Where to start?

DRD 1812

New Member
Hi! New member here, seeking advice.

I am very interested in props, especially sci-fi ones, but I have never made any of my own (unless you count my Kaylee Frye umbrella). I enjoy creating costumes. I would love to be able to make some props, partially to go with my costumes and partially because it is just fun.

But I have no idea where to start. So I was hoping someone here might be able to tell me how to get started, whether it be advice on starting from scratch or modifying existing things (right now I have a nerf gun that is waiting to be modified into River Song's gun).

I have a couple projects in mind that, considering my level of experience, seem kind of...ambitious. So perhaps I'll work up to those.

Any help would be much appreciated.

(Hope it is okay that I posted this here. I checked the forums rules and it seems okay.)
Welcome to the forum

What are your interests, Trek, SW, B5, etc.
What's your skill set?
Do you have access to tools and machinery?

If you are into costumes then the costume section will be able to help you out once you decide on what you want to make.

Pick something small and that will test your skills and GO FOR IT.

The great thing about this forum is you can post what you want us to see and hide the mistakes if you want.

I love seeing peoples skills improve.
Where abouts are you? You could catch up with one of us in your area if there is someone close to you. And show you how i is done.

Pick something small and that will test your skills and GO FOR IT.

Also, have fun, take your time, and don't be afraid to make mistakes. The worst that can happen is the creepy guy from down the street who goes through everyone's trash might find something he doesn't recognize when he gets to your place. Well, unless you screw up a mold and waste $25 worth of silicone rubber. But even that will be a learning experience.
Wow, thanks for the great responses and welcomes!

My favourite things would be Firefly, Farscape, Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica and pretty much anything sci-fi. Comic book stuff is great too.

As far as prop-making goes, I don't know what my skill set would be since I've never really tried my hand at anything beyond painting existing items. Unfortunately, I do not have access to tools. Though if I could find them at a good price, I might be able to acquire some. The only tools I can think of that I can access is anything related to pottery (there is a workshop nearby), sewing or anything an electrician would have (my dad is an electrician).

Sewing isn't a problem. I know some people who know how to sew and they've helped me with the sewing parts of my costumes (by either teaching/showing me how to do some bits so I can do it myself or by sewing stuff for me). And someone will be teaching me how to sew so I can do my costumes on my own, which is definitely a goal of mine.

I would love to get together with a prop-maker, but I'm not sure anyone really lives near me (Manitoba, Canada). Though I can easily get to North Dakota.

Hope you don't mind another question: If I wanted to make a gun and a comm device, what would I need to get and/or learn? Specifically, these two items:
"Winona," Crichton's pulse pistol from Farscape (and holster): http://images.wikia.com/farscape/images/5/58/Pulse_pistol.jpg
Comm device: http://thumbs1.ebaystatic.com/m/metNUs5OA6PKFk5_JZlzYAA/140.jpg

Hmm, the comm device is small. I could test my skills there.

Hey, welcome to the forum.

As suggested, start with something small, and perhaps a bit simple. Pick somethng that really excites you to work on and it's somethng you want to have -maybe to accessorieze yout next costume for an upcoming event. This will be your motivation to get it done. This has worked for me on many occations. Just be sure to give yourself enough time to do it before the event.

I will discuss some sctachbuilding method here.

Once you've decided on your prop, you must decide what materials you want to use. I've used cardboad for many prop builds because it's cheap and easily available. Plus, if you have woodworking skills, you can apply them to this material. If you prefer to use styrene plastics, these skills can apply here, too.

I usually start with a full sized drawing of the prop I'm going to make and have plenty of extra copies made to break down the prop into parts to fabricate and will use these drawings as patterns. This is were you have to plan on how you are going to assemble all the parts you will make as well.

As far as tools are concerned, I've started using Exacto knives, straight and curved edges, and common hand tools to make my props. You will discover what tools you may need as you get really involved in this hobby.

Chances are the prop you want may have been made by other members here and have info on how they have gone about making them. Just do a search for your subject and research what others have done. There is a ton of information here and can provide tips as well as insipration.

Your limits are only what your imagination can give you.

Good luck. :thumbsup
Hi! If you are looking for a starter mod, considering that you have that Nerf gun, you could always make a gun from the Terra Nova TV show. They actually used Nerf guns so this would probably be a pretty easy start.

I've seen a better link somewhere with more detail, but the following is the best I can find right now:

The Geek Factor | No Prisoners, No Mercy
If you don't have access to many tools cardboard is a great place to start. The communicator looks especially easy, create a shape from card then add aluminium mesh and some pop rivets.
The gun can also be made from card, you can use a technique of building up layers to get the basic shape, then using a filler to round out the curves.
Obviously there are many other methods but this is a good way to get started with very little investment.
Thanks again! This is really helpful.

I think I'll start with the comm device.

Thanks for the link, Badmonkey. I've never seen Terra Nova. Is it a good show? It's cool that they went low-budget with the guns.

I think it'll be fun to start to build my own tool kit as I discover what tools I need. It'll be cool to have a kit that is unique to me, since I would purchase the tools as I need them and can afford them and so it would look different when compared to pre-put-together tool kits (such as electrician kits, carpenter kits, etc.).

Haha, I just thought of something interesting. It seems that there can be a lot of improvisation when making props. I can imagine having tools meant for one thing but using them for a totally different purpose. "Yep, it's a wrench, but I actually used it to make this..."

Whoops, got a bit off topic. Sorry.

Can't wait to get started!
Another thing I would recommend is making drawings/blueprints. I've been doing a lot for the mini-nuke I'm building from Fallout 3. Well, they're more like sketches, but it's getting the job done.
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