Props come in all shapes and sizes!  But when you’re trying to figure out how big they should actually be when fabricating a prop, things can seem a bit overwhelming.  Here’s a quick tip to figuring out the proper scale of props. For more great tips like this, grab a copy of my e books.

Weapons and held items are best scaled by comparing them to your hand.  For this example, I’ll show you how to scale a dagger and a pistol.  For this you need…
-Toy gun or prop gun that comfortably fits your hand
-Two rulers
-A camera
-photo/image editing software ( inkscape or PhotoShop works)

It will also help to have a tripod and a helper to take pictures.

Lay the gun down on a flat surface.  Here I’ve laid it down on a cutting mat with a half inch grid to help with the scaling process.  Place a ruler horizontally under the gun and one vertically on one side.  Take a picture of the gun next to the rulers directly above.  It may help to lay this out on the floor to get further above the gun and rulers.  Once you have that photo, take one of you holding the gun in the same position.  This part is where you may need a helper to take the photo.  If you’re making a dagger or sword, then swap out the gun for a bladed weapon.

Now you have a good reference of your hand holding a gun.  The next step is to find a good reference image of the prop you want to build.  The key is to find an side profile image.  Here I grabbed an image of a Destiny hand cannon.  After you have your reference image, place both images in your imaging software of choice.  Change the opacity of the prop reference to around 50%.  Place the prop reference image over the image that you took of you holding the gun  next to the rulers.  Scale up or down the image of the gun until it looks like your hand would comfortably fit around the handle with your finger on the trigger.  From here you can compare the side profile reference image of the prop you want to make next to the rulers and get an idea of how big to make your replica.  You might be shocked at how big or small of the these actually turn out to be.  The Destiny hand cannon is a real beast of a gun that in all reality would rip my arm off, even though my titan carries it around as though it’s no big deal.

From there, you can make patterns and print them out or have a good scale to draft the pattern out by hand.  For drawing out the patterns by hand, check out this old tip on pattern making.  If you are using the computer to make your patterns and print out, you can alter the size of of the page dimensions and figure out the size by swapping to inches.  In this example I am using Inkscape, a free program.  You can also scale up the gun and place your hand on the screen  to get an idea of scale.

I hope you enjoyed this quick tip, check out other great tips here.

-WM