Friday, 10 July 2009

Seras Victoria's Halconnen/Harkonnen Cannon Tutorial

Seras Victoria's Halconnen/Harconnen cannon Tutorial

Note: All images are thumbnails. Click on them to see larger versions.

Before making my own Halconnen, I had a look around the internet looking for a tutorial, and to my sadness, there were none! This was especially sad since there seem to be no lack of Seras cosplayers who have made this massive prop, but still no tutorial. To rectify this situation, I have decided to make my own tutorial! This tutorial will go through the methods I used to make my own Halconnen cannon. Please be aware that I tend to go for practicality and ease over anal accuracy, but this tutorial should provide the base and you can do as many or as few details as you like.

First of all, you're going to want some reference pictures. Since I love you guys, here have some:

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Insulation Foam

I managed to find this in my local hardware store for £1.40 per metre length, of which I bought two. This comes in various widths, I went with the widest one they had. This is possibly still a little narrow for the Halconnen, although I'm happy with it for a number of reasons:

1 - it's alot cheaper

2 - It's much lighter

3 - It comes in shorter lengths

4 - It's not going to do someone serious damage if they get hit with it

I had originally intended to buy PVC pipe. Although this might have looked better, it's more expensive, and the only length I could find it in was as tall as my house (I'm not exaggerating here). Someone with a bigger budget than me might like to try this, but I'm happy with my foam :)


I was incredibly lucky in that I stumbled upon a box that was the PERFECT size to go with my insulation piping. My original plan was to go with some guttering stuff I had found in my hardware store - this would have cost me £3.25. As it was, I found this box for free :D

Spray paint


This acrylic based spray paint is what I used to paint my Halconnen. It reacts fairly well with the different materials I used in my Halconnen. My biggest concern was that it would melt my insulation piping, but it was fine. In fact, it was really nice. Anyone doing the OVA version will be wanting silver and brown paint instead, if memory serves me.



This will be used for the end of the cannon. I was happy to go with the first funnel I found since it was close enough - someone wanting more attention to detail might want to look around for something closer to the actual design. This one cost me 70p.

Fun Foam


This will be used for the details. I tried to get this in black but the shop had run out. Since I'm spray painting it anyway, it doesnt matter too much. It cost me 39p a sheet from a craft store. I think Americans might call them foamies?


This will be used in tidying up after butchering various items :P

Laminating sheets

I originally tried this thing using stickyback plastic. However, upon painting it, it wrinkled up and didn’t look at all the way I wanted it to, at which point I used laminating sheets. They work best once they’re laminated since they’re a little stiffer, although you can just use them as they are if you don’t have a laminator. If you ARE laminating them, I’d highly recommend putting a plain piece of paper inside when you’re doing so. I’ve broken many a laminator by putting things through that are too small or too flimsy, getting caught in the rollers in the middle and destroying the laminator.

Wine bottle gift boxes

I had an incredibly lucky find with these, I got 5 of these for 98p. I don’t know whether you’ll be lucky to find them this cheap, or whether you’ll be able to find them at all, but you basically need something cylindrical which is bigger than your main cannon pipe.


A toy gun


I picked this one up for £1. Try and find one that resembles the gun part of the cannon as much as you can, although you may be limited in choice.

White acrylic paint

This will be used for stencilling on the writing on the side.

A sponge

For doing the aforementioned stencilling.

Masking tape

To hold the stencil in place.


A thick piece of card

To print the stencil onto.

A hot glue gun

This will help you no end in keeping things in place on your cannon. I swear by hot glue. Although you could probably get away with using another type of glue if you don’t have access to one, I’d highly recommend you trying to get one if you can. They are relatively cheap (I think mine cost me £5 when I originally got it), and as a cosplayer, it’s unlikely you’re never going to need it again! Hot glue dries relatively quickly and is quite strong. Just be careful not to burn yourself!

There are also assorted tools you’ll need. A saw and a craft knife are very helpful and the way I did things. If you don’t have a knife, scissors might do the trick, but a knife is much easier to use, although you’ll probably want scissors as well for certain things.

Making the bloody thing :D

I wish I knew what this thing was called. Anyway, the first thing I did was to attach the funnel to the end of one of the pieces of pipe insulation.

I started off by putting the funnel on the end of the pipe (through the big end) and used a pencil to mark out where it came up to - so I knew at which point the funnel was the same width as the pipe. I hope this makes sense.

Using a saw, I cut the end of the funnel off so it would fit onto the end of the piping. It pays to err on the side of caution – it’s better to cut it too small and have to cut it some more than cutting it too big, because you’re kinda buggered then. I ended up having to use a smaller saw to cut an extra few millimetres off, but it all worked out well. You really need to cut the hole slightly smaller than the width of the piping, since then it holds together without any glue or anything else.

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Once I’d cut it, I used sandpaper to make the edges all nice and smooth. Kinda pointless since I’ll be covering it with foam later, but it made me feel better.


My funnel had an extra bit around the edge where it would have been hung up in the shop. I got a saw and cut this off and sanded it off after. For true accuracy, I would have cut the whole rim off so that it was flat right up to the end of the funnel, but it’s up to you how accurate you want to be.


Following this, put the funnel onto the piping. You should have to push the foam in around the edges to get it to fit nice and snugly and not slide off, but your end result should look something like this:


Next, you’ll want a relatively long piece of wood. This will be used to slot the two pieces together. How long your piece is will depend on how strong your pipe insulation is – if it bends then you’ll want a longer piece to keep it straight. You want a piece that’s just the right size – if it’s too thin then it’ll slide about and won’t hold you cannon together, and if it’s too wide then you’ll open up the pipe insulation, which you don’t want to do. A piece of dowel would be idea for this, although I didn’t have any available at the time I was making this tutorial.

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Try and line up the parts where the pipe opens. Just makes it look nicer.


Your cannon should now look something like this. You should be able to break it down into two where it slots together to make it easier to transport, fit in your car etc.


Cut a hole in the bottom of the box for the gun handle to go in, and feed it in through the inside of the box. You ideally want to be able to cut a hole so that only the trigger and the handle pokes through and fits snugly. I used a knife to cut this hole, and it’s better to cut it smaller to begin with. You can always make the hole bigger if it’s too small, but once it’s too big, you’re kinda screwed.

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I used duct tape to secure the gun inside the box. I hope this image makes some sense to you, it’s kinda hard to photograph the inside of such a small box.


Your gun should now look like this.


I used a hot glue gun to glue the edges of the gun to the edges of the inside of the hole. Whether you do this is up to you, but I didn’t fully trust my duct tape.


Next, I used my knife to cut a hole in the top of the lid of one of my wine boxes the size of the pipe. You might have to improvise if you weren’t able to find wine boxes.


This slots onto the pipe as so:


Next, another hole in another lid. This hole was only as wide as the piece of wood holding the pipes together, since this is where the two pipes will slot together, and hide the join. This isn’t entirely accurate to the design of the Halconnen, but it’s close enough to keep me happy.


I then slotted together the two pipes and used my duct tape to attach the pipe to the box. This will be covered later on with foam. If you’re concerned about 100% accuracy, you may want to find an alternative way of attaching the box and the pipe to each other.


The end of the pipe should be in line with the end of the gun. The part of the pipe which is on this end should be shorter than the other end, so I cut mine.


Another lid, this time I cut a section out of it to place on the end of the cannon, so that it would lie flat against the box.


Another one to go a bit further up, with some foam inbetween.


Next, cut out the square end of the box and make it more like the shape which is seen on the end of the Halconnen. I also added the little semicircle thing which is on the cannon before doing this, although it didn’t quite go as well as I had hoped.


Now your cannon should look something like this:


[Note – this next section will describe how I made the base. However, by the time I finished making the cannon, I decided it didn’t look as good as I wanted it to, and took it off, since I work on the basis that I’d rather have an inaccurate prop that looks good rather than an accurate one that looks amateur. If you want to do a base for your cannon, you can try this.]

Next I made the base. I got the right shape by printing out the reference picture to the size I wanted, then cut it out to use as a template.


Next, cut rectangle shapes to tape inbetween the make it the kind of box shape.


Tape them in place.


Now we want a long piece of foam to fill in the top section. Tape it in place, and try to keep it as flat as you can, although it’ll be covered in plastic later, so don’t worry too much. Don’t use cardboard for this bit, it’s not flexible enough. Don’t go all the way to the end yet, we’ve got some more stuff to do to it before that happens.

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Next you’ll need some kind of long, thin can, like the kind polish or air freshener comes in. Make sure it’s empty before you use it. I originally tried this using the inside of a toilet roll, but I found it didn’t support as much weight as I needed. Cut a circular hole on the top piece of the foam and push the can through. Make sure it goes all the way to the bottom of the little box thing you’ve made (I suppose it’d be called the foot?) since when the cannon is stood upright all of the weight will be on this part.

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Now tape down the back piece of the foam, so now you’ve got something that looks like this:


If your can has a lid, tape it on so it doesn’t spray by accident. If it doesn’t, put some tape over it anyway and hope for the best, although it should be empty anyway.


Next, I used a piece of cardboard and cut another circle for the can to go through.

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Tape the cardboard over the gap you made earlier, making the can point out of the bottom. Go ahead and use excessive amounts of tape if you feel you want to, remember the whole weight of the cannon will be on this part.

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You’ll end up with something like this:


Next, I created two long strips of foam.


These go around the bottom. I used double sided tape to attach them.


Foot section over. If you skipped the foot section, pick up from here.

Next I made the legs for the cannon. These should be long enough that they point the cannon slightly upwards if the cannon rests on the legs and the gun handle. I forgot to take my camera with me when I made these, but I’ll explain how I made them. These are basically made from a broom handle, which I cut up into smaller pieces. I nailed them into the sort of upside down U shape, although if you don’t have hammer and nails available to you, then you could probably get away with using hot glue. I learnt from experience it’s easier to try and get the legs exactly the same length if you cut them together at the end, rather than cut them separately then nail them to the top piece and find out they’re slightly off.


The next thing you’ll need are two doorstops. I bought two in a hardware store for 69p. I had also considered using the rubber pieces that are used on the bottom of walking sticks, although the doorstops were cheaper. These get nailed onto the bottom of the legs. Again, if you don’t have hammer and nails available, hot glue should do.

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Now for attaching the legs to the cannon. Get a piece of foam and attach it to the duct tape. The foam is very important if you want your legs to hinge. Wrap this foam around the legs.

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Use tape to attach this to the rest of the cannon. Make sure this is attached pretty strongly, since when lying down the weight of the front end will be resting on this point.

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Next I went around doing some more details and making it all look nicer. This involved adding some curves and putting some foam on to hide my duct tape.

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Now I’m adding in the handle on the top. The curve of this will be made using an L bend thing which is used in plumbing.


Cut a hole in the pipe insulation for the bend to slot into.


Fill it with hot glue and then put the piece in. Don’t be an idiot like I was and put it facing the wrong way. Luckily I noticed before the glue had dried. The piece should be facing towards the gun handle end of the cannon.


Next the handle itself. This is the end of the broom handle, which I chose for this part because it has a nice curved end, so not so much messing about later on trying to get it to look good.


Slot it into your pipe and hot glue in place. You may have to wrap some cardboard or foam on the end of it to get it to fit snugly.


Now your handle looks like this.


This is what the cannon looks like now:


Next, you need to cover the whole thing in laminating sheets. If you need to, use sticky tape to join them together, although try and make it as invisible as possible, keeping the tape flat as possible where it has to be on the outside rather than the inside. Although it’ll be hard to see now, it’ll all show up when you paint it. If you’re lucky though, it’ll look like welding joints, which is better than looking like sticky tape. The box part is the most difficult to hide the joins, although this will be covered for the most part with the writing later on.

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Find yourself a big open space with ventilation so you don’t get high from paint fumes, and proceed to paint your cannon (and lay down some newspaper so it doesn’t look like a crime scene after it’s done lol). This’ll probably take a few goes, both in terms of being able to cover the whole thing in paint, and also the layers you’ll need to use. If you spray too much on to get it completely black the first time, the paint will run and you’ll find yourself (like I did) using a knife to peel it off so it can be repainted. Keep persevering though, it’ll be worth it in the end. This picture is of when I originally painted it when it was covered in stickyback plastic, hence why it’s a bit wrinkled. When you do it when covered in laminating sheets, it’ll come out nice and smooth and shiny J


Once you’re happy with the paint job (you’ll probably need many tries, and many cans of paint til you’re happy with this), the time comes to put the writing on. Unless you’re a dentist by day and artist by night, you’re probably not going to have the steady hands or ability to keep everything perfectly straight to do this by hand, which is why I created a stencil to do mine.

This is the file I made on my computer to cut my stencil out of. You’ll want to cut this out of the sturdiest piece of card you have to prevent it lifting up when you apply the paint and the paint getting in underneath. This should print to 1 piece of A4 paper. Whether or not you want to use this or not is up to you, but this equates to just about the perfect size on my cannon. Yours may be slightly longer or shorter.


There are various schools of thought over what is said on Seras’ Halconnen, it seems there are two main versions

Once it’s printed, you’ll need to cut it into three separate strips and make it into one long stencil by taping it together. Then comes the really long, tedious part – cutting out the letters. You’ll probably want to put a film or something on when you do this, it takes a while. Remember letters with parts in the middle, such as O or A will need little strips to keep the middle parts in place.

You’ll eventually end up with something that looks like this:


Next, you’ll be needing some white paint (I find acrylic works best) and a sponge (or some means to apply the paint to your stencil. Also, you’ll need some tape to keep the stencil in place. Masking tape is best since it shouldn’t rip the black paint off that’s already on the cannon.


Now, dab on the paint using the sponge, doing your best not to allow the paint to get in underneath the paper and not allowing little bits of paint to splatter onto your otherwise black cannon.

Hopefully, with a bit of patience, you’ll end up with something looking like this:


One final touch, I added in another piece to my design:

I added a piece of folded (and laminated) cardboard to the part just past the legs. This had a piece of Velcro attached to the end to hold the legs in place when the cannon is upright (not quite finished in the picture, but you get the idea).

This is not in the original Halconnen design, but I couldn’t see any other way to sort this problem since they appear to be being held in place by nothing. If I make this again, I’ll make the legs slightly closer together to allow them to be held in place by magnets, but for the minute, this does the job.

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Finally, after all that work, you should end up with a Halconnen that looks something like this!

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More pictures here.

If anyone has any questions about anything in this tutorial, feel free to send them my way, and I hope you found this tutorial helpful!