Introduction: District 9 Sign

District 9 is one of my personal favorite movies, and I really wanted something easy and simple from the film. I decided to put my 3D printers to work, so I designed some stencils and went out and bought a 10x14 inch aluminum sign from the hardware store. If you want the 3D printable stencil files, you can find them right here:

Make sure to print out 2 of the eye pieces, and 2 of each border piece.


A 3D printer

10x14 Inch sign

Black, Brown, Red, Orange acrylic paints


Black, White, Red spray paint

About 4 or 5 hours of free time

Step 1: Prepping the Surface

Take the metal sign and flip it on the bare metal side. I had to scrape off a sticker, so I used a metal scraper (I didn't mind any scratches, as that adds to the weathering effect later on). After that I just took a steel wool buffing pad, and buffed the back to make sure the paint sticks later on.

Step 2: Rusting

To make sure the rust sticks I just used some 400 grit sandpaper. After that I brushed on some blackish brown paint in small spots (try to avoid any areas you know will be covered up by the red and black spray paints later). I gave it about 15 minutes to dry, and then I mixed in some reds and oranges with my blacks and browns, giving it a rusty look. I gave that about 15 more minutes to dry, and then it's on to the spraypaint!

Step 3: Salt Chipping

For a genuine rust look, I used a technique called salt chipping. I took some water and lightly brushed it onto any rusty spots I wanted to be visible after I put on the white spraypaint. I then sprinkled some salt over those areas, making sure to thoroughly cover any spots I wanted the rust to show through.

Step 4: Spray Paint

I gave the metal sheet 3 coats of white paint, making sure to cover the whole surface evenly. After that I hit it with a heat gun and gave it about 20 more minutes to dry. I took a dry paper towel and brushed the surface of the sign. This took away all of the salt, leaving me with a pretty convincing rusty metal look!

Step 5: Border Stencil

I had my 3D printer running through the first few steps, printing out all of the stencil pieces. The first stencil is the border. You'll need to print out 2 of each border stencil piece, and then tape or glue them together to create the full 2 pieces. After they were taped, I made sure to line them up evenly, and mask off any white surface I didn't want to get red paint on. After that I gave it a good coat of sunrise red enamel. After about 20 minutes I peeled off the stencils, and it looks pretty good. The next few steps are basically the same.

Step 6: Inner Stencil

This step is almost the same as the last one, but I used black paint instead of red paint on this one. I once again made sure to cover up any areas that I didn't want to get black spray paint on. Make sure you print out 2 eye pieces and the mouth piece, as these need to be placed onto the face during this step. I just used a dab of super glue to hold them on, and peeled it off later. After this dried, I did cover up the top part and spray paint only the numbers at the bottom red.

Step 7: Red Circle Stencil

For this last stencil I had to eyeball it, as there was no way of designing this piece to look real and be easy to print or use. I just lined it up until it looked about right, and then masked off and spray painted everything.

Step 8: Weathering

the result here is already pretty convincing, but I decided to hit it with a hammer and some screw drivers all over to give it a really weathered and battered feel like in the film.

Step 9: Hang It Up

Now the sign's all finished so you can hang it up wherever you like! I hope you enjoyed this project, even though it's pretty short. It only took me about 3 or 4 hours to do this but I think the end result turned out fantastic!