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zondag 27 februari 2022

Locke & Key chain key

I have made several props from the Locke & Key comics before, and here's another one! This one is a full scale replica of the Chain Key. In the comics, it's a 90 cm long key and opens the Great Lock, wich grants access to the catacombs below Keyhouse. In the Netflix series, it's a small key, and the Great Lock is a padlock that launches a chain and can be used to restrain someone.

3D model

I made this key with my 3D printer. Of course, it couldn't be printed in one piece, it's way too big for that, and besides, a chain isn't exactly easy to print on an FDM printer. I used a reference picture for getting the correct measurements, and then broke the key down into different parts for easy printing.

When making the 3D models, there was one thing I kept in mind: I wanted to avoid supports as much as possible. Supported areas always look ugly and require a lot of post processing to look good. For this model, however, I couldn't avoid it entirely, but as you'll see, the supported area won't even be visible.

The most important part, obviously, are the chain links. I couldn't print a full chain link, because then it would be impossible to link them together, so I cut it in half. On the inside of the rounded end, I made a cutout where the links can be glued together. This is the only area where support will be needed, and it won't be visible when the links are glued together. For additional strength, I made holes in the ends that will be connected, for inserting pegs.

On the small replica I made a while ago, these pegs were pieces of filament. Needless to say, it wasn't very strong! I had glued everything together, but the key was still quite fragile. I didn't have to ship it, the client picked it up in person, so this wasn't a real problem then. For this full size replica, the pegs are printed rectangular pegs, so it will be a lot stronger!

The ends of the key were pretty simple shapes, and easy to model. The only part that was a bit more challenging was the ring at the end. The final link of the chain needs to go through it, so there needed to be a hole for the link in it. I decided the easiest way to do this was cutting the ring in half, and then glue the parts together.

Printing and assembling

With everything modeled, it was time to start printing! It was quite a lot to print, <nr> parts in total! The total printing time, estimated by Prusaslicer, was about 100 hours, and it would use about 1 kilogram of filament. For material, I used ABS. It's easier to sand than PLA, and especially the links would need quite a bit of sanding. Another big advantage is that it can be solvent welded with PVC cement for plumbing. I used 3 perimeters, 150 micron layer height, and a 25% infill.

I printed two links (four link halves) and the two pegs to link them together in one print job. I don't usually fill up my entire build plate, if the print fails for some reason I won't have wasted as much material. Each link was sanded with 120 grit sandpaper to remove the layer lines a bit, and then the links were connected. Because of the square pegs, they automatically align correctly.

Same for the ends of the key, the parts were mostly printed one by one, sanded and then put together. Sanding is a lot easier before assembly, because it's easier to reach most spots.

And then finally, all links were connected to form a chain. At one end, the ring was glued on, and at the other end, the key bit and the ball were glued on. A bit more sanding was required to clean up the seams between the link halves, and where needed, a bit of spot putty was used.


Painting started with a coat of filler primer. I can't say I'm too happy with this stuff, though. It doesn't do a very good job filling up the layer lines. It sand quite well, though, but you need to apply a few coats, and sand in between them. In the future, I plan to try out a two component filler primer. Many people use this and report excellent results; the downside is that you need a spray gun to apply it. Since I still had a few rattle cans of filler primer, I used this stuff.

As you may notice on the pictures, I had already primed most of the parts before assembly, since it would be a lot easier to sand them. So, it basically went in this order: prime, sand, prime, sand again, assemble, fill seams, sand some more, another coat of primer, aaaaand more sanding. Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes, that's a shower curtain. When we moved out of our apartment, I kept it for this exact reason!

So, yeah, it required quite a bit of preparation. When I was satisfied with the surface, I applied a final coat of primer. This wasn't a filler primer, but a general purpose gray spray primer. The filler primer isn't suitable for painting directly, you need to apply another coat of regular primer. After the final inspection, it was time for the actual paint!

The client wanted a bronze finish, so I started with a brown basecoat. There were lots of hard to reach spots, and I had to use several passes to coat everything. It's always better to use more thin coats, to avoid drips. Luckily, the paint dried quite fast. Using a fan also helps to make the paint dry faster.

After the brown basecoat, I sprayed on a coat of bronze paint. It covered quite well, and afterwards I wasn't really sure if the brown basecoat was really necessary. Ah, well, nevermind! The key looked very shiny, new and metallic at this point. A bit too new and shiny if you asked me! So I brought in my favourite stuff to make things look a little less new and shiny: oil paint! I prefer water mixable oil paint, so I don't have to mess around with smelly paint thinners that might potentially damage other paint coats.

I used dark brown and grey to apply some dirt and grime, especially in the narrow spots where the links connect. The nice thing about these oil paints is that they dry very slowly (it can take a few days for them to fully dry) and you can play around with them a lot. Even when used sparingly, it makes a huge difference!


After drying for a few more days, the key was finished and ready for shipping to the client. It was a really fun project, probably one of the biggest prints I have done so far. Here are some pictures of the finished project!

maandag 31 januari 2022

Interesting stuff #2

Here's my second rundown of interesting stuff I found over the last few weeks! Let's start with a few completely unrelated YouTube videos!

  • Shave your prints with a card scraper; Looks like a great alternative for sanding! If you have ever sanded a 3D print, you probably know what a pain in the ass it can be. Apparently, a card scraper is an excellent alternative!
  • Robert's Fogger; If you're into Halloween, there's a good chance you own a fog machine. For creating low hanging fog, the most common technique is chilling it with ice, but this guy takes a different approach, and it seems to work really well!
  • Realistic eyeball sculpt; Looks realistic and disturbing indeed!
  • Simple motorized Halloween props; I've been wanting to get started in animatronics for ages, and this is a good place to start. 
Next up, there's a series on Adam Savage's website, featuring Harrison Krix from Volpin Props. In the series, he builds a replica of the Needler gun from Halo. It's a very in-depth series, and nothing is 3D printed!
That's it for today, I'm working on a few projects and hope to have at least one build log this month!

vrijdag 14 januari 2022

Interesting stuff #1

Hey everyone, so here's my first overview of interesting stuff I found! I hope to post an overview like this every two weeks or so. Let's get started! For this post, it's all YouTube channels or playlists.

Blender tutorials

Like I said in my previous post, I finally want to learn Blender properly this year. Version 3.0 has just been released, but luckily, there are already a few excellent up-to-date beginner tutorial series up on YouTube. It's important to use recent tutorials, because over the last few releases, the UI and certain menu items have been changed, so if you use older tutorials, it might get confusing and frustrating!

The first one is a 24-video series by CG Cookie. It covers the basics, starting with installation and navigation, all the way up to sculpting and animation. 

Blender 3.0 Basic Course - CG Cookie

The second one is a bit shorter, and only covers basic modeling, materials and lighting, but you make a complete scene during this tutorial. It's an updated version of an older tutorial series, and it really does a good job explaining all the basics.

Blender 3 for Complete Beginners

The creator of this series, Grant Abbitt, has lots and lots of other tutorials on his channel, mainly aimed at game development and game assets.

These tutorials are only the tip of the iceberg, and I got lots and lots more in my "Watch later" list.


I've been dabbling in woodworking for quite a while, although I don't have much finished projects to show off yet. My goal is to build a complete gaming/dining table one day. I'm working on a coffee table as a practice project, but it's been sitting in my workshop half-finished (actually way less than half) for months now.

Of course, basic woodworking skills always come in handy for prop building. For example, I recently built a full size replica of the Giant Key from the Locke & Key comics, and it's mostly made from wood. It required some accurate cutting, glueing up panels, and the most difficult of all, cutting out a large circle.

So, here are a few good woodworking channels to check out:

Makers to follow
And to finish my first list of interesting things, here are a few makers that I follow!

To start, there's Nerdforge. A couple from Norway, they make all sorts of usually fantasy-themed projects. Diorama's, costumes, paintings, ... Especially their most recent projects are quite spectacular!

Next up, Hacksmith Industries. They build real-life versions of fictional items from movies, tv and video games. Their builds are quite spectacular. To name one, they have built an actual, working power loader from "Aliens"! Not entirely the same as in the movie, it runs on tracks instead of walking, but besides that, it's an actual, working power loader! Needless to say, these are not hobby level prop builders, these guys are pros with every tool imaginable at their disposal and the skills to use them.

And to finish, there's Colin Furze. If I was a kid today, this would be the person I wanted to be when grown up. His projects are far from boring! To name a few: a screw tank, a Star Wars AT-AT playhouse, a turbojet powered scooter, and his most recent project, a secret tunnel to connect his underground bunker to his house. 

maandag 3 januari 2022

Happy new year!

To anyone who is still following this blog, happy new year! I know, I'm not really that active here anymore. I'm more active on my Facebook and Instagram pages, so to follow in detail what I'm up to and what I'm working on, head over there! The reason I'm not writing that much tutorials and build logs anymore is simply because I barely have time anymore, but I hope to be a bit more active this year (and yes, I know I say that every year).

Now, I highly doubt that I'll be able to do a tutorial every week, or even every month. I have a three year old daughter, and more than enough stuff to do in and around the house, so I need to manage my time carefully. So, here's something I would like to try out starting this year. I run into all sorts of cool YouTube videos, blog posts, or other social media content related to prop building and 3D printing, and I'd like to try writing an overview of interesting stuff I found every two weeks or so.

Another thing I'd like to do this year is learning Blender 3D. I have started following basic tutorials dozens of times, only to ignore it again later, so I basically have to start from scratch every time. This year, I want to follow through and actually learn it in depth! 

And then there's my store, wich is overdue for a major update! I have tons of cool ideas for new stuff to make, and I hope to find the time to actually build these things. More ideas for sketchbooks, but mostly Dungeons & Dragons stuff and game room decorations! So keep an eye on this blog and my social media channels!

zondag 2 mei 2021

Dungeons & Dragons homebrew spells!

Hey everyone! Yes, this blog is still alive and kicking! I must admit, it's been quite a while, I'm more active on Instagram and Facebook these days (it's so much easier and quicker than writing complete blog posts), but I finally decided to write a complete post once more.

For I think two years now I've been playing Dungeons & Dragons with some friends. Unfortunately, it's been more than a year since we've seen each other in real life, with Covid-19 and all, and we've been playing online ever since. I have some experience with D&D because of the Baldur's Gate videogames, and when I was in college I also played Cyberpunk 2020 with friends, but this is my first experience with actual real life Dungeons & Dragons.

If you follow me on Instagram (wich you really should!) you probably noticed I made a few homebrew spells recently. That's the beauty of role playing games, they perfect for creating your own content. So, let's take a look at how I make these spells!

Step by step

I've got plenty of ideas; at the moment I have only two completed spells, but I've got ideas for plenty more. The only limit here is your imagination! I try to add a little bit of humor to my creations, and some pop culture references. For example, the reference on my "Rogue Anvil" spell is pretty clear (and if you don't get it, shame on you!).

For spells that deal damage, a good approach in my opinion is to make it a low level spell, and make it scale at higher levels. Many D&D spells do this, it's a good way of creating spells that always remain useful. A good example is the Magic Missile spell. You can start using it straight away at level one, and at higher levels, it fires more missiles, dealing more damage. The next spell, "Poquito Cabeza", doesn't deal any damage, it's more of a utility spell, so it doesn't scale at higher levels.

Many spells also require some sort of material component. If you're not familiar with D&D, spell components are often summarized as "VSM", meaning "verbal, somatic, material". "Verbal" means a spoken component, "somatic" means gestures and "material" is pretty self explanatory. Why are these things important? A spell with a verbal component (pretty much all spells) can't be used when you are silenced, for example! Materials aren't that important, because most spellcasters use some sort of arcane focus wich replaces the material component most of the time.


When I've decided the effects and description of the spell, I first start on the artwork. I don't want my spells to be just a sheet of text, I want a nice drawing to go with it. I must admit, I'm not that good at drawing, but I'm working on it. I try to draw at least a few times every week, even if it's just some random doodles, and I'm progressing slowly but steadily. The anvil for my "Rogue Anvil" spell was quite easy, the head for "Poquito Cabeza" was a bit more challenging, but I'm quite satisfied with the result.

I use 200 gram/sqm mixed media paper and 3H and HB pencils for sketching, and then I ink everything with burnt umber acrylic ink. I prefer this color over black because of the resemblance to walnut ink. I use two different pen nibs, one for the thick outlines, and a thinner one for small details.

When the ink has properly dried, I erase all my pencil lines and use the same ink for filling and shading. The acrylic ink I use is insanely intense, and can be thinned a lot and still produce vibrant colors! Although it works well, I might try watercolor paint in the future, because there's one huge disadvantage to this acrylic ink: it dries almost instantly! Even when the paper is still wet, the ink has already dried and is impossible to blend or feather with a wet brush. It works if I wet the paper a bit first, and keep a separate wet brush on hand, but once the ink has set, it has set!

One more thing I should add is this. I always scan every step of the drawing process. The pencil drawing, ink drawing (several times) and sometimes even different stages of the shading step. If I mess up, at least I still have my scans!


Next comes the most important part: writing! I've been dabbling in calligraphy for quite a long time, and now it finally comes in handy. For the spell text itself, I use the Carolingian alphabet, and for the title the Rotunda Gothic alphabet. Even though I like the look of Gothic-style alphabets, they are hard to read in large blocks of text.

I use a 3mm wide nib for the main text, and a 4mm wide one for the title, and the same ink I use for drawing. With the 3mm nib, my line height is 27mm! Of course, this is waaay to big to fit all of my text on a single sheet of paper. For my "Rogue Anvil" spell, I used about four sheets of paper (front and back!) to write all of my text. I scan my text and scale everything down quite a lot (about 12% of the original size).

What I found takes the most time is not the writing. It's drawing all the lines! For each line of text, I have to draw three lines, for the correct height of the letters and all ascenders and descenders. In addition, I also draw some line to keep my letters at a consistent angle. Really, once you've gotten the hang of a certain alphabet and can write it at a reasonable speed, drawing all the lines takes more time than the actual writing!

For future projects, I'm going to try different other fonts as well. For example, the Uncial and Half-Uncial scripts are very beautiful, and still very readable. For the title, I'm gonna try different types of Gothic fonts. A really nice one is Batarde, but it's a difficult one, because it requires you to rotate the nib as you write, so I'll need to practice that one quite a bit!

Scanning and arranging

With everything written and drawn, I scan everything, scale it down and arrange it to fit an A4-sized sheet of paper. I scan it at 600 dpi and save all my original scans as-is, without any editing. Any editing is done on copies.

For the main text, I scale everything to about 12 percent of the original size. It's a comfortable size to read, and it still looks like hand-written text. The header text of the spell is a bit bigger, just like the title. For the header and the title, I add some shadow. I use Gimp for all my image editing, and the trick to make the white background of the scans disappear is setting the layer mode to "Darken only". I copy my original text, offset it a bit, and then blur it and adjust the transparency.

Arranging the text takes quite a bit of time. Lots and lots of cutting and pasting! Besides the drawing I made a decorative page border (took me a long time to get it right!) and some horizontal borders. When everything was finished, I printed it on thick parchment paper, and I really like the way it turned out! 

I also added a wax seal in the bottom right corner; this gives it a nice touch of authenticity, and of course my personal logo! I had a stamp custom engraved, and it turned out quite nice. I used a bar of sealing wax with a wick, like a candle, that I had lying around, but I found it messy to use. It takes long to melt, and you have to be careful you don't set the paper on fire! Perhaps I should get some of those sealing wax sticks you can use with a hot glue gun.

If you're interested in my spells, you can find them in my Etsy Shop, along with all my other stuff!

zondag 13 oktober 2019

Locke and Key sketchbook

Hey everyone! Yes, this blog is still alive! I've been neglecting it lately, but here's another build log! So, what did I make? I made a sketchbook based on the comic series "Locke and Key"!
This project is a custom comission. The client had a key from the comics, and asked me if I could make a book with some sort of holder for the key. He sent me a sketch of the design he had in mind, so I got to work.

The book is a combination of the kraft paper leather technique I use for most of my books and 3D printing. For this book, I also used wood.

The printed ornaments
This book has quite a bit of 3D printed ornaments. There are the corners, wich have the initials of the author and artists on them, and then there's the key holder. I modeled all of these in Fusion 360 and printed them in ABS-X on my Prusa I3.

For the key holder, I did some tests first. The idea was to make the key 'snap' into the holder, snugly enough to hold it in place, but still easy enough to take it out again. I made a few test pieces of the holder and, after I found the right measurements, I started printing. I used ABS-X for the ornaments because it's very easy to sand, and it warps less than regular ABS.

After all the ornaments were printed, I first repaired small defects with spot putty and then started sanding. Lots and lots of sanding! I started with 120 grit, to get rid of all the layer lines, and then worked my way up to 600.

On the corner ornaments, there is supposed to be a texture in the recessed parts near the corners. Rather than modeling it (my 3D modeling skills aren't exactly impressive), I filled them with sand and then added a few drops of watered down wood glue. Much easier than modeling the texture!
Next up, I sprayed everything with a filler primer. This gets rid of the last bits of layer lines and gives everything a nice smooth surface for painting.

The wooden frame
The wooden frame is made from 4mm thick, 30mm wide strips, with rounded corners. The corner ornaments are modeled so these strips fit into them. I didn't want the wood to look all new and fresh from the hardware store, of course. Here's a trick I used before to age wood. First, I dissolved a steel wool sponge in white vinegar. This takes a few days until it's completely dissolved. This mixture is then brushed onto the wood.

The wood will start turning darker brown immediately. I let it soak for a few minutes, and then rinsed the excess away. The reaction darkens the wood grain. After it had dried, I applied a pale oak varnish.

The fake leather
For the rest of the cover, I used my fake leather technique. Cardboard shapes were glued on the cover, for creating the embossing, and next wrinkled kraft paper was glued over it. Then, a black basecoat, dark brown applied with a sponge, a very thin coat of yellow ochre and finally a bronze drybrushing. To finish, a matte clearcoat.

After all the paint had dried, I lined the insides of the covers with felt. To protect the pages from the moisture while the glue dried, I put sheets of waxed paper between the cover and the pages. I put the book between clamps, and let it dry for a few days.
This is quite a crucial step, and one that shouldn't be rushed. With all the glue and paint on the covers, they will always warp a bit. The felt lining is the last thing that's glued on, so the book should be pressed as flat as possible while it dries. I always take my time for this, about five days. Even though the glue has dried after one day, there's still moisture in the covers, so if you remove the clamps too soon, it will warp again.

Final assembly
The only thing still left was putting everything together. For the wood, I used a general purpose hobby glue, and for the printed parts, I used super glue. Again, lots and lots of clamping while the glue dries. Even for super glue, I have found out the hard way it doesn't always cure as fast as you think. The only time it cures almost instantly is when you glue your fingers together!

zondag 24 maart 2019

Horned Helmet

It has been quite a while since my last post. Again! At the moment, I'm busy as hell. I recently made Eyeballs Studio an official business and became a dad! Having a tiny human around is quite time and energy consuming (not that I'm complaining, I love our little cupcake more than anything else). I'm still working on new and cool stuff, but here's a project (actually, one of two projects) that's been sitting on my computer for quite a while now, begging to be completed. It's a costume prop I completed last year, all I had to do was edit the photos and write a blog post. So here we go!

That's me, at Elf Fantasy Fair Arcen last year. And this post will be about the helmet I'm wearing! My first helmet was inspired by Gimli's helmet from Lord Of The Rings, but it was very uncomfortable to wear. I had used a steel salad bowl as a base (no, I'm not kidding), and wearing it for a full day gave me a very bad headache.
The new helmet is based on a pattern by Evil Ted Smith, and it's entirely made from EVA foam. If you're looking for excellent patterns for all sorts of foam armor parts, check out his store, it's definitely worth the money!

  • Thick paper for the patterns
  • EVA foam (10, 5 and 2 mm)
  • Contact cement
  • Super glue
  • Hot glue
  • Acrylic caulk
  • Flexi Paint
  • Acrylic paints
  • Satin acrylic clearcoat
  • Oil paints (water mixable)
  • Upholstery foam
  • Hobby knife
  • Dremel rotary tool and sanding bits
  • Heat gun
Building the helmet
I printed the pattern on thick drawing paper, taped the different parts together and cut out the pattern pieces. For the bulk of the helmet, I used 10mm EVA foam floor mats. The texture will be on the inside, so it's not necessary to sand it away.

The helmet itself consists of only four pieces of foam. I used a heat gun to shape the foam, and glued everything together with contact cement. The rings on the sides are for mounting the horns. Those were quite a bit more difficult than the helmet!
The horns are made from 5mm foam, and require a steady hand and quite a bit of patience to put together. Perhaps the most important thing with these patterns are the alignment markings. Especially with complex shapes, like these horns, proper alignment is essential! It took me a while to put them together, but in the end, I had two impressive horns!

At first, I wanted to mount the horns just like that. My wife suggested I cut some grooves into them, to make them look more organic, like real animal horns. I hesitated at first, and thought I could achieve the right look by just painting, but in the end I followed her advice, and I'm glad I did.
I mounted the horns, and added the rest of the details. Some were on the pattern, others were improvised as I went along. For example, the three spikes on top of the helmet, and the plate that looks like it's riveted in place. I fixed the seams that needed fixing with acrylic caulk, and made some dents and scratches with my rotary tool.

The next step: painting! A while ago, I bought some Flexi Paint, a paint made especially for EVA foam props. As the name implies, it's very flexible, and adheres perfectly to foam. I have used it on a few props, but I must say, I'm not a huge fan of it. It paints well, and can be sprayed with an airbrush when properly diluted, but what I don't like is this: the color changes drastically when it dries! Now, most paints, especially acrylics, do this, but in this case, the difference is huge. I mixed some gray (there's only a limited number of colors available, so you'll have to mix your own a lot), but it dried to an almost black finish.
If you're ok with this behavior and you're good at mixing and matching colors, this is a very good paint. I, however, am not that good at it. But no worries, the paint is also an excellent foam primer, so I gave my helmet a base coat with it, and then painted over it with regular acrylics.

I used my Badger single action airbrush for most of the base coat. As I'm writing this, I'm without airbrush, though. I still have the airbrush, but no compressor. At the time, I borrowed some airbrush equipment from my brother. He had a compressor and double action airbrush and wasn't using it, so I could borrow it. I had bought the single action airbrush for painting larger areas quickly. A single action, external mix airbrush can handle thicker paints, so you don't need expensive, airbrush-ready paints. In the meantime, he needed his airbrush equipment back, so number one on my shopping list is an airbrush compressor.

After the basecoat, I applied a black wash, white drybrushing and finally a metallic drybrushing with either silver and pewter, for the steel parts, or bronze and brass, for the bronze parts. I'm glad I cut the grooves into the horns, because a simple brown wash was all that was needed to make them look more organic.
When all the paint had dried, I gave the entire helmet a clearcoat, and finally, I weathered it some more with water mixable oil paint. This is the first time I used oil paint, and I like it a lot! The advantage of oil paint over acrylic for weathering is the long drying time of oil paint. Weathering required very thin coats of paint, and acrylics would dry in less than a minute. Oil paints dry much slower (I'm talking days), so you have plenty of time to get the effect you want. On the following picture, the right side of the helmet has been weathered, the left side hasn't.

And finally, after everything has dried, there's only one more thing to do: fitting! I used 5 cm thick strips of upholstery foam for that, and glued them to the inside of the helmet with hot glue. This is a trial and error process, but luckily, it's easy to rip it back out if you make a mistake. After a few attempts, the helmet fit snugly.

I wore the helmet for a full day at Elf Fantasy Fair, without any headaches. Unfortunately, the weather gods weren't exactly on our side that day. Somewhere in the afternoon it started raining, and we headed back to the hotel early because we were soaked. The next day, we didn't even put on our costumes because it just kept on raining, and just went to the festival in our regular clothes. Ah, well, better luck next time!