Monday, November 5, 2012

Prop Making 101

Ok, I'll be honest. I never thought of myself as a "crafty" person. I'm much more of a engineer by nature. That being said, I've been mulling over the idea of a few costumes for ECCC 2k13. One of which needed some props. I scoured the internet looking for the 2 things I felt I would need to add to the costume. One I found easily, the other was either non existant, or you had to buy expensive ones that people had made. Then I stumbled upon the necessary data and blueprints to build your own.

Follow me through this new frontier.

I decided the best way to make this would be to craft the prototype out of styrene. Styrene is what makes styrofoam, but there's almost no air in it. It's flat and hobbyists love this for building things. After doing some research, I went to the local hobby shop and gathered my supplies.


For this project I used:
1) Hobby Mat (there's a lot of cutting and I am not buying another 20 dollar Ikea coffee table)
2) X-acto knife
3) Some sort of square preferably metal (as you can see I bought plastic)
4) Styrene sheets. 1.5mm (1), 1.0mm (2) and .75mm (2)
5) Ambroid Proweld. This stuff is amazing. Takes 10 seconds to "weld" the plastic together
6) X-acto compass cutter 
7) White plastic hobby putty
8) Sandpaper

What you will do is start by measuring out what you will need to create the pieces. The first piece was a rectangular shape for the grip. The great thing about styrene is that you just have to score the sheet and bend it and it will give you a good clean line. However, because of the plastic square, my lines were crooked. Mainly because I kept cutting into the square with the knife. If I had to do it all again (and I might), I would use a metal ruler and a pencil. Measure several times, cut once.

Once you have your pieces, line two of them up as you want them and add some Proweld to the joint. Hold it and count to 10. It should hold. Add a few more passes with the weld just to make sure. 30 min later I had something useable.

Just look at those sexy legs.

From there I measured end pieces and attached those. That wasn't easy. First off I noticed that my sides were not the same length so it took some time shaving them down. Then I had to make many passes to keep it secure.

This particular prop needed a grip on the handle, so I used the .75mm styrene to craft the additional pieces. The finished result is below. 2 sides had the cut out and the other two were flush. Again, my hastiness led to crooked edges. This will require sanding and putty to fill in the gaps.


Finally I had to work on the top piece (pictured below) It's a type of trapezoid, one side is at a sharper angle than the other. It was getting late and I wasn't very focused so this piece doesn't look that good. It will require a lot of clean up work on the edges and the bottom features some gaps in the plastic that will require putty to fix. 


Stay tuned for the next installment when we bust out the compass cutter and putty.

Can you guess what this is?