The Gunpla Topcoat Process

Despite having the procedure written out step-by-step in “My Tools/Tutorial” page, I still have people asking me in almost every review and in emails about how do I topcoat my models… so I’ll repeat here again. Warning! It’s an extremely complicated procedure that requires the user to have a Ph. D in fluid mechanics and thermal dynamics in order to fully comprehend the sophisticated steps involved!

– Panel and decal the model then take it apart into sections (arms, legs, etc).

– First top coat the elbows and knees (aka the inner frame) first without outer armor. Let dry.

– Put on outer armor. Top coat. Let dry. Spray anywhere I miss. Let dry.

– Spray all over the final assembled model for good measure.

Mind = blown. Now that I got that out of the way, there’s something else topcoat-related that I want to ask all of you (or those who also topcoat their models)… how do you go about doing it?  Like… I spray one section (one leg, one arm, etc) at a time, wait 1-5 minutes to dry (or if I have it on a skewer, I set it aside and work it on another part) then I move onto another part. I find my procedure to be very time consuming (1-2 hour depending on the model, or weather… and if I’m taking my sweet time). I’m beginning to feel it is actually inefficient actually. The actual spraying may only take less than a minute or 2 but somehow everything adds up to over an hour ^^; (I guess me walking out my room to walk out the front door takes time too…). Do some of you have a faster/more efficient procedure that is also just as effective/thorough? Do share :D

Sometimes… when I walk outside my door to topcoat my model and if someone happen to either drive or walk by, they would give me an awkward eye ^^;


87 thoughts on “The Gunpla Topcoat Process

  1. I grab a kit in my left hand and a can in my right. I then contract my left bicep at 200940238 km/s; throw the thing into the air and spray it!
    When I’m in a better mood I just skewer the individual armor pieces as well as the whole frame and spray at a distance of 5 – 15 cm. Extremely time consuming and inefficient as I usually knock over 7 or 8 skewers trying to correct one. -_-
    Have you ever sprayed over decals?

      1. Ah, stickers. Generally, I HATE them, but it really depends on their location. Stickers are best used on relatively FLAT surfaces. Forget trying to make them wrap around curves and crap. The clear stickers for the Sinanju? Yeah, good luck with that.

        Foil stickers are best used in flat, RECESSED areas – spaces that are especially molded to fit them in (e.g MG Freedom has a sticker for its backpack that fits in pretty well). Stickers in areas like these are unlikely to peel off because their edges are protected by the recesses, and will be protected further by topcoats.

        Clear stickers can also be used effectively. Just make sure when applying them to peel them off and apply them carefully(maybe with a hobby knife) to the surface. Make sure there’s no air bubble trapped underneath and rub them in HARD! A few layers of topcoat should hide the edges of the clear stickers considerably, but they’re still not as seamless as decals and rub-on transfers.

        1. I use the clear stickers packaged with the models, but between putting them on and laying down topcoat, I get out the hobby knife and cut all the excess trim off. It’s very time consuming, but well worth the effort. The topcoat does a pretty good job of hiding what’s left, depending on what you use.

          Testors dullcoat seems to blend the stickers into the surface very well, but Krylon topcoat doesn’t quite do that as well. I can still see leftover trim after using Krylon, but it’s cheap and comes in big cans, so no real complaints there.

          1. Would applying additional coats of Krylon help to even out the stickers? Because I use Bosny brand, and that’s what I tried. For the most part, it works.

            1. Not really, but for the quantity and price you can’t complain too much. Testors is much better, though, if you can’t get the Japanese stuff.

  2. I see lots of very good ways to apply topcoat here, i have a vid on how i paint and its pretty much the same way i apply my first layer of gloss coat right after i finish spray painting.

    Part 1:

    Part 2:

    Generally ill just apply gloss coat right after the paint is dry.
    Ill then build, detail paint, decal the kit and put it together.
    Once fully constructed i dont see the need to apply a 2nd coat to the frame since its never gonna be seen anyways. Ill then keep all the main parts separated and just spray them on skewers or just as a whole and apply 2-3 coats.

    1. Personally, I don’t topcoat the inner frame for looks, I topcoat the frame to TIGHTEN THE JOINTS.

      After about 2 layers of topcoat, My MG Wing Ver. Ka can hold the beam rifle in it’s arm without sagging ^_^

      Of course, the biggest con with this technique is that the joints become TOO tight, especially if you assemble the frame without waiting for the topcoat to cure completely (48 hours to 1 week, depending). I’ve broken the wings joints on my MG Freedom this way ;_;

        1. Hmm…gotta try that sometime. I’m thinking of experimenting with Wipe & Shine (my local equivalent to Future) as a topcoat and joint tightener as well. I’ll try comparing the two in my next kit.

  3. I have no idea where to get topcoat, so instead of topcoat, I just sand the parts. Not something an average straight-builder would do. I sand the parts as I build it.

    1. I find sanding is helpful to give some wear and tear to the model (the sanded area is usually filled in with some dirty looking paint, or pastel dust), but I have NEVER considered doing it to the entire model for a Top Coat look.
      That’s fascinating!

    1. I’ve never really noticed any adverse affects for foil stickers, despite the fact it makes them look ten times better (Can you tell I don’t really like foil stickers?), and if by clear stickers, you mean dry transfer decals (the ones you have to rub onto the model), then definitely before.

      So before.

      1. foil stickers are usually the eyes and head lights, then the clear stickers i mean are the ones with green sheet background, dry transfer decals are with grey sheet while water transfer decals are with blue sheet.
        so my problem is on the clear stickers with green sheet background since you’ve said there are no big deal on topcoating on foil stickers.
        i’m going to work on my HG Sazabi on the year end. it has big clear stickers, and i scare after applying the stickers and topcoat it, the stickers edge will be more obvious.
        After all, in summary, is it after applying all the seals only then topcoat it? any of the four i’ve mentioned is in the exception?

        1. Not really. Top coating is typically the VERY last step of building and finishing the model. Sticker wise, it’s best to put the stickers on, then top coat. Just make sure that all stickers are secure to the model (no air bubbles!) before you do so!

  4. Now, I maybe one of those privileged few, But I use a spray booth. I cost a lot, and it was worth every damn penny! Though I use it for a lot more than just top coating Gunpla (I do build more, serious (wrong word?) models. Mainly Jets and Tanks), but it does come in extremely handy, especially the fact that I never ever have to leave my house! Though I have to change the pre-filters almost every spray (only for painting, not top coating)…

  5. LOL, the last paragraph… :D
    When I was still in university, I did that a lot too.

    I think modeling really needs patience, so doing it slowly is better than trying to get things done fast.

  6. Just wanna double-check, so the basic procedure is:

    -gloss coat
    -panel-lining/washing, decals
    -flat coat?

    I’m terribly worried that the flat coat will affect/smudge my panel-lining…

  7. can you still disassemble the model after topcoating? or the small parts will stick together strongly and will it ruin the model if you disassemble it? esp. with 1:144 RG RX-78

  8. I have yet to build my Unicorn yet, so I’ve been wondering…are the psycoframe parts removable after the entire thing is built? I don’t want to fog them up with flat coat.

  9. just freaking experiment why you have to have to hold hands guy told you jus build a SD or HGUC an experiment…nough

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