Editor’s note: Bill Doran makes armor, costumes, and space guns as Punished Props, and has written a series of books teaching foam armorsmithing. Bill recently stopped by the Tested office to drop off a few small figures he made, and shares how he made them in this guest article.
I’ve had this idea noodling around in the back of my head for quite some time. Since I was going to be swinging by the Tested office this month, I figured it would be a great time to knock out this quick little project: miniature figurines of Will and Norm’s blockhead characters.
I had less than a day to build these guys from scratch, so most of my build decisions were based on whether or not I would have to wait for things to dry or cure. From start to finish, this entire build took less than 8 hours.
I started by planning out the sizing on all of the figure pieces based on a screen cap from the Tested website. I measured out all of the sides of each piece and prepped my material.
I ended up going with a high density, urethane tooling foam for this build. I wanted something that was easy to cut and shape, but was banking on not needing to fill, prime, and sand the surface at all, since that would add too much time to the build. This particular foam is so dense that it feels like stone! I got it from a company called 5 Axis a while back. They used to sell their off cuts on eBay.
Most of the “sculpting” was done with a bandsaw and a disc sander. Since the pieces were mostly cuboids, the only challenge was making sure the faces were mostly square.
I did end up having to modify the original measurements to get it to look right. Translating a 2D drawing to a 3D sculpt has its own set of challenges. For example, I originally ended up making the head block way too tall.
The surfaces were sanded to 220 grit and then I glued on some pouring spouts. These pieces would be molded and cast in plastic resin, so I needed to add some room for air and extra resin to escape.
With the pieces laid out, I made a couple of mold boxes, one for the head and one for the body. These are simple one-part molds, like the one Frank Ippolito showed off a while back. I also used the Smooth-On Mold Star 20T silicone for this project since it cures in just 30 minutes.
Once the silicone cured I popped out the masters and started casting pieces. I used Smooth-On’s Smooth-Cast 300 for the parts. I also left it pure white and would let that be the base color for the pieces. This way I wouldn’t need to paint them white and wait for that to dry before adding the rest of the colors.
Pieces were cast, popped out, and trimmed for assembly. I glued the head and bodies together with super glue and, after a little sanding, they were ready for paint!
I used my vinyl cutter to make some stencils for the face details. These vinyl pieces were laid over the parts along with some masking tape and then painted.
For most of the base colors I used Krylon Fusion spray paint. It bonds well to plastic, so I didn’t bother with a primer (again in the interest of getting this done fast). Fusion also dries to the touch very fast, allowing me to do additional layers pretty quickly.
Once all the color was laid down and dry, the figures got a couple layers of spray lacquer to seal them and they were done!
This was a super fun little project! I definitely want to dabble more into the world of small model kits, compared to my usual larger space gun projects. Post a comment below or message me on Twitter if you have any questions !