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Hello! Please introduce yourself

Hello I'm Jason, also known as JL Gunpla UK, I'm a part time commission gunpla painter and online shop owner. I grew up in Hong Kong and Gundam has always been popular there, so naturally I got into gunpla at a very young age.

Wing Gundam Snow White Prelude XXXG-00YSW 1/100 Ver. Ka Custom

I remember my first kits being MG GP01, MG Wing Gundam EW Ver. Ka and 1/100 Justice Gundam, and I was too young to understand open hatch gimmicks so I used to glue them up. There was also a gap from 2009-2014 where I went to the UK to study in secondary school that I didn't have access to gunpla, so I "discovered" gunpla again since then and was blown away by how good the Gunpla engineering had become.

But perhaps due to getting into the hobby at such a young age, the complexity of the Bandai kits don’t satisfy me enough anymore. So my favourite grade is definitely Perfect Grade, but unfortunately there are not many of them. This has also led me to try other brands such as resin kits and Mechanicore model kits.

I have dabbled into painting when I was a child, but only using spray cans and it wasn't anything spectacular. In 2018, I fully painted a kit for the first time and it was a PG Strike Gundam. I was pretty happy with the results back then but looking at it now there are a lot of things that could be improved. But I always believe that if you look and your past works and feel embarrassed then that means you have improved your craft since.

My two biggest motivators to produce high quality work is first having all these amazing painters who put out perfect and artistic paint work. And it always feels amazing to study their uses of colours and apply it into my projects. My second biggest motivator is having an audience who appreciate my work. With my style I like to be as unique as possible and I'd like to think that's why people are following my work.

Tell us about your favorite gundam project you have worked on so far?

1/48 Nu Gundam [Resin kit by G-System]

My favourite project so far, and also the most challenging project, is the 1/48 Nu Gundam. It is a resin kit by G-System and I know the Japanese modellers in general despise resin kits, but I really like big scale models and Bandai doesn't have many options for bigger kits. This kit is 50cm tall from feet to head, 65cm to the funnels!

Resin kits are unlike plastic kits because they need a lot of sanding and fixing due to each part being casted by hand and the moulding isn't as precise as plastic injection. So sanding, filling gaps and scribing alone took over a month to do, and the kit was released around 2008 so the design is really outdated. So I spent even more time updating its look by adding details and reshaping to make it look more Ver. Ka like.

1/72 PMX-003 The-O [G-System Resin Kit]

Overall it took me about 2.5 months working everyday to finish it, it was also the most challenging kit with the reasons above but I also had to deal with weight issues, because resin is much heavier than plastic and the kit weights over 5kg in total! And with a kit that heavy you start to realise how unrealistic some Gundam designs are. With the Nu Gundam the centre of mass is shifted to higher left because of the funnels and the shield, and that means the kit isn't able to stand on its feet. I did get some photos of it standing on its own but that was only moments before the legs gave up and the whole kit collapsed… Luckily no irreversible damage was done and after some minor repair I put a stand to support the funnels.

So as you can tell this project has given me headaches and frustrations but I now often just look at it and admire the amount of work that went into it.

My favourite Bandai project is the PG Unleashed RX-78-2. I remember how smooth the whole assembly was and even painting it was an absolute joy.

PG Unleashed RX-78-2

I also asked Sumimasen Designs, a 3D modeller, to make an “Origin” equipment pack for the kit to turn the PG Unleashed into the Origin Ver. This turned out amazingly and the PG Unleashed is simply the best kit Bandai has made yet.

“Origin” Equipment Pack [Sumimasen Designs]

Describe your process when starting a new project

Because I don't do full customisation such as kit bashing, there isn't as much planning needed when starting a new project. But before starting a project I usually research both the kit and the actual mobile suit's history, that's because I usually use colours that exist in the Gundam universe, so using the correct colours is very important.

For example I was painting the Full Armour Gundam MkIII kit and I wanted it to have the FAZZ colours, so I looked up images of the FAZZ Ver. Ka to see where the colours will have to match to the Gundam MkIII. Then I usually look at the manuals online to reference the mixing ratios of the colours. Of course it won't match 100% so I usually spray test and adjust the colours then note down the adjusted ratios so I can get the same mix every time.

Choosing the right colours are very important too, and I mean finding colours that balance the overall look. For example for a white Gundam suit, I would avoid using very dark colours a lot as the white and black oppose each other and create too much of a contrast.

As well as planning which colours to use, I'll also have to consider where each of the colours go. It requires logistical planning to make the contrasting colours look just enough and not too eye-catching. I tend to avoid using metallic colours for the inner frame as some western painters do, because then when you paint silver on the screws and piston details the whole kit becomes too metallic.

Sometimes I do like to add custom details to kits. I often look for inspiration from other talented modellers such as RaviPla, NAOKI and resin kits, to get an idea of how to add subtle details that don't look too busy overall.

Who do you follow on social media?

I'll give a few examples of people I follow on Instagram, these people stand out to me as they're so unique at what they do.

  1. Saint-ism - He is my biggest early inspiration, purely because of his painting style. It's so unique that you can immediately tell it's his work when you see his photos. It is after seeing his works that I learned to do shading with bright colours.
  2. Gunpla_enthusiast - he is a GBWC Canada winner and you can clearly see why. He is creative with his kit bashing ideas and executes the painting perfectly. Just look at his Artifact Deep Striker kit bash! So clean! So small!
  3. Vgunplaproduction - they're a painting production studio. Again the paint job they do is amazing but arguably the photography skill is even better. They do a lot of painting and product shots for resin gk studios and there's a reason why!

Of course there are other amazing modellers that I don't have space to name them all out, Japanese modellers such as yamaneko311, rikururi33, Korean painters momomodelling, seoyahooya and many others!

Your next gunpla project? (or current)

I'm currently finishing my Gundam Artifact project, they're mini sized kits. The challenge I'm giving myself is to only use spray painting and no hand painting. But the real challenge however, is to make the final result as clean as possible. Because the kits are so small at about 5cm tall, the imperfections are magnified when you take photos. Also because of the size and simplicity of the kit, I needed to do seam welding/removal and scribe all the panel lines, so they take up more time than you would expect!

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