Shock & Awe Prop Write-up
A lot of people ask me how I made my Miss Fortune guns so I’ve decided to finally put together a write-up on how I made them! Granted, this is a rough write-up based on what photographic documentation I have from the process.
First off, the process I used is more on the expensive side so if you’re interested in making your props with a smaller budget this process may not be suited for your needs. A lot of my projects are based on molding and casting, an expensive, but very rewarding process.
The following materials are mentioned in this write-up:
- MDF (Medium-density fibreboard)
- Smooth-On MoldMax 30
- Smooth-On Rebound 25
- Smooth-On SmoothCast 65D
- Smooth-On PlastiPaste II
- PVC Pipe
- Alclad II Lacquers
- Loctite Super Glue
- Loctite Epoxy Resin
The following tools are mentioned in this write-up:
- Band saw
- Scroll saw
- Laser cutter
One of the first steps to any of my projects is to create orthographic drawings in Illustrator, or (more recently) create 3D models. When I created Shock & Awe I was still doing orthographic drawings in Illustrator.
I don’t have my full set of Orthographic drawings available unfortunately, this is an earlier version of the design I created in Illustrator with very funky colors used everywhere. I used this drawing to figure out what dimensions I wanted for the pieces as well as decide on the parts would fit together. All the details (on the barrel as well as on the butt) were designed in Illustrator in preparation for Laser Cutting/scroll saw work.
Here’s a photo of some of the pieces I cut out for testing the single action trigger mechanism.
Shock & Awe have the same effect: pull the hammer to lock it, then pull the trigger to release the hammer. My design was relatively different because of the unique shape that these guns had. It was actually quite a challenge fitting the pieces inside of the gun… I was stuck on this step for a while. But! I eventually got it working and I’m really happy with it now.
I unfortunately don’t have any photos of how I created the barrel pieces, but I can describe it. Back when I was working on Miss Fortune I didn’t own a lathe, so I actually stacked a ton of 3/4″ MDF and cut it into the cylindrical shape on my band saw.
Same goes for the trumpet end of the barrel, I just put the bed at an angle to get the truncated cone shape. If I had done this on a lathe it would have been infinitely easier, but I didn’t have one at the time. This required a lot of filler work with bondo, but I was happy with it in the end.
This photo features the barrel more complete, after a lot of filler work to create a seamless transition between the cylindrical and truncated cone pieces. It also has the body of the gun built with all the laser cut pieces placed in the form for reference.
The really thin pieces (on the barrel) are laser cut styrene pieces and the thicker pieces (on the butt) are various thicknesses of sintra (1mm and 3mm) layered to give more detail. The finger guards in
this photo are already resin cast, the originals were created using MDF and laser cut top layers to create the small groove that runs through the entire piece.
More pieces fitted together in this photo! All the sintra and styrene pieces have been glued to their forms. I used Loctite Super Glue to adhere all the styrene details and Loctite Epoxy Resin to adhere the sintra. The end of the barrel has details which I sculpted using Apoxie sculpt.
The gun was molded in many pieces:
- Barrel + barrel housing
- Finger guard
- Interal spring mechanism piece
Most of the molds were simple two-part box molds, but the barrel+barrel housing mold was actually a brush on because of the size of the end of the “trumpet” shape. I’ll include two tutorial videos by Smooth-On below, demonstrating the brush-on mold process.
I slush casted the body parts of the gun, so they’d be hollow and lightweight, also allowing me to embed an audio chip for fun. Once the pieces were all cast and put together, I added a PVC pipe inside the barrel to make the entire length of the barrel hollow. This also helped the sound from the audio chip emanate more!
That’s a silly video by Aileen Luib Photography of me playing the sounds in both of my guns! I think this is actually the only documented footage I have of the sounds. It’s so much fun messing with people at events though by suddenly playing the clips next to them.
Painting is actually my least favorite part of any project. The masking process is extremely tedious, which was no different for Miss Fortune’s Shock & Awe. I first primed the guns, then airbrushed them with gunmetal from Alclad, and after they had ample time to cure/dry, I masked it all to do the gold details. The styrene bits were actually hand painted after everything was done.
Here’s a shot of the final guns! This is merely a brief write-up with what little photos I still have from the process of building these guns. I’m sure I missed some steps which seem more obvious to me, if you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments below and I’ll respond as soon as I can.
Big thanks to Robby Cavanaugh for the photo of the guns as well as the photo up top of my costume!
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