3D Print: CL4P-TP (Commissioned piece) - The actual build

I can't believe it, my first commissioned print that will be given away in a competition!
Hello traveller!

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!

Youtube videos

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.

[The mesh in Solidworks .... with a little photoshopping to join the 2 pictures :P]

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 plastic cups past the test! ..... on the 3rd try that is]
[Rust and scratch undercoat on some of the pieces. I didn't need to be neat as this was mostly going to be covered up]

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!).

[Hopefully you can see those weathered red/white strips running over the top and around the top vent.  It's painted on, no decals!]

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.

[The few decals I added]

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.  

[Nice lighting from the circuit test.  I used 2 different colours, turquoise and green]
[All those 1am nights are starting to pay off as it comes together]

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)!

Don't forget to watch my 1st and 2nd youtube video.  You get to see some pictures whilst listening to some Mad Moxxi in the 2nd one at the end!

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!


  1. Replies
    1. If you stand back 30 meters and squint real hard, it should then look like Atlas. You're clearly looking at this wrong if you're not doing that.

    2. This masterpiece is sat right in front of me and it defiantly doesn't look like atlas!

      Psychobob this model is absolutely stunning, I cant believe how much detail you have put into this, it shows how much time and effort you have spent on this and I am chuffed to bits with it! So he doesn't get damaged I will put him on my desk at work, and il take a photo and send it to you as requested in the letter!

      Top job! Many Thanks

    3. Cheers Kevin, really glad you like the model. I actually had no idea that gamespot had picked a winner yet or that they shipped it to you, so really appreciate you leaving a comment to let me know.
      Look forward to seeing a pic of it in it's new home!

  2. Looks really fantastic! Great work! I didn't know that you work with solidworks...

    1. Cheers!
      I mainly work with more traditional (I suppose you could call them) modelling software like Modo and Maya, but I wanted to expand my repertoire into CAD also. Seeing as it's also geared toward the manufacturing side of things (including 3D printing) I had to give it a go. It was really useful for making adjustments that affect the entire model I must say!

  3. This is entirely awesome. To quote Claptrap, "optic surgery is best left to professionals", and you, sir, are a professional.

    1. Haha, thanks a lot, really glad you like it! The fact you quoted claptrap makes that compliment EVEN better!

  4. How about some celebratory music for this marvelous feat?! *(clicks play)*
    wub wub wub wub wub wub wub wub wub
    and DROP wub wub wub wub wub wub wub
    Haha Amazing work here! This is going on my bucket list for a must obtain item (Perhaps sitting next to a model of Clank from the ratchet and Clank series). So, I hope all remains well with your projects. You have quite the amazing talent in such a patience demanding and detail oriented craft. Piecing together models is one thing, but constructing them to that detail shows true workmanship. Keep up the good work!

    1. Cheers, I really love reading that others like what I do. It keeps me motivated and gets me going on the next project.

      Thanks for the celebratory music too, that was awesome!

    2. I actually forgot to add, you can actually win this guy if you're in the UK and interested! I've just added the competition link at the top of the page just before the videos. I haven't been told a closing date by the guys running the competition so enter soon if you are interested!

  5. MAN AMAZING! LOVE and WANT! Do you sell any? I beg you to! Please.

    1. Thanks. Afraid I can't sell this as it's the IP of the respective games company and and I was commissioned by GSUK to make this with the game content owners approval this one time. They have agreed however to give allow this to be given away in a competition if you're in the U.K.
      Above the video is a link to the Gamespot UK page that is holding the competition.

  6. Bloody amazing work, well done mate, really enjoyed the vids and serious respect for the time put in to this! Thanks for sharing :) - Martin

  7. Absolutely incredible work. I wish I could buy one of these little guys!

    Whoever wins him had better appreciate it!

  8. Wow I'm impressed. Was real nice. Unfortunately, I have no idea about 3D. Think it's great that you're doing all that. I just wanted to say quickly.

    And of course it would be insanely cool if you would do Walle :)

  9. Great work, you don't share 3D file?

    1. Thanks. Afraid I can't share the file for the same reasons I can't sell any of these. I go into the details in the response I made to alpaslan on 01/10/13 above.

  10. Excellente work man! I can listen "Helloooo Traveller".....

  11. Amazing work there! I have spent so many hours on borderlands 2. Do you mind sharing the 3d print files? I really want this! Please?

    1. Afraid not, I was commissioned to make this with the game content owners approval, but just for this one time.

  12. hey. You did some really awesome work there :) . Could you also publish the file for downloading?

    1. Afraid not, as it's the IP of the respective games company and and I was commissioned by GSUK to make this with the game content owners approval this one time.