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!
Epilog Challenge VI:
I am submitting this Instructable to the 6th Epilog Challenge because this processes opened my eyes to just how valuable a laser cutter can be for both professional prop builders and hobbyists. Currently I have to hire out my laser cutting to a service. They do wonderful work, but the convenience of having a laser cutting machine in the shop will open up a whole world of future projects that can be developed and created on a whim without having to spend weeks or months of planning and waiting for the parts to arrive (and avoid that unfortunate feeling when you realize you have to wait again to get something re-cut because it doesn't quite go together as you had expected).