on: March 03, 2011, 03:31:00 PM »
Any plans to mod the skirt? The thighs are so huge they're making gaps in the armor.

They kind of do that anyway, actually.  (I didn't bulk up the upper legs that much, really, I just filled out the curvature a bit...)  Put the HGUC Zaku in a wide stance and you'll get a gap between the side skirts and the front skirts.  It's really not pretty...

(Dalong links: they have referrer blocking, so you'll need to copy/paste the links to get straight to the images...)
HGUC Zaku front view with Gundam
HGUC Zaku wide stance

I'll probably do something about that - I hate looking at one side of a model and seeing straight through to the other side...  For now I have other issues to contend with.

Model In-Progress / Re: Fixing the HGUC Zaku
« on: March 02, 2011, 11:33:48 AM »
Looking to close in on completion of this thing pretty soon...

HGUC Zaku work (part 4)

I think that on kits with monoeyes, giving that monoeye a detailed look should not be optional.  After all, the face is a major focal point for any humanoid robot, and with a monoeye visor you're basically giving the viewer a peek into a small area of the machine's internals.  The way I figure it, a mecha model can be very simple overall, so long as those few places where, logically, there must be some intricate mechanisms are presented well...  I'm also trying to establish a pattern of always lighting monoeyes.  In the past I've done various projects with painted-on monoeyes (the 1:100 Zaku, the HGUC Zaku...  And the Geara Doga had a lit but undetailed eye) so this is part of an effort to raise the standards I apply to Zeon-style MS that I build.

The eye parts and the neck parts are hand-me-downs from previous projects.  Initially I built them as part of an upgrade plan for the first HGUC Zaku I built.  Then as I focused more on the FG Zaku, I planned to use the parts on that project.  Now the parts are back on another HGUC.

Oh, and the molds for hand casting are done.  Results from the molds have been pretty good, though I still get a bunch of air bubbles under the surface of the part.

Dude!  Who cares about Real Grade when we got HGUC Dreissen coming???

That's probably the best Gunpla news since the HGUC Geara Doga...

Model In-Progress / Re: Kotobukiya Gernsback M9
« on: January 17, 2011, 03:16:56 PM »
You should hide or get rid of those ball joints, too - it's good that those ball joints allowed the kit to be produced and sold so cheaply, but joints like those really don't look very good...  If you haven't rejointed a kit before, it's not too hard to do it if you make the model fixed-pose...

Model In-Progress / Re: Fixing the HGUC Zaku
« on: November 25, 2010, 11:46:38 AM »


Work continues on the upper legs, the shoulder armor is recast and mounted to the shoulder, and I start a simple cosmetic mod for the elbows.

Model In-Progress / Fixing the HGUC Zaku
« on: November 08, 2010, 02:28:00 PM »

Fixing the HGUC Zaku (part 2)

I don't like the look of the HGUC Zaku...  Which is a bit frustrating sometimes because I really do like the idea of building a good model of a "low-detail" Zaku.  But I feel like the HGUC is just a bit ugly, so for a long time I wanted nothing to do with it.  One of the things that changed my mind was my fondness of 1980s kit build-ups.  Skilled builders could take those old kits and turn them into something really nice.  Why should I not be able to do the same with today's equivalent?  Pondering the problem, I realized that the HGUC actually wasn't too far off from certain 1980s and early 1990s renditions of the Zaku (renditions which I rather like), so I experimented in GIMP to see if I could come up with a simple alteration that would make the kit look better, using those 1980s Zaku versions as a guide.

What I came up with is this: cut 3mm of height from the lower leg and insert the corresponding length into the upper leg, then smooth out the contour with putty.  This gives the lower leg more of a squat look and emphasizes the curvature.  I make the cut to the lower leg fairly low down, and with a downward slope toward the back: this gives me the space I need to establish a smooth curve in the areas I need to fill with putty.

Apart from that I'm also bulking up the upper leg a little bit, replacing the spike armor with a part from the MSV Minelayer kit, shortening the skirt armor a bit, and replacing the shield with the one from the 1996 HG Zaku. To me, the difference is night and day: the leg mod alone turns an intolerably bad-looking kit into something I feel good about building.

Unfortunately the HGUC Zaku I have for comparison was also modified (ankle armor shortened) - this means that, at present, I can't do good before & after comparison shots because the other Zaku isn't really representative of the kit's look any more...  I'm going to be getting another HGUC so I can take proper comparison shots.

Model In-Progress / Re: scratchbuilding the Mako (with a veiw to cast)
« on: October 20, 2010, 11:18:35 PM »
the idea is a mech with very few clean curved shapes that will contrast with a very industrial/detailed skeleton/tech.


please feel free to offer advice/feedback and critique. i can paint but this is all new to me.
i document this as much as i can :) cheers in advance for your help

I am far from being an expert: but personally I feel it's essential to nail down the scale of everything before you start building parts - especially detailed ones. The proportions of a design, the size of one part relative to another, can have a big impact on the final look...  So I wouldn't want to have to re-do a detailed part I'd built early on to establish better proportions - and I wouldn't want the proportions to wind up skewed as a result of not planning them out dimensionally before building...  Of course, this all depends on what style of work suits you best, really.

I like the work you've done on the leg. If it were me, I'd have all kinds of trouble centering those circles...

For the drilling option - personally I suck at precision drilling, so when I need to drill holes in specific places and have them line up nicely, I use my drill press along with the guides to position the drill bit just where I need it relative to the part.  (The drill press has a horizontal guide, so I could put one side of the part against that, and that would get me the correct spacing from that edge of the plate - and then to get the correct spacing laterally, I'd carefully position the plate and measure its position relative to the side of the drill press with calipers...  I did this with my Zaku Kai - there's these plates on the chest block with 10 or 12 holes drilled in 'em on a grid...  I never would have got those looking decent without the drill press!)  For this kind of approach with Gundam ankle armor, I would cut off the front plate of the ankle armor, drill the holes, then bridge the holes to make the slits, and then finally reattach the front plate.  (Or you could do the detail as an add-on plate as you described...  Might be easier, actually...)

Another option would be to create the slots in negative (get a styrene plate, glue three styrene strips to it) - and then use poly putty to recreate the recessed slots.  (Gouge out the front of the ankle armor plate, goop it full of poly putty, goop some onto the negative plate, squish 'em together...  Wait until it's firmed up a bit and then pull the negative plate off.)

Another option would be to construct the slot shapes out of multiple pieces of styrene.  Rectangular slots are easy - just align strip styrene at right angles to create the overall shape.  You can use more strips as spacers to help get the alignment right...  You could stick with rectangular slots or turn rectangular slots into rounded slots by taking a piece of styrene rod with diameter the same as the width of the slot - stick a bit of epoxy putty into the end of the slot and squish the rod into it (perpendicular to the surface of the plate) to get the rounded corners for the slot - then once the putty's cured you can sand it flush.

Model In-Progress / Re: 1:100 Zaku Kai scratchbuild project
« on: June 18, 2010, 02:46:53 PM »
Now that my workspace is finally getting back to a usable state, I'm taking another crack at the lower leg...

Zaku Kai Update: 2010-6-18

I think this method seems a lot more promising so far than the other approaches I've used. The placement of those edges is important for getting the right look and for symmetry when I build multiple copies, so putting a guide right on the edge seems like a great way to accomplish that.

I've been out and enjoying life for the last few days. I have only drawn the front view of the chest, waist, and thighs. The Zaku will be 4-1/2 inches tall (1/144 scale).

Now I'm having second thoughts. While I really do want to full scratchbuild, Ezechiel's comment about using a kit as a base is catching my attention. Who knows? Things might change, I'm just looking for the best results.

Another stupid question: Do my drawn plans for my Zaku scratchbuild have to be 4-1/2 inches, or do I just use the drawn plans as reference?

Usually when I draw plans, I draw them to the size that I'm building the parts - this makes it easy to just photocopy the drawings and use them as a starting point for cutting out shapes.  (For my Zaku build, I used the drawn plans first to establish the overall measurements and proportions of my build - and refine them, and then also as the basis of templates for actually creating the parts.)

However, if you draw the plans larger and then scale them down when photocopying (or scanning/printing), then the resulting plans will tend to be more precise.  If any line you draw winds up as much as 1/2 mm off in one direction or another, you're better off drawing large and scaling down by half, as that will cut the error down to 1/4mm.  Plus I think it can be easier to flesh out details when you're working larger, even if you're ultimately going to be building small.  Even if you can't ultimately cut the parts with that kind of precision, getting the best start you can is a good thing...  Sometimes I do this when I'm trying to flesh out a single part in more detail...

Since your build is going to be 4.5" tall, you could scale it up by 2 on the plans and still fit the whole thing on an 8.5" x 11" piece of paper...

I'll order some of those templates.

I have been suggested Aves epoxy putty, is that good for sculpting?

Depends, I think, on what you're sculpting and what sort of sculpting you're used to.

To me, Aves often feels a bit too soft for sculpting.  You can get something to a nice shape but then the tiniest nudge will deform it again - or it could droop under its own weight before it cures.  Still, lately Aves is what I've been using to create parts.  I think it's worked out pretty well.

One problem I have had with Aves (and specifically on my Zaku's shoulder armor) is that I would do one application of Aves for the basic part, and then another to adjust the curvature of the surface or fill in small depressions - and when sanding the part later on the second application would chip off of the first.  I have heard that this is mainly a problem when the second application is made too far along in its curing process - if the Aves has lost its "sticky" feel then it won't bond well.  (Which is frustrating because Aves is so much easier to work with after it's firmed up just a bit IMO...)  So lately I've been trying again - building parts, making sure that when I use additive sculpting with Aves that I get the second layer on while it's still fresh.  This seems to be working out pretty well...

This may be a stupid question... When I start sculpting/scratchbuilding, should I start with the body?

As long as you've worked out scale plans, I don't think it matters where you start...  Though if you're new to scratching it couldn't hurt to start with something relatively quick or easy - either increasing your chances of getting it right the first time or making it simpler to start over if you have to...  I started with the chest block and backpack on my Zaku build - and wound up starting over several times because of various mistakes or problems with the resulting parts.

Starting with a central area would also mean that you could add on various extremities (arms, legs, etc.) and immediately have some context to put them in...  which is generally fun, at least.  If you're not sure about the proportions you've chosen, having that context may also be useful as a way of working out what needs to change...

As for round shapes - I have an Olfa circle cutter that works pretty well.  The real challenge is usually to center and align this disc onto a rod - I generally can't get that right without sanding down the disc on the dremel after the center hole is drilled.

Build-Offs & Duels / Re: MGX4 Challenge
« on: April 30, 2010, 01:17:55 PM »
Well, the whole thing really didn't work out for me...  Work room has been in shambles ever since the flooding we got in mid-March...

I have always been picky at certain things, and kits being accurate to the original lineart (anime designs) is one of them. I love Bandai's Gunpla kits, but I have always wanted to have kits that are accurate or close to the original designs.

Bandai always redesigns many parts like shoulders, feet, etc. I have tried to correct these things to my liking, but I either end up damaging the kit, or sand and cut so much that I do think scratchbuilding is the only way to get it done.

When I say scratchbuilding, I mean full scratchbuilding. It's the only option I have, unless Bandai decides to make kits the way I wish they would make them (pffbt! HAHAHAHAHAHA! :lol:).

I can relate completely.  I'm very rarely excited about a Bandai release any more because I've become too cynical about the results...  And a desire to fit the lineart, and a complete lack of faith that Bandai will ever do this, is exactly what motivates my work on the 1:100 Zaku Kai...

I want to make my builds just like the lineart or at least "refined". I know that a lot of designs are flawed. I mainly want to focus on 1/144 scale, but soon move to 1/100.

Initially my plan was to do my Zaku Kai in 1:144...  But I ultimately went with 1:100 and I think it was absolutely the correct decision.  I think, particularly being somewhat inexperienced at scratch-building, it's very important to work in a larger scale.

Basically, let's suppose anything you ever do is going to be half a millimeter off...  That means when you center a part to see if it's symmetrical, you're half a millimeter off, when you measure it to see if the curvature is right, you're half a millimeter off, etc...  These small errors compound.  Now, if you're dealing with a part that's 6mm wide as opposed to 10mm wide, these errors are all the more significant because your part is smaller.  It's for this reason that I believe it's a lot easier to work in a larger scale.  You can make the same magnitude of error and it will be less significant than if you'd been working small.

What's the easiest way to full scratchbuild? Using plastic sheets? Clay?

I'm always grappling with this one myself.  As far as I can tell it really depends on the part.  For instance, boxy parts I usually plan out on graph paper, then copy the pattern to styrene sheet, cut it out, and assemble it.  (I did this with the Zaku chest and backpack, as well as the Scopedog parachute pack...)  In some cases it's easier to leave a few faces out and then just fill them in with epoxy putty or polyester putty, instead of using plate for every single face...  For curvy parts I usually set up a series of cross-sections and fill in the gaps between them with epoxy putty.  For "solids of revolution" (i.e. parts that could be produced on a lathe) I usually create a template to turn uncured polyester putty about an axis, and then spin the axis on a drill press or Dremel to smooth it out afterward...  (I don't have an actual lathe...)

Another angle I'm constantly grappling with, is how much planning is sufficient, and how much is too much.  For the Zaku I spent a lot of time refining the 3-D design before building anything.  On other projects I simply roughed out the design on graph paper and started building as soon as I could.  It seems the trick is to be precise enough when you finally get around to building that you don't have to do it again - but past a certain point, being precise in your plans stops being useful, because you're limited in how precisely you can build and measure, and at a certain point I think the whole process just breaks down to eyeballing the thing to see if it looks right, and tweaking it if it's not...

For materials - I mostly use 1mm styrene plate (thick enough to be reasonably rigid, thin enough to be relatively easy to cut precisely and mitre-join if necessary), various useful sizes of styrene strip, rod, and specialized shapes, epoxy putty (Aves is very good stuff), and polyester putty (Bondo, for instance)

I'm a big fan of the scratchbuild manual you mentioned - the tough thing about that book is that he makes it all look so easy...  Like building the Zaku head three or four different ways, and they all come out perfect - and we don't see all of the however many hours it took him to actually do all that.  Fabulously inspiring all the same.

You've got to talk to Bawoo and see if he has photos and information about his various builds that he can share.  He built a 1:100 Hi-Zack that was my favorite example I'd use whenever I needed to convince someone of the virtues of polyester putty...  (It was a vintage kit build, but with extensive modifications for looks)  He also scratch-built a 1:100 Hazel conversion set, which was one of the first Hazel kits out there, I believe...  His site's been down for ages but he's been hanging around here lately, so maybe if you ask nicely he can give you some information on what he did, and how...

I mentioned before that I think different parts often call for different techniques - for this reason, I think I could help you better if you were to ask about a specific part you want to build.  I could tell you about different ways I would approach it.  I'm still working out the best way to approach these things myself, as evidenced by the difficulties I face in building Zaku parts...  So I wouldn't always have one answer "that's how I'd do it" - because if I tried it myself I might find it didn't work out, and go back and try another approach...  but I'd have some ideas, I guess.  :)

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