For Christmas we subscribed to Disney+, wanting to watch the Marvel and Star Wars movies. William really enjoyed the Mandalorian series and so a project for myself during the quiet Christmas of 2020 was born – recreate the Mandalorians rifle.
Luckily for me there’s plenty of 3D files to choose from so this was going to be more of a painting effects project than a 3D design project.
The design I selected was OddWorks design on Thingiverse, this seemed to be the most detailed model whilst also being fairly straightforward to print on my Prusa MK3.
I printed the whole rifle out of PLA, initially using up some old leftover reels I had. The parts whilst tall all stuck to my build plate perfectly well and all printed without issues.
The models slides together using the long printed square pegs, since these are so long the gun can be easily assembled dry and checked before commencing to gluing.
I use cyanoacrylate (super glue) for any PLA projects, when used with an activator this makes the process quick and easy.
During build up I found the thin rail below the gun barrel kept snapping. As the print infill was fairly open it allowed me to easily glue in metal pinning to strengthen the whole lot. If I made the gun again I would probably selectively make the infill denser in these areas but even with this it may be wise just to pin them. (Sorry but I forgot to take pictures of this issue and its solution).
Due to the intricate nature of the gun the only areas I performed any major preparation on were the gun butt as this needs to eventually simulate a smooth piece of wood and the areas where sections joined together.
After sanding I filled any gaps / steps in the print with fine wood filler, sanded down smooth and once dry wiped clean. The whole gun was then coated with a few good applications of spray primer.
This was the main part of the project for me, how do I recreate a smooth realistic wooden gun butt? This needed to have the deep colour and graining found on a wooden butt.
Researching I found a couple of techniques but non of them really gave the effect I was after. So the solution described here is a mixture of techniques I found and a lot of trial and error on pieces of paper and scraps of old 3D prints.
I started mixing a very light sandy base wood colour. You need to mix up quite a lot of this base colour as its then used as the base mixture for the majority of every other colour applied.
I used some cheap acrylic paint, mixing a large portion of yellow, small amount of red and the very smallest of amount of blue to achieve the colour I wanted.
Adjust the colour by the ratio of these paints, don’t be tempted to add black or white to lighten or darken your mixture and never add white and black together in a mix as this will just result in a dirty grey or mud colour no matter what you do.
The initial sandy colours applied to give a clean consistent base colour and a few coats were applied to ensure this.
The next colour was a slightly darker version, achieved by adding more red and again the smallest amounts of blue to the mix. This was brushed lightly over the whole butt as a single light coat, I wasn’t trying to completely coverup the previous coat as this just adds some depth to the background colour.
Always allow your last layer of paint to completely dry before applying the next. Don’t be tempted to touch it, just make sure you have left enough time for it to dry. Rushing this will spoil the layers below.
The next stage is to start to apply some graining, I mixed yet another deeper level of brown and with a brush applied it to the butt. I found that by wiping the brush to almost dry on a piece of cardboard before applying long light sweeps of the brush to the gun gave the best effect. The paint could be manipulated on the butt to simulate the movement and different sweeping directions of the grains for some time.
This was then repeated with an even darker dirtier grain, this time not mixed from the parent paints but straight from the bottle of burnt umber. This gave a definite difference to the grains, apply this to the more hard to reach areas and then only a light / fine graining level in others.
Highlights & Protecting
Adding a small amount of black to the burnt umber and thinning the mixture down for airbrush use, this is applied in the areas near the joint of the butt to the gun and around the trigger. Places where a hand / fingers wouldn’t easily rub and clean the surfaces, its then blended into the main body of the butt.
The same effect was also applied to the small section in the middle of the barrel.
On completing, leave it to dry completely and then apply 2 thick coats of matt clear coat to protect and complete the effect. The matt coat still gives a slight sheen to the wood without making it too glossy. Make sure you only clearcoat the wooden painted areas.
I find that masking off acrylic paint doesn’t work as it always strips away flakes of paint. This is why I clear coated the wooden areas and let them fully dry off before masking them off, to do this I used painters tape and newspaper.
This can be achieved easily with an airbrush and a bottle of Metallic Gunmetal Grey paint so long as a few rules are observed.
- Always shake the bottle very well before use
- Use proper airbrush paint thinners to get the correct consistency
- Don’t let the paint sit at all use it immediately after you load the airbrush up ad don’t load up too much at once.
- Apply a number of very thin coats and start in different areas each time.
The biggest issues I find with these paints is they separate back out after mixing very quickly and when painting large items like this it can happen during use. This ruins the painted effect as it becomes too silver, it also then has a tendency to clog the airbrush as well.
For the golden wiring area behind the breach I used a Vallejo Bronze metallic paint, applying it with a small brush rather than the airbrush.
The end of the barrel was given a light coat of red mixed with the gun metal metallic paint and then on the inner edges blue mixed with the gun metal to give the thermal colour change effect.
All the small studs are highlighted using a tiny rolled up piece of kitchen roll and the silver in the Vallejo paint kit, this gives the impression of them being rubbed when the guns place down on a surface. Other areas that would be rubbed in use were also give a light coat. I then attempted scuff marks using coarse grit sandpaper and the silver, this didn’t work well for me so I need to research this further if I want this effect again.
I find this stage to be give the most realism to a project as it blends everything together. However this is also the most worrying stage of the process as your about to apply a messy dirty paint all over your many hours of careful paintwork work.
WARNING – Do not do this stage until the paint you have already applied is 110% dry! If you don’t you are really going to regret it.
Mix up some of the burnt umber and a good amount of black acrylic paint then water it right down to a really thin wash. Something that if you brushed it over a piece of paper would only just cover fully with the colour.
Cover a large work area with newspaper (I use old carpet on the garage floor) and get a roll of kitchen paper ready.
Now this stage needs to be done quickly to prevent the water loosening the paint you have already applied. For large items like this gun apply in sections and over lap the sections heavily. The wash wont stick to the areas you have already clear coated so these don’t need the application.
Apply the wash generously all over, making sure it gets into all the small areas and difficult to reach places on the model. Then immediately with the paper towels pat off the wash, “do not rub” you need to remove the majority so that what’s left is mainly in the hard to reach nooks and crannies of the model.
Once complete hang up to dry and then apply 2 light coats of matt clear coat to protect it all.
The trigger is spring loaded and when the springs fitted and the triggers screwed in place it operates really nicely.
However, on attempting to build the breach it was clear the design to hold the release catch in against the spring wasn’t going to work. Since this was going to be a piece of wall art for Williams room this didn’t matter too much so I just assembled it all together without making the release operational.
Mounting and final finishes
To mount the rifle I designed two 3D printed holders in Fusion 360. Using the STL model as a template the mounts have been sculpted to fit the gun perfectly.
These get screwed to the wall, they have some thin neoprene pads stuck into them to protect the gun and the gun gets secured with leather strapping to the holders to complete the effect.
The Mandalorian Rifle project was definitely a painting challenge for me and I’m really pleased with the results. It really looks good on Williams wall and stands up to being inspected closer than most of my projects to date.
The other painting project completed to date that came close to this level was the “Thing watch stand“.