It has been a while since I participated in the Google SketchUp 3D Challenge as I have been spending much of my time modeling starships. But when the topic of Ray Gun came up I decided to “give it a shot.” So I decided to do a blaster from Star Wars… no surprise there. At first I was going to do Han Solo’s blaster from A. New Hope. After downloading some reference photos I decided it was much too complex for the time allotted. The Mouser handgun it is based on is highly detailed and just too complex for the amount of realism I try to put into my models in a short period of time. I finally settled on Boba Fett’s EE-3 Carbine Blaster Rifle from Return of the Jedi. It was much less complex overall. In the end it turns out I ran out of time to submit my entry because I had other priorities to work on. But I wanted to finish it so I kept working on it until it was done.
This blaster was made from a 1916 British Webley & Scott No. 1 Mark I Flare Gun. Starting with the flare gun the prop makers added a PVC pipe and various other parts to give it a futuristic look to it. On either side of the gun’s breach they glued a bomb rack part from a F4E Phantom scale model to cover up the writing engraved there. To the stock of the gun they added a gear case from Revel Visible V8 engine model on both side. In addition to the engine part they also added an undisclosed plate cover to both sides of the stock. It was then painted and then distressed to show a lot of use.
My virtual replica represents the blaster in “new” condition without any wear and tear. To give it the distressed appearance I would have to add textures to the model which would take much more time to do. Most of my models are without many textures because they take too much time, increase the file size and really don’t add much to the model.
I decided to model the Webley flare gun first then went on to make the changes to “convert” it into the blaster much like the original prop builders. Thankfully there were enough photos of the flare gun online to study. If it wasn’t for so many fans building blasters from these old guns there might have been nothing to go on besides screen captures from the movie. It was difficult getting the curves in the handle and the stock bracket to match the actual gun and I got fairly close but I could make it better if I had the time to do it during the challenge. Had I known I was going to run out of time to finish by the deadline I would have spent more time getting the curves right. I duplicated the finished uncolored flare gun and moved it over so I could later show a comparison of the Webley to the blaster.
Once I was done modeling the Webley flare gun I then started modeling the new barrel. That was no big deal. I moved on to the scope. The scope was pretty straight forward except until I got to the adjustment knobs on top. They are supposed to have a cross-hatched texture for gripping on them which would be easy enough to do with a textured graphic but I did it with actual module geometry. It was more time consuming than difficult. Modeling fine details like that in SketchUp is nearly impossible unless you know a trick or two. When working in a micro scale the program has a bad habit of randomly omitting faces leaving holes in shapes. To get around this I take the shape I am working on and scale it up to 10 times the intended size and when I am done I resize it back down to the correct size. Doing that also prevents the need to deal in 1/128th of an inch increments when going that small.
The final modeling work was on the rest of the details the prop makers added to the blaster. After that I added color to the model. I colored the original flare gun to match one version of it in a photo. Apparently the flare guns were made in a variety of metal finishes and this one happened to have a brass handle with everything else the typical gun metal grey. For the blaster I chose a slightly reddish black and gave all the screws a rusty brown color. I created scenes to show off both finished guns.
Even though I didn’t finish in time for the challenge I enjoyed finishing the model. Maybe I‘ll go and finish the Stormtrooper blaster for the Rifle challenge I failed to finish. I will see about that.