Custom painting Nerf Negotiators

I just finished two custom painted dart guns for my boys for Christmas! 

 Here are the final pieces :)

Here are the final pieces :)

What follows is a detailed account of my process for these custom paint jobs. First off is getting ahold of a pair of vanilla nerf negotiators, disassembling them, keeping track of the screw placement, documenting the internal layout, and setting the internals aside.

And then sanding.... lots of sanding... I used 50 grit to knock down unwanted details, 180 to smooth out the sanding marks and a scotch-bright pad over any surface that would be painted.

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Once everything was ruffed up it was time to prep the pieces to make them easier to handle and start painting. To prep the pieces I fitted them with a wire using ticky-tack to hold the pieces to the ends of the wire. The wire allows me to manipulate the piece without touching it and allows me to place the piece in my paint block to dry. All the paint up until the touch up and weathering was applied using rattle cans. I began with a base coat of either black or grey applied in several thin coats. After the base coatings I started with the main color for each gun, once again applying the paint in a couple of thin coats. Then I tapped off portions that I wanted to remain the base color and applied the accent colors (usually a metallic.) I got a great tip from Punished Props and started warming my rattle cans in a warm water bath just before I used them. This produced a finer spray, which allows a thiner more even layer to be applied. this works especially well for the metallic paint.

Finally I reassembled the guns, touched up the spray by hand and finally added a healthy dose of weathering. When I was happy with the paint job I applied a couple coats of clear matte spray. This evened out the gloss levels on the piece (the various rattle cans and my own acrylics have different finishes) and will help protect the paint job from the heat of nerf battle.

All thats left is to wrap these bad boys up and put them under the tree. :) 

Armor Update!

A quick update on the build of my new coat of plates. The plates have been cut! and the upper chest and back have had their corners ground to a workable smoothness. Once I've ground the remaining body plates I'll begin shaping the metal and/or cut the leather that lies under the plate. The upper chest and back will have a solid leather backing, while the body plates will be supported along four straps. 

 some of the front drawn out and the beverly sheers I used to cut all the pieces

some of the front drawn out and the beverly sheers I used to cut all the pieces

 finished cutting out the front now time for the back

finished cutting out the front now time for the back

 long plates that wrap around the body

long plates that wrap around the body

 all laid out ready for shaping!

all laid out ready for shaping!

Sand Castle by Lake Michigan

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the boys grandma and I took the unseasonably warm afternoon to soak up some late summer sun and build a sand castle by Lake Michigan.  :) 

 

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Of course with any sand castle, building it is only half the fun. A great way to steal just a little more summer. 

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A Flag for Mr. & Mrs. Paris

Had to wait to post this as I wanted it to be a surprise for my sisters wedding. A 6' by 3 1/2' flag, featuring their last name, the Eiffel Tower, and a silhouette of two lovers on a bench with a little red heart for a color punch. It looked great flying over the Colins' on lake Omena.

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First, mad props to my loving wife who graciously sowed a rather tricky seam on slippery fabric to make the blank flag. We were concerned about the material being to thin on its own so we doubled it and stitched the edges. In order to paint the flag I had to figure out a way to stretch the material and create as smooth of a surface as possible. I wound up cutting a large piece of MDF to demensions slightly larger then the flag. Then I covered the surface with gesso to seal the MDF and prevent any bubbling from moisture. 

 

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of course every good composition is first drawn out on paper.  

I then stretched the canvas with an exorbitant amount of clamps. However, the more clamps, the tighter the canvas could be stretched with out risking tearing the fabric. 

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I then laid out the composition with charcoal.  

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After much internal debate about which brush I wanted to use to create the lettering I began painting!  

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I started with the letters, working with a heavily laden brush and long sweeping strokes. The result was a flowing font with line character and texture straight from the brush. This technique has always been difficult for me because it requires a certain amount of release from the artist. You have to just let the lines from as they do and you can't go tinkering with it to much without losing It's character. The end result is line work that is unique and can never be replicated. 

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After the lettering I painted the silhouette and the Eiffel Tower before adding the heart in red. After a few grommets it was ready to hang above the wedding reception of Joe and Beth Paris. Congratulations you two ;) 

Plague Doctor Mask

Her Majesty's Royal Gaurd and I had a fantastic five weekend run at Black Rock Medeival Festival this year. I saw some really inspiring plague doctor costumes. So of course I had to create some mask of my own!

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I especially love no 2. which is a mask made specifically to protect the wearer from the dangerous myasma of the great Cthulhu. No 3. was designed for the apothecary who doesn't care for the smell of his  potpourri. The chain may be drawn up through the nose of the maske, to lift the small metal cage containing the potpourri into the nose. Conversely, the chain may be let out when not in the vicinity of any myasma. 

Designing my next suit of armor.

 Sketches the ground work of any design. 

Sketches the ground work of any design. 

It's about time I change my armor. The suit I originally made is beginning to show the wear and tare of six summers of combat. So it's back to the drawing board. For my new suit I'm keeping the coat of plate but advancing the technology a few decades. My new armor will have fewer and larger plates but will still rely on leather to provide support to the structure. 

 patterns for the new cuirass.  

patterns for the new cuirass.  

Just like my last coat of plate, I intend to leave the plates exposed to show in inner workings of the armor. The armor will be nearly semetrucal so I only need to pattern one half and then flip the pattern for the other side.  

The only problem I haven't figured out is if I want to use an early style sallet or a late style of basineit. this specific coat of plates spans a time period were either helm would be appropriate. Desicions desicions....

Fire Ferrets

A pair of stencil designs loosely based on the Legend of Kora's fire ferret, Pabu! 

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the first focused on a more straight forward representation. It was a little tricky since Pabu has three main colors and the stencile design only aloud two.

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Pabu el fuego! 

I always enjoy the challenge of stencil design. Creating recognizable images in only two colors, with only one of the colors aloud to form descrete shapes and the trick of creating form through line weight and angles, rather then shading.