Monday, November 22, 2010

Portal Gun for Child's Play

On January 20, 2009 I took a photograph of a project. At the beginning, the intent had been to get it done in time for Halloween 2008, but that deadline came and passed far too quickly for me to make it in time. Instead, the piece was quietly wrapped up over the holidays. Before going to bed one night, I tossed that picture and a few others up on Cosplay.com


The result has, quite literally, changed my life.

Anyone who has stumbled past my humble little blog here has no doubt heard of Penny Arcade. Linking to them from here is almost silly, like asking a fish if they've ever tried water before. Back in 2003, Penny Arcade founded a charity, run by gamers, called "Child's Play" - a gaming industry charity dedicated to improving the lives of children with toys and games in a network of over 60 hospitals worldwide.

It's hard not to be cheesy when you say something like this, but making these replicas has changed my life for the better, and I wanted to do the same for someone else. Ever since I finished my first Portal replica nearly 2 years ago, I had it in my head to make another specifically to benefit this cause. This particular replica will be auctioned off at the Child's Play charity dinner in Seattle on December 7th. Along with it will be a custom base signed by the guys at Valve!

With that heaping pressure piled on, I really had to make sure this thing turned out good.



The final product!


What follows is a more involved build log of the process, now that I know what I'm doing a hell of a lot better than when I first took a stab at making the Portal Gun.

Initially, my aim was to duplicate as many parts of the original Portal Gun (we'll call this "V1" for typing purposes) as possible. I popped off the front and rear casings and set about making a few molds.



These were made with brush-on Rebound 25 silicone, and the mold jackets were made using fiberglass.




After pouring in some smoothcast 300 resin, I had some very nice pulls. Only some minor cleanup was needed (which you'll see more of, below)


While the whole project was blown apart, I molded some of the smaller detail pieces as well. These are the prongs and center barrel chamber plates from the original build.


At one point, I tried to mold the entire barrel of V1 so I could pull an whole assembly as a single piece. This, in retrospect, was one of the dumbest things I've ever tried to do prop-wise, and only succeeded in wasting 2 gallons of silicone, a week of my life, and severely damaging the barrel trying to extract it.


I had to try something new... Or, rather, try something old that I knew how to do a lot more precisely this time. Reaching back to the way V1 was constructed, I went to purchase some PVC pipe. 2 pieces were notched and set inside one another to create the "middle" section of the barrel.


One of the more annoying things encountered when making V1 was cutting the squared recesses into the front of the barrel. This time, I glued small styrene dams in place, sanding them down at an angle before filling the middle cavity.


The space between the PVC was then filled with apoxie sculpt and sanded flush.


For the front most barrel section, I glued 7 discs of MDF together and settled in for some quality time with my lathe. This "plug" wasn't made hollow; that would be a hurdle taken care of during the casting process.


A bit of primer and sanding later, toss on the raw pulls of the casings, and it was starting to take on a very familiar shape...


The casings weren't perfect though, and needed some filler to even out a few flat spots.


I also decided to make a more precise edge for the upper indicator light. On V1, this piece was made using a hand dremel tool. Now that I have a lathe, I wanted a true circular part with an even edge, so a new piece was made from sintra and epoxied into place.


The barrel pieces then went under the rubber to have some molds made. The central barrel was the trickiest, but thanks to the guys over at the Replica Prop Forum lending me some advice, I was able to get it figured out.


The front barrel was molded from the back side while the "front" was used as the pour area.


By pouring in a very small amount of resin, then inserting a 2.75" diameter tube, I was able to create the hollow area in the middle of the barrel. After the small resin at the base cured, I poured in more around the surrounding edges, eventually making the entire hollow form. You can see the inserted tube in the shot below as a different color black than the resin surrounding it.


The rear-most section of the barrel was created, as before, with two 4" PVC couplers epoxied together. I created a myriad of mounting points with T-nuts and sintra so the entire replica could be painted in sections and assembled later.


I started referring to this part of the build as the "chassis" since all of the electronic components will live here and it serves as the mounting point for all of the rest of the gun pieces.


The claws were modified from V1 rather heavily. A reader on my blog (who happens to be building his own ASHPD as well) sent me some very high-resolution pics of the claws and their mounting areas. I used some components, and rebuilt others, to get the pieces below.


The biggest change in the claws were the wire "cages" that encase the hoses running the length of the gun exterior. These were built from brass wire and brazed together.


Quick test fit of all the components!


Before paint, I had to sort out electronics. This gun would light up as V1 did, but I wanted to include the sounds from the game as well. There would be a "boot up" noise when turning the gun on, individual firing noises for blue and orange portals, and a "fizzle" noise when turning it off. This gun is being created for a very special cause, so I wanted it to have some very special features.


The LED board were made from simple perfboard and ribbon cable, using 5mm "piranha" style LEDs for illumination.


replicaprops.com handled the creation of the sound chip. All I had to do was provide .wav files and let them know how I wanted it triggered, and a week later I got my pre-programed chip & amp in the mail. Great guys to work with and very fast service. Below is a video of the first "proof-of-theory" test fire.


A 2.5" speaker lives at the base of the central barrel. The cool thing about the gun design is that the long, continuous chamber provides rather fortunate acoustics, amplifying the volume of the sound effects really well and projecting them forwards.


From the back of the gun, this switch plate controls the illumination and sound effects. The red switch on the right turns the gun on and off, while the two black switches on the left control which portal color is selected, and the sound effects for firing.


Now that the electronics were good to go, the rest of the parts got their paint topcoat.


As with V1, an acrylic plunger handle was sourced to serve as the central illuminated chamber. 8 LEDs situated at the ends (4 of each color) keep the illumination clean and uniform. The piece was "frosted" for better light diffusion by buffing it with 600 grit sandpaper.


The revised upper indicator received a similar treatment. All of the LEDs were set into PVC sockets so they could easily be plugged into their acrylic rod parts.


Decals were, as before, made with water-slide decal paper printed from a laserjet printer. These work best over light colors. Weathering to the decals was done in photoshop - they're actually printed to look used.


The rubber lines running the length of the side of the gun were made from automotive windshield washer tubing with sculpting armature wire inside to keep its bent shape.


A paper spindle provided the the barrel insert as a finishing touch. I had used one of these in V1 but the barrel on that gun is nearly .5" wider. There was a lot of trimming involved to get this thing in there. For added texture, I used some thin gauge sculpting mesh as a "screen" behind the insert. Foam padding was used to diffuse the LEDs into a more even glow.


Illumination and first test-firing after final assembly!


V2 then got a very light coat of weathering, and I decided to not include the blood splatter from V1. This is a piece direct from the game, and as much as I love the narrative that detail gives my own personal ASHPD, I decided to keep this one "clean."


I'll need to update this post in about a week, as there is a custom base in the works as well. This will be signed by members of Valve (and me!) before the final gun goes on auction at the Child's Play charity dinner, December 7th. I'll be sure to post an update as soon as the auction is over and let everyone know how it went.

Some shots of the new Portal Gun, V2!


And a couple next to her twin. Hard to believe its almost been 2 years already. To everyone that subscribes, comments, follows along or even comes by the page, thanks for helping to build my little corner of the internet. You definitely motivate me to do great things.


More pictures available on my Flickr page. Thanks for reading!

94 comments:

Michael said...

Wonderful work as always, and a fantastic story. I would be absolutely shocked if your second Portal gun didn't auction off for ridiculous sums of money. Thanks for donating your work to Child's Play, and happy Thanksgiving.

El Tio Natán said...

I want it! :(

William Doran said...

Well done on the second gun, I think you've really helped inspire many prop makers (like me) to pick up our game a bit! Thank you for providing step-by-step photos and commentary on your creation! =)

Ryan said...

You continue to inspire!

analogue said...

Awesome!

Travis Manley and Family said...

Nice work man, and for a good cause too. Your blog is so inspiring, thanks!

pomp said...

That's amazing!! I hope it goes to a good home. It's definetly improved since v1.
(thanks for the mention, too!)

iDarkDesign said...

It's fantastic. If I even lived remotely in near you I would've begged for an internship! You need an apprentice.

thanks for the inspiration and good luck for child's play!


Rein

KREO said...

What a beauty, You're an inspiration.

necroid said...

Amazing as always, keep up the great work!

Sarah said...

This is seriously the most amazing thing I've seen lately. The science got done and you made a neat gun. Great job.

Ron said...

Incredible work!

Amanda Grapehead said...

Wow. Absolutely amazing work!

Orthien said...

Amazing work as always. I would love to bid on this at the auction but I have a good feeling that this beauty is going to make a nice chunk of change for child's play.

Mister K said...

You are just too underrated.

Nomaan said...

Hey there,

Mindblowing work! Bravo!!

Just a suggestion to take this one step further. When one "fires" the gun, maybe you could let the gun dim the lights and vibrate a bit simultaneously so as to simulate a fire and feedback effect?

In any case, great job!

来来 said...

Great, but I'm not in the US :(

NatPJ said...

Amazing. But I don't know that I could get to Seattle for that auction. But I really want it
(>;_;)>____________________________o=E
Too far....

Maura said...

Those are beautiful! Thanks for posting such detailed photos/videos, it's really cool to see how you put it together.

Ann Mendenhall said...

This gun is my new God.

Jonathan said...

That is so awesome! I am currently attempting to build a portal gun for a friend of mine, but I have no idea what I am doing. Do you have any schematics or do you sell any of the resin pieces?

Julian said...

A great artist AND a good person. Man, you have it all. Congratulations.

Morrigan said...

This is jawsome. You're doing a great thing with it, too. I wonder if further down the line you could simulate the portals themselves, out of the gun? Some kind of mini projector or a very powerful torch, with a filter to make it portal shaped and textured? I have no idea if that's an outrageously impossible suggestion, but it seems like the next challenge. >:3

Shannon said...

I was at the auction tonight and it sold for over $12000. I didn't hear the final amount in the cheering :)

mastorak said...

Dear Santa. I 've been a good boy this year and I want a portal gun.

Komodo said...

This is absolutely beautiful. You, you valiant soul you, are truly a credit to team!

Thank you so much for donating all of that time and all of those resources to that cause. As someone who's dabbled in propmaking myself, I'm astounded and humbled by what you accomplished here :'D Congrats!

PiranNinja said...

You Sir, Have opened another dimension for me :) Thank you

MBH said...

This is freakin' awesome!

Digi-Myx said...

Im sorry, I happen to live near Atlanta and would like to know about your Daft Punk Helmets and where the said waiting list is for being able to purchase one? I would appreciate it. Shoot me an E-mail if possible. Thank you! :)

H_Krix said...

Digi: Thats the first I've heard of a "waiting list"

I only made one DP helmet and have no intention of taking further orders. Sorry

Michal said...

your blog is amazing, your builds so clean, I learned a lot and going to digg more. Keep working, you inspire me to make my works better! and provide more informations to my readers

erik said...

in case you havent realized the orange portal and blue portal sounds have ben made the wrong way, or you maby switched the sounds to the opposite way, the blue is like"booooeeee" and the orange is like"booohhhhaaaaa" so ya you switched the portal sounds and made then the wrong way basicly. (no other then that this would be a perfect prop!)

Cass said...

You are a god.

Ian said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Simon said...

How do I breathe? Too... much... awesomeness... *cough*

This is too much work! I'd just buy it.

George said...

This is the most awesome thing I have ever seen, and I have seen condensed awesome in a jar with a hyper awesome retention coating.

5dmc1 said...

Would you be willing to make one for me? I will pay you in full. for parts, mats, shipping, labor and of course a bit more so you can make some money ;) Name your price.

Luke said...

So what response would I get as one of the thousands of people who want to buy a prop just like this?

Galvanana23 said...

where do you go to learn how to make props?

joakim_hogelid said...

Whats the price for it if you would make one more? It looks awesome btw:)

leif.gilhaus said...

I wanna have one it looks so awesome...

Tijana said...

I so want that. Any chance you would make more to sell XD :P (I would probably pay a very high amount for one! lol)

Hato said...

dude u should seriously try selling these cause I would so buy one from you it would go perfect with my Portal 2 cosplay I wanna do

nass said...

I dont want to sound gushing like outers have but this is some of the best craftsmen ship on a prop i have ever seen I mean seriously . I Think that if these went up for massed production you'd make millions but the fact that you donated this one is heart warming. Keep up the good work and get Gabe Newell to give you the production rights .

Decky said...

Question would you give a tutorial on materials you use to make molds and casting? I would like to try on my own doing some but don't know how to start.

if you want to message me personally:
studio_sna@yahoo.com

Shamu said...

really quick question : You have molds so... why don't you get a deal with a workshop to produce them (something like 500 pieces) ? you'd make a lot of people very happy ! (and also quite a lot of money)

Jesper said...

How much if you should make me one?

combine said...

Realy nice work.
Will you publish anytime a construction manual size of everything and the other stuff?

Mietschie said...

Oh my god
I totally need such a ASHPD D:!!!
It's so awesome!!
Do you sell these by any chance???

ianliklen said...

how much would I have to pay you for dimensions, materials, instructions, blueprints, ect because I could just make this on my own, and if I was to share the instructions and all that on the internet or to anybody in that matter, you can sue me, and I'm being DEAD SERIOUS. email me at ianliklen@yahoo.com please or PM me on Facebook, my username is Ian Ezell

zomerschoehugo said...

Can I buy one?
I really want it...

uriah said...

How much did it all cost you?
Also, you should make a Darth Vader costume :D

ln95 said...

Aaa! Can I order one from you? I badly want one! <3

William said...

I Know This Sounds Crazy But Im Going To Try And Attempt To Make A Portal Gun More News Soon

200AdamMan200 said...

Oh my god... I want to make this but it would take too long so im just going to see if its on ebay.

Michael said...

Great work! My son wants one...

Joseph Tucker said...

That is utterly amazing.... I want one... I doubt I'll be able to buy one off of you... but I WANT... so amazing

Pjotr said...

Can't you make a turret?

Maniac said...

Simply amazing!
The quality, the taste, to the smallest detail.
Photography is excellent!
I envy your talent!
Wish I could join you and learn from you...
Good luck and keep enjoying life!

bobdylan12 said...

Would i be able to make one

ninjafan22 said...

WOW would you allow us to make our own gun using ur steps cause I want to make one!!

Mahssago said...

Dude if you sold these on the market you'd make millions xD

tarun said...

hey that looks brilliant all your modals must probably look like the ones in the games plus im nine and i like your work my dad said he'll get one for my birthday on september the 11th 2011

JOHNR said...

love your portal guns that's a mean gun

KP said...

I wanna buy it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Vhan8765 said...

This is awesome! Your Portal Gun has no doubt change the world. And not just for all the geeky people like myself who would do anything to get their hands on one of these; you have helped so many children with this generous donation. I'm sure all of them are grateful. On behalf of everyone, thank you very much.

About your work, it is amazing. I am only 15 and don't know much about what is it that you did to make this gun, though I am aware that this project most likely took tons of time and determination. It is truly worth it's praise. I love art and projects like this, so I tend to look many up online. Most of them don't even deserve to be called art, though you on the other hand, you do deserve my praise. I'm no one known or anything, just a 15 year old who loves art. Also, as I said, I don't know much about how you made this.

Sorry to get of topic. Anyways, you have done a great job, keep up the good work and continue to change lives.


Vhan8765 - Brendan Attina

James said...

Hey, how much would it cost to have you make me one of those?

Andrew Freire said...

Really awesome work! I'm actually building my own right now, but I know nothing about wiring/circuitry.

Anywhere I can find an in-depth tutorial on how to wire this thing for idiots like me who know nothing?? I've looked everywhere but I can't really find anything

RadioactiveMicrobe said...

What did it go for at the Auction?

Buddy said...

Wow, a ASPHD! Finally!

totoco said...

Really great work!

I'm now really interested on trying to make a portal gun for my firend.

But the first thing i'm worrying about is... materials price. How much do materials cost? and could i use something cheaper to make a nice looking gun?

fusser_verdoso said...

do you mind if i use the same technique you use to make yours because ive known some people would get kind of angry if u do it the same way they did...

Lumi said...

How much would it cost to commission you to make one? If you don't want to, how much would this cost to make? Thanks!

portal2 said...

what did u use to shape the white part

GLaDOS111 said...

how much money did it cost? can u post a video tutorial on how to make it and send me a link please?

mcGLaDOS111@gmail.com

kivequand said...

bravo
just want to say "bravo"
can you send me a tutorial to try make one.
we live in france and my son ( 5yo ) think portal, dream portal and when he saw your portal gun, he goes crazy.
so i want to try this construction for christmas
or if you sell one......
jeanmichelcab@yahoo.fr

Neil said...

I'd love to see you do a Wheatley model.

emily Davenport's Blog 1050 said...

This is super dorky of me, but it holds a lot of truth:
http://www.myfacewhen.com/371/

On another note, have you ever considered doing anything from Kingdom Hearts?

cephasborg said...

Harrison, you just gave me what I needed to knuckle down and continue a build I've been putting off for years.

Your attention to detail, and skill with materials, just blew me away. I can't even begin to match your abilities, but I sure as heck will try - and keep trying.

Well done with the auction, $12k is a testament to your craft. There aren't many true craftsmen around these days. But you're one of 'em!

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Beltra said...

a cuanto la venderias

Mendoza said...

Im a huge fan of portal and portal 2 and i wish i can have one but i cant make one becuase all the shaping and things but are you gana sell it but plz not ebay cus it ends up being lots of money so plz hear me

Jakobskivevo said...

SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

BGPony said...

Like a boss

Iván said...

te la compro! cuanto queres?

bubblmen said...

can I just buy one of you pls?

Unknown said...

CAN I BUY ONE PLZ!?!?!?!?

xzDaft Punkzx said...

Can i buy one please!?!?!?!? My friend is a HUGE fan of portal and she'd love a portal gun replica like that!!!!!

Adrian Parodi said...

anyone can tell me the measurements of PVC pipes and PVC couplers

Drew said...

Where di you get the styrene you were talking about?

Patrick Lieberkind said...

Thank you so much for sharing your projects with us. It is truly very inspirational.
Unfortunately I live far away from the US and it's very hard to try and find the right materials. Could you please give some detail about the products and materials you use so I can maybe try out some of the stuff you make? That would really be helpful.
once again thank you very much for sharing your projects with us :)

Siavash123 said...

is there a easier and more safe way so like a child could build this because i have to build my son one and i really didn't understand the parts like the LED's and how they were supposed to change color and a lot of stuff u said i didn't get. PLESE RESPOND!!!!!!!!

siren said...

Thanks for all the info on your build, it's mind boglingly helpful.
I'm attempting one at the momment, with the help of a 3d printer for some of the parts.
May i ask, when you buffed the tube with the 60 sand paper did you do it on the inside, outside, or both???

Thanks

sarena william said...

Amazing Work, I am really impressed with it because I have never seen this kind of Gun before.

juna889 CP said...

Omg i have never seen such a thing in real life! i thought this sort of shiny and precisely formed things only came from factories where there are huge machines and stuff but i was wrong...By the way can i know just for curiosity, for how much would you be willing to sell one like these(including delivery charges)

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