05 September, 2014

Golden Blaster Award statuette.

I was hired by the organizers of this years EuroCon, Shamrokon, held in Dublin on the 22th-24th of August, to create 4 statuettes for their annual short Sci-Fi film festival, called the Golden Blaster. I worked with one of the heads of the con to create the look of the blaster.

Each aspect of the blaster had mutability designs done of them, & he choose which he liked best. They were then collected all into one design, had it okay'd & then set about creating.

The master prop was build from balsa wood as I've worked with it on other similar project like this in the past, so I'm comfortable working with it. The fin, body & handle were all carved out of the material separately & then glued together.

The nozzle & back end were then carved up & attached, then the whole body was covered in polyfiller, sanded to a smooth finished & primed.

The next stage was to mold the blaster as I needed to make four copies of it. This is always the scariest part of prop building for me & the messiest. If anything goes wrong during this part of the build it will damage the master prop, but it will also cost me a fortune in materials. Seeing the shape of the blaster this had to be a two part mold.

I clayed up and boxed in the first half. This can normal take between two & three hours to set up as you make sure that the clay is level, you got the mold at the halfway mark & all the edges are perfectly done so that there will be no silicon leaked. I used Supersil 20 Silicone for the mold. It is a 10:100 mix silicone & one that I have used before & I've always been happy with the results.

Happily, after 12 hours of curing, the mold turned out perfect. It was then a simple matter of, cleaning up the master prop, reapplying some poly-filler that had come off in the clay, flipping everything over & casting the second half.

I then did a test cast, using the fast cast polyurethane 1:1 resign I have used many a times in the past. I sloshing some of the resin around the mold to both clean it out & see how well it nozzle preforms. Once I was happy with that it was a simple matter of casting four of the blaster, priming each one and then  painting them up. Three of the statuettes need to be gold & one silver. I found a wonderful spray paint called "Hardcore", which comes in a multitude of colours as well as chrome silver & shinny gold, which is the look I wanted.

Once the painted had cured I coated them all in a few layers of Gloss Varnish to seal them in & brought them down to a trophy shop the Con directors where using to have their bases fitted. The next time I saw them was at the convention on display.

I was pleased with how these turned out & with the positive reaction people had when they saw them at the Shamrokon. I''m starting to feel like making prop ray-guns could be my main field of interest over the next while =]


11 November, 2013

Dark Heresy LARP Boltpistol

This was a personal project I build for a month Dark Heresy LARP I game in.  Been a LARP, costume is encourage and I knew my next character would have a Boltpistol in game so I wished to make one for my costume.

I went for balsa wood as the making build material for the pistol. I knew that it would be a bit delicate but it was the easiest material to work with so it was a chance I was willing to take. This scale is correct to what you would find in the RPG books, which is hugely over sized. The pistol is 4inces across and 13inches long.  I had build a HeavyBolter before so I knew how to go about making the base structure for the prop.

 The pistol grip was the only real tricky part of the build. Getting the size and shape just right so that my hand fit around it naturally.

 An extra layer of wood for the detail of the body, the grip sanded down and the magazine fit in nicely.

I made the mag separate as I want to be able to make a mold of it and cast a few extra ones to carry with me at the LARP.

 Bolt pistols are normal coloured red or blue on the upper layer so I went for red. And seeing as how this is a weapon from the 40K Universe one always needs a add a skull or two.

 A metal finish was added to the rest of the gun. This involves getting an old worn out brush and specking on silver paint in a few layers. It quite fun but takes a number of layers of paint to get looking right.

Gentleman's Atomic Ray-Guns for Desert Bus for Hope Charity.

For those of you that do not know Desert Bus for Hope is a charity event run by the wonderful Loading Ready Run guy. It is all in aid of the Penny Arcade Childs Play charity.This will be my forth year watching this guys play the game Desert Bus for 24hours a day until people stop giving them money. So for this year I decided to go all in and made something for them to auction off. Seeing as how I like my weapon props I went with a pair of dueling pistols. But not just any pistols! Steampunk Atomic Ray-gun pistols!!! =]

My plan was simple, build the prototype out of balsa wood and odds and ends, mold it and then cast two pistols. This was a big step for me in my prop making career as I knew it would involve a two part mold, which I'd never done before.

To start I Google searched "Dueling Pistols" and "Ray-Guns" and took the most common elements from the two and work a design that was inspired from both. A long elegant body, fin, piping and glass tube where elements I knew had to be in the design.

The grip was the most nerve wracking part to dermal out as the lines had to be prefect.

Suitable sci-fi themed barrel made from washers, pipe and a foam ball.

One of the key elements I wanted on the gun was a power/temperature gage, where the piping would could out of. This would give it the steampunk feel I was looking for. A similar gaga was added to the back of the pistol.

Here is the prototype finished and ready for molding. The extra piece at the fin is where the glass tube will fit. I have a number of them in a box just waiting for this type of project to  come along.

Ready for molding. I had seen loads of these been made by fellow prop makers viva their photos on twitter so I knew what to do. Doesn't mean I was scared I'd get something wrong or mess up in some way.

After the first 1kg of silicon pored in I realized just how much this was going to take to make the mold for this gun. And just how much is was going to cost me =[ But, it's for charity! So what if I end up eating noodles for a while.

5kg of silicon later and both half's of the mold where finished. Just before I started on the second half I messaged Bill Doran (@chinbeard) to ask a very important question, how do I stop the two half's from sticking together. He did in fact answer me so I got to skip the horror of having the mold be one huge mass.

And here is the first pull from the molds. Turned out perfect with very little clean up to do after wards.
Both gun primed and in the base coat colours. Why Red and Blue? Because in the gaming world it is always Red Vs Blue. Plus I am a huge Team Fortress 2 fan.

The temperature gage detail

And the "other" gage detail. In this you can also see the holes that had been drilled out for the piping to go along the outside. I didn't build these into the prototype as I wanted to have the freedom of been able to add in piping where ever I though it would look good. It also means on future pulls I can change around their design as I see fit.

I don't know what this does, but it is set quite high!

Working out placement of the pistols in the display box.

This was a nightmare to make. Getting the shape just right. Cutting out the dozen or more wall pieces. Getting the green cloth lining to sit smoothly on it! The only way I was able to make it was using balsa wood, but that also make it hugely fragile.
This turned out almost the way I wanted it.

The display case, all varnished up and ready for shipping.
And here we have the finished props in their display case.

I learned a great deal from this build. What to do and of course what not to do and more importantly what not to forget when you are at certain stages of the build.  I really hope that the people at Desert Bus like it and more importantly that it makes a decent amount for the chairity.

You can see the auction here on their site: Desert Bus Silent Auction


26 September, 2013

Reinventing the Prosthetic Limb

This project was my final exam in my 4th year of Model Making and Digital Design in IADT. We were allowed to create anything, with the limit only being it had to fit within a 1meter cube box.  This was the project I'd been waiting for seeing as how my whole reason for going back to college to do this course was a promise I made to myself about wanted to create a new prosthetic limb.

The idea was simple, bring the design of prosthetic limbs into the 21st century. Looking at the design and shape of prosthetic limbs that are worn by people today, and with a lot of researching into the subject, it was clear that they had not been updated since the 1950s.  Which is unfair in today's world of designer clothing, computers, buildings. I knew that creating the limbs by hand would be tricky and not time effected. I wanted this project to be a prototype of how it can be done in the future so I went with 3D modeling the prototype and then having that model 3D Printed.

Each section of the limb was modeled in 3D Studio Max, then brought into Mudbox where the finer level of sculpting was done. Each part locks and fits together perfectly and is to a 1:1 scale with a human arm. An inner bone was made for everything to lock to which, with use of an adjustable elbow used in prosthetic limbs, would attach to the arm socket. The arm socket itself was design from a non-stander design show that very piece can be reworked.

This is the inner forearm was sculpted with the realistic muscle structure of the forearm carver into it.

The outside of the forearm was given the shape of the muscles but given a much harder, fabricated feel.

The hand, which itself is removable and can be switched out for another number of other designs, was modeled into a natural resting pose.  The top of the hand having the same harden fabricated look as the forearm where as the palm was given a textured feel so show that it could act as a grip.

This is only my first stepping stone. I want to go further with this. but my only question now is how.


04 March, 2013

Tin Woodsman Clockwork Heart - The Build

In the previous post I when into detail about all of the concept work that went into the design of the Tin Woodsman heart.  In this post I am going to go over how I built it.  The whole process took a little over 5weeks.

During the first weeks of design I was out looking for and nice block of pine or cherry wood  that would be used to create the heart.  Sadly I had no luck finding one so Ply wood was used instead as it was made from layers which gave a beautiful grain effect I wanted.  The heart was made in two pieces so that the clock-work could be easily installed later.

Once I had both side sanded into a roughly shape the two pieces were taped together to finish off the sanding to get the seam perfectly smooth.

After a week of sanding I put one of the half through the vac-former as a test to see how the tin plates will turn out.  The hard part was getting the edges smooth and cutting the plastic off afterwards but the shaped worked perfectly.

Testing the sliver spray paint.  You can't see it in the photo but the plastic is scratched to give the effect of machine shopped tin and it comes through nicely.

I then taped the plates in place and drilled 100's of little holes in them for the studs.

Once all the plastic plates where ready it was painting time.  The scratches in the plastic came trough in the paint to gie the right weathered metal look, which I was pleased about.

I bit of charcoal dust was added to dirty the plates and then a gloss stray sealed them and also added a nice shine.

The next part was the clockwork on the inside.  I got a small moter, think it would be prefect to drive the gears but I could not get the rpm low enough to have the clockwork spinning at a reasonable rate

So the motor was taken out and the innards of a small clock where used.  The power of the this motor was hugely limited but it was still able to turn one of the cogs in a nice ticking motion.  I set up in a circuit with a switch and battery to allowed a key to turn on and off the clockwork.

 Once I knew the circuit work I set in place all of the other cogs and gave then a nice brass colouring.

 Through the use of the laser cutter I found a really easy way to make the key that will turn on the switch as well as the keyhole.

I was then time to stain the wood and attach the plates.  Then the task of gluing the 100s of studs in place began.  Both half's of the heart where glued together at this point. as everything internal had been finished.

This was something fun.  The pipes that left the heart were at first going to be made from plastic but the bend in them never turned out right so I moved onto metal.  Luckily the college has a metal workshop so I was able to heat up and bend a pipe into the shape I need.

The last piece made for the heart where exterior wires covering the front, made to look like veins powering the body.  I used the to scale mock up heart to plan out the shape.  Painting them red and blue was a tough choice but I was told that the added colour would be good for the model and after seeing the finished results it was the right call.

And here we had the finished piece.  I was really happy with hoe this turned out.  All that sanding, and drilling and trouble with the cogs all paid off in the end.