Introduction: Making a Prop Weathered and Old

What makes Star Wars IV (ANH) different from Star Wars I (TPM); or Star Trek TNG from Firefly; or Original Battlestar Galactica from new Battlestar Galactica?

What made the very FIRST Star Wars so cool, feel so real, become an instant classic compared to The Phantom Manace feel sad and FAKE.  Yes it was Jar-Jar!! Kill Jar-Jar.... No, wait! got off track. The thing that made the difference to me was the environment and especially the props. Dirty, dingy, real looking props.

Props that are not perfect, seem old, seem dirty, or look used just plain look better. It is easier to believe that a tool or a weapon has been with the characters through thick and thin when it looks used and dirty and dented and scratched. It is a further stretch of the imagination when a character says, "this is my trusty ray gun. my old grand-pappy gave it to me when i was 12," when the gun looks like he just picked it up from the local iPod store 5 minutes ago (a lot of Star Trek props look that way).

So this instructable is about making something look used and grungy to give it more depth.  Because let's face it... SPACE IS A DIRTY PLACE!

Step 1: What You Need

Here are the things you need:

1. Your prop
2. Black, grey, brown, tan spray paint. Any combination, from 1 to all 4.
3. Rag
4. Paint thinner or paint remover
5. gun powder (optional)
6. Dirt, mud, tar, used motor oil (optional)

Tools
1. Dremmel or sandpaper
2. hammer or a large rock
3. Blowtorch or lighter or matches

Step 2: The Scary Part - Damage Your Prop

Now comes the hard part emotionally. You have to take your nice, new, shiney prop and damage it.

But DO NOT just randomly bash it around!! Got to think about it and strategize.  It is not very easy to undamage something.

Usually some backstory will make it easier to place the scars we are about to inflict.  Like a a blaster block that was too slow 2 years ago. Or when the lightsaber was kicked out of your hand while fighting on the roof. Or when you were baking under a triple sun of some awful planet.

Got a good backstory. OK. Start doing damage.

Step 3: Paint It

This is the easy part.

In my example I am just using black.

Get your prop and spray it with paint.

Quickly wipe the paint off with the rag. Do it lightly so a lot of the paint stays behind.  Spray again and try to get the paint into cracks and crevices and edges. Wipe off again quickly.

If it looks good, great. If it looks FAKE use the paint remover and start over.

Let it dry.

Mist the prop with other colors or black (as in spray from a distance so the coat is light and uneven). Splatter some other colors on.

Step 4: Admire Your Work

Now that is a item that has been with you on a hundred planets and have seen countless sunsets of alien suns.
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