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woensdag 23 augustus 2017

Zombicide Machine Guns, part 2

Woohoo, here's part 2 of my Zombicide machine guns build! In the first part, I built the guns out of foam and plastic. Now it's time to paint them!

Materials and tools
  • Foam primer (book binding glue/acrylic gesso 50/50)
  • Wood primer
  • Spray primer
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paintbrush and -roller
  • Masking tape
  • Paper towels
  • Varnish
Like the previous part, I made a video of this. Again, way too much footage. This one is a lot shorter than the first one. I'm getting better with the video editing software, it didn't take as long as the first time. But for future videos, I should really invest in proper lighting and a good microphone.


The start of any paint job is a good primer. For foam props, I use my glue/gesso mixture. This does a great job sealing the foam and providing a smooth surface. In this case, however, I used several other materials, so the foam primer alone wouldn't do.
But first, the foam parts. I thinned my primer a bit so I would get a smoother surface, and used a foam brush to avoid brush strokes. On my axe, I used a paint roller, but that only works for large even surfaces. I gave each gun three layers of primer, and then let them dry overnight. For the MDF parts, I used a wood primer.

The next day, I primed the guns with spray primer, so all the plastic parts would get a base coat. Three layers of primer, with about 30 minutes between each layer, and then curing overnight.

I plan to experiment a bit with other types of foam primers in the future. One type I'd like to try is Flexi Paint, wich is both a primer and paint developed specifically for EVA foam.

Chipped paint
To make the guns look old and used, I first of all wanted some chipped paint. This is surprisingly easy to create! I painted some silver spots where I wanted chipped paint, and after it had dried, I masked it with liquid latex. After the base color is painted over these spots, the latex is peeled off, revealing the silver below. This looks very realistic, because, well, it IS chipped paint!
I had to wait for the base color to fully dry before I saw the result of this trick, but I can already say I went a bit overboard. After peeling off the latex, I painted over some silver areas again, because I overdid it and it looked a bit fake. As for more effects, less is more!

Base colors
Before I started painting, I mixed a good base color. I couldn't find the right color in a spray can, so I had to mix it myself and use a brush. Funny thing, I do have an airbrush lying around (borrowed it from my brother, who doesn't use it anymore), but I need to get the right type of paint first, an adapter for the air hose and, most important of all, learn to use it and practice a lot first. So, for now, the good old paintbrush!
The base color is gray, darkened with some black and then a bit of blue. Guns usually have a blueish-gray color. I tested it first on a piece of foam, and waited for it to dry before checking the color. On acrylic paints, the color always changes a bit as the paint dries, and I didn't want any unpleasant surprises.
I wanted to avoid brush strokes as much as possible, but a paint roller wouldn't get into every small detail, so I used a brush first, and then went over it with a foam roller. This did a great job of removing the brush strokes.

After it had dried, I took my base color and darkened it a bit with more black. This was used for the grip, the bottom of the magazines and the forward grip on the big gun.

Details and weathering
Allright, so the paint had dried, and I had peeled off the latex that masked the silver spots. The next thing I did was drybrushing a bit of black on the handles and the exhausts on the muzzle brake. On the small guns, I painted a recessed area on the front of the guns white first, followed by orange. I painted it white first because the orange didn't really cover up the gray very well (yes, I tried). After the orange had dried, I used masking tape for fragile paint to make some black stripes. Orange and black hazard stripes are frequently used in Zombicide manuals and artwork, so it's a nice reference to the game.

But next came the most fun and messiest part: weathering! This turns a shiny, clean new prop in something old, worn and dirty. The first step was drybrushing white paint over all edges. This lightens them and makes them look a bit worn. This wasn't the messy part, but the next part was: washing!
I used a wash in most of my props, so I have explained it a lot already, but for anyone who's new to my blog, here it is again. Basically, you paint your entire prop black (or any other color you want to use) and then, while the paint is still wet, you wipe most of it off again with a paper towel. Paint remains in some areas, especially cracks and recesses, so it looks like dirt.

The black was ruined my white drybrushing job for the most part, so I had to repeat it. I should have known this would happen, but luckily the drybrushing didn't take long.
After all the weathering was done, I added a few final details. On the big gun, I added a kill count with red paint and a pen. And finally, I put some pale green dots on the sights on all three guns.
The only thing left was a protective clearcoat. On the magazines, I masked the exposed bullets with some masking tape and then gave everthing a few coats with matte spray varnish.

It took me a while to finish them, but my first foam firearms are finished. Using textured floor mats and small pieces of foam isn't the best way to build these, so I plan to buy large, smooth sheets of foam for future projects. I should also learn to use an airbrush, and finally get the accessories I still need to get going.
As for the guns, they will see their first use next Elf Fantasy Fair, along with Tiff's Axe. Before that, I'm going to build a box for transporting them safely. I would hate to arrive in Arcen, only to find out my props got damaged in the trunk of my car.
Speaking of safety, it goes without saying you should use some common sense when travelling with realistic looking prop guns. Although these guns are fake, I can imagine not everybody would notice it and think they are real. So if you build stuff like this, keep them out of sight while on the road. To quote Harrison Krix from Volpin Props: "A convention is a good place to show off your work, a post office isn't"!

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