I was a big fan of He-Man growing up, so I really enjoyed seeing this Instructable on making a He-Man Power Sword. Blast Replicas uses an interesting technique of creating a “skeleton” with thin plastic guides, and then adding body filler between the guides to fashion all the curved and beveled faces. The paint treatment on the final piece is also pretty sweet.
Millennium FX created a giant polar bear operated by two puppeteers as part of a PR stunt for Fortitude on Sky Atlantic. Be sure to check out the video which has some “making of” footage that’s sure to be helpful to anyone who needs to build an articulated animal form.
Tested visits Monsterpalooza 2015, a convention for creature makers, practical effects shops, and special effects makeup. I’m amazed at all the high quality work being done out there in the world.
For those of you building things out of craft foam, WM Armory has compiled his ten best tutorials on crafting foam. I’ve linked to some of these individually before, but here they are together in case you’ve missed some.
Finally, here’s a beautiful video showing a couch being made. It’s a real couch, not a prop couch, so they have some pretty sophisticated machines for some of their processes (they roll their own springs!), but it is still very satisfying to watch the final piece grow out of a pile of raw materials.
Bill Doran has a new video up showing how to pattern and construct a helmet out of craft foam. He also has a new book out on building armor out of foam, and if you buy it before this Saturday, you are entered into a contest to win the helmet in this very same video I just shared.
102 Wicked Things To Do is a cool blog with all sorts of tutorials on prop and costume craft-related projects. It took a bit of a break for a year or so, but it’s back now with some cool new projects on wire jewelry–making and papier mache wolf heads.
F Yeah Theatre Sets and Props is an interesting Tumblr site filled mostly with photographs of sets and scenography from productions around the world. But they are very pretty and inspirational photographs.
Finally, here is a page with pictures and descriptions of every full Godzilla suit used in its 60 year history. Because Godzilla.
When I began my blog back in 2009, it felt like only a handful of sites for the prop maker were out there. Since then, the field has practically exploded and you can find information everywhere. I post links to sites regularly, but I wanted to make a list of the sites you should be checking out regularly. So I’ve collected and categorized what I consider to be the 100 best sites for a prop maker. Now, this is far from comprehensive, particularly if you are working on specific objects or using less-popular materials, but hopefully it will keep you busy for awhile. If you know of a site I’ve missed, drop a note in the comments or send me an email!
Forums remain a great way to find information about prop making, since much of what we do is so specific and unique. You can ask a question, search for answers to other questions, or just browse through and pick up tips on how other people work.
- Replica Prop Forum – A very active and very informative forum filled with fans recreating their favorite props from films, television, video games and other media.
- ControlBooth – A US forum for technical theatre, with a small section on props.
- Blue Room Technical Forum – A UK forum for technical theatre, also with a section on props.
- The 405th – Halo costuming forum
- Dented Helmet – Boba Fett costume resource
- The Hunter’s Lair – Predator Costume and Prop forum
- Astromech – Forum for the R2-D2 Builders Club
- Cosplay – For fans of dressing up as fictional characters, this also has sections on props and similar items.
- PropPeople Forum – A once-thriving forum that still limps on, this is the only one devoted entirely to props people working in theatre.
- TheatreFace – Forums built around the TheatreFace social network, with a section on props.
- Brass Goggles – Steampunk forum with some prop-making threads
- The FX Lab – Special makeup effects, mask making and creature design.
- Haunt Forum – Lots of information for those who build their own sets and props for Halloween displays and haunted houses.
- The Clubhouse – For modelers, sculptors and model collectors.
- Concept Art – Forum for concept artists with a small section for sculpture and other 3D media.
Many prop makers have their own website or post their work online, but a few go the extra mile and show how they’ve built specific props.
- Volpin Props – Unique commissions for props and objects based off of items from video games, television and films.
- Punished Props – Another fine replica artist making props from video games and other pop culture.
- Fake ‘n Bake – If you ever want to make fake food, Anna Warren’s site should be your first stop.
- Dave Lowe Design – One of the prop masters at the Hallmark Channel.
- Kamui Cosplay – Armor and cosplay from Wonderflex and Worbla built by this talented German artist.
- Blind Squirrel Props – A replica prop maker working on commissions and personal projects from all manner of films, television shows and video games.
- Folkenstal – Interesting weapons and items based on the video game Skyrim.
- Theatre Projects – Props and prop-related information from a freelance theatre prop master in Chicago.
- Amethyst Angel – Armor and other cosplay projects.
- Jay Surma – Another prolific replica prop maker.
- 2StoryProps – Yet another replica prop maker.
- MRX Designs – A prop maker working in the Steampunk and Lovecraft genres.
- Tom Banwell – Leather and resin Steampunk projects.
- Barnyard FX – A behind-the-scenes look at the props, exhibits and displays by Greg Aronowitz, a prolific special effects artist and design specialist on over two hundred films and television projects.
- Spirits Dancing – Puppetry and prop-making from Hilary Talbot, a working Australian artisan.
- Fevereon Props – A prop and costume maker out of Georgia.
A number of sites may not be devoted entirely to teaching prop-making, but they still have regular tutorials, news and information relevant to the prop maker, or deal with comparable and related industries.
- Prop Agenda – Now, I couldn’t omit my own blog. How-tos, news, videos and more from the props world.
- Make Magazine – Blog companion to the magazine, this site regularly has posts on prop making and associated materials.
- Tested – What began as site for testing consumer electronics has quickly grown to have regular features on props and prop making, particularly with Adam Savage as one of the regular hosts.
- Propnomicon – A regularly-updated look at props built around the mythos of HP Lovecraft.
- Lost in Schlock – Down and dirty prop making tips for low-budget films.
- Design Realisation – backstage at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama.
- La Bricoleuse – costume crafts teacher at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
- StageBitz – a prop inventory software company that regularly posts prop-related news and interviews.
- David Neat – Theatrical model making.
- Stan Winston School – The new school run by the peerless studio responsible for the most famous practical film effects of the last thirty years runs a blog of related information. The school also has online video classes you can take for a paid subscription.
- Meanwhile in the prop shop… – A Tumblr of random encounters in a regular props shop.
- Theatre Safety – Articles and information on safety in the performing arts.
- Technical Direction Tidbits – News and tidbits from the world of technical theatre.
- Rosco – Spectrum – while also a lighting company, they do have tutorials on their paint and coating products
- Mantle Studios – The sculpting blog of Jason Babler
- The Dark Power – Bizarre sculptures and metal art with a theatrical flair.
- Design*Sponge – Inspiration and reference for all manner of interior-design and furniture-related things.
- Fake Believe – A behind-the-scenes look at props and sets made for various photography projects.
- Haunters Digest – Tutorials and showcases of haunted house props and Halloween decorations.
If you need to learn how to build specific items or work with certain materials, these sites have collected the information you need.
- Instructables – If you need to build something, chances are, you can find a tutorial here from someone who has already built it. This site should be your first stop for finding how-to’s, period.
- Smooth-On videos – Tons of videos on molding and casting.
- Deviant Art – You have to do some digging, but people post a lot of tutorials here, or post props with a detailed “how-to” in their description.
- Woodgears.ca – Wood working by an engineer.
- Hirst Arts Fantasy Architecture – Tutorials for molding, casting and painting of miniatures and models.
- Ultimate Paper Mache – Information and tutorials on, you guessed it, paper mache.
- Monster Makers – You may never need to make monsters, but you may find their tutorials on sculpting, molding and casting, working with foam latex and painting to be helpful.
- Paint-Sculpt – Tutorials and reference for both painting, and, wait for it, sculpting.
- The Gizmologist’s Lair – A cornucopia of tutorials and links to all manner of gizmo-related projects.
- Craftster – Projects and tutorials from the crafty side of the prop-making spectrum.
- Mask Makers Web – Information and links for things related to masks and mask-making.
- Costume Properties Construction Handbook – An online book of sorts with helpful information on building objects like hats, armor and masks.
- Puppetry Home Page – Information on building puppets, and lots of links to other sites.
- Proptology – A magazine devoted to props from 1995-2004 with some articles available online
Tools and Reference
Organizations and job sites
Finally, if you want to join a larger community of props people or find a job in the industry, check these sites out.
First up is this video about the future of CGI and motion capture in films. Michael Bay, Jon Favreau, Ray Liotta, Paul Scheer and Rob Huebel talk about how new technologies are making sets and even props unnecessary for film; why would you use a gun to play a gun, when you can have an actor play a gun? It’s a really funny tongue-in-cheek look at the use of technology for technology’s sake.
I’ve already seen this being passed around quite a bit, but I thought I’d share it here: 25 special advantages a theatre major has. I guess some theatre majors get jobs that don’t involve doing theatre, which seems crazy to me.
The Alamance County Makers Guild that I recently began taking part in is planning their own Mini Maker Faire right here in Burlington, NC. So if you’re in the area on April 28th, come check us out.
Speaking of Make Magazine, this month their blog is featuring projects and tutorials dealing with natural materials. To kick it off, they’ve featured 10 great projects made from natural materials. Beetle shell ceiling, anyone?
Through some bizarre set of circumstances, we find ourselves here at the Public Theater in technical rehearsals for three different productions within the same week. I sometimes wish all the theatre that is made from September to November could be spread out over the entire year. Until then, we keep on moving and keep on working. And we keep on reading this blog, because I have some excellent links for you!
Yours truly has an article in this month’s issue of Stage Directions magazine, in which I detail our shop’s process for creating a break-away wall for The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures. So head on over and read it, and maybe leave a comment.
This has to be seen to be believed. Gabriel Suranyi spent 19 years creating a scratch built model of the USS Enterprise naval aircraft carrier. The site has dozens of photographs showing off the astounding level of detail.
Thanks to Seán McArdle for pointing me to this fantastic arrangement of nearly a hundred vintage spraypaint cans.
Paint-Sculpt has a nice little tutorial on sculpting realistic skin texture. They have a few other helpful tutorials as well.