Thursday, 25 April 2013

Hellboy Corpse Locator Tutorial - Part 3

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

The following steps are lacking pictures, hopefully I'll be getting on with my personal build-up soon and can finally fill in these last few pictures. But in the mean time I'll describe the process as well as I can with what images I have.


Now that everything's painted you can start to put it all together. The first step is to distress your hinges a bit. bend them around with some pliers, give them some good dents with an awl and finally, hit them with a blowtorch to ruin that overly shiny finish.

Image: distressed hinges

Now that they're good and wrecked you can screw them back into place. I like to add a bit of epoxy glue as well, just to make sure it stays in place. Also it fills in the hinge slot a bit.

The bearing plate gets glued into the bottom of the main body. Nothing too tricky here, just make sure not to use too much glue, you want the plate the be flat against the body, if its on a layer of glue, it may end up too high, or at an angle. And just try to centre it within the space, (there's not actually much wiggle room, probably only 1mm each side)

These hinges didn't get pre weathered, so they stick out.

Depending on how tight of a fit your bearing is, you may not need to glue it in, however I have found that the added weight of the centre dial assembly can cause the bearing to rack within it's housing, so just use a dab of glue around the edge to seat it in it's housing.
Make sure the bearing is seated properly, nice and level, and be careful not to gum up the bearing with the glue!

The Centre Dial Assembly

This is where we assemble the centre dial, dome and bearing disc into one piece.

If you're building a kit with light, scroll down to the light module section and have a read through. In the past I have put the lights on before glueing this all up, but have now decided it makes more sense to add the lights last, but you may as well have a read and decide for yourself which way round to do it.

The difficult part of this step is glueing the pieces together so that the pin of the bearing disc is perpendicular to the rest of the assembly, otherwise your dial won't stay level as it spins (there are lots of factors that could contribute to this, but screwing up this step is the most likely cause).

When I say 'glue' in the following steps I'm referring to clear 5 minute epoxy. Strong, sets up fast, and not as noticeable if some leaks onto your dome.

You have to do this all in one go, so read through this all before starting, get everything ready and make sure to mix up enough epoxy.

Firstly, put a few blobs of glue on the back of the dome and firmly press it onto the face of the bearing disc.

Next apply glue to the edge of the bearing disc, don't put it on the inside of the centre dial and be careful not to get any on the dome.
Carefully lower the centre dial over the bearing disc and dome (I do it this way so the dome doesn't fall off). and push the bearing disc into place.

Just going by eye try to push the bearing disc in so that it is flush with the back of the centre dial.

I then clamp the whole assembly to something flat, to keep the bearing disc and centre dial flat, flush and aligned. A board with a small hole in it would be ideal, but I just clamp two metal rulers to the assembly, (separated by a piece of paper so the rulers aren't glued to the piece)

Once the glue has dried, you can remove all the clamps, tear off any paper that got stuck and simply push the post into the bearing you previously glued into the main body.

If you want to leave your mark, this is the perfect place, accessible, yet hidden


Your compass should now be fully assembled, all that's left to do is weather it. Obviously there's lots of room for interpretation here, so I'll just detail the basic techniques I use.

My main method of weathering involves mixing up a turquoise paint with plaster in it, then stippling this onto the compass.

The first pass is a watered down, almost black tone, with very little plaster in it, I use a big stiff brush and stipple pretty hard, trying to get into the deep recesses . About 90% of the exterior gets this treatment. Then using a damp sponge I wipe down the surface detail of the compass, leaving it just in the low spots.

On the next pass I'll lighten the tone of my paint and and thicken it up a little with plaster (note: the more plaster you add to paint the more is will lighten as it dries, so be careful)

This is where I begin to try and tell a story, the mould and oxidation will have started in one deep area, and slowly crept to another, The hinge will have trapped water and gotten really gunged up. The inside will have less of the light coloured fresh, mould and retain a bit more of it's golden sheen.
As I work I constantly wipe the surface of the vines with a damp sponge, so that you keep some shine to the piece.

There tends to be a bit of a gap between the dome and the centre dial, I like to get lots of mould in there, even letting a bit of it creep up onto the dome.

After a few layers (if you do this slowly you will get some really nice plaster 'mould' deposits building up) I'll have worked my way from almost black, covering all the deepest recesses, up to almost white, just barely touching the tips of some mould that's crept onto the surface.

These pictures are by no means a step by step guide of what your trying to achieve in each pass. They're just a reference of how I start building up the layers (there's lots of tweaking after most of the paint is laid down that I didn't document).

Light Module

If you've bought a light kit, one of the last things you need to do is fix it in place. I personally like weathering to be the final step, but installing the lights shouldn't do any damage if you want to do that last.
First you'll need to drill a few holes. Download this template and print it out at 100% . Make sure you've sized it correctly by measuring it against your light module. (note: the template will only work for the newer milled light modules, if you have an old perf board one, you'll have to use the board itself to help you get the holes in the right place, they're all a bit different).
Once you're sure that the template is okay then use it to mark up the reverse of your bearing disc. Make sure to line the switch up with one of the notches in the dial. 
If you get the orientation wrong, then you'll have to remove the centre piece if you want to turn the lights on, where as if you line it up with one of the notches you can turn the lights on with a toothpick or pencil etc.

When drilling be careful how you hold the dial assembly, I place a rag underneath so I don't scratch the dome.
The large holes should be 3mm and the smaller holes should be slightly smaller than the supplied screws (that's the silver ones not the brass ones). I've found 1.6mm to be about right.
Neither of the holes should be drilled all the way through, the 3mm holes only need to go deep enough to punch through the white plastic layer and into the clear (for older kits only drill as deeps as is needed for the LEDs)
And the smaller holes only need to be about 4mm deep.

Once all your holes are drilled you can drop your light board in and tighten the screws, don't overdo it, so long as the board doesn't wobble, you're fine.

*Due to some tooling errors you may need to widen the 3 small screw holes in your light board. The screws should turn continuously in the board, and bite into the bearing disc. If the screws are biting into the light board too much, then widen the holes.

Hellboy Corpse Locator Tutorial - Part 2

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

The Dome

One of the smallest pieces but probably the most important, so it's worth getting right.

Despite a lot of effort I could never cast perfectly smooth pieces with polyester resin. I've gotten pretty good though, so your dome may not need too much clean up, just in case, here's the process I used to have to go through the clean up my domes.

These have been sat on my workbench a while, so they're a lil' fuzzy

These were cast in open moulds so the first job is to sand the back flat. I usually just sit it on 40 grit paper but if you have a belt sander that might work too. Try not to take too much off the sides or the dome won't fit as snuggly into the centre dial.

The outer layer of the dome is a bit gummy, which means it's a pain to sand. I used a dremel attachment to get as much of it off as possible (otherwise it gums up your paper)

After this you probably want to take more 40 grit to it making sure all the gunk is off.
Then comes the slow tedious job of sanding and polishing.
First I use 100 grit to get rid of all the tool marks from the dremel. The back of the dome can be left at 100 as it gets painted anyway.

Then the dome gets wet sanded with 240, 600, 800, 1200, 2000, 2500, and penultimately 3000 grit paper.

This is painfully boring and my mind tends to wander so I tried to be methodical, counting how long I was sanding for, using a small circular motion and always washing the dome when I changed grits.
The final stage is to polish. I use toothpaste and a pair of tights to polish. One of the weirder things in my toolbox, but toothpaste is just a mild abrasive.
Some people use an old sock for polishing, but I found tights are smoother and give a better finish, plus they're finer, making it easy to handle small objects.

Anyway, the end result of all that should be a nice smooth, shiny dome.

The next job is to paint the back of the dome gold. You can use rub 'n buff, but I found it hard to get a completely solid layer without really caking it on, so instead I just used a gold acrylic and sponged it on. 2 - 3 coats should give you complete coverage, hold it up to the light to see where gaps are.

Once the gold has completely dried then you need to etch some lines in it. You can sketch out a design before hand if you want, but remember whatever you do the final result will be reversed.
Using a pin I etch lines into the paint, continually checking the other side to see how it comes out. If you are adding LEDs place your dome over them to gauge the effect.


Once all the pieces are cleaned up it's time for primer. As with most things on this build though, it's not that easy. Filling the hundreds of undercuts with spray paint is near impossible, unless you get in close, over-spray and take out all the detail.
My solution to this was to water down (almost to a wash) some primer and hand paint the main body and lid pieces. It's nice and easy to paint, and capillary action causes it all to collect in the undercuts. Once this dries I then give them a spray to get an even finish.

The other pieces can be sprayed as normal.

All pieces then need undercoating in black. Unfortunately the same problem occurs with spray. So I do an acrylic ink wash first to get paint in all the tiny gaps. You could just use a black primer, I don't know how that'll affect the gilding

Stone compass anyone?

Then they get sprayed with matt black to give a nice even finish.


Once everything is undercoated the next step is painting the insides of the lid and body. 
These parts are hard to see, so I just went for a loose, deep red, wood kind of colour. Painted on thick and streaky to give it a bit of texture. And if you're being really detailed, you can lighten your mix a little with yellow and add a very light dry brush to highlight it a bit.

Possibly the most satisfying step in the painting, is gilding everything.

I tried a gold airbrush paint, but for a really shiny metallic finish nothing beats 'Rub 'n Buff'. I tried using the 'Antique Gold' product, but it's really dark, bronze even, so I decided upon the 'Gold Leaf' variety.

I use a large stiff brush to dry brush it on. I found it impossible to do this without Spandau Ballet rocking through my head.
Start slow, but don't be afraid to go heavy with it and get it into the gaps, remember that all this gets knocked back a fair bit with weathering, If you're unsure, add more gold! You can always tone it down later.

Once everything is gilded then you'll want to give it all a good clear coat. I used matt because, although it is gold, we're not going for that highly polished metal look.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Hellboy Corpse Locator Tutorial - Part 1

It's been pointed out to me that I never finished the tutorial I was putting together, seeing as the previous one (posted in my build thread over at theRPF) was fragmented with various bits of development, I decided to put it all up here instead and hopefully finish it this time.

If you've somehow found this without me pointing you to it then you might want to read about me creating the original compass.
If you'd like to buy a kit then you can contact me on theRPF or just comment on here and I'll point you in the right direction.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Time to get started.

This is one full kit of parts.

First off lets decide on some names for clarity.

1. Bearing Plate

2. Main Body
3. Lid
4. Dome
5. Bearing Disc*
6. Centre Dial
7. Brass Hinges & Screws
8. Bearing
* If you ordered a kit with lights you should have a composite disc with a clear top.

First up is pretty standard clean up, removing flash and filling in lil' bubbles.

Occasionally one or two of the tiny thorns won't be properly formed, so they'll need fixing. You can use bondo, but given how small they are I prefer to use milliput, which is how I sculpted the original.

Also when cleaning up the seam on the lid don't go overboard sanding it completely smooth, there is supposed to be a linear texture running round the edge, so don't go taking it all off.
The same can be said for building this up in general. Don't go OTT trying to smooth things out like you might on other builds. Any texture you leave looks great when you dry brush it with gold, and just looks a bit off and fake if you try to smooth it out too much.

There is some additional detailing you can do to the lid if you want. Check it out before cleaning up the lid too much. (scroll to last sub heading)
The side of the main body, at the top of the mould, is prone to sub surface bubbles, you can just paint over them but, for a long lasting paint job, I prefer to open them up and fill them with bondo. 

The rest of the pieces are easy.

Bearing Plate - Just remove the spouts then a very quick sanding to remove the little skirt of flash. The base is already flat so don't sand too much or your bearing won't sit level.

Centre Dial - Remove the spouts and sand the back smooth. You never see the back so just sit it on some rough paper and sand it back. it should be roughly 5mm thick when you're done.
Optional - The sides of the dial are relatively smooth, in my builds I've often added more detail. Several vertical grooves (made with a small file) to mirror the surface markings and then some scalpel cuts. You can't really see the sides of the dial once it's installed so this is up to you.

Bearing Disc - Just remove the spout, if you have a 2 part disc then you can rough up the top clear part to help diffuse light (the 2 part disc needs some more modification, but I'll cover that later).

Fitting the Hinges

There is no good reference material for the hinge area of the compass so I just put a slot in the side of the main body, that way it can accomodate lots of different hardware.

If you are going to use the supplied hinges (not 100% screen accurate but pretty close) then you will need to make a small shim out of 1mm styrene.

I cut it to length then used a piece of scrap card to wedge it against the inner wall while it glued in place.

Once it had dried I took out the card and trimmed it to the right height.
Then using the hinges as a template I marked some holes.

The holes should be as close to the top edge as possible (those above are slightly too low)

Then you need to carefully drill and countersink those holes. It's important the screws sit as flush as possible with the side otherwise they'll scrape the centre dial as it spins.

Then do a quick test fitting of the hinges. The barrel of the hinge should face inward

Be careful with the little brass screws, small screws are always a bit hit and miss in quality. I tend to use the worst looking screws for the body, because those hinges are mostly glued in anyway.

Now you can use the position of your installed hinges to mark up your lid (either transfer the measurements onto a bit of paper or try to hold the lid in place whilst marking the holes)

If you're wondering why my lid looks different, see below

Optional Lid Detailing

As I said before there isn't any good reference for the hinge area of the compass so this is up to you how you build it up. Whilst your hinges are still screwed into the body, have a play around with the lid and get an idea of where it will sit. If you bend the hinges with a pair of pliers you can get the lid to open without any modification.

From what I can tell, the screen used lid is precisely as I've cast it. But for all my builds I've done the following (entirely fabricated) detailing.

Firstly I cut off the side where the hinge will be at an angle, this allows the lid to open fully.
(Note: the hinge side is the side with the pour spout)

Using a file, I make the ends of the beading more defined, and then I cut a little groove that I'm going to fill with putty (this is probably overkill, you can just put a thin layer of putty on top if you want)

I fill the groove with epoxy putty and smooth  the edges. Then after it's a bit stiffer I detail it using a steel pin. A few drag / cut marks to match the rest of the lid edge and then lots of tiny pricks to look like wormwood.

That's the first part over with.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Cardboard Chair in a Weekend

I know that reposting old projects doesn't really count as content, but nothing else I'm doing at the moment is really that interesting, from a blogable perspective.

Anyway, people seem to like watching this video (ignore the audio, originally I had 'Montage' by DVDA, but Youtube forced me to replace it)
It's a time lapse of me building a (very robust) cardboard chair over the course of a weekend.

It was part of a one week project where groups of us were given an artist / project to study (in my case Enzo Mari's 'Autoprogettazione') and then produce an object an image and a drawing.


The final product of Enzo Mari's project was a set of drawings, each one detailed how to very simply build a piece of furniture using pine planks from old pallets and a handfull of nails.
Project 1123 xQ - "autoprogettazione?", Enzo Mari

The idea was was to circumvent furniture manufacturers and give anyone the ability to construct their own furniture. Essentially a collection of open source furniture.

At the time I was living in a very small student house, I hadn't built up my own set of tools since leaving home and after not too much effort I had failed to find anyone who would give me old pallets.
So my reinterpretation of the project involved designing a chair that I could make, with a scalpel, glue and found cardboard.

My first steps involved experimenting with cardboard structures.

I found inspiration in the cardboard itself, the most common type of cardboard is corrugated. A thin wavy layer is sandwiched between two flat layers to produce a more rigid sheet.
I simply enlarged this structure.

 I was able to make elements that were strong in compression but had little to no tensile strength. So I looked for other cardboard structures and found a whole heap of strong cardboard tubes in our print room (from the large format printers).

So I decided on a rough shape for my chair (I procured some larger tubes from a carpet shop)  and began the arduous process of creating two massive corrugated panels.

The final thing was a beast, I'd over engineered it. The side panels could easily have been half as thick, and whilst the larger tubes were good and sturdy, they weren't too comfortable. I should have used lots of smaller tubes, in place of the 3 large ones.
But it did get used as a chair, and to this day I've yet to see a sturdier cardboard chair.

I've since discovered that IKEA uses a similar structure for it's cheaper furniture. It's simply a cardboard honeycomb sandwiched between two very thin bits of hardboard, which have the wood effect on.
If I could manufacture large corrugated sheets, they could be cut with a panel saw and I could make all sorts of cardboard furniture really easily.

The object was finished and the video fulfilled the photo part of the project.
I also very hurriedly put together an IKEA style construction manual for my drawing. Which, despite the rushed drawings and a wholly unhelpful step 6, looked pretty good on newsprint folded into a little booklet.

Unfortunately I had to leave the behemoth at the student house when I moved out, but I'm currently working on a light weight chair to cut out on my CNC machine, however my machine is so small that its going to end up being in about 100 pieces.