How to : Lets start at the begining....Blueprints!


Sr Member
Hey guys,

There has been some great tutorials written from board members, and they cover a large area. I was thinking that it would be great to get a thread talking about the major steps one takes from deciding to make a prop, to actually making one.

I believe the first step would be to make plans of the item one would make. Blueprinting!!

So, IÂ’ll throw out the topic. How do you start to devise plans for a prop, assuming that you have all the photos of the item.

What tricks and tips do you have to make this task easy?

Lets get to it!!

Depends on what its gonna be made out of really... If it was something like a lightsaber, or a pulse rifle, or something complicated, I would definately draw it in CAD, if it was something that is scratch built... I would just sketch out rough plans...
OK, but what steps do you use to get these plans made into CAD?

How do you interperate them from lines on paper, to a 3d shape?

Well, it depends, if you want me to be technical, I take the top, right, front, and any auxilary views and then I use that information to render a 3D image (which I don't do very often, I am more of a 2d person, besides, blueprints are 2D
) In lame man's terms, I make the computer screen look like the piece of paper
I built a couple pretty cool props,,a lifesized endo/which i can pretty much say Id buy one of Pauls before doing again/a Predator,which is actually a highly modified 2d wall mount,a couple busts and now a pretty cool Alien prop made to look like hes busting through a wall.With mine,I never made blueprints.Id just kinda step back and look at it,then think about what it needed next.Id post a picture but, uhhh I dont know how.They can be seen however at in the replica props section if your interested.I was never really good at following instructions.And thats also led me to getting kicked out of everything socially acceptable I ever tried to be part of...
Well as for me theres a device that Murralists sign painters cake decorators and school teachers alike use....An overhead projector! I take a line drawing or a photo and make a transparency and then project the object to full size...or at least what I think is full size , if I don't have the actual measurements.
I then either draw out full size paterns on paper or directly onto the material to be cut as the piece may dictate.

To a lesser extent, opaque projectors and even slide projectors can be used to project and enlarge pictures and or scale drawings to full size images of the prop. To then be traced out and rendered into a full size schematic.

Just one of many ways I guess. I have known some designers to take an object or image and have a printer or blueprint shop blow it up to full size and use those drawings, to guide their full size renderings in 3-D.

And that's all I got to say about that.

*fell in love with a cake decorator*
I agree 100% that blueprints are essential, and Skyler, this is a great topic.

There is already a site out there with some blueprints on it. Here's the link, in case anyone hasn't seen it:

Please forgive me if that's a common-knowledge type of thing, I just thought I'd add it since it does pertain to the thread.

I'd love to see more blueprints of stuff beyond just lightsabers.

Overhead projector... Thats a sweet idea!

Thats kinda what I was looking for as a tip...

But there has to be other ways to get plans made and converted. I recently tried to make some plans by getting a photo of the item in photoshop, and then "tracing" over it. It didnt work to well! Doh! Anyone tried something like this?

I am working on a mouse droid right now and I only had 3 measurments, so I tried using a pic and doing measurments using comparison with what I knew but the angle of the pic must have distorted it because it came out way off.

I just got the feeling that's is not what you meant. :/
I think it would be good for people to know what works and what doesnt...

All notes are welcome.

I am thinking if its worth finding something we can look at and discuss how to make blueprints from, like a prop, and hosting the pick. That way we can discuss differnt methods..

What ya think?


I tried to pick something that would interest us, but has not been done, ect.. Nothing like members crying out "Hey, thats my peice, I dont want plans made...."

So what I found was a toy Landram that was made for the BSG toyline, but only avalible at Universal Studios. I have three pics of it. I have no intention of building one myself, I'm posting these so we have a proctical example everyone can discuss technique on...

Here they are..




Well, the idea is to show how to get something like this onto paper.

It has some great lines, and circles in the design, so I thought it would be approprete...

As people throw things out, I'll try them nd post the results. If people acctually draw stuff up themselves, I'll host it to...

IÂ’ve done a few blueprints before. You can see a few examples here ( - use the menu on the left). IÂ’ll try and document my technique on the vehicle above. Here's the blueprint I knocked up in a couple of hours:


HereÂ’s my process for getting started:

Blueprint & Drawing scales

1. Print out a picture of the aspect of the item you want to model as large as you can whilst maintaining the aspect ratio.

2. Take one item for which you know its real world dimensions – as this is just an example let’s assume the height of this vehicle is 7 feet.

3. Measure this on your print out – in my case it was 93mm (I measure in metric and draw in imperial – this way it is easier to keep the drawing scale and the print out scale separate in my head.)

4. Calculate the scale of your print out – 7ft = 93mm therefore 1mm = (7*12)/93 = 0.9 give or take a few decimal places. Therefore, 1mm I measure on my printout will be drawn as 0.9 of an inch on my blueprint.

5. You now apply this calculation to everything you measure. I start with the main dimensions of the item; just like scratch building, outline the major structure first. The first dimension I need is the length of the item (I have the height). I measure the printout item length at 185mm. To apply the ratio I worked out above to this measurement I multiply it by 0.9. According to my calculations this makes the item 166.5 inches long (nearly 14 feet).

6. With these measurements I can start drawing the item in my CAD program.

IÂ’ll try to do some more later if youÂ’re interested - Martin
I seem to have a superhero tallent for threads; a thread is bumbling along quite nicely, one post from me and its dead. Anyways, I'll continue posting on the subject even if no one's listening.

Boxes & Angles

1. In my CAD program I start to layout the main structure. I start by drawing the waistline of the vehicle so I draw a line 166.5 inches. Usually I draw my blueprints 1:1 as IÂ’m drawing hand props. As this is a bigger item this scale probably wouldnÂ’t be the best choice here but as most of us are drawing smaller items I will continue this example at 1:1 scale CAD.


2. Using the same calculation as before applied to measurements of the print out I know that the vehicle is 33” tall above the waistline and 20.7” below. I draw these dimensions on my blueprint.


3. Unfortunately props are rarely simple boxes. We have all sorts of angles to take into account. Lets take the nose of the vehicle. We now know where the roofline is (33” above the waist) but how do we draw that sloping nose? I draw on my printout. Take a ruler and extend the roofline. With pen and ruler also extend the line of the flat front of the vehicle. Now measure from where these 2 lines intersect to where the roof begins and apply the scale ratio to this measurement. I calculate this to be 32.4”.

4. Draw this line on your blueprint.


5. Now draw the slope by drawing a horizontal line snapped to the ends of the line you have drawn.


6. You can now erase the upright and horizontal lines to leave the sloped nose of the vehicle.


7. Continue to the rest of the outline of the body of the vehicle using the same technique; draw measurement lines on your printout, put them on you blueprint, draw intersecting lines for the sloping surfaces and then remove the measuring lines from your blueprint. The following 2 pictures show the blueprint with the measuring lines I needed to draw this shape in place and with the measurement lines removed.


I had an email for someone who made some great blueprints and instructions. Right now Im away using a remote terminal, but I will post them when I get back home...

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