Finishing the surface of props in hard to reach areas...How do you do it?

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tubachris85x

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I've had my own techniques for the past years, but man I cannot tell you how frustrating it can be to have to re-work a tiny, recessed area. Lately I've found myself becoming significantly more critical of making every last piece of a prop surface (my case, a clone helmet as of late) as close to perfect as possible.

My issue is that I have giant hands, and perhaps my available tools are limited? I feel like a neanderthal trying to clean up/smooth out some of these hard to reach crevicess and recessed portions.

This could apply to application of spot putty too. I was thinking of trying to find those fine-sculpting tools and perhaps those silicone-tip ones I've seen before.

I guess I would like to know how you guys deal with it? It's easy for me to say "oh, I'll cover it with weathering" but I just can't do that anymore as my OCD is getting worse as I age
 

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Drac

Sr Member
It's funny I've just been having a similar issue with my Loki mask from the film 'the mask'. Getting the milliput into the nose area in the back of the mask was a pain especially as I had to get the wood grain effect back into it. I have just bought a small craft set today that had some fine point sculpting tools in it and it's worked wonders for me. But I am interested also how others get on with this.
 

dropshipbob

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Well, you get the spots you can get, that's about all you can really do. I used to be OCD about getting every little spot perfect, but Matt Munson once said, "Which is better, a perfect prop that's not finished, or a finished prop that's not perfect?"

Where you draw the line is up to you and something that you have to discover for yourself.
 

tubachris85x

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Well, you get the spots you can get, that's about all you can really do. I used to be OCD about getting every little spot perfect, but Matt Munson once said, "Which is better, a perfect prop that's not finished, or a finished prop that's not perfect?"

Where you draw the line is up to you and something that you have to discover for yourself.

That's the mentality I sorta had for awhile? The "good enough" mindset.

What's bothered me lately is that I see so many talented prop builders that excel in their work, and their work looks pristine, near perfect in every capacity. One particular individual I've followed for years really summarized the *why* and that it's all about "patience"

For me, It's not so much as not wanting to do it, but I don't truly know what better methods exist. For me to focus on the areas I fall behind in (in regards to prop building), which right now is finishing a piece, is crucial for me to increase my overall quality of work.
 

dropshipbob

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
It's pretty hard to work it out. I mean, only you know how far you want to go with something. I'd suggest that if you get overwhelmed with something, set it aside and work on something else for a bit.

It's no fun if it ends up being a chore.
 

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tubachris85x

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
It's pretty hard to work it out. I mean, only you know how far you want to go with something. I'd suggest that if you get overwhelmed with something, set it aside and work on something else for a bit.

It's no fun if it ends up being a chore.

I here ya. I mean, like I said, my mindset has changed over the last year or so. I feel I have the "bigger picture" in mind, i.e., the moment I can turn around and say "it's done" and I can happily show it off, knowing I put my best efforts into it within the time constraints
 

renaissance_man

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Are you talking about the surface detail on a 3D print or a resin kit you've bought?

I think the key to any good prop is patience, and good surface preparation.

There's an old saying. "Failure to prepare, prepare to fail".
 

joberg

Master Member
Sometimes, to sand hard- to- get areas, I use nail files or emery boards (you'll find them in your local pharmacy in the make-up aisle)...you can shape them and transform them the way you like (I use a cutter) or for the particular job you're doing at the moment. Good luck!
 

Strode

Well-Known Member
That's the mentality I sorta had for awhile? The "good enough" mindset.

What's bothered me lately is that I see so many talented prop builders that excel in their work, and their work looks pristine, near perfect in every capacity. One particular individual I've followed for years really summarized the *why* and that it's all about "patience"

For me, It's not so much as not wanting to do it, but I don't truly know what better methods exist. For me to focus on the areas I fall behind in (in regards to prop building), which right now is finishing a piece, is crucial for me to increase my overall quality of work.

I'm assuming Volpin? Because that man's work and finished product is nothing short of astounding. I'm nowhere close but a man can dream...
 

tubachris85x

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Are you talking about the surface detail on a 3D print or a resin kit you've bought?

I think the key to any good prop is patience, and good surface preparation.

There's an old saying. "Failure to prepare, prepare to fail".

Well I'm just speaking in general, non-specific. I primarily work with resin as well as vac-formed props. I've only recently started working on 3D printed parts which I know just are a long haul of clean up.

The purpose of the thread is to determine other methodologies of getting the smaller, hard to reach areas and finishing them cleanly, not so much general practice of preparation.


Sometimes, to sand hard- to- get areas, I use nail files or emery boards (you'll find them in your local pharmacy in the make-up aisle)...you can shape them and transform them the way you like (I use a cutter) or for the particular job you're doing at the moment. Good luck!

It's not a bad idea actually. I used nail files for a lot of the clean up work where I can. I had this silly idea in my head though for a tool which I think at least for me would be ideal - Think of something like what dentists use to reach the small areas of your teeth. Now imagine a few variants of this kind of tool where the ends were rounded, flat, or squared off. Remember these would be tiny, but they allowed for the placement of an abrasive.

I don't know if something like that exists, but in my mind, having tools at such a smaller scale in my vision would allow for more precision.

I'm assuming Volpin? Because that man's work and finished product is nothing short of astounding. I'm nowhere close but a man can dream...

While I do follow Harrison's work, I am referring to EVO3. Look him up here if you don't know, and you'll see why I do.


For everything else, I was looking at getting something like these to aid in the clean application of spot putty

il_570xN.701619311_o13p.jpg
 

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Darth Lars

Master Member
The tools that I use the most are my nail files, and most of the time it is only the tips that are doing the job.
The downside is that if you are not careful, you will scratch the surface.

For sanding, I do use cheap emery boards but sometimes I use custom-made sanding tools by gluing sandpaper to things: popsicle sticks, small pieces of acrylic, round plastic rods or pipe of the right size or even a shape made from casting Milliput against a reference surface. If you do use a shape you may need to take the thickness of the sandpaper into account.

I apply Milliput most often with scrapers of different widths... and most often that scraper is a narrow flat-head screwdriver. :p
 

tubachris85x

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
The tools that I use the most are my nail files, and most of the time it is only the tips that are doing the job.
The downside is that if you are not careful, you will scratch the surface.

For sanding, I do use cheap emery boards but sometimes I use custom-made sanding tools by gluing sandpaper to things: popsicle sticks, small pieces of acrylic, round plastic rods or pipe of the right size or even a shape made from casting Milliput against a reference surface. If you do use a shape you may need to take the thickness of the sandpaper into account.

I apply Milliput most often with scrapers of different widths... and most often that scraper is a narrow flat-head screwdriver. :p

The primary issue that brought me to post this is that files and emery boards are long and really only applicable for areas that they "fit" like squaring off corners of a square cut out or filing a flat surface where you need something thin to do the job. That's fine for those applications. The issue I run into is that files and the like simply cannot be used to sand a flat surface where you've got a tiny, recessed area surrounded by walls or other details that prohibit the use of files. Sure I could try and squeeze some sand paper in there but then I've gotta worry about cleaning the side walls, edges and corners to make sure they all blend or are defined as they should be
 
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