Saturday, January 31, 2015

More Fallout Fun

I hope regular readers will once again indulge my "Fallout" fandom.

One of the reasons I've become so intrigued by the series is that it hits the same buttons that drew me to Mythos props.  Both draw heavily on period design work.  For Lovecraftian items that's the imagery and typography of the 20s and 30s, while Fallout mines the 40s and 50s.  The two also share a love of pulp super-science filled with fantastic devices powered by glowing vacuum tubes.  What's not to like?

YouTube is filled with great Fallout prop tutorials, including these step-by-step videos on recreating in-game bottle caps and product boxes by Keevanski.  One thing that really stands out is her use of "Bitumen of Judea" as a griming agent.  I've never run across it before, but some Googling revealed it's a popular aging technique in woodworking and interior decorating.  I really like the dark sepia/black effect it produces.

As an aside, I was interested in re-creating the in-game first aid box that appears in both "Fallout 3" and "Fallout: New Vegas".

In an example of how absolutely everything is connected, one of my best friends collects vintage first aid kits. Both of us were convinced the video game kit was patterned after a real-world example based on its dimensions and latches, which are tantalizingly close to several examples. After banging our heads against a wall I finally got around to actually reading the Fallout wiki entry for the kit. It turns out it is, indeed, based on a real item, but not an industrial first aid kit. It's a carrying case for a German anti-tank mine from WW II.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Hammered Metal Foam Armor

Bill Doran of Punished Props has a new how-to video up. This time he shows how to recreate the look of hammered metal on foam armor. He's been at the forefront of the explosion in crafting props and costumes from foam, developing many of the techniques that are now taken for granted.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Easy Faux Stone

Julie Sweeney has a great tutorial on creating faux stone effects using translucent polymer clay.  The color comes from paint applied to pieces of the raw clay, which makes it easy to customize the final tint.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Making a Mummified Dragon Skull

Here's something you don't see every day.  Kim Beaton brings us a detailed tutorial on creating a mummified dragon skull using Pal Tiya outdoor clay over an aluminum foil armature.  This isn't Mrs. Beaton's first time at the dragon rodeo.  You may remember her impressive work when she was Kim Graham.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Rule of Three

Here's a quick and dirty tutorial on painting up a casting.  I'll be using one of the copies of the small Cthulhu icon I first talked about back in November

I like using a a three tone approach to painted finishes.  That means the final intended color, in this case green, is actually a blend of three different shades.  First comes the basecoat.  It establishes the color foundation of the piece.  Next comes the midtone, a slightly lighter version of the base that helps build dimensionality.  Finally you apply the highlights using the lightest shade of all.

Here's what we'll be working with today.  The three shades of green on the right are my base, midtone, and highlight, respectively.  The two paints on the left, brown and a dull green, will be combined to give me a weathering wash that blends the other three together.

Here's a closeup of the basic black casting.  Since it's matte black on a white background I've tweaked the contrast a bit to bring out the detail.  That had the unintended consequence of highlighting specks of dust as well.  The piece isn't nearly as dusty as it appears.  Heh.

First we lay down our base coat with a very heavy dry-brushing of the darkest green.   Since it's not much brighter than the black of the casting we don't get much "pop" from this layer.

Now we apply the midtone.  It's dry-brushed on with a slightly lighter stroke than the base coat.  You can see how it really starts to resolve some of the details thanks to the enhanced contrast.

Finally, we apply the highlight coat.  This is what really brings out the details of the casting.  You want to use the lightest of strokes to dry-brush this layer on.  You want just enough paint to bring out the fine, high ridges of the sculpt.  At this point things can look a little cartoony because you've intentionally built up a finish with a high level of contrast.  Now we'll knock that back a bit...

...with the dulling wash of dark green tinted with brown I mentioned earlier.  This blends the other three colors together and lightens up the flat black of the base casting to bring out the fine recessed details the brush couldn't reach.  Once the wash is dry hit your artifact with a coat of matte fixative.  One of the drawbacks of dry-brushing is that the paint can easily flake off with handling.  Friction is responsible for depositing the pigment, and it's equally good at removing it.  A protective coating will keep the paintjob in place.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Fallen

I was extremely disappointed to read this message from EmptySamurai on DeviantArt.  I've become a huge "Fallout" fan, and he was responsible for recreating almost every single product in the series.

AS the title says, I quit. After years of working at making money with my skills (and trying to launch a screen accurate fan film) the abuse from redditors, the faux interest in buying items from DA members, and the poverty that comes with trying to make it happen I quit. I quit the fallout community, I quit commissions, I quit making papercrafts to be printed by fans.... I'm simply done. there has been a tiny handful who have actually supported me. Thank y'all for your patronage and I hope you enjoy the items purchased. Will be deleting this page soon most likely. just making sure I have backups of my images here first. already ripped the widgets off the front page of my profile save for this announcement. Adios.

It's a real shame he's calling it quits, and I hope he reconsiders.   He's an amazingly prolific prop-maker, as just one of the shots in his gallery demonstrates.

That said, I can see where he's coming from.  Diehard fans, be it of the Mythos, Fallout, or the NFL, can be difficult to deal with.   Even in our little niche I've had to field complaints about the expense of some items.  Mind you, this concerned a one-of-a-kind specimen on Ebay.  It wasn't the auction winner that was complaining, but another bidder who thought it wasn't fair someone else was willing to pay more than he was.  The idea that something crafted by hand in limited numbers doesn't have the same price point as a mass-produced good seemed like a foreign concept to them.

If you think that requires some chutzpah, imagine having to deal with people complaining about free stuff.  That's right.  People have sent me angry emails because the stuff I give away wasn't quite what they wanted.  Pointing out that they can change it any way they like only exacerbated the problem, since I was being "selfish" by not customizing it to their needs.

That kind of thing rolls off my back, but it can be a real hassle for anyone that hasn't developed a thick skin.  Luckily, Mythos fans tend to be older, or at least more adult, so that sort of behavior is relatively rare.  For something like "Fallout" I imagine the fan base is a lot younger and more reactionary.  

Friday, January 23, 2015

Helm of Theoden

Mike Iverson has a detailed build log for his recreation of Theoden's helm from "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy.  Based on the final product you would never guess it started life as a cardboard pepakura form.  The decorative details were built up using bondo and cast resin pieces. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Beast

SylviusArt brings us this well done LARP monster mask

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Eyebot Build

Brazen and Bold Productions has posted a complete gallery of their Fallout Eyebot build.  It's constructed from foam and found bits, with only a few purchased components.  One of the things I love about the Fallout universe is how the design concept of a "sputnik-bot" can produce so many interesting variations.  Not to mention one of the best characters in the series.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Cthulhu Artifact

Jason McKittrick returns with a new version of his original "Cthulhu Artifact" piece.  The included shadowbox really ups the presentation level.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Cthulhu Plaque

This nicely done Cthulhu plaque comes to us from Al Landron.  The finish is just outstanding.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Dead Letters

Cisticola has posted another prop from the classic "Call of Cthulhu" adventure "The Haunting".  This time it's the postcard from the Roxbury Insane Asylum.  You can download the clean version from his site.

Friday, January 16, 2015


A professor of ancient languages discovers an amulet dedicated to a forgotten god.  The artifact has a variety of powers, but the most notable is the ability to kill anyone with a single word.  A classic Mythos story?  No, it's the plot of an obscure fantasy comedy from the early 60s.

CoastCon Fan has a look at the William Castle film "Zotz!".  One of the gimmicks of the original theatrical run was a surprisingly well done reproduction of the magical amulet that drives the story. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Dance the Night Away

Better late than never, eh?  Dean Adelaide brings us a dance card from the Miskatonic Yuletide Ball.  The downloadable PDF would make a great clue for a tabletop or live action game.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Long Live the King

Kenn and Becky Osborne bring us the Masked Crown of the Unknown King.  It's interesting how a coat of grime and wear can make something attractive downright creepy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Horned God

UK artist David Kirkby brings us a wonderful figurine of The Horned God.  The pagan idol is cast in resign impregnated with bronze powder.  His writeup of the creation process includes an endorsement of silicone tipped sculpting tools, something I heartily agree with.  They're awesome.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Jade Toad

Gage Prentiss brings us the Jade Toad, an artifact with a disturbing history.
The origins of the Toad are steeped in mystery. It was first recorded in the postmortem effects of a soldier who had drowned coming home from the Korean War. He had simply walked off of the side of the ship one night after claiming to have heard the most beautiful sound. From there it passed from family to family, antique shop to antique shop, gaining notoriety from the one thing all its subsequent owners had in common. Rich or poor, meek or powerful, they all died by self afflicted drowning. Though considered a cursed object, it is still bought and sold.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Parcel of Terror

Jason McKittrick has launched a new monthly subscription service - the "Parcel of Terror". Each month's package will include a Mythos artifact along with a selection of horror-related goodies.  The first parcel includes a Cthulhu plaque that justifies the $30 price all by itself.  Getting all the other items, including a very nice Slenderman print, alien egg candy, skull pin, heart keychain, and Jason Voorhees refrigerator magnet is just icing on the cake.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

NCR Helmet

SoloRoboto brings us this NCR helmet from "Fallout: New Vegas".  It's a customized version of a kit available from Kommissar Props.

I've been on a bit of a Fallout kick.  "New Vegas" was on sale during the Steam Holiday sale and I just finished the game last night.  I absolutely loved it, despite the frustration of the still buggy code four years after it's initial release.    Not surprisingly, one of the game's big attractions was it's prop friendliness.  The design work is top notch, and fans have been been translating the in-game products, posters, and costumes into the real world for years.   I get all gooey at the thought of the technological and storytelling advancements made with "Skyrim" being applied to the Fallout universe.

Friday, January 9, 2015

A-35 Doomsday Device

Ewout turned a broken microwave oven into this amazing "A-35 Doomsday Device", complete with fully functional electronic controls. While that part of the build may be beyond most the rest of the project is a great example of turning junk into gold.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Magic Circle

A magic circle I banged out while experimenting with replicating the look of hand drawn figures.  Just right click and open in another tab for access to the full sized version.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Making of a Mermaid

We first saw Jacob Petersson's classic-style Fiji Mermaid  last year.  Now he's posted a work-in-progress collage of it's creation at his new Facebook page.  I was surprised to see how small it actually is.  I had assumed it was much larger when I first saw it.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Sev Edition.

John Ryan was kind enough to send over a link to this Cthulhu idol from Redditor "Sev".   I like the nautilus-inspired mantle incorporated into the head.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Graven Image

Copper Centipede brings us this interesting carved soapstone tablet.  I really like the contrast between the heavy texturing of the tentacles and the smooth faces of the slab.  It has that enigmatic, abstract feel of a strange Mythos artifact.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Yautja Gotta Have Heart

Jason McKittrick has been branching out from Cryptocurium's Mythos focus with a number of projects.  The latest is a very cool set of Predator magnets.  The sculpts have some beautiful detail and texture work.  If your New Year's resolution includes fewer trips to the refrigerator these would certainly help.  Given the wellness provisions of most insurance plans they might even be tax deductible.  Heh.

As an aside, one of the greatest experiences of my life involved being stalked by a Predator.  Ravens have a vocalization that's very close, if not identical, to the distinctive yautja "clicks" used in the film.  I was hiking with some friends when we came upon the perfect place to take a break.  It was a small hollow carpeted with ferns growing about four feet high, surrounded by towering old growth pines.  The kind of place the word "lush" was invented for.  We were munching on our granola, enjoying the peaceful whispering of the wind blowing through the branches,, click, click, click.  We all had a puzzled "WTF?" look on our faces as our brains tried to identify the sound, followed by a " can't be...." reaction.  Then we looked at each other and dissolved into laughter.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Dwarven Armor

This fantastic set of dwarven armor comes to us from Feral Workshop.  Click through to see shots of the individual pieces.