GunPla Modeler Interview: Saint-Ism

Hello! Please Introduce Yourself
My name is Saint-ism, I am a Gunpla modeler hailing from Australia. I run the website

I'm originally from Malaysia but I've spent most of my childhood growing up in Australia where I now work as an IT Consultant. When it comes to Gunpla I think I'm most well known for the "3Ps", Painting, Posing and Photography. My favorite part of the whole process is painting and taking photos, so I try to focus on those aspects of the hobby rather than say, customization.

My favorite Gundam suits are the Strike Gundam and the Gundam MkII. I like simple and boxy designs the best!

From early on, my goal with this hobby was pretty simple - just to make my models look exactly like the ones in the manuals.

My journey with Gundam and Gunpla starts in the early 2000s. I had only heard of "Gundam" from a school friend from Hong Kong who raved about it, but anime was not mainstream at the time and I had no way of watching it in English. In around 2002 when the arcade game Federation vs Zeon was released in Australia was my first real introduction to the Gundam franchise. This was when I started getting quite a bit more interested in the series.

Soon after in 2003, Gundam SEED was released and this was the first series that I watched as it aired. I discovered that you could buy model kits from the show and really wanted the main suit from the anime - Strike Gundam. I ended up buying the No-grade 1/60 Strike Gundam and this became my first ever Gunpla model. As I finished putting it together, I was ecstatic that I had the Strike Gundam sitting on my desk!

But a few days later I kept looking back at the pictures in the manual and started to discover that mine did not look quite as good as the promotional pictures. All the promos of the kits from this time period have a kind of "pre-shaded" look to them. From this point on I feel that this is the moment that I started to chase this dream of making my kits look as good as those pictures.

After a few more snap builds I decided to paint the first time. It was a No-grade 1/100 Buster Gundam. It did not turn out well at all! Gunpla was still not very mainstream around this time, the Internet was still young and information was not widely available as it is now. With limited info, I ended up hand painting enamels onto the parts straight on the runner, broke many parts and caused lots of fitting issues. Next, I moved to spray cans and the results were better. I used hacks like shading the edges with a pencil to try emulate that shading look, but I still could not match the pictures in the manual.

Around 2006 I discovered a tutorial by Max Watanbe in Hobby Japan (translated) on how to do the legendary "Max Technique". I think this was one of the tipping points for me to get my first airbrush. It took a few kits to learn but I think the first time I managed to pull it off successfully was on this Anavel Gato's Gelgoog:

I did feel that this style of painting over a completely black base was extremely time-consuming, but I was one step closer to my goal.

It was around 2007 that I discovered a video from the Japanese TV series "Plamo Tsukorou".

The particular episode had Iwata Toshio building the Master Grade RX-78-2 Ver. Ka. In the video, he demonstrated the highlight painting technique that made the models look much like the ones in the manual photos.

This was literally the first time that I had seen someone else build and paint Gunpla in motion, and it was a life-changing moment. With this video, I was finally able to the painting style that I use to this day.

After getting married and moving out to a small apartment, I took a short break for a few years. I returned back in 2014 with an MG Impulse for an online competition and this was the build that I felt really defined my style both painting and photography moving forward.

To this day I continue to paint in the same style, slowly making improvements and learning how shading different colours work.

I was fortunate that early on when I started back in 2003, my father had a digital camera I could borrow. Thus I was introduced to the concept of photography early on, but it wouldn't be until much later (around 2015) that I started getting quite a bit more serious on this end by buying a DSLR camera and learning some actual theory.

Gunpla takes up most of my free time, but I also enjoy video games, cooking, and driving.

Tell Us About Your Favorite Gundam Project You Have Worked On So Far?

First is the MG Full Armor Gundam (Thunderbolt). This was the last build before my son was born, which I felt was both an ending and a new beginning for me. It also so happens to be one of the kits that (I think) I'm most well known for, especially this image:

This one is pretty unique because I normally don't do any custom color schemes for myself. Remember back in 2019 when Bandai ran the poll for the next MG Ver. Ka? Everyone wanted the G-Self and instead, we got the Endless Waltz Wing. I too was pretty disappointed but resigned myself to building it. It wasn't until later that year that I saw this image.

I knew I wanted to try to put this to plastic. Apart from the wings, it was a fairly simple build, with no decals or even panels. I learned how to do the wings from K.ルナスルR @R19638194 (Twitter) and watching some videos of galaxy paintings on YouTube.
Describe Your Process When Starting A New Project

I don't modify my builds and most of the time I do anime-accurate colors so my process is fairly simple and straightforward. Cut out parts, prime, paint the colored pieces, paint the frame (metallic), gloss coat, decals, gloss coat, matte coat, and then assemble. I don’t do any test fitting since I’m very paranoid about breaking parts, so I try to view all the reviews first to see if there are any tricky parts. If it's a build where custom colors are involved (usually commission works), I will usually do some planning with line art in Photoshop to make sure that the scheme works out first.

Photography is a whole separate process for me and can sometimes take longer than building the kit itself. When it comes to taking pictures, usually I can take in excess of two thousand photos per kit, with many variations of a pose. One of my goals is to take "the one" picture which I hope would become the most well-known picture for that kit, much like the Thunderbolt photo. The other idea I have is that with all the pictures I would like to be able to produce my own art book in the future.

I will do quite a fair bit of research on action poses for any particular kit and I have a personal Pinterest board where I save my ideas. I always try to find iconic poses from anime as well as video games and movies. If I see an action pose I think could be adapted for photography I will take a picture of it and archive it for later use. I will often hold off a full photoshoot for kits (sometimes years) until I think I have enough material to work with, I feel I only get one chance to do a good job since the paintwork will usually suffer in the process and the kit might even break. I understand most people who spend much more time on their work would not risk their kits to do such action shots but I want to be able to take the most lively photos possible, again just like the manuals.

Who Do You Follow On Social Media?

There are way too many good modellers out there today and I feel it is impossible to name them all. I will take this opportunity to shout out the people whose works I have been influenced greatly by or feed into my own work (especially the poses):

  • Artgerm
  • Modeling/PaintingFichtenfoo
  • Max 渡辺
  • 岩田トシオ

  • とりぴー@ポーズ本v⑤販売開始 @0508bk201 (Twitter)
  • action.man32 (IG)
  • Kyle Balloran (Facebook)
  • G-Talier (IG)
  • Lightning-Ace (IG)
  • rotaryred (IG)
  • scarlet.jn99 (IG)
  • schizophonic9
  • Zaku Aurelius
  • Mecha Gaikotsu
Your Next Gunpla Project? (Or Current)

I am currently working on the MG Virtue. I recently learned how to paint flesh tones and am looking forward to painting more musume and even resin figure kits in the future.

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