Completing my HGUC Gundam was a very important reminder that, as good as my collection of equipment has become, my painting skill still needs refinement. Hence, the HGUC Guncannon project, an excercise in quick turnaround and in painting techniques.
The truly great thing about the HGUC Guncannon is that its appearance and posability are quite excellent when the kit is assembled unmodifed. Even the hands look good, which is unfortunately becoming rare in the HGUC line. Since my main interest in completing this kit was to use it as a painting excercise, I sought to minimize my modifications to what was necessary. I only made three substantial cosmetic changes:
As for the painting, this was my first experiment (in earnest) with the Max Technique of pre-shading and color layering with the airbrush. For the color design I decided to pre-shade red areas with brown, rather than the more typical black or blue: it always seemed to me as though the purples and blues appearing in these shaded red areas challenged the "redness" of a model. Actually, my original plan was to make all colors (including the grays) shade with warm colors, such as browns or oranges, but in the end I decided that it really didn't look the way I wanted, so I gave the gray areas a bluish hue instead. Before attempting to try the colors with paint, I experimented with different color combinations in the GIMP: If you view the images in the "Color Design" section you can see my experiments with color combinations for white and red, and the test image of the HGUC Guncannon that I repainted using the "Max Technique" with GIMP's airbrush tool.
The painting really was a rush-job. I had a lot of fun with it and tried out Tamiya acrylics for the first time. Luckily for me, the Tamiya paints are very forgiving of sloppy work like mine. The red areas were pre-shaded dark brown, brightened up with a whitish mixture of tan and orange, and then the orange-red color was laid down with clear colors. The white parts of the head were done the same way, but without the orange-red painted on top. The gray areas were pre-shaded with Mr. Color navy blue, then made more contrasty with a mix of white and clear blue - then made less contrasty again with a mix of smoke, clear blue, and future. Painting the head was a nightmare. Three times I had to strip it down and paint it all over again. Even this fourth, most recent paintjob on the head isn't quite what I would have liked, but I think it's at least pretty good.
One of the really cool things about this project for me was that, as my first excercise with the Max technique it introduced me to some new ways of thinking about color on a model. In all my previous projects, color choice was limited to "what color goes here?". Areas were always painted with a single color and perhaps weathering applied later. Working with the color layering on the Guncannon project, however, it was more like "What effect do I want here, and how can I achieve it?" I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted: in various other Gundam projects in the past I'd tried to replace the red in the design with something less vibrant, but still recognizably red. I don't think those attempts were entirely successful. I think perhaps what I'd wanted for this "desaturated red" wasn't necessarily a color so much as an effect: And for that, the Max technique worked nicely.
As a fun side note, my finished HGUC Guncannon has won some prizes: it won a "Hiroko-Chan" award at Otakon 2002, in the Modeling Contest/Best Mecha category, best sci-fi subject at "PatCon", a local IPMS model show, and "Best out-of-box" in the sci-fi category at GraniteCon, another local IPMS model show. In each case there wasn't exactly a lot of competition, but as I think it's very much in-character for Kai Shiden to brag about winning for dumb luck, I added three killstripes to the Guncannon's cannons, one for each victory.