As I do not have to work during this New Year Day, I thought I would have the first entry of my blog for 2011 be one NOT on work.
I had enquiries on how I apply my “Battle Damage” to my Transformers Customs. While several have commented that it looks like my customs go through a grinder, I think it is actually accurate of an intense battle scene or car crash. Look at Optimus Prime when he got thrashed and killed in the forrest battle in the Revenge of the Fallen movie.
I’ve seen several “battle damaged” customs and feel that a couple of “bullet holes” and “laser slashes” do not create enough of an authentic look.
Here are some of my past “Battle Damage” custom Optimus Primes:
I thought I would share my approach and techniques of creating a “Battle Damage” look pre-paintjob. You can moderate the amount of damage you want based on your own liking.
First up, here are the four types of “battle damage” I apply:
1) Laser Slashes
2) Bullet Holes
4) Grindings, Dings and Dents
Depending on your toy or figure, you will need different tools to create the damage. Different toys are made of different types of plastics. Some are hard and some are softer.
The basic tools that you need include:
Soldering Iron – This is great for most toys and will work for most plastics. The heat from the Soldering Iron will melt through the plastic easily and is ideal to create slashes, cuts, grinding and dents. Depending on the plastic, you have to figure out how much pressure to apply and how much of the iron to contact with the plastic.
BE VERY CAREFUL when using the soldering iron as it is very hot. Be sure to have a proper holder and be aware of where you place the iron when in use. You do not want to accidently touch the iron when it is not in use but “on”.
Rotary Tool – This is a very versatile to0l and most serious customizers will own one. Popular brands include Dremel and Borsch. The Rotary Tool has many attachements and “heads” for different purposes. With this tool, you can make straight cuts, grind and sand parts as needed.
While this tool is more for kit bashing and custom buidling/ shaping parts, it can be useful for “battle damage” but not 100% necessary.
Hand Drill - This is necessary for creating bullet holes for harder plastics. For softer plastics, you could instead use a small Phillips-head screwdriver and basicaly manually score and screw into and through the plastic. For very soft & thin plastics, you could also create bullet holes with a soldering iron.
For harder plastics and especially windshields that are typically hard plastic, I always use a hand drill to have a controlled force to drill through. More of the exact techniques later
Pen Knife - This is for precision scoring and cuts as needed.
Safety Goggles - This is a must if you are working with any power/ electric tools. While a spinning rotary tool may be at low speed, it can cause a small piece of plastic to fly straight into your eye.
For the purpose of this tutorial, I will apply “battle damage” to the Voyager Class Optimus Prime from the Hunt of the Decepticons series. This is the most movie accurate version of the Optimus Prime in the Voyager Class range. The previous releases were not movie accurate and looked “off”.
In fact, I have an uncompleted fully kit bashed Voyager Class Optimus Prime that I designed. All the parts have been fabricated but it is not assembled or painted yet. But I digress.
Wiht the Voyager Class series of Transformers toys, you can use a soldering iron & pen knife to apply all the battle damage you need. Leader Class Transformers will require drills and rotary tools for best effect and to handle the different plastics. You can also use just a soldering iron & pen knife for Gundam figures too.
I will show how I apply different “battle damage” to the various parts and in a subseuqnet tutorial, I will show how I apply the paint work for the figure.
Step 1: Design your “battle damage”
The first thing you need to do is design your “battle damage”. It is not random, although the finished custom might look so. Think about how you want to spread out the “battle damage”. Consider where the heaviest damage might occur. E.g. on the forearms due to defensive wounds; front of body and head as they are the main focus of most attacks.
You can do a simple sketch to design the “battle damage” to guide you as you work, epsecially if it is your virgin attempt.
Step 2: Remove Parts
Remove all parts that can be removed so that you can apply “battle damage” with as much accuracy as possible to different parts of the figure.
Step 3: Laser Slashes
Use the Soldering Iron to apply laser slashes through the body. Choose a couple of deep long slashes as major damage and add smaller/ shorter slashes. You would variety and texture. Too many similar slashes will not look right.
For the major damage slashes, think where the most logical slashes would be if the figures were in a sword fight. The forearms, chest, thighs, shoulders and back are the most natural locations.
For minor slashes, you can apply them to the same areas as the major slashes as well as other areas.
Step 4: Bullet Holes
Bullet holes give great texture to the “battle damage”. They are not as simple as making holes into the figure and you need careful planning as bullet holes cannot be covered up or “reversed”.
The first thing is to determine the tool to use. As I mentioned, depending on the type of plastic, you can use a screwdriver but I always use an electric hand drill or a soldering iron, if the plastic permits. Always use a low speed when drilling to prevent the plastic from cracking.
Choose a drill bit to match a suitable calibre of ammo used to create the bullet hole. You also want a reasonable size based on the size of the toy you are customizing.
I drill a series of holes in a straight line on the forearm. The idea is to create the effect of a gun or blaster being shot consecutively and fired in auto mode. This creates a row of bullet holes.
If the bullet hole is supposed to be on or through a part of the body that is supposed to be made of metal, I also feel there should be scratch/ slash lines around the edges of the bullet hole. Use the Soldering Iron and create short grooves around the hole. Do it on both sides it boths sides of the material is accessible.
I also like to create bullet holes in the windscreen. Two or three on one widescreen is enough. In Optimus Prime’s case, there are two wind screens that make up his torso.
Once the bullet holes in the wind screens are made, use the pen knife and score in lines running from the hole out to the edge of the wind screen. Create multiple scratch lines radiating out from the hole. Next, scratch in lines to connect the radiating lines. In effect, you are scratching a”spider web” with the bullet hole being the center of the web. This creates a shattered glass effect caused by the bullet.
You can also add a couple more holes in random patterns on the body. Just remember, less is more for bullet holes.
Step 5: Scratches
Scratches are to add texture and give a “layer” to the damage. Use a pen knife to create scratches, do not use the Soldering Iron. The idea is to create multiple surface scratches that would be completely expected in any physical fight.
The scratches cannot be too light otherwise will be covered up by your paintjob later on.
Step 6: Grindings, Dings and Dents
This type of “battle damage” is what gives the grittiness of the damage and extent of damage.
Depending on the material of your toy and the size, you can either use the Soldering Iron or Rotary Tool to create this type of damage. I like to use a combination of both to create variety and texture.
Apply the damage in short strokes made close together. Focus especially on the outer edges of the different parts of the toy and extremenities.
Imagine, if you drive your car and graze against a concrete wall, the parts that get damaged wil be the extremeties and the parts that protrude out the most. Use this as a guide to apply the minor grinds, dings and dents to your figure.
Apply as much or as little of this type of damage as you want. Don’t forget the head of the figure. While you might have reservations of damaging the head, remember, logically, the head takes lots of hits in a fight.
Don’t forget to add dings to the fists or back of hands, as though they have been punching through lots of metal.
After you have finished your first round of “battle damage”, look over the figure to see if it is enough or logical. If not, modify or add damage as needed.
Once you are happy, clean up the figure to prepare it for painting. Essentially, brush off all debris with a toothbrush and use a wet towel to clean the figure. Finally, use a hairdryer to blow it dry and to remove small debris or dust that could not be reached.
Part 2 of the tutorial on painting in the “battle damage” can be found here.
15 Mar 2012 Update: You can now bid on the custom Dual Model Kit Optimus Prime on Ebay HERE.