Lethal Reference

I recently needed a double barreled shotgun for an illustration assignment. I could have applied for a permit, taken a gun course and bought the weapon… or I could have built one from scratch! I ended up going with the latter. Building reference props is actually one of my favorite things about illustration. It’s a nice break from the endless cycle of drawing and painting, and I always learn something new.

I often go to reuse and thrift stores when I’m looking to build this sort of thing to buy a base to work from. I was hoping to find a toy gun I could retrofit, but I ended up discovering an old field hockey stick instead. I realized it would be the perfect stock for the shotgun- just about the right size and the curved end kind of feels like the butt of the gun. And only $2.00 too!

From there, it was a simple step of cutting the stick down to size and attaching two cardboard tubes (I had saved them from an old roll of canvas) to serve as the barrels with duct tape. Lastly, I cut some foamcore and attached it on the back to make the butt shape more pronounced. And BANG! There it is! Needless to say, this weapon can’t really hurt anyone unless you tried to whack them over the head with it, and even then the cardboard would probably fall off. But it certainly works to get a correct perspective angle for reference purposes and that’s good enough for me.

Raw materials: a field hockey stick, some leftover cardboard tubes, duct tape and foamcore.


The finished gun.


Good enough for perspective! This sort of prop only needs to have the basic shape to be effective. The rest of the details can be referenced via the web or from books.


One of my favorite reference maquettes from a past project: a rocketship built from dowels, PVC pipe and foamcore.


A more elaborate maquette. I don’t make them this fancy anymore! Takes too much time and its not necessary to get the results I’m looking for in the illustration.

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