This kit was quite a challenge for me. The cast was horrible. Every surface of the kit had bubbles and lots of debris stuck on it (probably from overused mold). Good thing is that I have lots of patience.
Another thing that I didn't like about this kit was the part brake down. Most of them were OK, except the way the sculptor did the rope around her shoulders. The rope was one piece and the shoulders had a very visible connection line which was really bugging me. So I cut the rope in half and made it so it can slide from both sides of the arms. I glued the shoulder pieces and made sure there was no visible seam lines (really bugs me if I can see it, its my small pet peeves ).
While I was cutting the rope, I had another great idea for making my painting easier (more work now, but its saves time later). One of Mai's feet was separate from her leg, but the other one was one piece together. So I decided to cut her second leg too. Plus while I was cutting, I decided to cut the hand too ( I got a little knife happy lol ) It may feel like a lots of extra work, but it really does saves time with masking and painting. Plus it looks cleaner too.
Another thing that I did was carved the inside of the tunic (still had a knife and my hands and in my happy mode). The tunic on this kit is very well sculpted, but I decided that by giving it few more edges will make it even better.
All this modifications did not take too long. I actually like this step in building, just because its very calming and you get to visualize the finished kit. I was not sure which colors to use on Mai, so this was good thinking time for me.
I decided to use red, black and gold colors (the royal colors, how can you go wrong with it). The only thing that I decided to change was the colors of the scarf on Mai. Usually she wears a two toned scarf, but I decided to use just one color. The tunic is a dark chocolate brown with some black shadows (but its really hard to see on the final pictures). I added red the color for under tunic. Most of the cloths is spread with matte finish, except the red color. I tried to make it look like a silky material.
The hair were fun and challenge at the same time. First I painted it light brown, and after that shaded at least with 3 more brown colors in progression from lighter to dark. I really love how they turned out.
Another fun thing to paint was fan. I didn't want to leave it plain white, just not Mai's style (the girl who wears big beads on her scarf would like something more extravagant). I found a nice design on a kimono (web search) and decided to use it for a fan. Here is the step by step. I think its more helpful then me trying to explain it in words.
After I painted the fan, it still looked kind of plain. So it called for a trip to my hobby store (thanks god there is Michales close to my house). Sometimes I get very very lucky and find something great just when you actually look for it. I found a perfect beads for the fan which Mai would certainly approve of.
For the base I used real moss (Michales again) which was kind of fun trying to figure out on how to put in on the base. After mounting the moss and the stone Mai jumps off, the base called for another rock. This part was super easy. Go outside, try out thousand of stones, find the right one, and the kit is complete. TA-DA
The contest picture have been already posted, so here is the link for it http://forum.e2046.com/index.php?c=12
I wish good luck to all people who entered.