Saturday, January 2, 2010

BuzzBee Doubleshot Paintjob Part 1

When I first saw the Double shot I knew that I would have to get one and give it a realistic paint job. Since my wife and I are planning to begin playing a steampunk LARP in New Jersey by the name of Brimsteam it seemed a perfect project. My initial character concept was a retired soldier with a bit of Danny and Peachy from "The Man Who Would Be King." He would be a retired army surgeon named Nigel acting as a body guard to his traveling companion. As a body guard he would need at least a couple of firearms. As I hashed out his history, it became apparent that after twenty years of service he would have at least one gun from his life in the army. I liked Corporal Hicks with the sawed off shotgun in "Aliens" and a double barrel seemed so perfect for Nigel. Very English country. One thought was that since Nigel was career military he would take very good care of his weapons. But the more that I thought about it, if he served in several countries over two decades, the gun would be weathered, stained, and banged up.

So it began. Every good soldier needs to name his gun and Nigel named his Nora. Since it was for a steampunk LARP I figured I would use some of the standard metal colors: copper, brass, bronze. But I think of Nigel as being a realist and a man of simple taste, so I decided that he would own a functional gun with only a few embellishments. The load bearing pieces like the barrel and chamber would be a steel color. The front sight and trigger guard would be copper. Rear sight and a few other embellishments would be gold. Then the buttplate and trigger would be a bronze-ish color. Originally I had thought to add an extension to the buttplate using pvc, but soon realized it would be unfeasible at this point.

The first order of business was to clean up the gun. I removed all decals then sanded off any logos, warnings and "made in" marks molded into the plastic. Then it was time to age it by adding chips, scratches, and gouges. I went to work with a hobby knife and my imagination, being careful not to gouge too deep. After careful inspection I was finally satisfied with the physical aspect of the weathering/aging.

Next, I took the Double Shot and opened it up as best I could without marring the casing. There wasn't much I could do to increase the range without cutting off the barrel or losing the coolness factor of ejecting shells, so I resigned myself to the out of the box ranges of 20 or so feet. Oh well . . buckshot doesn't have much range either when compared to rifle bullets

Next came the paint job. I first coated all exposed parts with a plastic dye to give it a good base for the paints to stick to. I was using spray paints for the base coat so be followed with brush detailing and weathering. I sprayed the gun metal base coat and found to my horror it was not a gun metal or even a steel color. It was silver. Well, maybe I could make it work. I decided to forge ahead and painted the rest of the pieces. I used blue painter's masking tape to mask off areas on the same piece that would be painted a different color.

I gave it a good day or two between colors. But even with that some of the silver paint came off with the masking tape. Remask and touch up. Then another couple days to dry. I pulled all the tape off and inspected it. No chips.

I wasn't too sure how to do the wood, so I decided to age the metals. So I went to work. many, many washes with acrylic. I knew that putting acrylic over a rustoleum type enamel was not a good idea and maybe even a recipe for disaster. But desperate times call for desperate measures. The metal started looking very good. The steel looked old and stained. The other metals dulled a bit and chipped up. Each chip was detailed with a different shade of the metal. The steel with silver, the copper with a slightly brighter acrylic copper and so on. I was satisfied with the look.

Finally I couldn't avoid it any longer. I had come to the wood parts. I wanted them to look well aged and worn. The places that would be handled most, where the hands would hold it, would be lighter in color, and the nooks and crannies would be darkened almost to black with age, grime, and dirt that had been rubbed and soaked into the wood over the years.