The basic body is a hollow piece of plastic tube with resin cast over it. This helps in two ways. Firstly
I wanted a hollow barrel, and second the tube was longer at each end than the resin section, so allowed for something to go in the
chuck of the lathe and steady.
Once fixed in the lathe, as it was my own design, it was really just turn it
down till I was happy with the shape. The two wider bits are the same diameter, but the end of the barrel is slightly narrower than
the middle body section.
Unfortunately I didn't document in pictures all the stages, so the different stages
are not shown to well. However once the basic body was made it needed decorating. I actually made a cast of a tie fighter display
stand base, which has loads of fine detail work on it, many of which were cast from the mould and glued onto the body for detail.
It saves loads of time and allows for much finer work that could be done easily by hand.
I cast the parts
in polyurethane resin as when heated becomes very soft and pliable, and can be folded round the curves and when hard stays in shape
for gluing on.
With the body done I started on the base pivot, which is just again turned from a block of
resin. The main back section was a cylinder shaped bit of resin but instead of being turned in the lathe, it was clamped in a rotary
table and milled. This allows for adding more precision bits like spaced holes and lips and recesses.
cradle it sits in was also made on the milling machine, to get one side flat and the other shaped. The shaping of the top was done
using normal router cutters, but in the milling machine. Simple but very effective.
These pictures just show the cannon in various stages. The first is me holding all the main bits together.
At this stage you will see the back section is still void of detail. This couldn't be added until the cannon was glued together to
make sure everything was in the right place.
The second and third pictures show the cannon complete. I use
pieces of rubber tube to join the base to the arm and cradle the cannon sits on. They don't do anything but just add to the overall
effect. Often finer detail just finishes something off really well.
As you can see detail has been added
to the sides and back. This was more just deciding what bits to use and placement. The only bit that was a must is the model tank
track on the top. This is on all the predator cannons, so is sort of a must when making one. Just that final traditional finishing
Because I made the cannon from lots of different parts, by that I mean the stuck on bits of kit and hose
etc, I wanted to make a mould so I could cast all the main section in one pouring.
The first picture shows
the base. This is an open topped mould which when done, and you simply pour the resin in, then place the finished part in the lathe
and turn the bottom flat.
The second picture shows the arm. This it a two part mould, which will be poured
from the very top. It is placed on a bed of super sculpy, and a pouring spout added. Once the silicon has been poured, and set, it
is turned over and the super sculpy removed and a layer of spray wax is applied, the silicon is then poured on that, and left to set.
The third pictures shows the cradle, which is done using the same process as the arm, only as this has a large protruding section.
If this is poured standing straight up, there is a good chance air will be trapped and ruin the cast in the form of large air bubbles.
To stop this I placed a piece of cardboard at an angle in the bottom, so when the mould is complete it will sit at an angle and allow
the resin to run in, and fill the protruding bit up fully.
A couple of things to remember when making a two
or more part mould, is to add keys to the super sculpy base. These allow the mould halves to be properly aligned. Failure to do this
will mean the mould can move and give a nasty join line, which is very hard to remove. Also a layer of either Vaseline or spray wax
needs applying to the surface of the silicon in the first half. This will stop the new silicon sticking. If you donít do this when
you come to part the two halves you are in a world of hurt, as they will have stuck together, good and proper.
These last three pictures just show the finished Plasma Caster. I assembled the cannon first, and then set
about painting it. I prefer to use a proper acrylic plastic primer first, then add colour onto that, normally model enamel as I have
loads of different colours.
I tend to airbrush most things as the finish is better than using a brush. To
start with the darkest layer is applied first and I then work up to the lightest layer which is last. This allows for deeper bits
to be done black to give them depth and the appearance of shading. If I want to add a bit more dirt, I find Laser printer toner is
very good for that dusty dirty effect, and once applied stays put quite well. I always tend to spray over it with a coat of clear
varnish to seal it and stop it coming off on hands or cloths.
This predator cannon or Plasma Caster as it is better known, and this one is of my own design. It was made using concepts and
ideas from all the film versions, but sort of thrown together and mixed up and this is the end result. Making your own versions
of stuff is so much nicer as you can go with the flow and add and take bits away at random, but when you are trying to recreate something
already made, it has to be perfect or it looks odd, and this takes far longer.