Loki Scepter v 2.0 – Step by Step

At long last it’s time to post this bad boy. I decided shortly after the first attempt at this piece that I could create something more accurate and easier to assemble with a bit more prototyping work and better molds. This continues from the process I used to create version 1.0 of the scepter.

04 - m5g3uwkFirstly, some of the issues I had with the first design. The bigges issue in the form was that the angle where the shaft met the head was much too acute and the assembly point there was crappy and not flush. Secondly, the backplate on the head where I hid the battery slot was the wrong shape, has a hard to use mold and, again, needed better assembly posts. The head also had an unnecessary detail which appeared on the spear length, but not the scepter. Finally, I wasn’t happy with the strength of the LED in the gem or the weathering of the gem.


01 - 848oSNgWhere I started. I first ran casts from the 1.0 molds, which were done in a tin cure silicone and, sadly, had already started to deform. You can see here how lines are uneven, there’s obvious ridges where the mold seams no longer match and there’s divots and hills on the surface. I ultimately decided to take the original prototype, assemble it fully with the blades and cast it as one piece. I had originally intended to cast the gold parts with cold cast powder as well as the silver, which was the reason for the multiple molds. However, I didn’t like the finish of the gold as a cold cast and the post-cast assembly of blades to head was weaker than it could have been had I just cast it all as one. So one piece was just the way to go here.


05 - fmDP4IsI also needed a better assembly point for where the shaft fits into the back of the head. I trimmed down the shaft cast I got from the 1.0 mold to match the lines of the back of the head. I then inserted a pvc pipe buck and filled the gaps with bondo.


06 - qDW2n0TThe pipe fits the slot in the head perfectly, and the shaft lines match perfectly flush with the curves of the head. This was the most time consuming part of the whole re-build before the molding honestly.


07 - 809HmAwAnd here you can see the newly assembled head. The reason the extra piece is still here is that I did not want to have two head molds. I’m still finishing up the full spear version, and this way I can use one mold for both lengths, and simply cut off the part for the scepter. After this, both pieces were given a healthy dose of line checking, spot filling and smoothing to prep them for molding.


08 - YQL4mtKThe pre-mold prototypes as they disassemble, along with the old version of the backplate cover. I later decided to re-prototype and mold this, more on that later. The ruler is a standard 18″.


09 - B3cCuwvAnd a bonus look at how the spear length breaks down. It has since then also gotten an assembly buck like the scepter length. This is how you fit a 6+ foot spear into a suitcase.


10 - TmJcKq7Mold time! This time around I decided to make a 2 part box mold. At first I naively made the mold in a gatorboard box, not realizing just how heavy the bugger would be once full of silicone and resin. We live and learn. First I set up the prototype in plastalina clay with an overabundance of registration keys and just the right number of flow channels fortunately. Next box mold I will make my dam walls wider, these can have trouble locking.


11 - gqK2foPAfter I poured silicone in the first side, I flipped it over and carefully removed the clay while leaving the prototype. Then slathered the already set silicone in sealant and poured the second side. Not bad for my first box mold!


12 - HpHSx0fFor the staff, I still went with a glove mold (something I’ll be changing soon) but with better registration keys for the mother mold. This has been alright for a few runs, but in the future I’ll be re-doing this as a box mold as well. It’s a nightmare to get this to set up right, and required 25 very carefully placed sewing pins to seal up. Leaking resin has already killed one mother mold.


13 - 9uofDR9A shot of the box mold box! This was built in pine, and has a cap that is screwed in place each pour, to ensure sealing and support as I pour. The box mold weight 22 pounds when full of resin. You can also see here the mother mold that was destroyed by a leaking pour on the shaft and its replacement.


14 - TLvp5yIDespite problems, the casts of the new shaft are nice and clean.


15 - Vp60ZTyAs are the head casts! The flashing is manageable and the cold cast is very clean. This was a quick 10 second polish to test the cold cast aluminum.


20 - Lqr2aeuBut, much resin had to die for this learning process. I had many leaks in both molds before I got the process down. Only two of these heads and three of the shafts were workable.


19 - ylB7GqmBut the trial and error was worth it. Here is one of these good cast sets next to the prototypes.


18 - MOEFJokTrimming the extraneous part takes very little time as well, and not having to epoxy ever blade into the head saves a load of time and makes for a much more stable prop.


17 - 5HKaeSdThe shaft now sits at a much better angle and makes for a much more stable assembly. With solid resin at the assembly buck, the connection point is solid and doesn’t have to be babied nearly as much as v 1.0.


22 - cvWEDuD

After trimming flashing and smoothing out any imperfections in the casts, the blades were masked off and the rest got several coats of primer and then several gold coats. I also cast up all of the additional hardware that attaches near the gem. These are now ready to be polished and weathered.


23 - tO0BEGe

The old backplate turned out to be the wrong shape and was a pain to cast to boot, so I whipped up a new prototype. I cut out a piece of sintra into the new shape, rounded the edged and gave the leading edge a bit of a lip and molded that as a flat mold. I then ran a resin cast, and once the resin had hardened up to a solid but still pliable state, pulled it out of the mold. I took one of the crappier head casts and filled the battery void with clay as a base for shaping these. The resin was taped down around this with painters tape and allowed to completely finish hardening. The longer lower points of this new backplate create tension that holds the plate onto the head on their own. To keep the plate on in the right place longitudinally, I made a quick post in epoxie sculpt which fits into a hole inside the battery void. To change the batteries, just slide the backplate back about a centimeter and pull it upwards, then slide forward to reveal the battery void. The assembly screw attaching shaft to head is also hidden here.


24 - M207eJm

In v 1.0, I used one 3mm standard LED. This time around I opted for a 5mm superflux 4 chip LED. These are much brighter and diffuse light to a much wider angle. I embedded one of these bad boys directly into the clear resin as I cast the gem.


25 - WgcFvgh

And here’s how much brighter this is in the new, unweathered gems. You also get a glimpse of how I keep track of orders that involve lots of different parts and steps to complete.


26 - GYVWKFVAnd here is the gem after some simple weathering with acrylic paint and several coats of protective polyurethane. It looks like a nebula.


28 - gN1p4gq

Speaking of weathering, here is the difference it makes. I used cheapo acrylic paint in brown and black for this. The blades have a strange, acid etched look in the film, so I used a spray bottle filled with a mix of black paint and rubbing alcohol to achieve that. The gold areas got a typical combination of washes and sponge dabbing in black and brown. The whole piece was then given several coats of polyurethane clear coat.


LokiNew-01 And the final result. I know this prop like it’s my child at this point. I could likely blind-sculpt it in clay. It is the first of my works that will have a place of pride on my wall, and I can’t help but feel good when I look at it.

This familiarity and pride made Captain America: The Winter Soldier even better for me. Do stay for the mid-credits scene.


Status of the Site and Commissions

So, anyone who has tried to access the site in the last couple of weeks probably saw a very nasty warning page from google stating that the site was likely an attack site. This has been fixed! It seems my site was the target of a nasty bit of malicious code insert that tried to install malware whenever anyone visited it. I’ve been working with my hosting provider and the site is now clean again. If you have visited the site in the last 2-3 weeks and ignored the warning page, it wouldn’t hurt to run your favorite malware/virus checker just in case.
On brighter news, I have a few commissions slots open over the summer, but only for things which I already have the molds for. These items include:

I just won’t have time this summer to take on any new, custom commissions with my current workload and preparation for DragonCon. I will have time to prepare things I have already created molds for, however, and may also be able to provide any of the above listed items in kit form. Use the commission inquiry form to inquire.

Commission status and more client photos!

This is a post to explain the status of my commissions in the coming months. I am currently all booked up until August or September for custom commissions. My time will be taken up making gear for Megaman, Edward Elric, Felix Faust, Rosalina and Adam Warlock costumes; quite an eclectic mix, no?

However! I do still have some spare time in my schedule I can devote to filling some additional orders, so long as they require no sculpting, patternmaking and initial fabrication. This means that I can create anything that I already have molds for; jewelry, pauldrons, knives and staves! I have put together a list of what pieces I still have molds in good condition to make, with prices for the simpler things. For the larger pieces, just contact me with all of your particulars and I’ll get you a quote. For certain items, like Lightning’s Pauldron, I would be willing to sell resin kits. You’d get the raw resin casts from me and do the sanding, painting and assembling yourself. This is a good deal for folks with the time and skill to spare to do the finishing work and who’d like to save some money.

Here’s the list!

Quick turnaround pieces (2-3weeks maximum work time):

Final Fantasy 13

Snow’s NORA necklace: $45.00 Image
Snow and Serah’s Engagement Necklace: $45.00 Image
Serah’s Earrings: $15.00 Image
Lightning’s Necklace: $20.00 Image
Lightning’s Coat Hardware: $85.00 Image Image 2(One D buckle, One large slide buckle, four slide buckles, three three point buckles, four square fasteners, four silver “grommets”, six gold disks) I can create just parts of the set as well, contact me for individual prices.
Lightning’s Bullet Holders: $20.00/pair Image

Final Fantasy 6
Terra’s Earrings and Necklace: $50.00 Image

Gems

I can also cast colored, foil backed clear gems, including special effects such as opalescence, pearlescence, embedded items and create custom clay settings. Examples Here and Here

Moderate turnaround pieces (2-3 weeks turnaround):
Contact me for prices, as options affect the price.
Lightning’s Pauldron Image
Lightning’s Survival Knife Image
Snow’s Badge/Amband Image
Light Staff from FFXI Image Image

I already have a large stock of small parts, including many necklaces needing only a few days to assemble and complete, a large stockpile of jacket hardware and several cast resin gems which can be sold as-is or foil backed:

Just shoot me an E-mail at joy (at)joysutton.com or use the commissions form!

 

I also have the pleasure of postinga photo of a really lovely client from France with one of my Survival Knives!

This amazing costumer can be found at her site, HERE, or at her facebook site HERE.

Take care out there, and expect to see a new video documenting a really fantastic process I’ve started using soon!

Light Staff from Final Fantasy 11 – Step by step

Design

This is a piece that has already been done by another prop-maker whom I respect tremendously, Volpin. So, I was very keen on making sure that I took this a different direction than he did and not just copy his work. The in game design is -very- low rez, so switching out the filigree work and forms was easy enough while still keeping the appropriate look. I went with a more organic and dense design on the filigree and changed some of the other details as compared to Volpin’s interpretation.

In-Game Model

As you can see, the staff is pretty low-poly, pretty common for MMOs. This leaves plenty of room for artistic interpretation. The staff will be collapsible into three parts, lower staff, mid-staff and staff head.

 

The design was printed out to size, then affixed to a bit of thin plywood and cut out with a scroll saw. I decided to use half of a clear plastic ornament for the orb base, to have a nice, smooth sphere with little work. This also allows me to pop it out freely while working. Here I also measured the width of the central spine and made perpendicular marks with the measurements.

 

Next, I carefully cut half circles out of styrene to act as guides to keep the spine perfectly circular. This was a bit tricky, as I also needed to trim off the precise thickness of the base plywood otherwise the final piece would be more of an ellipse.

 

Here, I have affixed the circles to the staff in the appropriate places.

 

I also cut two identical guides for the two lower arcs and glued them in place. Then, I cut rough semicircles out of insulation foam to fill up some of the space so that I wouldn’t need to use so much filler later. I also added a spine from the top of the rounded bit to the place where the point rests on the sphere.

 

Now, the bondo begins. I used a scraper to press and smooth the bondo into the spaces between styrene guides.

 

Even more bondo, it gets a bit rough as layers are added, but the styrene guides helps keep it manageable.

 

Here, with the disposable other half of the ornament, wrapped in cling film to prevent bondo from sticking to it and allowing me to remove it for sanding and cleanup as the upper wings get filled and formed.

 

The spare orb half was marked up with the outline for the upper arcs, then, more bondo! The shape is starting to come together here, and it only needs a little more bondo before I can start sanding it down and making sure that it is symmetrical.

 

Hit the staff head with the dremel here to knock out some gunky, overly raised bits and start smoothing the arcs. I’ll need to reapply another layer of bondo to the spine and one side of the upper arc, but the form is starting to become clear now. The spine got way too heavy a coat and I had to take about an eighth of an inch off in some places, which is why it suddenly looks lumpy. Lots of refinement to go!

 

New Scraper!

So, I wasn’t pleased with my metal scraper for applying the bondo. It was starting to go on chunky, which would make sanding harder down the road. So, I ripped the head off of a silicone spatula and started using that instead. Best tool ever for bondo application, everything is going on a lot smoother and with a great deal more control. I still need to break out the calipers and start matching the arcs to one another for symmetry.

 

Smoooth~

Got one side of the arcs smoothed into what will be the final form. It’s getting nice and smooth, too bad most of this smoothness will be obscured by filigree work later.

 

Even more smoothing, the pencil marks are identifying either areas to be built up or holes to patch. After this shot was taken, I decided that the spine was a mess, so I carefully ripped out all of the bondo on the spine and applied the new bondo far more carefully, using the good spatula from the start, and was able to achieve a far smoother starting ground that did not require dremel sanding, only sponge sanding.

 

Nearly ready to go!

 

A good coat of grey primer to look for any dents, rough patches or holes that may have been hidden by variations in the bondo color. The piece is now ready for embellishment.

 

Another angle.

 

Started the filigree work. Here, I am using black puff paint to draw on the design. I ended up needing to deviate from my filigree design, as I did not account for the 3d curve as I should have.

 

The straight design elements will all be done in 18th inch half round styrene.

 

The nearly finished embellishment. In order to mirror the design in some places, I actually made puff paint “decals”. I traced the design I wanted to copy on to some tissue paper, then reversed it (just by flipping the paper over and tracing it on the back), then covered it with some clear tape. I then drew the design in puff paint over the tape, allowed it to fully dry, then was able to carefully pull the “decal” off of the tape and place it onto the staff head where I wanted it.

 

Finished the embellishments!

 

Silicone! I used Smooth On’s Rebound 25 silicone. The first layer was un-thickened and smoothed on very carefully to fill all the gaps and prevent air bubbles. Then I used a few drops of Thi-Vex for the next three coats to make the silicone nice and thick to build up the mold wall. This then got a basic plaster cloth mother mold.

 

The piece was de-molded, and the mold was good! Here, after I cleaned the mold out, I applied some goldfinger casting powder to the filigree and trim areas. I was still unsure at this point if I would be doing this as a cold-cast.

 

I slush cast the main staff in brown tinted Smooth Cast 300.

 

After removing excess brown resin carefully from the orb area, I applied silver bullet casting powder to the silicone.

 

Now, the reinforcing layers and the orb was cast in white.

 

Here we have the original, the cold cast brown staff cast and a white cast. I decided after de-molding the first brown one that I would not be cold casting the gold, as it turned out there are a couple places that will require some spot puttying, so I’d have to paint those parts anyways, therefore, I will be painting the brown and gold areas, but still using the silver powder to give the orb a cool, pearlescent effect.

 

The two cast pieces roughly matched up together. I still need to trim both sides, so they aren’t matching up just yet. I really like how the side profile has come out.

 

I ended up casting another half, as the brown one had a few weak spots I didn’t like. I also got a much closer match to the cold casting on the orb on this one, so both pieces match in color perfectly now.

 

I filled the bottom caps in bondo, which will provide structure for the bolts when I get to that part. I should have taken photos, but while I was casting, I made sure to create raised resin “barbs” to help lock the bondo in place, the resin was also heavily scored on the inside as well, just to make sure.

 

I decided to use a leftover bit from an older commission to finish off the staff end. This pieces is a table leg turning, or what was left of it after I cut the part off I needed earlier.

 

I used Red Mahogany stain on the handle and end, and finished the bottom with some gold enamel before giving the whole piece a good clearcoat.

 

The end was attached to the bottom section of the staff with a threaded dowel, secured with epoxy.

 

The staff is collapsible, into three pieces plus the head for easy transport to and from the convention. I drilled out the ends and set a recessed nut in one side of each joint. Then, a threaded dowel went into the opposite end, secured with epoxy.

Here, the two pieces are being held together as they are being epoxied together.

 

After some spot puttying and sanding of excess epoxy, and some very careful taping of the orb,I hit the head with a few coats of primer to check for more defects, then set on carefully filling the last few gaps and cleaning up around the filigree.

 

More progress of cleanup.

 

After everything was smoothed, the head got a few coats of primer, a black undercoat and started getting thin layers of a dark brown acrylic. This will be the basis for the faux wood finish.

 

Starting on the wood grain! Here are the paints used here, along with my choice brushes.

 

Progress on the fake wood grain, the trick is to layer.

 

Slightly closer shot.

 

After the grain was done, I began gilding the filigree with basic testors gold enamel, first drybrushed on..

 

More drybrushing…

 

Then the highest points were hit with enamel highlights. After this, the tape was removed and the whole shebang was given several protective clearcoats.

 

Finished!

All assembled and cleaned up!

 

 

I couldn’t help myself, it wanted to be photographed in a natural setting.

 

The full staff is about 5’8, slightly taller than I am.

 

I am in love with these casting powders, the pearly effect is just wonderful.

 

The end of the staff.

 

Overall I am very pleased with how all of the shapes and forms came out.

 

The tone and texture of the painted resin turned out very close to the real stained wood.

 

 

 

Here is the piece disassembled for shipping and travel to the convention. Small enough to fit into a suitcase!

 

Here is the only shot I got of the nuts and screws. The screw end is epoxied into place, so that all of the tension is taken in the bolt instead of stripping away at the wood each time it is unscrewed.

 


A small bonus piece, My client wanted a quick replacement for the badge on his hat, his older version was just a scrap of felt.

 

This project was a lot of fun to do, and as always I learned quite a bit from doing it. Mostly I learned that I truly wish I had more shop tools, especially a lathe. I could have shaved a whole month off of production time! Ah well, we make do with what we have.