Gunmetal Patina

April 12, 2010

Ok, so I had a few ideas for improving the gunmetal look on the handgun prop for Joy the other day and decided to give them a go.

I’d been experimenting with graphite powder on another project and mixed some with my airbrush flow medium (which seems to be some sort of thin water based acrylic, similar to aquadhere from what I can tell). I made a 1 part graphite to about 4 parts flow medium and 1 part water mixture and mixed well until it forms a thin grey liquid. Put this in my airbrush and ran a light mist over a matt black acrylic painted test surface. Dried it with my heat gun then rubbed half the surface with a coarse cloth. Sure enough the graphite gets polished on the rubbed areas and looks like shiny grey metal while the untouched surface has a darker dull lustre.

Next I tried it on the gun. The spray is so light you can spray right over all surfaces including non-black areas and it wont affect them very much, in fact it adds a thin layer of surface aging/grime which can be a good thing if the prop looks “too new”. If you dont want it somewhere you can either mask out or just rub it off later with a moist cloth and/or bud.

I liked the effect but it was still a little bit to subtle in places, I wanted to get the inner surfaces looking even more dull and aged. To do this I made a similar mixture except with black powder paint instead of the graphite and sprayed this into the places I wanted dulled down, avoiding my freshly polished surfaces where possible. The black is dried (again, it is so light that the sprayed areas blend with unsprayed surfaces quite evenly) then any excess removed with a damp bud.

Later, I went over places I wanted heavy dulling with a brush loaded with the mixture, almost like a wash or ink. You can be quite imprecise as it dries quite evenly because it is thin.

All in all a much more realistic and durable effect than the simple graphite rub I was using before. Obviously, now that I know this works I’d reverse the process in future doing the dulling first then the highlights/polishing.

…and then the rain came pouring down.

June 30, 2009

There hasn’t been a lot of action on the prop design front lately, I think the Joy project is in temporary limbo?

Ive updated some of the ramblings on my site, head down Widdershins Way if your interested (see sundries).

We spent 10 days up at Exmouth, snorkeling with reef sharks and driving around trying to avoid kangaroos, it was a memorable trip.

8th of May and all is well…

May 8, 2009

Yup I’m still kickin’, word has it the Joy project is still happening but they’re waiting on a commitment from the distributors.

“We have some serious interest from a Bangladeshi
production house/distributor called Channel-i / Impress Films. Now we have
to wait to see if they will go to the next stage with us.”

I’m happy to wait, I’ve been busy lately with web stuff anyway and have been doing a lot of snorkeling every chance I get while the weather’s still warm.

In the meantime, check out my tribute site to Black Tiger, one of the best arcade games of the late 80’s!

Black Betty?

March 20, 2009

It lives!

“Black Betty” is finally complete, here is a stack of pics showing what Ive done.

I applied the black primer, then sanding and very fine filling, patching etc. One nice thing was the primer dried with a slightly rough spatter-texture finish, I decided to leave this in place on the grip area but sand and smooth all the other parts. Having used a black primer it was straight forward applying topcoats of matte black, I applied about 5 or 6 light coats until coverage was complete then one more slightly heavier coat over that to give it some durability. The whole thing was left to cure over about four hot days of 30+ degrees, hot weather is good for something.

After that, I just put it all together, there were no major dramas. Final finishing involved spraying the grip base a nice silver colour and adding some gunmetal effect to the gun itself using graphite powder applied to all the raised surfaces, this will need to be touched up now and then but I find it gives a more realistic dark metal look than using the dry brush and metal paint technique.

As you can see, I also made some “rock” bullets. These are made from black 6mm acrylic that I smashed into little sharp bits then glued back together in a rock-look-alike way. Some basic painting, gloss on the sharps and matte rusty-black on the base give them their final look. They can be removed from the brass cartridge in case we want to shoot spent cartridges or try another look for the bullets.

So, that’s that. I guess I will get on and build a simplified stunt version for the scenes where the gun gets handled roughly, this one is way to fragile to be thrown across a room.

Final parts photos.

March 5, 2009

Here is another stack of photos, this time showing all the parts that go in to making up the gun.
I wanted to detail these before hitting them with black primer which will obscure all my hard work.

Shortly after these photos were taken I primed all the parts, now they’re black, it looks good.

This is a beast of a gun!

Pictures, at last!

March 3, 2009

Greeble season is at an end and its time to put the glue away.

Here is a stack of pics showing some of the details that have been added to the gun. I make no promises that there wont be a few more tweaks and changes before my next post /wink. This is my favourite part when building props and I have to discipline myself not to go too far and end up with a baroque effect.

These pics should give some nice comparisons with the painted article. I’ve noticed in the past, people wont believe the prop is made from bits and pieces once it’s painted.
I’ve sourced some black plastic primer which should make hiding all the different coloured bits a lot easier.

Woo, it’s getting close to looking like the final thing now.

More Tweakage…

February 26, 2009

The Greebling continues.
I’ve added some bulk to the barrels, a lot of screws and some nice fittings here and there. They add visual interest and complexity as well as break up the flat featureless surfaces. I’m quite happy with the results so far. Filling and sanding is almost done.
I’ll take some detail photos before applying the base coat of paint, so we can compare later.

See what a difference a couple of cool days can make.

How do you spell greebling?

February 24, 2009

I spent 5 hours in the workshop today greebling, adding little details to the gun prop. It’s something you can spend hours doing without achieving anything dramatically obvious.
I’ve added a few things, like adjustment knobs, screw heads and fittings here and there to break up all the flat surfaces. I don’t want to over do it. Also, I’m working on tidying up the whole thing, filling and sanding here and there and removing any little defects.
It should be ready for a base coat very soon now, we’ll finally be able to get an idea of what the finished thing will look like.

More pics coming soon.

In the detail.

January 30, 2009

Now that I have the chassis and mechanisms complete it’s all about adding detail and finish. This is where the real fun is, placing textures, creating details and effects.

Today I made the outermost layer of the grip area, this is the bit that has ergonomic details such as finger indents and screw surrounds. This will make the grip both comfortable to use and look realistic. A lot of guns have fairly basic ergonomics, so it’s not a huge challenge to come up with something similar.



Extra details like finned heat-sinks and the safety slide are pretty straightforward. In the meantime, I continue to refine the general finish, cleaning up surfaces, curves and edges, this is time consuming but mostly enjoyable. There’s plenty to do before any painting happens.



Bulking up.

January 28, 2009

I spent seven hours in the workshop today, after so long away from this project, it was nice to get back into it.

I finally have -all- the mechanical bits fitted; after some tweaking, the barrel-catch locks nicely, the barrel hinge and triggers are all in place and working properly.

I’ve made the main part of the case shell (paper covered parts), these needed all sorts of internal shaping to fit over the working parts. I also spent a fair while shaping them to match the grip shape. They are 6mm acrylic and are held on to the chassis with 3mm bolts, so that the whole thing can be disassembled if necessary.
I would’ve preferred to build everything from black acrylic but couldn’t source any 6mm at my local supplier. It doesn’t matter much as these parts will have additional 2-3mm pieces clad onto their outer surface which will form the grip detail. Also the gun will be painted black with metal parts and some dry brushed ageing so all the white will be hidden.

I’m quite happy with how it’s turning out, now comes the fun part, where I do the main shaping and detailing to get to the final form. One nice thing I can tell already is that with all the material going into it, the finished prop will be satisfyingly heavy. I might not have to add any weights.