Monday, January 11, 2010

Inner frame - To paint or not to paint

That is the question. And here is the letter from one of my readers.

Hello there, my name is Min. I've been following your blog for some time now and I am finally starting my first painted piece. I have one question that I wanted to ask an experienced modeler like you which I couldn't find in any tutorials or videos.I don't know if I'm supposed to paint the inner frame of a MG model or not. I have a Strike Noir Gundam and seems that in this model a lot of the inner frame shows through all the armor pieces.I'm afraid that if I paint the inner frame, it will reduce mobility and make the paint chip off whenever I move it. Am I supposed to paint the inner frame or am I not?

Thank you in advance. I love your work!


Well Min, thank you for your letter and I hope you don't mind that I've decided to answer it publicly because I think that we could all benefit from opening up the dialogue to everyone out there and get some other opinions and perhaps help each other in the process.

First... your concerns are valid but on a case by case basis. Paint chipping will happen unless you top coat adequately. Paint, not to mention top coat on top of it, will reduce mobility in the frame.
Speaking personally, I've painted the inner frame of a model more than a couple times and have occasionally experienced some problems. This was either caused from the enamel paint I was using melting/weakening the plastic or from the paint itself causing parts to stick together and upon trying to move those parts breakage would occur. A combination of both of these things happened with my Impulse thus causing me to actually SEW the parts together to keep some stability in articulation not to mention the sliding armour parts.

Of course painting the inner frame also has the not insubstantial benefit of increased bad assedness.

...which often is reward unto itself.

But lets be honest... You're going to spend all that time painting the frame and it's just going to be covered up with armour anyways. What's the point really? Especially considering that the joints and moving paints may stick together or break in the process.

I decided to take a different approach with my Sinanju and just paint the joints and other exposed areas. This was less time consuming and the result was satisfactory.

So on a whole I'd say that painting the frame might not be worthwhile unless you are the perfectionist/completionist type or are planning on leaving some of the armour off OR you are planning on using clear armour parts.

If you insist on painting the frame for whatever reason I'd suggest you just paint the exposed parts (usually the joints and ankle pistons) but be wary of:

1.The type of paint you're using. Lacquer is the most corrosive, then enamel, the acrylic. (If I recall correctly.)

2.How complicated the joint mechanism is .

3.How much of it you're actually going to paint.

4.If the painting will interfere with joint movement or parts sticking together.

It worked out with the knee of my Sinanju but not the elbow or the wing joints. The knee joint was sturdy and thick enough to deal with the enamel paint I was using (no primer) but the elbow and wing joints weakened significantly.

I did a light frame paint job on my PG Red Frame/Strike Frame project to give it more of a metallic look but that was a 'conceptual' project and I painted the frame on principle. The PG frame was easily sturdy enough to stand up to the relatively light paint job I applied to it. There were no problems as all.

So I've had both good and bad experiences with frame painting from full paint jobs to partial. While it's troublesome at times I can say concretely that I've never been disappointed with the end result and have no regrets about doing it at any time. In my opinion frame painting can be that one detail that separates a good model from a great one

So I hope that answers your question! Thanks for taking the time to write and for your kind compliments.

What do the rest of you think about frame painting? Worth while? Not? Do you do it? Personally I just can't leave the frame completely alone if I'm planning on finishing a MG. The knee/elbow joints and ankle pistons at the very least.