Mafia Jinx Zap
Zap is the first prop for Mafia Jinx that I completed because of its simple design. It’s one of my few props that don’t include any molding and casting work at all. The final prop consists of 3D printed parts, a vacuum formed bottle, a printed label, five screws, and a cork. Here’s a simple write-up showing the process I took to build Zap.
Deciding which version of the prop I wanted to make was easy (concept art versus splash art) because the splash art barely shows any detail. There’s also the 3D model, but my preference was the look of the concept art.
The first step of any project is to research, so my first priority was to figure out the base of the prop – the bottle. A glass bottle was out of the question because of weight and safety issues. Upon searching for plastic wine bottles I actually ended up finding a prop shop in New York that specializes in vacuum formed bottles, so I snagged their reference image as well as the size they had listed for the bottle and used it as a direct reference for creating the 3D modeled parts to be placed around said bottle.
In order to get an accurate reference for the bottle I would modeling around I overlapped the reference from the concept art to match the bottle photo as best as I could. The bottle I ordered is obviously longer, but I can always modify that later.
Once I was in SolidWorks and had the reference image imported I was able to create the temporary bottle to build around. I used the dimensions the New York shop had listed for the bottle to guestimate the diameter.
This was my first time creating a 3D model for a pre-existing object, which made me nervous that pieces may not properly fit. It was crucial that I try to make the bottle diameter as accurate as possible to the bottle I was purchasing. 3D Prints have a little bit of leeway, so thankfully even if things needed to flex a little bit it should be alright.
Here’s a photo showing some of the raw 3D Prints that I have from the same printer. You can’t really see it that well from this photo, but depending on the geometry of the form there would sometimes be horrible texture that needed to be filled/sanded down.
In this shot you can see the layers that the 3D print is composed of. As a raw print it looks alright, but if you decided to paint it straight from this stage the layers of material would show very prominently.
I brushed all the pieces with XCT-3D to help fill in all the gaps and texture from printing.
XTC-3D® is a protective coating for smoothing and finishing 3D printed parts. This coating self-levels, wets out uniformly without leaving brush strokes, and cures to a hard, impact resistant coating that can be sanded, primed and painted. XTC-3D® is inexpensive to use (1 oz covers 100+ square inches) and adding colors and metal effects is easy.
Snagged the product description of XTC-3D for you guys from Reynold’s Advanced Materials website. I’ll be doing further experiments with the product at a later time with a review of what I think about it.
Cleaning the prints took some time. Even after adding the XCT-3D onto the prints, the ridges were so deep on the print that I had to sand most of it away anyways. It ended up helping me see where I needed to sand more (kind of like primer/filler does).
Normally I would clean prints for molding (I don’t like how fragile the prints from this particular machine are), but for once I was using the actual prints for the final piece.
Painting has always been one of my weaknesses when it comes to prop making, so I was trying to really force myself to improve my painting job on this piece. The goal of this project was to make all the pieces fit together using hardware, rather than gluing pieces together. This meant that I needed to make sure everything fit together with screws before I got to do any painting at all.
I was extremely impatient and just wanted to begin the painting process, but I made sure everything fit properly on the bottle before starting. The majority of the armor is held on using the two side screws (under the final aesthetic “screws”). The front piece is held in place using pressure with two small 4-40 screws that wedge into shallow holes. The handle itself is screwed directly into the bottle, which forced me to create a hole on the top of the bottle – so that I can insert a screwdriver and tighten the screw for the handle from the inside.
Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the primed and silver base coat stages, but at least I took a lot more photos than usual – give me some credit! I primed the pieces using SEM High Build Primer to help fill in more of the texture that I didn’t properly sand away in my first go. The base coat that I used was Alclad II white aluminum, airbrushed on.
I’m actually very happy with the weathering I did on this piece, which is something I usually hate doing. Most of the weathering was done by airbrushing Tamiya flat black, followed by wiping it in random directions with a rag. I did some further airbrushing around edges and seams to accent the various dimensions. If I added too much black I would just go over it with a light spray of the Alclad again.
The final touch was adding the clear coat – I used Alclad Klear Kote Light-Sheen, which gave it that nice glow that made it match the label and really accentuate the black airbrushing details I did.
The label for the bottle was designed in Illustrator/Photoshop and simply printed on some nice cardstock paper. I added some texture to the image so that it would fit the overall grunge look of the prop.
Two reasons I made the prop in a way that I could disassemble it were – to be able to do any paint touch ups on the armored pieces and to be able to add a new bottle label if it gets damaged (ripped/water) in any way.
If I get enough requests for it, I may consider having the 3D files available for purchase through my store for anyone interested in doing the same build. You’d of course have to print the files yourself, but at least that’s the easy part!
This is also my very first write-up with much nicer photo! My boyfriend has an awesome camera that I’ve been borrowing to document my progress better – so expect many more photos in the upcoming projects I post about!
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