This Instructable will detail the process I went through while building my very own Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device [AKA the “Portal Gun”] from the Valve games Portal & Portal 2. Though the Portal Gun is the main focus of this build, the process involves a number of techniques which can be applied to a wide variety of projects, such as blueprint making, laser cutting, construction, mold making, casting, rotocasting, painting and basic electronics. While I would place this build in the high difficulty range, do not let that deter you from utilizing these techniques in your own builds, and since there is more than one method to tackle any build, do not feel as though you have to adhere to these instructions 100%. Utilize whatever methods you are most comfortable with.


At the start of this project I had been building props professionally for four years and as a hobbyist for ten. I've been a huge fan of Valve’s work ever since downloading Half-Life: Uplink from a game demo website back in 1999, then running out to purchase the full game after saving up enough nickels and dimes. I had been considering a Gravity Gun build from my true gaming obsession, Half-Life 2, but felt there was too much of a disconnect between the high resolution player-view model and low resolution world-view model to do that prop without significant compromises, but fortunately the Orange Box came packaged with a new obsession: Portal.

It is hard to ignore the similarities between the Portal Gun and the Gravity Gun; if you enjoy one it's likely you enjoy the other. With the world-view and player-view models showing quite a bit of consistency I knew it wouldn't be too difficult finding that middle ground without significant compromises.

I spent few months going through screen shots, ripping models, checking measurements, researching materials, creating sketches, blueprints and planning my attack before I started building. Construction, molding, casting, and finally getting to a finished product took nearly 6 months. It was important to me that if I took on the build I didn't just copy how others did it in the past, but came up with my own method that would hopefully stand out on its own. At Aperture we do all of our science from scratch. No hand holding!

Step 1: ​ Researching and Compiling Blueprints

To create an accurate replica you first need to study what it is you want to replicate. If we were replicating a film prop we could spend months or years scouring the internet for reference images, digging through screen shots, or trying to forge connections within the film’s production. While not without its own set of challenges, gathering the required reference for video games tends to be a bit straight forward. Most PC games, and even many on console, can have their prop models extracted and viewable in a third party program. Even better, Valve offers these sorts of programs for free with the Valve SDK. With this program you are able to load up the Portal Gun into the model viewer and check it out from whatever angle you please, you can even turn on the wireframe. If you have a more advanced 3d program, like 3DSMax, for example, you can import the model into there. Once I had access to the model, I imported the front/side/top views into Adobe Photoshop. (pic 1)

Figuring out scale with game props can be tricky since there are no real world components to compare it to. The player-view model of the Portal Gun actually has Chell’s hand molded onto it, though the player cannot see this detail in-game. To get my scale I used the height of Alésia Glidewell, the model and actress who was the basis of Chell, and found a chart online that displayed female hand sizes based on height. I then scaled Chell's hand to 1:1 of the average hand size, along with the Portal gun. The scaled image was then printed out and a caliper was used to gather all of the measurements for my blueprints. (pic 2 & 3)

Before moving on to the next part of the build I had my blueprints printed out at 1:1. I try to make an effort to do this with all my builds as having it to turn to helps immensely. (pic 4)


Adobe Illustrator
Adobe Photoshop
Valve SDK Model Viewer

<p>Could you upload the laser cut pieces files so i can laser cut them </p>
<p>hey bveliz, any chance you got those laser cut files.. i making one too :)</p>
<p>Congrats on the win! Well worth it :)</p>
<p>Congratulations on the win! Fantastic build!</p>
<p>Wow. This looks like a pretty technical build. The final product is beautiful. Great job.</p>
<p>Incredibly realistic, nice work!</p><p>I actually just beat Portal 2 this morning. It was even better than I thought it could be.</p>
<p>Amazing project! So lifelike!</p>
Dats cool
<p>Make sure you enter this in the Halloween props contest! <a href="https://www.instructables.com/contest/halloween2014props/">https://www.instructables.com/contest/halloween2014...</a></p><p>There's a judge's prize for best weapon!</p>
<p>Thanks for the suggestion. Done! </p>
<p>I have to ask: show did you find someone to make the laser cuts for this project? Am I really the only guy on Instructables who doesn't own an industrial-sized laser cutter?<br><br>:-)</p>
I used Pololu.com
<p>Congrats!</p><p>Nice clear photos make all the difference!</p>
<p>can you upload all the files you created in the process, including the models and blueprints?</p>
<p>It&acute;s fantastic, but... &iquest; how Making the Shells? &iquest;where is the model in pdf for the printer? without this plane, it&acute;s impossible make nothing.</p>
<p>The Instructable has been updated to include not just the PDF and PDO files required for the shells, but a mini Pepakura tutorial as well.<br></p><p>https://www.instructables.com/id/Building-a-11-Scale-Portal-Gun-with-Lights/step6/Making-the-Shells-Part-1-Pepakura/</p>
<p>Thank you very much!!</p>
You can find the Pep for the shells on Google, but I'll see about making my own and adding them to the tutorial.
<p>You should work making props for movies man,very nice work!</p>
<p>This is incredible! The only thing that could make it better is if it made the sounds, but frankly, with a model this pristine, that is but a minor detail! Keep it up!</p>
<p>Though I have yet to add sounds to this, maybe I can add a sound tutorial. It's rather easy, actually. </p>
<p>I'm sure the serious builders would appreciate that! :)</p>
<p>Neat, though there are the NECA ones, and other home made ones that have lights and sounds. Not anything new but still impressive.</p>
<p>Bear in mind I made this in 2011, long before the NECA one came around. </p>
<p>What you have achieved here is movie prop quality or BETTER!!! Amazing job indeed!</p>
<p>Now all you need is the jumpsuit. <br></p>
<p>Portal is one of the awesome games I have played and what you have made is MIND-BLOWINGLY INSANE! Extremely professional! You are genius! SUPER AWESOME!</p>
<p>ive just finish portal 1 by the first time because of this. thanks good game</p>
<p>Am I the only normal average person who does NOT have a laser cutter and 3D printer at the house?</p><p>Kick ass work though. </p>
Nope, I don't have either of those! For this project I used the services of Pololu.com. They mostly do robotics, but they have a laser machine on site. It wasn't cheap, but they are good people and worked with me to help bring the costs down to something more affordable. After using their service, I've seen just how valuable these tools are, which is why I've submitted this Instructable into the Epilog Laser Challenge. Wish me luck!
<p>Would you consider giving/sell some cast parts so i can make my own.</p>
<p>Hey Caleb, </p><p>Unfortunately the molds are very old now and it would be very expensive to remold them at this time, but if you want to message my inbox I might be able to see if I have any second castings left over from back in the day. </p>
<p>I was half-expecting your materials list to include &quot;One cross borehole electro-magnetic imaging rhubarb&quot; ;-)</p><p>Gorgeous gun, nicely done!</p>
<p>Something awesome about a person crazy enough to spend the time to do this. As a big fan of Portal, and an avid model builder as a young person, so I love stuff like this. My first thought was that this person should be a prop builder. Sure enough. </p><p><em>If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life.</em></p><p>Marc Anthony</p>
No doubt. This will be at the top-of-the-list for our next summer project! Amazing amount of work. Thanks for sharing.
<p>This was a triumph, I'm making a note here. HUGE SUCESS. It's hard to overstate my satisifaction.</p>
<p>Great job!!!<br>How much did it cost all in all?/what would it cost me ;)?</p>
<p>It's been a few years since so it's hard to say, but I don't think I would have been able to afford to build this at the time had I not been able to barter services. The lathe work was completed through trade, though I probably spent about $100 purchasing the aluminum for him to work with. The laser cut pieces were initially quoted at a couple of hundred, but I worked with the company to bring the prices down a bit. Of course, if the builder chose different methods like hand cutting the parts and owned their own lathe then the costs would come down quite a bit. <br><br>If they just wanted a one-up they could skip the molding and casting process, which probably had around $300+ in materials in it. <br><br>Back when I offered cast kits I sold them for $300. People would take those and resale them on eBay for over $1000. But the NECA version came along and killed off the interest in these. The NECA toy isn't bad, especially for the price, but it's a bit inaccurate.</p>
<p>That's too realistic ! Awesome work ! </p>
<p>Wow! This is awesome! Good job!</p>
<p>Yours makes my recycled bottle portal gun look a junk. But one of my kids was an actual portal ;)</p>
<p>Awesome dad spotted!</p>
<p>Such an AWESOME masterpiece!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!</p>
<p>Wow fantastic work! </p>
<p>Incredible instructable and I love the final product! </p>
<p>i did the math , it shuld work awsome your the men!</p>
<p>wow, just wow<br>this is an amazing build. voted!</p>
I own a portal gun ( just the replica ) and I can say with hand on heart that yours is a fantastic solid build that looks great, really top draw job! Voted! Great work ;)

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