The KVLTWORX Lacquer Hand Painting Tutorial

Welcome to the first-ever Kvlt Worx tutorial on Zimmerit! Thank you for joining me.
 Let’s paint up a Maschinen Krieger kit by hand with lacquer paints. Today our subject will be the Wave 1/20 AFS Type CD Polar Bear.

We’re doing this tutorial in what I call the “lazy” style as we aren’t doing any of the cool (but time-consuming!) color modulation or lighting effects that you usually see on hand-painted models (such as high-end painted miniatures). Instead, by relying on the natural “looseness” of hand painting, we can create an impressionistic and weathered appearance that allows us to have a decent looking model without much fuss.

A little bit about this particular AFS Type CD Polar Bear kit – it’s from the first issue of the Wave kit (evidenced by the color of plastic), and it went together as easily as most modern kits do. Snap-fit parts are nice and snug, but there are seams on the limbs to fill. In this case, I used dark-colored putty as a contrast against the white plastic. I initially saw the Polar Bear in Maschinen Krieger Chronicle Encyclopedia Vol.1 in the form of Kow’s original scratch-built kit. The kit looks decently close to the scratch-built version, however, there are few small differences in the proportion of the parts that Wave had to compromise on in order to standardize their AFS kit line.

We begin painting by priming the surface with Gaia Surfacer Evo. This is my preferred primer for hand painting as it adds a nice clean surface to the plastic for hand painting. The primer is sprayed on using a cheap airbrush, but spray can primer works just as well (Mr. Hobby and Tamiya sprays are great options and I’ve heard of good results with the Army Painter spray primers, too). Since the main color of the suit will be white/winter, an oxide red color is chosen for a dark-colored base to build upon. Generally, I like to start with this oxide red or a very dark cool gray color (typically Gaia NAZCA primer with a couple of drops of black). All lacquer paints in this tutorial will be thinned using Mr. Color Leveling Thinner with a few drops of retarder added.

Here’s the three most common kinds of lacquer paints for hand painting; a bottle of Olive Green in each for comparison:

Tamiya – Unusual for a lacquer paint, as you can thin it both with lacquer thinner and Tamiya’s acrylic thinner. Also, the only one that comes stock with flat finishes (X vs XF color codes, the F is for “flat”). Brushes on very easily.
GaiaNotes – Wide range of color choices and they have a nice military line with color-matched colors for things like WW2 armor and aircraft. It seems to cover a bit quicker than the others with higher pigment load.
Mr. Color – Probably the paint you’re using! Well known for their Gundam color line of paints and the bewildering array of various “Mr. Something” hobby tools, these paints offer a ton of colors and good coverage.

As mentioned, Mr. Leveling Thinner with a small amount of retarder added will make any of these paints brush on wonderfully.

Alright, let’s get started. The first thing I’m starting with is edging everything with a little bit of metallic color (Tamiya X-10 Gunmetal in this case) applied with a fine pointed brush. I pull it down smoothly to try and get a very light finish with even coverage. This will give us a little bit of a metal surface for chipping later on – since the edges of the armor will have metal-on-metal contact more often, we can assume they will wear down to bare metal eventually and this will be our exposed metal color.

You can see that the edges are quite sloppy and raw as around 80% of this will be painted over. I generally leave the arms or legs off robot/mech shaped models when hand painting in order to make handling them easier, but this is just a matter of preference. The exhaust pipe on the backpack is the only part that will stay metallic completely so that part is painted cleanly.

A general note on brush handling (or lack thereof) – when using a smaller pointed brush, I generally try to brush as quickly as possible. The motion is almost like dry brushing but rather than just hitting the raised edges of parts, it’s more along the lines of very fast touch and go sweeping. We want to keep the brush constantly in motion – this helps us avoid building up the paint too chunky in a single spot. This is done with a motion that follows the shape of the parts – a curved motion for curved parts and so on.

Now we begin building in the actual color – starting quick and loose (this phrase will likely come up a lot) the blue is added in semi-transparent layers. The paint is thinned with Mr. Color Leveling Thinner to the consistency of a slightly thick drink like chocolate milk. Don’t worry too much about coverage at this stage, if you are doing camo or some sort of color pattern, this is the stage where you can plan out the color scheme with outlines. Staying in thin layers avoids jamming up details like panel lines with paint and will keep a fairly leveled surface for decals.

This is the blue color after the first pass of hand brushing. The oxide primer and the metallic edging underneath show through at various points to give a sense of color modulation – this is comparable to how airbrush painters will undercoat the model with various gradients to create visual interest and color modulation.

Now, we begin adding the second layer of color (if you are doing camouflage or multiple colors, you can lay down all your colors before doing second coat if you prefer). By varying the amount of coverage for each area or panel on the model, worn and weathering effects can be created. The underside panel (A) is given more coverage than the top area by the exhaust (B) in order to show that the top has received more wear to the finish due to environmental effects such as ice, damage, sun, etc.

Camouflage is added with a slightly smaller brush. Once again, fast and loose strokes are used to “sketch” in the blobs of color for the camo. Using the same approach as the base color, the camo color is built up in thin layers with certain bits having the base color or even primer color showing through.

The finished blue and green camouflage paint is now more or less complete on the body/torso section. Areas of intense wear such as the engine hatch edges were purposely left almost completely bare down to the metallic edging to give the impression of a chipping effect: it can be imagined that the constant handling around the hatch opening and closing would give the finish a good amount of wear and tear.

The second color of the scheme is added now. I’ve switched to a filbert (rounded tip flat) brush shape for the white paint to illustrate that (almost) any brush size and shape is suitable for hand painting. With flatter shaped brushes such as filberts and brights, a “pulling” motion is more comfortable for me rather than the “sketching” motion with a round brush, but of course, this is all a matter of preference – experiment and find what you enjoy!

For the second layer of the white paint with the filbert brush, the brush is used on its oblique edge to vary the intensity of the stroke. Hand brushing is hardly an exact science (fast and loose, remember?) so as you continue to hand paint you will find various ways to hold, apply, and maneuver the brush over the model, a lot of the fun part is in the process of actually figuring it out.

Where the colors touch we want to leave a soft feathered edge. It won’t be as blended as an airbrushed edge since we can’t atomize the color, but by using those thin layers we can create a decently soft edge. The helmet color edge is left slightly harder than the one on the hip armor – by varying the number of thin layers that overlap each color, this creates modulation within the camouflage.

Here’s another view to show how the two sides have the line dividing the two colors applied asymmetrically on the model to create the appearance of whitewash applied roughly in the field.

A layer of bright iron using Mr. Color GX metal paint is added to the exhaust. Since this represents a solid metal piece, it’s painted smoothly and solidly without any of the under color showing through.

Now the process for the blue/white is repeated on the rest of the model. For the rest, the basic thin coats of blue and white are laid down first in order to figure out the camo pattern on the smaller surfaces of the limbs. Generally, smaller surfaces such as limbs or weapons will have more variation in shape than larger ones like torsos or large armor plates so planning the color scheme is a little more useful in these areas.

Once the base colors are added in, we build up the color to the desired amount of coverage using our (say it with me) fast and loose thin layers. The legs, being moving parts, are imagined to have more wear than the rest of the body, so it is given a more aggressive amount of metallic edging and red oxide showing through.

A detail shot of the white on the legs just to show the amount of under colors that are showing through. The feet are given the most “chipped” appearance to show that they constantly are being stepped on and heavily weathered from use. The white is more or less painted only on the flat surfaces and a very thin, almost wash-like layer of white will be added to just tie in the edges to the color scheme.

The “payoff” from the thin layers can be seen below as there is a natural “pre-shaded” effect to show the wear, shade, and some weathering around the edges. By attempting to vary the amount of paint coverage, there is some distinct visual interest added to a fairly basic color scheme.

The soft joints are now painted a flat gray color. Since these are meant to be rubber or cloth on the actual machine, they can just be painted a relatively flat, consistent color. A gloss coat and wash will bring them out and add dimension later.

After painting the joints and adding the figure, the main painting stage is completed! Give yourself a pat on the back! This is the stage where any areas that you wish to touch up, pull back, or fix can be tackled. If you haven’t taken a look with all the subassemblies together either, this is a good point to double-check that the paint job is believable and cohesive before proceeding.

Next time we’ll be finishing up this kit with some weathering techniques. Keep an eye out!

Support us on Patreon!

Contributor articles like this are supported in part by our readers. If you enjoyed this content, please consider supporting Zimmerit on Patreon.