[WARNING: IF YOU HAVEN’T PLAYED PORTAL 2 YET AND PLAN TO, THIS POST MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS]
4th year in my course consists of 2 projects and 1 thesis. The 2 projects are called the “Initial Project” and the “Final Project”. The Inital Project can be anything you want, so long as it fits into a 1 foot cubed clear perspex box. Due to the fact it’s in a 1ft cubed space it’ll need to be about 10″ cubed to make it fit nicely and look presentable rather than squished up against the sides. The project is allowed be connected to your final project, and even be part of it so, for example, if you were doing a stop motion animation, you could make your character and a prop or two to put inside the box. Then, when the Final Project comes around you’ll already have a bit done.
I dont know if my Initial Project will be directly connected to my Final Project or not, but I decided to make PotatOS from the Valve game Portal 2. For those of you who dont know PotatOS is a version of the main antagonist of the Portal series, GLaDOS. She has been confined to a potato as punishment and you end up carrying her around the game in potato form for quiet some time. The following picture is of the in game model and I aim to make a real life version as close to this as possible. All going according to plan, she’ll have LEDs and a voice by the end of it. Which is an excellent exercise for me in electronics as I was never very good at it in school!
The first step was to make the actual potato. One of my main reasons for making PotatOS was I wanted to make a really accurate version. Most of the versions I could find online were attached to real potatoes or they’d just cast a large potato instead. I decided to sculpt mine instead, and try make it as close to the in game potato shape as possible. I also wanted to make sure I added in the roots which I consider a rather obvious feature that a lot of people leave out.
I started by drawing a series of outlines of PotatOS. These were done by taking screen caps of the front, back, side, top and bottom of the model in 3ds Max which Shane helped me rip from the game using 3D Ripper DX. This is a very useful tool which I’d certainly love to use again, but it is trick to get the model out without it becoming skewed in some way. This is where Shane came in, he’s like the computer whisperer!
Before going on to making actual PotatOS, while I had the 3D model I decided to print out and make a Pepakura version so I’d get a proper sense of the shape. There’s a big difference between looking at a 3D model on the computer and actually holding one in your hands, so having a prototype was extremely handy for the first part of the project.
After I’d finished the outlines, I printed out a copy of the front, side and back. Turns out I didn’t really need the bottom and top. After some enlarging and size tweaking I managed to get them printing so each one was aout 18cm tall. Now, that may sound huge, and I thought it too, but PotatOS is actually quiet a large model, more of a sweet PotatOS really. I glued these outlines to some scrap card so I could use them as templates.
In 1st year we made fake fruit as part of a replication module. This was done by drawing a front, back and 2 side views of the fruit, lining them up, and sticking them to a cube of foam so when you passed the foam through a hot wire cutter you had a template to move around. I was using the same basic idea for PotatOS except I was carving her out rather than cutting her out with a hot wire. A friend of mine had a lot of scraps left over from making some Daft Punk helmets so I stuck a few pieces together so I had a block big enough. This saved me buying a massive sheet of insulation foam I just didn’t need!
I carved the initial big chunks away with a knife and as you can probably see in the previous picture I had a big thick black outline so i’d only carve close out the outside of the black like and then use a sanding block and 250 grit sandpaper to start rounding it down into the right shape. It might be hard to see in the initial image but PotatOS has a few lumps and bumps on her close to her eye, and then there’s also the dents and holes for the roots but I decided to sand those bits away and add them back in at a later date.
After I had her completely rounded down, it was then time to protect the foam from priming and painting. If you spray an aerosol paint or primer onto any form of polystyrene you’re going to end up with a very molten sticky puddle on your hands. First off I cover her gradually in a thin layer of Isopon which is a car body filler and the European version of 3M’s Bondo that most prop tutorials seem to mention online. By the looks of things though, Bondo seems to be a bit more gooey and smooth in comparison to Isopon. Anyway, once the Isopon was dry, I then built the bumps back up with Milliput and modeled the root holes and eyes in the potato.
Then began sanding the whole thing back down again, so I had a nice smooth finish. Unfortunately Isopon has a tendancy to get little pin holes and dents in it so my lecturer suggested I try 3M Red Acryl Glazing Putty, which apparently goes on after Isopon. The putty filled in all the deep sandpaper scratches left over from the lower grades and all the pin holes and dents were filled in.
This needed to be built up in a thin layer first though, so it required more sanding to get back to the surface. The picture here is off a section I’d managed to sand back, as you can see there are some red streaks where scratches have been filled in.
This is completely sanded back now, and after sealing some patches of exposed foam with a bit of acrylic and making a few changes to the bumps and root hold I put in the wrong place, I’ve started priming with grey car primer. This will take a few coats becuase once everything goes the one shade, it’ll be very easy to see every detail so i’ll be sanding it back again.
Pro Tip: Grey is the best colour for photographing detail, that’s one of the reasons Super Sculpey firm is grey.
That’s all for now! I better get back to priming and sanding!