Bill Doran of Punished Props has a new video up showing the build of a sniper rifle from the Mass Effect video game. He has a great process down, showing how to layer up materials to get all the different shapes, and approaching each layer with various tools to get the most precise result possible with the least amount of effort. Enjoy!
David Neat starts us off with making smooth shapes from Styrofoam. He’s dealing with the real-deal Styrofoam here, not that white bead foam stuff. And sure, this article is over a year old, but it has some really useful techniques.
Bill Doran has a helpful video on adding rust to your props. Ninety percent of the time when I show a completed prop to a designer, they say, “that’s great… once we age it down a bit.” Knowing how to weather, age, distress or generally tone down props is an essential skill for a props person, and adding rust is one of the ways to do this.
Make Magazine takes a look at some Maker-Friendly hardware stores from around the US. It’s a fascinating look at the vast array of materials a store might choose to stock, as well as a sobering reminder of how awesome hardware stores used to be to those of us whose only local options are Lowes and Home Depot.
I covered some basic stitching for fabric in my Prop Building Guidebook, but if you get into embroidery and ornamental stitching, there is a whole other world of ways to manipulate needle and thread. Tipnut has some great vintage illustrations of ornamental borders and the basic stitches to make them happen. It’s a relaxing project for when you are bored in tech and the designer wants the napkins to be “fancier”.
Finally, here is an article called “The Most Important Lessons in Woodworking“. Robert Lang uses his experience cutting plugs as a lesson in woodworking in general, and I think this lesson can be expanded out to prop making in general. It’s not just about how to use specific tools or techniques, but how to approach your whole project in the most efficient and easiest manner possible.
Chrix Designs shows how she made a staff of Kraken; it’s a staff with an orb surrounded by octopus tentacles. I found her technique for making the sculpted tentacles pretty interesting.
Kris Compas shows how to turn on a drill press in this two-part tutorial (see part 1 and part 2). Now, a drill press motor isn’t made to withstand the lateral pressure from full-scale turning of hardwoods , but Compas is turning doll-house furniture pieces out of basswood. This seems like a fine technique for all that small-scale kind of stuff you might need to do.
For Nic Howard, nothing is safe when it comes to molding and casting. She shows how she molds everything from bookplates to cookies in order to have a library of decorative castings to attach to objects.
Cosplay Boom interviews Bill Doran of Punished Props in this video. Doran talks about how he got started and what he loves about making props.
Finally, American Horror Story’s two assistant props masters take you behind-the-scenes for a look at some of their props in this video:
It was a fairly big week here at the Hart household. I finally returned to North Carolina from Santa Fe, and I began my brand-new job as the Properties Master at Triad Stage. It’s a great theatre to be working at, and the first time for me to run a department full-time. But enough about me, let’s see what everyone else on the Internet is doing:
Hey, who wants to be Adam Savage’s intern? Right now there’s a contest where you can win just that. Actually, you get to hang out with Adam for a week in his studio, so it’s not that in-depth of an internship, and the process to get there sounds a bit like a reality show in-the-making, but it still seems like a fun idea.
The Closet Geek Podcast has an interview with Bill Doran of Punished Props. Doran builds replica props from video games, comic books and films, and works largely out of his own home, building items for people and companies around the world. The interview delves into how he got started, some of his current projects, and his views on cosplay and fan conventions.
As a gentle reminder to theatre people everywhere: don’t throw away your fake bomb props in a garbage can in a major city. When I was in NYC, I was paranoid just to carry “weapon-like” props around, especially on the subway, where my backpack was routinely searched. I would usually keep stuff like this in a disassembled state, or packaged up so it just looked like I was shopping.
The team behind the film Pacific Rim has a lot of behind-the-scenes videos showing their work. They are all pretty cool, but the one I’m showing below of the cockpit for the giant robots is particularly interesting for props people. The film actually used a lot of practical effects in addition to CGI. It’s really cool to see how they first built a mock-up of the whole thing from foam core, than went through with more sophisticated techniques to build the real thing from the patterns.
Only 11 more days to enter the world’s greatest Prop Building Guidebook Contest! Don’t wait until the last minute! More importantly, starting this Monday (April 22), your friends, family and colleagues can vote for your entry. The prop with the most votes on April 30th will win $100 worth of Focal Press books. You can vote once a day, so be sure your friends know to vote early, and vote often. Now, onto the links:
Harrison Krix (of Volpin Props fame) has an article up at Tested.Com detailing the making of a mask from the video game Bioshock. It’s a great example of using “slices” to help make a precise carving, and the cracked paint treatment is an interesting technique as well.
Another replica prop maker, Bill Doran (of Punished Props fame) is doing a live Google Hangout tomorrow (Saturday, April 23rd, at 3:00pm EST) where he answers your prop-making questions. With a Google Hangout, you can watch live from your computer as it happens. You can also participate if you have a webcam and questions (Bill gives you the details in the post I linked to). Finally, the whole thing is recorded, so you can watch the whole thing on YouTube after it finishes (I’ll post the link in the comments once it goes up).
Here is a blog of random medieval imagery, mostly taken from manuscripts.
Finally, Chris Schwartz ruminates on technical perfection when building something, and whether it is necessary.