Jordan Duncan originally started creating video game props as a way to demonstrate his prop making skills to the community. Over time, his project turned from a hobby into a successful business. Henchmen Props (now a team of eight) creates props and costumes for industry-leading video game companies like Blizzard and Respawn. 3D printing has allowed them to greatly reduce their production times and rapidly prototype new parts. It gives them the possibility to print out full pieces that can quickly be put together.
Modern prop making with 3D printing
Jordan introduced 3D printing into the workflow early on as they were establishing the company. Traditional prop making methods require very detailed and extensive sculpting, which takes up a lot of time and effort. With 3D printing, it is possible to print an entire part, which leaves only the post-processing and assembly to be done. Needless to say, this sped up their production process significantly.
Under the new workflow, the original game model is first fine-tuned and given some detail. Then the separate parts are printed on the two Ultimaker 2 Extended+ machines that Henchmen Props operates. From that point onwards, the process comes down to assembling all the different parts, sanding them down and finally painting it. One of their most recent projects is Soldier: 76's gun from the game Overwatch, which was printed in a total of 27 different pieces!
Being able to print out a full piece that we can then just sand down and paint has significantly made our lives easier
Soldier 76's gun in the making
From hobby to business
As Jordan illustrates, "things have come full circle for us". What started out as a hobby project - making props and replicas from video games - has turned into a business that works together with big video game companies to make props for these games. The models that Henchmen Props makes are used in trailers and in-game videos, thus actually becoming part of the game and the world that its developers have created. According to Jordan, the most rewarding part of his work is seeing the video game's designers hold the tangible version of their models in their hands and seeing the result of their countless design hours and effort.
Seeing people's faces light up and really recognize the characters that they've had their hands on for months or years designing just puts smiles on all our faces
3D printing can be used to redesign workflows and reconsider existing processes. When asking Jordan about his views on 3D printing in the fabrication industry, he replied; "everyone from big effects shops to sole hobbyists can introduce it into their workflow to drastically impact what can be created". Curious to find out in which other fields 3D printing can make a difference? Visit our Explore pages below: