7 November 2018

[Craft] Wooden Dead Scythe (Black Rock Shooter)

Hi, people. Decided to finally to try something for the first time. Making near replicas of weapons from TV/Video Games.

I've arbitrarily chose to begin this with Dead Scythe, from the Black Rock Shooter series, because why target the stuff everyone knows and already makes an abundance of?

There are several variations I've found on the web, based on the original illustration of the character (left), and the one from the animated video (first picture at the top). Then there's this other version I'm unfamiliar with that was used in the Figma figure (right).

Traced two of them, but for the life of me I cannot remember why I traced the Figma version instead of the original. Probably because it looked the easiest to pull off? Haven't yet decided on which I'd like to do since both have equally attractive traits, I took it to Facebook and most feedback pointed to the Figma version, so that we will use!

Plywood is the choice of material here, only because it was convenient and inexpensive. Based on what I experience later, I found that the layers can help with gauging symmetry slicing down the profile. However, when you get close to thin parts, you run into high likeliness of chipping off layers. Ideally I'd like to get into metal as that has would make these hella valuable (at least to me), but I haven't the tools to comfortably work on such materials.

Taking that initial cut from the board and knocking off large segments to get in the ball park with the overall shape. The whole goal here is to reduce as much coarse sanding as possible.

As I'm progressing, some tighter areas have proven to be challenging to work on if I wanted to keep the "bone mane" and blade as one piece. Since the 2 vertabrae pieces are already separate, I can't justify trying to keep the blade as one, so off it came. The pieces have been laid down to gauge what angle I will be pointing the vertabrae in, as well as the angle of the shaft and blade. It is worth considering that now because I wouldn't want to end this project with gravely disproportionate measurements. I've marked a center line of where I plan to stick in a metal rod as I'm confident this will make life easier down the road, both in construction and durability.

One of the least fun parts: Reductive sculpting. A month has past since the start of this project. It is at this point I am no longer following the Figma version as a reference for how bland it looks. I'm now trying to create the same impression of sharp bone shapes as the Original version. This means recessing a large portion of the flat surfaces to give way to creating the three spiky tips that form these mini-mountains. I've plotted down the foundation to help make the rotary tool working easier.

A few more weeks passed and if I were to go another week not doing anything, I'd probably drop the project. But "screw it!" I said, I need to just go and do this. The vertabrae aren't even the same sizes, but I think I can get away with that due to the nature of this scythe's twisted personality.

This was a bit of a challenge to figure out how to make the wood look like it was twisted by reducing material. The translation from and to wasn't coming to me for a while when I wanted to be perfect with it, but I again deployed that mentality of just going with something and figuring it out as I go. It turned out pretty good overall!

Holes are all drilled and now there's a secure way to connect the 4 pieces.

Shaving material on the "bone mane" to create the impression was going somewhere, but this was taking way too long to go through. I also realized that getting the curved ridges at the top wasn't going to be easy if I was going to reductive-sculpt it out. I leveled the whole field, and then employed additive sculpting by creating the spikey tips with putty, and the curved pieces with separate acrylic.

A notch has been created on both sides to fit the acrylic pieces.

Square-cut edges are rounded off to get a half-circle cross-section. They can then be laid in and eventually glued into place with epoxy.

Middle piece could use some extra work. In the photo I'm referencing, there's a clear circle feature with an end that joins to the blade's base. I was going to be lazy and just push this end into the bade as far as possible to cover it up, but it wasn't matching the source photo too well.

It's not perfectly circular I will admit, but it's not terrible. I really need to find extra rotary tool bits to make certain jobs easier. Doing this by hand with small files and sandpaper is not going to cut it in the long run.

Knocked out some more details in what looks like the tailbone of the scythe. This part was extremely tedious to handle. Getting the holes in when I don't have a drill bit or file small enough to get in there wasn't fun. I had to make do with a tapered file, on both sides of each hole. Golly! Then there was running the sandpaper only on the 2/5th and 4/5th sections of this to create the form of ball-tipped vertabrae. Wasn't fun either!

Wrapping up the edges of the blade, puttying up whatever deep scratches I accidentally made, as well as fixing the tip of the blade back on for the 4th time. I kept chipping off the ends through rough handling, which boiled down to thinning patience.

I've decided to call it done with the shaping. The final step on completing the sculpt was now to commit to assembling the shaft to the head. This could easily screw up the entire project if I didn't get all the requirements down: right-angle between overall length of shaft and direction of the blade, and both pieces lining up down the profile. A major slant would've been a huge embarrassment. The results are about 90%. I did notice that while I lined up the mane and blade using 2 different reference points, I did overlook that I didn't sculpt the blade to be straight, all the way down to the tip. When I let the whole weapon lay flat on one side, the tip of the blade is much closer to the table surface than the other side. It's not terrible, but it's hard to turn a blind eye to your own work.

Of course I wouldn't catch all the rough surfaces from sanding until I lay down the primer. Back to the sanding I go.

Smoothed out the roughness, filled in as much of the wooden cracks and natural wood grain as I could, got in the primer, laid several thick coats to get myself smooth surfaces. The next steps would be to airbrush chrome silver to get a black-chrome metal appearance. And then I will more than likely spray Tamiya Smoke acrylic to darken most of that shine, leaving only the inner-edge of the blade silver.

Update: I tried a Mr.Hobby "Super Chrome", which looked just about the same as Tamiya Chrome Silver, which just looks like a metallic silver... wasn't exactly what I was looking for. So I went and covered it all in Tamiya flat black to start over. It looks good in this bad lightning, but in daylight, it's like what matte black is supposed to look like; a dull grey. Yuck.

Masking off this area took a good portion of the afternoon, but after masking, I will start-to-finish complete the silver paint and clear coat. There will be a good chance I rub in black pigment to give it more convincing metal texture.

It's looking good! All that is left is to get the blade to be shiny like metal.

I cheaped out at first using that Dupli-Color Acrylic Enamel. That spray isn't known to produce a high-gloss finish. Even after spraying the Dupli-Color enamel clear coat, it doesn't give me any shine whatsoever.

That explains the dull finish. Only sanded off portions of the area, using 800, 1000, 2000-grit sandpaper, and ending with Tamiya Fine and Finish compounds.

It's not a flawless smoothness, but it is meant to be rough metal, so I'd say it's fitting.