Friday, May 18, 2012

Shadow hearts 3 tomahawks

So for those PS2 players out there, you may have heard of a game called shadow hearts 3. its your typical Japanese RPG that's themed around the "new world", or in other terms , the wild west. One of the playable characters in the game is Shania: a native american woman who is on the hunt for vengeance. Armed with her mysterious powers of "fusion" and a pair of twin tomahawks, she tracks down her prey.

Charged with the task of recreating the twin tomahawks, I first set to work on the blades of the tomahawks. figuring that the tomahawk blades should be about 1/4 inch thick, I bought a sheet of 1/8 sintra board, and cut four blade shapes. the easiest way to make sure that they were all the exact same shape was to stack them on top of each other, then cut them all as one.

From their, I paired the shapes off, and sanded down one side of each half so that when the two pieces came together, the blade would be tapered on both sides.  Then once these were glued together, I sanded them down further with some 320 grit sand paper, and then primed and sanded further so that they were nice and smooth.
The next step would be attatching the blades to the shaft of the tomahawk. Using some apoxie sculpt, I made a collar for the blades to sit in.

Once the apoxie was dry, I smoothed out the collar, and chiseled out a slot for the blade to sit in. then the blades were glued into position. After some touch ups with bondo and primer, I was ready to get working on the weird little triangle bit on the back of the blade.

As you can tell, from the above picture, I had already begun tapering the neck. This was a relatively simple process of just carving it down with a pocket knife.

In a similar fashion to the blades, I started working on the triangular bits on the back by cutting them out, sanding them down and gluing them together. I tried to get them to look as best as I could before gluing them in place because fixing them later would have been a major hassle.

After more bondo and primer, I gave the whole thing a base coat of metallic black. From there, I stained the wood with red mahogany wood-stain and sculpted the end cap on. Once the stain and the end cap were dry, I painted on the silver edge to the blades and the silver decorative triangles.
then i repeated the above steps to make a second one.

Then, in a failed attempt to copy volpin's rusting technique, I applied aluminum powder in various areas on the blade, then sprayed them down with lemon juice and peroxide. If you failed hadn't fail highschool chemistry (unlike myself), you would know that aluminum dust not rust like iron, in which it does not turn that beautiful orangeish/redish color. Instead it just becomes a duller shade or aluminum.

So instead I floundered around for the next several days attempting to weather and rust the blades with acrylic paints. quite unsuccessfully i might add.

here are a few pictures of the failed attempts.

After discussing my difficulties with weathering the blades, I found out that the girl who requested the tomahawks never intended them to be rusted, and wanted them back to their basic colours.
After a day of scrubbing and cleaning, i got the blades back to their original form before the weathering.

 The next step became the grip assembly. taking some leather squares, I cut them into strips and nailed them into position with some escutcheon pins (which are these wee itty bitty nails).

Then with a little more apoxie sculpt I made a couple cuffs for the grips.

After a brief period of sanding, priming, sanding, bondo, sanding, priming these were ready for the final touches of silver paint. 

Once both were dry, they were shipped and sent off to my commissioner, who graciously agreed to send me photos of her with the tomahawks for the blog (there will be edits later). Be on the look out for Kai at Anime North this year wielding these bad boys. 

Thanks for tuning in, and see you again real soon! 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Jason Todd Domino Maks

In one of the fastest and least documented props i've ever done, I attempted to create the domino mask worn by "jason todd" in the "hush" series.

Unfortunately, during the past semester i've been slowly becoming more and more swamped with school work, so when i was requested to make this item, i just kind of plowed through the project without thinking too much about documenting my work.

But i'll try my best to give you the run down as to how it went.
Similar to the Wild tiger mask i started with a clay sculpt. Unlike the wild tiger mask, i used "monster clay" from Monster Mask makers.

If you're an up and coming prop or costume maker, and you think you might want to do mask work, i would recommend checking Monster Makers out. they have a ton of mask making stuff as well as some cool info on the how to process. But with that said, it did take over 12 weeks for my order to be shipped to me, which as far as shipping things goes, has been the worst so far.

anyways, after i smoothed the sculpt out, i made a fun little mold of it. all of this, apparently, had not been documented (although i thought i had ?!?!?!)

then i made a series of casts using Dragon Skin FX pro. this stuff was better than the other Dragon Skin i originally used because it was more flexible and didn't require any slacker to be needed. Thanks to my previous work with the Wild Tiger mask, i kinda learned what to do, and what not to do so that i was able to make only three casts (two of which were requested), which means my success rating had increased dramatically. hurrah! Less waste, more stuff!

the finished product looked a little something like this.

I was not satisfied with the end result of this mask. Originally i wasn't going to post it at all, but I figured i should show something at least, even if it is just self progression. The main thing that i was not satisfied about this mask was that it was not symmetrical (a huge pet peeve of mine) and that the casting process still seems far more difficult than it needs to be. I think i've figured out a way to cut down on casting time and fix the process on the whole, but we'll see if I'm correct when I come back to make more and different masks later (oh yes, there will be more). 

I didn't charge my commissioner for the mask in the end cause i didn't think i would live up to his expectations (as it definitely didn't live up to mine), but if anyone is interested getting their own copy of the mask, please feel free to e-mail. Otherwise this bad boy will be hitting the storage closet, never to be seen again.

thanks for tuning in! There will be more to come soon. LOTS MORE! MUAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sakura Wand Photo Shoot!

Thanks to my friends over at Fang Fox Props and Saihawkeye Photography, we were able to get an amazing photo shoot of my client in her Sakura Outfit with the wand I made for her and all. here are a bunch of my personal favorites from the shoot!

If you liked these, and are interested in others or having your own photo shoot done, please check out Fang Fox Props or Saihawkeye photography by clicking the name, or clicking *here* or *here* for their Face book Pages.

To check out how the wand was made, check out my Sakura Wand post!

Thanks for tuning in!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Sakura Wand

So many girls who grew up in the 90's watching anime may remember the T.V. show Cardcaptor Sakura. It's very female friendly show centering around romance, friendship, over coming adversity, and filled with all things magical, including the magical staff that the lead character, Sakura, brandishes in the picture above.

Being as this is both a popular series, and a popular costume for conventions, it was only a matter of time before being requested to make this. Thankfully for me, i didn't have to do much research or planning before jumping straight into this project. Blind Squirrel A fellow and brilliant prop maker had already made one, with easy to follow steps and photo's. Borrowing from his process, i began to make my own, with a few very minor modifications.

starting off with the head of the wand, i glued two very thick pieces of balsa wood together, traced on the basic shape and set about carving out the shape.

from here i gave it a quick spray with some primer and then started patching up the uneven spots with bondo. i spent a fair bit of time trying to get the symmetry right, which was a major pain in my butt.

from here i started on the outer shell of the wand head, using apoxie sculpt. if you are a beginner prop maker and you have no idea what this is, it's a two part putty that turns rock hard when dry. it is one of the best things for sculpting and prop making. has a interesting consistency between that of clay and putty. great for fine details but really malleable and easy to use. plus it comes in a small variety of colours. I'm using the natural colour but it also comes in white and red i believe. 

anyways, so after sculpting out the apoxie sculpt i attatched the head to a dowel and began to taper the neck.
the apoxie sculpt worked great but i ran into a rather interesting problem. I couldn't get the damn head to stay on the dowel. i tried using wood glue, super glue, contact cement, a dowel screw, and combinations of the previously stated.  i thought this was really strange but i eventually found that epoxy glue used in model airplane construction seemed to do the trick.

once this was all touched up, i began construction of the wing-a-lings. I originally wanted to create a layered look with balsa wood, but it ended up being too thick so i decided that one strip of balsa wood with apoxie sculpt on it would suffice.
On reason i kept to balsa wood, is that you can actually shape and curve the wood. Many model airplane makers would know this trick, but by soaking the wood in water, then holding it in the desired shape would make the wood take that shape when dry.
i had to do this a couple of times to get the desired effect

from here i gave each wing a coat of bondo to strengthen it up while i applied the apoxie sculpt. 
once this was dried and sanded down, i punched a couple holes for some screws that would attach the wing-a-lings to the head. they screws would be covered by the red eye gems, which i made by taking some styrofoam balls, cutting them in half and vacuum forming them to create negative molds to pour clear resin in.

in the end, the backs of the eye gems would get painted red, to give them the proper colour and a bit of depth. I had some trouble getting the tiny air bubbles out of the first couple of eye gems. i wouldn't have minded so much but they cast shadows on the back of the eyes, which looked neat, but wasn't what i was going for. 
although i was really happy with how the wings turned out, they were still too thick for my liking, so i decided to mold them and make thinner resin casts.
at the other end of the wand, i lathed some balsa wood to the make end ornament, then applying apoxie sculpt, i created it's outer shell thing. then attached it to the wand via wood dowel and the epoxy glue i mentioned earlier.

then, with some bondo, i tapered the neck and fixed up a lot of major imperfections.  once that was all said and done, i added the little cuff with apoxie sculpt. 

The next step was painting, which was a step that i was dreading very much. I had attempted to paint the head of the wand a couple of times over the build with mixed results. the gold i was using was absolutely beautiful. even when i messed up terribly (which i did several times) it looked beautiful. the red however, although seemed to be as close as i could get was a massive pain in the butt. first off i was using spray cans (namely cause it's the best thing i know how to use, and i don't have an airbrush anymore). the over spray with the red was absolutely ridiculous. sure the paint was really fine and was super smooth, but it covered everything in area with a thin coat of red. Secondly, it was a massive pain in the ass to get off. i ended up having to drop down to my 40 grit sandpaper to get that stuff off. I ended up having to make several large and frustrating touch ups to the bondo because of it. finially, the acrylic clear coat i put on was really disappointing. it changed gold from a highly polished gold to a dull, just pulled from the earth gold colour, and i was told that it shouldn't smudge or anything once dried but sadly i was deceived, and it did smudge in several places. 

but once that was all corrected i began the whole process again. this time using a automotive clear coat. this still resulted in dulling of the gold, but it made it far less prone to smudging. 

happy that this was finally finished, i thought i'd have some fun with the wand before i ship it off. nothing quite says bad ass like a moe magical girl's staff. 

Later i'll be molding this and making more for others. Anyways, i'll hopefully editing this post later, with some actually magical girls, but enjoy this for now. Thanks for tuning in blargaroos! 

Here are a couple of pictures of Sakura (and friends) with her wand :)