I can't believe it, my first commissioned print that will be given away in a competition! I can't express how excited I was about this when I was approached for this project. Not only is it a great opportunity, but it's also of a character I quite liked from a game that sucked away 30 hours of my life!
This is probably the most complicated paintwork job I've ever tried to tackle, but I was very pleased with the results at the end of the project.
Don't forget, you can win this guy at the competition link below! Competition - Close date: Unknown, so enter soon!
Gamespot competition link: GSUK competition page
Edit: The competition is now closed!
Before getting started on the model making process, here's a quick video I put on youtube for part 1 on the 3D model making side of the project. It's been uploaded to GSUK's channel, but I also wanted it on my own (please watch it, I rely on those youtube views to give me that warm fuzzy feeling on the inside so I keep making more of these!). Below part 1 is also the part 2 video.
Part 1: Creating the initial 3D model
Part 2: Processing the physical model
Making the 3D model
I start where I always do; creating the model.
First as always, I trawl the internet for reference material. I had grabbed all kinds of reference images, which covered multiple angles, distances, some were concept art, some were proper renders and some was fan art. I also had the game on the 360 so I had that on the side for some first hand reference (even though the consoles have lower resolution textures, it's still invaluable) and I had a list of youtube videos that I also thought would be helpful (if you haven't watched the Borderlands official webisodes, watch them, they're fantastic!). From there, I grabbed my usual notebook to make my plan of attack so that the model would be able to house the LEDs and I could get everything clear in my head. This LED circuit would be a bit different than normal also as I wanted the aerial to light up like it does in the game, so I made sure to jot that down so it wasn't forgotten!
Like most of my models, I decided to make this a model that is locked in a pose rather than one that has any moving parts. This was to increase it's durability for whoever wins this.
To try and make this mesh as clean as possible and because of the lack of complicated curves in the model, I decided to try something new this time when creating the model. I used Solidworks instead of Modo to create it. Solidworks is a CAD software, which is designed with fabrication in mind, so there are a lot of useful tools in this that isn't available in Modo and it produces cleaner meshes for printing. On the whole I did find it more difficult than Modo and less fluid, but I think that's because I had never really used CAD software that much before this point.
As always, I generally upload in-progress temp versions of the model to Shapeways, so I can check how much it's currently going to cost. Like all projects, I have a budget, so this allowed me to keep an eye on costs and adjust things if necessary.
Once the model was completed, I then placed the order and eagerly awaited the arrival of my parts. This normally is 10 working days but Shapeways had printer issues delaying things, meaning it took closer to 16 or 17 days. Many emails emails were sent back and forth and one thing I can't fault Shapeways on, is that their customer service is fairly responsive considering they're in another country so I was very appreciative of that as I was worried about whether they would get me the prints in time.
Post process after printing
Smoothing out the parts
I've documented this before so I won't go into it again in too much detail, but as this is printed in WSF, it has a bit of a grainy texture due to the nature of how it's created. So this needed to be smoothed out. I did this by hand and worked my way through different grit levels of sandpaper and also went from dry sanding to wet sanding. This is always the worst part as it's so tedious and boring, but it's worth it in the end. I think it took me almost 2 whole days in the end (it goes a lot slower than normal sanding as you don't want to remove detail accidentally).
The FUD pieces I printed also needed some smoothing and there was a fair amount of wax support material on the pieces, so this needed to be cleaned off before proceeding. I just did this with a bit of plastic I cut from an old butter tub to scrape this off.
One thing that needed modifying before proceeding was the wheel spoke pieces. These were supposed to printed with the hub caps as 1 piece, but it looks like I may have left a 0.1mm gap between those pieces and they ended up being printed separately So I used some extra strong glue that I know melts the plastic and fuses them together to make the bond very strong.
At this stage I put all the pieces together temporarily to make sure everything still fit and that no further modifications were needed. Everything looked ok.
Painting and applying the finishes to the parts
This is where things started getting pretty interesting in the model build. I wanted to weather the model quite harshly as in the game's story, he's not exactly being maintained, Bandits constantly attack him and even vault hunters attack him (let's be honest, you know you did it!).
So I was going to do the usual pre-shade and post-shade with the airbrush that can give a subtle weathered look, but I wanted something additional to really punch up the weathering. I wanted chipped paint effects! As I needed to figure out how to exactly do this, I needed to try it out on something I can throw away if it goes wrong. Normally people use plastic spoons to test out their paint ideas to make sure everything works but I prefer something a bit bigger; Plastic cups!
So after eventually getting the right process tested out on some plastic cups, I then began applying the paintwork to the model.
I started by creating the undercoat. This was a dark brown mix I made and then I started adding different shades of browns and oranges to create a rusty like finish. I then added some silver paint to the model in the areas where there was going to be fresh scratches/damage rather than old damage that had rusted.
I then applied the yellow paint work over the top of this (I used pre-shade and post-shade layers for the yellow paintwork) and then allowed it to dry soft (so not fully dry). Once it was at that stage I then chipped away the top layer to reveal the rusted layer and fresh scratched areas (the silver undercoat). Each chip and scratch was done individually so it did take some time, but if it looked like the paint was drying too much, I just used some heavily diluted isopropyl alcohol to help it chip (too much and it would eat through the paint work, so I did need to dilute it heavily and use it sparingly).
I also applied the same chipping technique to the grey trims near the wheels, the big white stripe that runs around the chest and also those thin red and white stripes that run over the top and around the top vent (I was pretty proud of those as they were tiny!).
The rest of the paint job was fairly standard and involved some dry brushing. Once all that was done I then added a fine dust/dirt layer over the top of everything to mimick the textures in game, where the bottom half has more dirt than the top. Once that was all finished, it was time for the decals.
The decals were again, pretty standard and I've covered it before. I created some custom decals on Photoshop, printed them onto some decal paper before applying them to the model. There weren't actually that many decals I applied to the model, but there were a few. The "caution" labels near the shoulder panels, some tiny dots representing bolts on all the steel repaired panels that are on his lower body, the big warning label on the front and finally the audio synthesizer panel just below that.
Making the circuit
Time to wire up the LED circuit. Following the usual pattern, I worked out the circuit on some paper, cut some board and soldered the wires, LEDs and resistors to create the circuit.
Putting it all together
Most of the hard work was now done and it's time to start putting it all together. I assembled the main body to be sure that everything actually fits together still with all the circuit and paintwork. It did and it was looking great!
The finished product (hell yeah)!
Thanks for reading this post, it was a bit of a tough project to considering the time I had to do it, but I eventually got there by sacrificing some sleep :P As my friend says, suffer for your art!
If I haven't mentioned enough in this post, please watch my youtube video at the top of the post, that view count going up tells me people are interested in what I'm doing and keeps me motivated to make more of these. Tell your friends!