DIY Mass Effect Gun
Welcome to what is the first (but hopefully not last!) in a series of geeky DIY tutorials. To celebrate N7 day, let's learn how to make a Mass Effect inspired prop gun!
Warning: This guide isn't intended to teach you how to make a perfect replica of a gun from Mass Effect. Instead, it's a look into my trial-and-error* crafting experience. So grab your omni-tool and get ready to make something awesome!
*Thanks to Sara, who basically guided me through this entire process and showed me the majesty of rub n' buff.
What You’ll Need:
Nerf gun of your choice
Black spray paint
Black acrylic paint
N7 decal (get 2 if you want one on each side of the gun)
Step 1: Find and buy a nerf gun that speaks to you. When making my gun, I only had a few days to complete it before a performance so I was limited in my selection. I settled on this gun since its shape was reminiscent of the M8 Avenger assault rifle.
See, it’s vaguely similar. Just go with me on this, okay?
Step 2: Remove any stickers then sand, sand, sand! Make sure that you spend extra time where there are logos or markings. Also, maybe don’t do the sanding in your kitchen. Unless you like having plastic dust all over your counters.
Step 3: Spray paint the base color on one side of the gun. Wait for it to dry somewhat, then flip it over and paint the other side. I only needed to do one coat on each side, but you can do more if you’d like. Pro tip: Put some cardboard down underneath it so you don’t end up with a big black spot on your lawn or wherever you’re doing this. Also, be aware of which direction the wind is blowing so you don’t get spray paint blown back into your face. Not that this happened to me…
Step 4: Get high off of the spray paint fumes. No, seriously, please leave the gun in a ventilated area while it dries. I left mine out on my tiny apartment deck and only got a small number of confused stares from my neighbors. But one of my goals in life is to weird out my neighbors as much as possible, so it was all good!
Step 5: Once the spray paint is completely dry (wait at least 24 hours), use the painter’s tape to cover the areas of your gun that you want to keep black (or whatever your base color is). Take your time with this step and try to place the tape as precisely as possible. Use an image of the gun you’re emulating and try to follow the coloration patterns as best as possible. It won’t be a perfect match, but don’t worry - it’ll still look cool when you’re done!
Step 6: Time to add the Rub n' Buff. Unlike the spray paint, the Rub n' Buff doesn’t have much of an odor and won’t cause all of your brain cells to die if you inhale the fumes. You can also get it on your skin and it will wash off. Basically it’s the coolest. Anyway, put a small amount of the Rub n' Buff on a soft, clean rag and apply it to the gun using small circular motions (like you’re buffing the gun, get it??). Continue applying it until you’ve achieved the color/coverage you’d like.
Step 7: Once you’re done applying the Rub n' Buff and have let it “dry” for a little while, remove the painter’s tape. Cry a little if you didn’t tape the gun properly and you have silver in the wrong places. Stop crying, it’s just a prop gun! GET IT TOGETHER, EMILY!
Sorry about that ... wipe your tears away and grab your paintbrush and black acrylic paint. Going along any rough edges, you can use the black paint to fix any mistakes you’ve made. Look at the image of the gun you’re trying to make and add any details with the black paint that you’d like. I went in and drew lines and dots on the gun to make it look more like the Avenger. I also used a little bit of red paint for the center part of the gun. Wait for the paint to dry on one side, then flip it over and do the other side. Try not to cry again when it doesn’t match the other side very well. No one will be able to tell, I promise.
Step 8: Once the paint has dried, apply the decal. (put link and image of decal here). For this step, I decided against accuracy to the in-game gun and used an N7 image instead of the actual numbering for the Avenger. Deal with it.
As I mentioned before, when I made my gun I didn’t have time to order a decal. Instead I tried to create a stencil and failed miserably. Then I thought briefly about freehand painting it, but that would have been a disaster. What I settled on was printing out an image of the N7, carefully cutting each part out, then even more carefully applying it with matte Mod Podge. It isn’t the best, but it did the job and stayed on surprisingly well.
Step 9: Put on any finishing touches, then grab your newly made Mass Effect gun and run around with it yelling,“I’m Commander Shepard and this is my favorite gun on the Citadel.” Then maybe stop scaring people and go lie down. You’ve earned it!