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Gun Sniper Customization – Part 2 – Painting

Hello there! Welcome!

My name is Anthony and today I want to share with you more tips for converting a “generic” Zoids model kit into a custom mech from the anime. In this case, I’ll convert a Kotobukiya 1/72 scale Gun Sniper with Wild Weasel Unit into Naomi’s Red Gun Sniper Special from the popular 2001 anime Zoids: New Century/Zero.

Last time we talked about references and the building process. Today, I want to talk about painting. For this article, I’ll show you how to paint this kit with an airbrush and using Vic Hobby Acrylic paints. Before we begin let me tell you that you don’t need to worry if you don’t own an airbrush! We can achieve similar results with a hand brush!

And remember, it doesn’t matter if you paint with hand brushes or an airbrush, two thin coats of paint are always better than one thick coat!

Before painting…

There are two things we should do before we start painting.


Back in part one of this series we assembled the entire kit. This helped us to get an idea of how the pieces interact with each other, especially for articulation. Then, we took it apart slightly to wash it.

Now we need to fully disassemble it so we can paint it. While doing this you may notice that some parts can be painted fully assembled: parts like the legs, upper arms, and the inner frame of the torso, neck, and tail.

These are called “subassemblies”. It is very useful for painting parts that are made from various pieces, but all of them will be of the same color. Especially to achieve the same tone between two pieces from the same part.

Along the way, you may find some small pieces that are quite tricky to hold while painting, even with painting clips. For these Zoids, it was these little guys.

Since they are too small to be held with clips without leaving a mark, I suggest we try to hold them more creatively.

Make sure to leave enough space between pieces so we can paint them evenly.


Next, we are going to mask areas or pieces that we don’t want to paint. One of the main reasons for assembling the kit before customizing was to see how the articulation works. Unless the articulation of the kit is loose, I suggest we keep those areas unpainted. There are some parts that we can leave unpainted.

These are the joints for the legs.

We should leave these parts unpainted to prevent the articulation for breaking. And we can do so because these parts will be hidden. If we wish to paint these parts I suggest that we cover the areas of the articulation. And for this, we are going to use some masking tape.

You may notice that almost all these parts are subassemblies.

Masking can be as simple as using a small square to cover a socket (red arrows) or wrapping up a ball joint (green arrows). Masking is also applied to paint one piece with different colors, just cover an area with masking tape and paint over it. When you remove the tape, you will reveal the color under it in the shape of the masking. This method is very useful for painting camos.

Decisions, decisions…

Wait! Before we pick up our brushes or start the compressor for the airbrush, we need to decide which color to use for each piece. You don´t want to be left with an unpainted piece when doing the final assembly! Let me show you how I divided mine.

Now without further ado, let’s start painting.


As mentioned before, I painted this kit using an airbrush. I used Vic Hobby acrylic paints for this build as well as Vic Hobby primers. Since Vic Hobby paints and primers are water-based, I recommend you dilute them with thinner instead of water, especially for the airbrush. For this, I used Vallejo Airbrush Thinner.

On the other hand, if you are going to apply them with a hand brush, you may want to try them as they are first before thinning them. They already have a nice consistency fresh from the bottle. When I need to thin these paints to apply them with a hand brush, I use water to dilute them.

Below, I’ll show you the air pressure as well as the paint-solvent ratio of each color.

Overall, I applied 2-3 thin coats of each paint. Also, the first coat was always a little rough, while the rest was more even. Let me show you.


Let’s start by priming all the pieces. Remember, the primer will help the paint to stick better to the plastic. We need to be careful when choosing the color of our primer, because this will affect the finished tone of our paint job.

What I mean is this: For this build, we are going to paint some parts red. But this paint is quite translucent, therefore the overall tone for this red will depend on the color beneath it. This color is called “base color”. For example, if we apply a black basecoat we’ll end with a dark red, but, if we use a white basecoat will end up with a light red.

Primer with airbrush

These primers are quite thick; therefore, we are going to need to add more thinner to the mix and spray them at a higher pressure. I’ll dilute each primer with airbrush thinner at a 5:6 ratio. And the pressure of the airbrush should be around 40 psi (or 2.8 bar). Now, be aware that the pressure could be different for you, depending on the weather conditions where you live. I suggest you try different pressures until you found the best one for you.

First, let’s apply a rough coat on each piece. This will help the second coat to get a better cover.

If you wish, you could leave them like this and start painting right away. This rough primer coat will improve the stickiness capacity of your paint. I left like that those pieces that would be dark grey. But never for the light color. Otherwise, it will be really hard to get an even tone. I highly recommend you always apply a second thin coat of primer.

This second coat should be more controlled and cover each piece entirely.

Primer with hand brush

These primers can also be applied with a hand brush. If you remember, back in part one, I already had the tail gun painted before kitbashing the muzzle brake.

For this, we’ll dilute the primer with a small amount of water and apply 2 thin coats.

You can see that some brush marks were left on the plastic but don’t worry. Believe it or not, they don’t have any texture, therefore they won’t be visible after painting over them. But if you wish, you can add more thin coats until you get a solid color.

Depending on the weather where you live, the drying time may vary. If you apply the rough coat first to all the pieces, it’s more likely that the first piece is already dry when you start with the last one. So, basically, you can apply the second primer coat right when you are done with the last one.

After that, I suggest we let the primer dry for at least 12 hours before start painting. This applies to both airbrushed and hand-brushed primer.

Custom paint job

For this paint job, we’ll use 4 different colors.

Despite this, the process and preparation are the same for all of them. What I mean is, we are going to apply thin coats starting with a rough one, just like we did with the primers. And then, 2-3 thin coats to evenly cover each piece until we get a solid color. Since these paints aren’t as thick as the primers, we are going to dilute each paint with airbrush thinner in a 1:1 ratio. And we are going to use a pressure of 30 psi (or 2 bar).

Now, let’s talk about these paints, shall we?

“Inner frame”

According to the references, gathered back at Part 1, the parts of this mech that aren’t armor plating are grey. I’m talking about the lower part of the legs and arms, the inside of the neck and torso, as well as the tail. This also applies to the inside of the cockpit, the mouth, and the missiles. First, we’ll apply a rough coat over each piece. After that, we’ll apply a second coat but this time we’ll make sure to cover everything evenly.

For these pieces, I used Vic Hobby IJN Sasebo Naval Arsenal.

Once that the second coat was fully dry, I inspect each piece carefully and I found something interesting.

It looks like, because of the weird shapes of each piece, some areas are unpainted. To fix this we only need to apply a third thin coat of paint but focusing more on these areas. I recommend we apply the 3rd coat to the entire piece, to keep the even tone.

Now those areas are fully painted

With all that done, we can go on to the next color Just make sure to repeat the same process.

Amor plaiting

Next, let’s paint the armor for the tail, torso, neck, and head. As well as the telescopic sight, the back missile pods, and the chest gun.

You may notice that the armor for the tail has already some dark panels. We’ll talk more about them on the detailing stage. Right now, I just want to say that sometimes, some pieces need to be painted with two or more colors. And we can do it with an airbrush. All you need to do is mask the areas of the previous color that you want to keep from the next color. Also, is very important to apply the darkest color over the lightest. In this example, I would paint each piece red and then apply the dark grey after masking. Otherwise, the red would have a hard time trying to cover the grey.

Arms and legs

I must say that this might be the trickiest of the 4 main colors to apply. Despite using the same process as the other colors, you might need to apply four or five thin coats to archive an even color.

For these pieces, I used Vic Hobby Red.

And… remember when I told you to hide the numb marks using the primer? Well, I forgot to do that so this is how they look after applying 5 coats of red with the airbrush.

Unfortunately, they are still visible.

To prevent these from happening, all you need to do is apply an even coat of primer through the entire piece before painting. But if you also get something like that, don’t worry I’ll show you how to fix it in Part 3.

Extra bits

The last pieces we need to paint are things like the claws, hands, some hoses, and the armor of the lower part of the neck.

For these pieces, we are going to mix Vic Hobby IJN Sasebo Naval Arsenal with Nato Black at a 1:1 ratio. Also, the mix was diluted in a 1:1 ratio with airbrush thinner.

Once you are done, let the pieces dry for at least 24 hrs. before starting to detail them or to assemble thee kit. If you wish to leave the pieces as they are at this point and start with the assembly process, you can do it. Just make sure to apply a clear coat or varnish over each piece, to protect the paint from scratching, before assembling.

The End?

Of course not!

Actually… yes, for this article at least.

Before I go, let me give you a few more tips about painting kits, rather with an airbrush or hand brush.

  • Apply both your primers and paints evenly.
  • Make sure to paint every inch of each piece, or at least the visible areas.
  • Be aware of pooling. You don’t want to have stains of pooling on your paint job.
  • Remember, always apply thin coats. Two thin coats are always better than one thick coat.

I hope you find this article useful and entertaining.

If you wish to get any of Vic Hobby’s amazing paints or a new kit like a Zoids, you can do so at hlj.com!

Don´t forget to check more awesome articles available on Hobbylink.tv!

See you in Part 3!

Happy modeling.

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Mexican military modeler and action figure customizer. I made my first model kit almost 15 years ago and I haven't stop since then. My favorite scale is 1/72 and I love to build tanks, mechas, cars and military helicopters and airplanes.

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