Maybe you’ve noticed that your first Gunpla doesn’t look as good as the photo on the box. One of the easiest ways to make your Gunpla look nicer—with relatively little effort—is panel lining.
Panel lining is the process of drawing fine lines around the detailing of model parts. It is one of the simplest things you can do to really make your Gunpla pop.
At first, we didn’t understand what panel lining was all about. You’re not just drawing lines onto a Gunpla—you’re giving realistic contrast to all the little pieces that aren’t defined individually, making your Gunpla look like it’s made up of more (and more detailed) parts than it actually is. Notice how the subtle lining on the piece below makes you notice the existing details on the piece that were nearly invisible before.
However, if you’ve never done it before, it might seem a little intimidating to draw on the Gunpla you’ve spent so much time on. What if your hand shakes? What it ends up looking terrible?
Don’t worry, we’ve done all that trial-and-error for you. After a few funny looking Gunpla, we’ve figured out an effortless, two-step process that makes our Gunpla look surprisingly pro without painting.
First, we line the part, drawing directly into the groove on the piece. You’ll want to line inside or next to protrusions on the piece that could benefit from extra definition.
For providing realistic looking contrast, color choice is important, too. The color of the pen you use for detailing is dependent on the color of your model. The idea is to make it look like light is casting a shadow on the Gunpla, so the color you use for panel lining should be a darker version of the color of the piece.
- Use a gray marker (GM02) to draw detail lines on white or light gray Gundam pieces.
- Use a black marker (GM01) for detailing on blue or dark gray Gundam pieces.
- Use a brown marker (GM03) for detailing warm colors like red or yellow.
These are not hard and fast rules. For example, you might want to always use black on SD Gunpla for high contrast on their cartoonish bodies. Or pick colors that look good to you—Gunpla is an art, not a science!
This is a white piece, so I used the gray marker (GM02) to line it.
Second, we soften the line. You’ll notice that when you straight-up line a piece, the result can be a bit harsh. So to make it look more natural, you’ll want to rub it with something you probably already have around the house—a cotton swab. Some people use rubber erasers, too.
The final effect: a lined piece with just enough contrast to draw your eye.
Below is an example of what not to do. This HG Gundam X is one of the first John ever built. He didn’t use an official lining pen, but instead a Micron marker. He used black everywhere. And though he lined it, he didn’t then wipe the harsh lines with a cotton swab to soften them. The result is pretty jarring.
And here is a model John built recently, the HG Gundam RX-78-2. Here the panel lining is barely noticeable—it simply serves to enhance the model’s contrast. John used a brown marker on the red and yellow pieces, a gray marker on white, and a black marker on blue. The result is a high definition finish.
Try it for yourself and let us know how it goes!