I will admit, I was a little hesitant about doing this prop, as I knew it was going to take me out of my comfort level. Up until this point, I had always done stuff for myself and a few friends, and never as a paying job. In the end, I am glad I did it, because it taught me a few things, got me using some new techniques and planning that I had not considered before. I am glad to say that this prop is still on display (and disappointed that I no longer have the original patterns I created for it).
My first step was getting a good enough hi-res image from the internet to begin the pattern work from. Once I was able to find such a thing. I took the image into illustrator and created a file that was the proper length and height to match the proportions of the person who would be using it. I was able to trace the gunblade’s shape and the detail work onto separate layers for printing and taping together so I had a full size pattern to trace from. I used blue insulation foam to start the prototype to check the size and dimensions.
Happy as I was with the prototype, I moved on to creating the base shapes needed that would be layered and glued together. I used 1/8” MDF board for the basis of the entire prop, save for the bullet chamber and a few minor details, which was created using PVC pipe, cut to size and shape.
The barrel chamber was a section of PVC plumping pipe that I cut in half for either side of the gunblade. The two other chambers were done in a similar fashion with the underpin being simply a part of a wooden dowel. The detail work in the chamber was marked then dremeled out using a conical sanding tool to start, then finished by hand with 80 grit sandpaper.
Once glued, the handle needed to be sanded into shape. Leaving hard, sharp edges was not going to do anyone any good, and it makes for a more pleasing (and accurate) shape. Never skip the details! As you can see in the images, the bullet chamber was yer another raised elemnt, and cut out of PVC sheet (sintra) to get the proper amount of relief needed. Note the handle, smooth and slightly rounded. It took 2 sheets of 80 grit to get the basic smoothness, then another 2 sheets of 120 grit to smooth the roughness.
The hammer assembly was also done in a separate layer and added a greater depth of realism to the prop overall. With the handle, grip and exterior detail done, with any gaps filled in using bondo and sanded smooth, a quick shot of black primer was applied to check for any errors or rough spots to be sanded out smooth.
Once the sanding was complete, I bevelled the edge of the MDF board for the actual “blade” to give it some more detail, then set to work recreating the Lion logo. The image I found was good enough (even blown up to size) for me to get a pull from, and using black carbon copy paper, transferred the image from the print out to the blade area on both sides. the image would not stay on its own and it had to be engraved INTO the wood. This process alone took 8 hours in total and came out beautifully. With a quick coat of silver, you can see that it is subtle, yet still easily identifiable.
Finally, it came down to painting. I used simple spray bombs for gloss black and silver, and the MDF board took it in like a dream. With the trigger assemble glued and locked in place, I then took my own Final Fantasy 8 Lions Head necklace and made a mold from it. I cast it in resin and attached a chain to the medallion to the back of the handle as a finishing touch.