Thursday, July 29, 2010

Angelus Rising Part VII: More Extensions

The Towering Mod.  Since I had already extended the neck of the Angelus by modifying the neck connection, and extended the waist by using a custom spacer I made a year or so ago for the Impaler,  I had grand plans of extending the legs to give the Angelus that towering height but modifying the legs themselves, but Vanz Anazasi actually came up with a simpler and better idea by using Mighty Bond rings as spacers.  I couldn't have come up with a simpler idea since this is actually similar to the spacer I made for.

I've adapted the idea 50/50.  I used two pieces of 1mm plaplates to make 2mm "donut" sandwiches (I used a round punchers with just enough diameter to make the holes before sandwiching them).  But, instead of just using them as spacers, I cemented the donut directly on top of that ankle section, extending that part by 2mm.  As compared to later kits with ABS frames (like that of the GN-X), the Sinanju's ABS frame is more receptive to cement/PS bonding.  At any rate, this modification is not so much on a high-stress/tension part, so, I wouldn't worry about it coming lose at any point.

Neat Trimming Trick.  Here's something very few people know (I mentioned this in passing in earlier posts and at the tool box).  There are cases when you don't have to cut the plaplate to size right away.  What I normally do is cement the additional plate or modification to the part being modified, and use a side cutter to trim away the excess, using the edges of the part as a guide.  The cut won't be exact at times, but I can always file any irregular areas off (even though the modified is hidden).

The thing is, the peg for this connection is rather short at only 5mm effective length so the modification shortened it to 3mm.  Though the connection holds as it is, the ankle is a bit unstable during posing moments when the kit is assembled.  So, I might extend the peg itself to compensate.

Now, for the simpler modification.  I used a couple of the gear sections I saved from the wing mod (NEVER throw away useble parts) as spacers for the groin/thigh pegs.  Since the thigh ped is long enough, I won't need to extend it anymore unless of course I get an OC attack and do it anyways.

Test fit.  Comparing the unmodified and modified legs.

With this, the Angelus has a total additional height of 10mm (2 for the neck, 2 for the waist, 4 for the legs.  The additional two is when the neck is adjusted to height).  Here's a height comparison with the (ugh) Unicorn and the Impaler.  Even in Destro mode, the Unicorn is only about as tall as the Impaler.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The New Look of the M.A.C. Forums

I haven't updated for a while since DonC and I were working on the MAC Forums, tweaking it here and there, then we decided to convert it from the InvisionFree to the Zetaboards engine/format.  The new format takes little getting used to, but has more nifty features and is more user friendly.  We had to sacrfice the Topic Subscription option though, since ZBoards saw that people were abusing it and was slowing the system down with all the subscriptions. 

Maybe we'll get that later when we upgrade.

The Forum now has  additional sections, like the MAC Features where we will have weekly features of anything Gunpla, whether it be a kit, a technique, a modeler or whathaveyou, and a section dedicated to Gunpla Bloggers.

The Forum is skills and techniques driven, and focuses more on the Hobby itself.  No technique is too old, too new, or too personal.  If it's applicable to Gunpla or modeling in general, we will have it.

I'm still working on the Angelus.  I feel there's no use posting another update for since since I'm just basically doing the armor engravings, which pretty much looks the same if one thinks about it.  The engraving takes time mainly because it is quite painful to do at smaller details and more curvy details, and I would want to avoid too many scratches if I can.

The thing is, there is a much bigger picture with regards to the Angelus build.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Blogger Stats

Blogger added a new feature called Blogger Stats that provides real-time, accurate and concise statistics for page views and hits.  Perfect for keeping track of your audience and popular pages in your blog (and thus dispels the F5 myth).

It seems I also have to give a lot of thanks to NgeeKhiong, DC23 and ZeroG, amongst a few for sending me all that traffic.

Angelus Rising Part VI: More Engraving Adventures

The "Sharpness" of a Blunt Knife Blade.  I'm engraving almost exclusively with the blunt knife now, mainly because the rotary tool is a tad difficult to control over the Sinanju's curved armor parts, and it does not remove material as much as I want to.  Instead, I score the pattern first, then etch away material in criss-cross strokes to weaken the plastic within the score marks.  I can then scrape away the weakened plastic "easily" with the same blunt knife, smooth out the engraved sections with the needle point, and then further smooth it down with the knife.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Of Scales and Digits...

 --- On Fri, 7/23/10, MBR wrote:

From: MBR
Subject: Articulated Hands
Date: Friday, July 23, 2010, 4:53 AM

Hello there!
I was browsing the net searching for ways to improve my skill as a customizer, i was into scratchbuilding aswell but mine is transformers. I saw your tutorials on your site about articulated hands, i just like to know if it is for 1/60 gundam? i want to scratchbuild also coz' those people whom i was ordering before the hand suddenly cannot be contacted  so i finally decided to make my own. i've also attach the latest project i've made using gundam hands so you could figure out what i am saying...hehehe
Thank you so much and really appreciate your response...
Regards from your fellow kabayan from UAE,

Graphic Designer

I built those articulated hands for my 1/144 Customized Palace Athene (The Ice Queen), but the size of the digits is usable for a 1/60.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A New Brighter Sun has Finally Risen...

"Necessity is the Mother of Invention, but in the Heart of Chaos is Creation."

We all look for our place under the sun, whether it be online or off.  I have foreseen a Paradigm shift slowly building up, like pressure and tension between the Earth's tectonic plates.  It has been a year or so of struggle with our own Chaos that the inevitable has finally birthed a new Sun.

And we give you the Mech Arts Community Forums.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Misconceptions about Paints...

I was posting very frequently in several forums a while back and the most common question I get when it comes to painting is "What paint do you use?"  My usual response was "I use Bosny and/or RJ London paints, and they are basically Acrylic Epoxy Lacquer Paints.  In the modeling arena, people only know either Lacquer, Enamel, or Acrylic paints, and seeing a paint type like Acrylic Epoxy Lacquer was a bit of a stretch.  In one such forum, one even told me to make up my mind if I was using either Lacquer or Acrylic because that person couldn't quite accept having both in the same paint (even after showing the label), and another one even said that "Epoxies" are two part glues that can't be added in spray can paints. One thought that it might just be regional naming conventions because I was living in the Philippines.  To quote him verbatim:

"Maybe It has to do with your country's use of english, As the definition of lacquer is a mixture of natural resin and pigment ( modern day we use chemicals). Comes from the Portuguese word lac, and they used it long ago as an alternative to tempera.  And I have never seen the term epoxy used like that.
Again I am not trying to tell you your wrong, as it seems like our countries must use the words differently."

The thing is, Bosny and RJ London are European formulas manufactured in Thailand.


"1673, from Fr. lacre "a kind of sealing wax," from Port. lacre, unexplained variant of lacca "resinous substance," from Arabic lakk, from Pers. lak (see lac). The verb meaning "to cover or coat with laqueur" is from 1688."


a protective coating consisting of a resin, cellulose ester, or both, dissolved in a volatile solvent, sometimes with pigment added.
any of various resinous varnishes, esp. a resinous varnish obtained from a Japanese tree, Rhus verniciflua, used to produce a highly polished, lustrous surface on wood or the like.

It's a common misconception that the term "lacquer" corresponds directly to paint (or a paint type). Lacquer is actually a type of varnish (the other type is polyurethane, like Future, and even some acrylic varnishes) that is mixed with paints or pigments (mostly with automotive spray paints) that give finishes their lovely shine. 

Epoxy, on the other hand, is mixed with paint (or pigment) to increase its bond, its quick-drying property and overall strength. Epoxy paints are more resistant to light scratches. Hence, these types of paints actually don't need to be top coated unless you want extra protection (or that uber shine).  Epoxy is a term often associated with glue, but in itself is a resin-based "hardener."  That's why we call those two part glues as "epoxy" glues; one is the binder/glue, the other is the hardener/epoxy.  Also, epoxy can't cure sealed under pressure, and only when it get exposed to air or a certain temperature range does it start to harden.

Acrylic, in turn, is a base for pigments, much like how some paints have enamel and latex bases.  Acrylic and latex paints are water soluble and therefore can be thinned with plain  water.  Enamels are not, and require enamel thinners.

So, a Lacquer Acrylic Epoxy paint has 3 components; an acrylic-based pigment, epoxy to harden it, and lacquer to give it shine.  

Monday, July 19, 2010

"Quick" Fixes...

Of Flaws and Fixes.  No kit is perfect.  Not even the so-called Perfect Grades.  Perfect Grades actually suffer design, stability and structural flaws more than their smaller-scale counterparts mainly because of the amount of parts that come with the kit.  I have two PGs so far, an RF Astray and a 00.  Both are overall good enough PGs design-wise and I am actually impressed by how they are built.

I'm not sure about other PGs, but these two actually share the same basic flaw of the removability of the armor.  Some of the armor parts easily come off even with normal handling.  What's funny is, when the PG 00 came out, it was advised that one should purchase a second kit if one wanted to assemble it with the clear parts.  That's nothing more but a sales ploy because armor parts do come off easily, and this was the reason why I had to do this fix to begin with.

The problem lies within the connective sections of the parts, some of which are either too short or too thin.  Both the NG and PG Astray have this flaw, specifically at the V-fin's base and thus making the connection flimsy.  The V-Fin comes off rather easily in both cases (I am yet to get an MG RFA), and my PG Astray's forehead base broke off because the base is too darned thin.

This was a fairly easy fix.  Click here for the step by step process.

The 00's Chest Armor.  Maybe it's me or maybe it's the flaw in the armor's rather thin connective "lip," but this particular chest part (the right one), broke when I was simply handling the kit (it broke about a couple of months ago, and I only got to repair this a couple of nights ago while taking a break from the Angelus build).  Using the other chest part to align the fix, I cut the remaining part clear off the base, and cemented a set of small plaplate strips and reinforced it further with a 3mm triangular beam.  After waiting for 24 hours for the fix to cure, the OTHER one broke as well while I was test-fitting it to the chest assembly to see if I aligned the part correctly.

This time, I decided not to cut the remainder off the base, but cut it laterally and left those small supports.  I cemented an appropriate-sized piece of plaplate in between the supports, imitating the original structure of the lip.  I progressively saturated the entire fix with extra thin cement to reinforce the part and waited another 24 hours before test-fitting it again.

And viola!  As good as new and (almost) fits like a glove.

Angelus Rising Part V: Wing Mechanism Improvements

A swiveling Move.  Even the original Impaler Wings had a progressive spread (one wing "feather" over or under the next one) which is in nature how a bird's wings spread out.  The lighter v2 Wings is an over/under design where the middle section is actually the dominant one, which is just okay, but, being me, I couldn't resist the urge to make the wings progressive regardless.

I have had the idea for more than a week, but, I didn't want to needlessly do the modification and damage an already working v2 prototype since I've already wasted time and material on previous ones ), so I let the idea percolate and "ripen" in my mind.

The solution was fairly simple:  I just needed to cut a section from the middle wing near the base of the gear box, and used that as padding for the inner wing.  I then cut the inner wing just midway the cut section, and cemented that to the padding.  I cut extra pieces of plaplates to "mend" the now shorter inner wing to make it flush on itself and to lock the middle wing as well on the other side when the wings are spread.

I then bore holes appropriately on the outer and middle wings and added a swivel limiter on each of the the triads so that they won't spread as much when opened.  You can see the cut section on the middle wing, and how the modified inner wing "locks" the middle wing when spread out.  This hopefully will prevent the inner wing from bending down when the wings are spread.

That's it for now...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Angelus Binary Blade

The Angelus won't be complete without its own custom built weapon, so I made one for it from scratch (well, not entirely from scratch, since I modified one of the beam saber hilts as THE hilt for the custom scratch built blade).  I was going to build a scythe cum spear for the original Impaler X, but decided on a sword for the Angelus.

I did an online search for reference blades and swords, and here are a few of the interesting ones:

From Wolf Demon Valenor's Photobucket album:

The fifth one looked appropriate enough with the feathery trimmings and all, but this was the one that caught my eye:

which I got from Hans Rodger's Photobucket album.  This image have appeared on several websites, so I'm simply crediting where I got this from.

I decided to reference the Angelus Blade from the dual blade.  Of course, by referencing, I'd still be making one of my own design.

I cut the basic blade shapes from sandwiched 1.0mm plaplates (for sturdiness) and modified the beam saber hilt to fit an attachment for the sword guard (which was later re-modified since the first mod failed miserably and broke easily).  I made the blades from recycled pieces of plaplates that I initially cut for the wings (I had a few trials and errors).

Saturday, July 17, 2010

QnA: Of Spray Cans and Plaplate Scratchbuilding...

--- On Sun, 7/18/10, Peter PUN  wrote:

From: Peter PUN
Subject: questions haha
Date: Sunday, July 18, 2010, 12:16 AM

hello man this is probaly quiet random but like i want to ask you how you paint your models? Do you hand brush them or spray paint it or airbrush :S ?

And one more haha!  i've been inspired by your scratch builds and i want to try it myself, i know nothing about it unfortunately :(

but but but i really want to know like.. i dont understand how you cant the pieces off a pla plate, i dont know how to glue them together and stuff could you give me a brief outlien on this when you have the time, that would be awesomely lovely :D.

well thanks in advance for reading my email :],

from a stranger who enjoys your scratch builds!

I use spray cans exclusively, and from time to time, use the dry brush method to paint frames.

As for scratch building, I'm not sure what you want to know specifically.  I almost exclusively use cement for scratch building, and use cutter knives, art knives, scissors and side cutters in combination depending on the shape I am trying to achieve.

Most of my posts and tutorials are rather already descriptive and pictorial, so you can just reference them for now.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Angelus Emblem

Resting my hands for a while from all the engraving and after a 24-hour power outage from that nasty storm.  I actually started creating this line art yesterday before the storm started, and with my mouse malfunctioning, it gave me about the same amount of pain as I would during engraving.

The line art will allow me to experiment with color schemes for the Angelus as well as design the engravings. 

Looks pretty nice as is.  I've also redesigned the emblem, this from a year ago when the Wings were still in the planning stage and this was still called the Impaler X.


The line art is almost done with preliminary color ideas. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Angelus Rising Part IV: Neck Extension Mods and Skull Cap Tattoo

Neck Extensions.  One thing I have noticed with most kits (or MS designs for that matter) is the apparent shortness of the neck to the point that some basically have no necks that they look as if their heads were smashed into their torsos with a hammer.   Some kits, like the Exia and the Strike are proportioned well enough that they hardly need any extension modifications.  Though this might not bother some people, I believe some designs do need to have an ample length of neck to display a suit's awesomeness.

I've done neck extension mods for the Ronin, the Kshatriya, and quite recently, the JinX.  The thing about neck extensions is that if you are working with MGs or PGs, you'll run into the inherent problem of ABS plastic's semi-resistance to cement, and the problem of CA/superglue becoming brittle over time thus making it worthless for high stress/tension area repair work or modification.

The Kshatriya's Neck Extension was the "easiest" by far to pull off because of the frame construction and being made of PS.  It was quite easy to simply saw off the neck, stick an ample-sized beam in between, and mount it on to the modified frame with a generous amount of cement (saturating the modified parts allow resin build up from the cement which reinforces the ABS/PS bond since ABS will also melt a bit when saturated enough with the solvent from cement).

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Query via Email...

I got this email from JML (his initials), asking me about my painting process.  It's in Tagalog, but he simply asked about the Semco acrylic paints and if I used an Airbrush (AB).

This got me thinking, why not make this a regular segment?  I will post email queries and make it part of my blog in the Tutorials section so everyone can benefit from it.

--- On Mon, 7/12/10, JML<***************> wrote:

From: JML
Subject: re: painting
Date: Monday, July 12, 2010, 10:40 PM

Hi sir xander, pahabol na tanong lang sir, curious lang ako nakita ko na gumamit ka ng semco paints for your Ronin Astray project so gusto ko lang malaman kung ok ba syang gamitin sa mga kits? also sir gumagamit ba kayo ng Airbrush kasi parang napansin ko na wala kayong ginamit na AB sa mga build niyo? at yung mga bosny paint na ginamit niyo is there any way to recreate them using AB kung may idea lang po kayo kasi parang pakiramdam ko if I use an spray can I would just mess it up, I don't I haven't tried it yet pero nagbabalak ako pagka kumpleto na ko kasi madami na kong nakatamabak na kits na gusto ko sanang gawin OOB pero I'm still practicing at magkukumpleto pa ko ng mga gamit at materials para hindi mahirap, well sir goodluck sa mga builds at sinusundan ko yung blog mo ang lupet lalo na yung big red.well sir thanks sa time and looking forward to your future builds


I was planning to use the semco acrylics for the dio, which I haven't finished.  For kits, I paint exclusively with Bosny and RJ spray cans.  Both Cans and AB can be messy if you don't know what you're doing, in a rush or not careful.

The gradient/multitone schemes are actually easier and finer with an AB than with cans, but, I prefer not to invest on an AB because I wouldn't have other practical uses for it and would only be laying around when I'm not doing gunpla.  I prefer the throw-away convenience of cans as well as the the texture I can achieve with metallic paints.  I prefer texture/grainyness over a smooth texture because it gives the paint job its identity.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Angelus Rising Part III: Of Horns and Wings

The Angelus Horn.  Like in most kits, the V-fins and horns are often the most easiest to modify or customize.  These are identifiers of those MS designs that sport them, and is most variable in protagonist machines.  The Sinanju's stock horn is very basic and is similar to the "stabilizer fin" of most Zakus and seem out of place in a slew of curvy and massive armor plates.

Scratchbuilding master Julius "Juju" Lim built a whole Sinanju using an MG Saz as a base which was also featured later on in an Issue of Dengeki.  I kinda like how he remodeled the Sinanju's horn and made it look organic.

But, rather than copy his redesign, I opted to design mine own that follows the Angelic theme I had in mind, well, sort of.  I usually start with a sketch, and with trial and error prototyping, arrived at this semi-final shape.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Paradigm Shift. A change from one way of thinking to another. It's a revolution, a transformation, a sort of metamorphosis. It just does not happen, but rather it is driven by agents of change.

A shift is on the horizon...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Angelus Rising Part II: The Revelation

The Rise of the Angelus.  A Major Update.  By now, a few people already have an idea what kit the Angelus is built on.  The Sinanju, by far, is my most favorite MS design (next is the GN-X, then the Exia), both in form and "functionality."  It has the perfect blend of lines and curves, and has a great overall balance.  My first Sinanju, the Grim Impaler, attests to that; it looks great out of the box, and better with the right color scheme even without modifications.

The Angelus technically is a year in the making, after I've shelved the Impaler X/Devil Wings idea.  I've now resurrected it and gave it a new call sign, as well as a new overall concept.  Like I mentioned before, this is a thematic, non-Gundam universe build, so I guess I'll have a few more raised eyebrows and condemnation from a few UC hardcores I know.

Lighting Up the Angelus' Mono-Eye.  LEDs have always been a dilemma for me mainly because it has been difficult to procure small enough SMT/SMC (Surface Mount) LEDs.  The smallest I could get so far were the standard 3mm bulbs, then I was able to find a few 1X2mm surface mounts at a cellphone shop at Baclaran, which later on proved a bit difficult to use because of its size (as in, they are almost flat, and their contacts are a tad too small for my taste).  Then a fellow modeler tipped me off to a shop near De La Salle Taft called e-Gizmo.  The shop sells a lot of nifty electronics stuff, surplus machine and board parts, robotics, and of course, LEDs.  Though their LED selection is still basically limited, they have more compared to other shops like Alexan and Deeco.

I got me a few 1X2mm Surface Mount LEDs, but it was these that got my interest.

And These Came in the Mail

Rather, I had these sent to my school since I was on an off-site training.  Bosny Philippines has once again graciously sent me free...