Millennium Falcon Project: A Mad Rush And The Largest 3D Printer In Europe

3D Printing & Imaging Art & Sculpture Craft & Design Digital Fabrication
Millennium Falcon Project: A Mad Rush And The Largest 3D Printer In Europe

I was working in Pinewood Studios, England, when I was informed I had an interesting job. My eyes brows raised a little, but much much higher when I was told I would one of their team bringing to life a Lucus Film Millennium Falcon!

It was decided that the Falcon would be 3D printed within the studios, from the actual original Lucus Film digital plans. The 3D printer was a little out of the ordinary; it happened to the be the largest in Europe!

I was told to be prepared to art-work the Falcon; after the pieces were assembled by several model makers who I had been working with at the time.

The 3D prints came through until a table was filled/covered with rather stunning familiar Falcon parts. The model makers immediately set to painstakingly putting there Falcon together piece by piece, and there were many!

I began to work on a test piece; namely the engine port above the Falcon Entry point. I was given several reference books, namely making of starwars and several 2D prints of the original Falcon. Whilst I was having fun making up a paint palette for the base coat, panels and the smoky carbon look details, I witnessed the model makers make a polystyrene base support to accommodate the falcon top and bottom shell-like forms; but also to save a lot of weight.

Lots of tuning was required to fit parts to other parts, to make accurate to the paper Lucus Film Falcon plans that were laid upon the table. The Falcon was fitted to a pole between two stands in order to work from all sides, though the fittings looked pretty tricky to get precisely locked into the next piece. Meanwhile I was happy with the colour tests for the Falcon base coat and started to re-create the subtle warm reds on various panels of the Falcons bodywork.

Finally after many hours of fitting and tuning, the Falcon’s assembly was complete and it measured around five feet long; pretty much the exact dimensions of the original filming miniature used on Star Wars – A New Hope.

The Falcon was fitted with the rectangular dish; to mark it as ‘The Force Awakens Millennium Falcon’. Then the Falcon was handed to me; the last but I suppose crucial link in the chain of bringing the Falcon to life.

I was a little overwhelmed to see this grey primed mass of printed plastic before me. Even so, it still looked stunning and oh so familiar! I airbrushed the base coats which were a set of off warm white glazes to give some feel of depth. After I concentrated on each panel; many panels had their own unique specific detail. I applied liquid latex on certain areas where damage had been inflicted by laser, near misses, space debris and general wear and tear. I applied subtle warm artists acrylic reds over several panels, keeping faithful to ‘original Falcon filming miniature’ references. After the general colours were applied and dried, I removed the liquid latex with a craft knife very carefully; the result worked like a treat. I made up a dirty glaze/wash top breakdown the Falcon’s still too fresh look. This aged the bodywork effectively; telling a little more of the journey the Falcon had undergone. I started to wok on the surrounding sides of the Falcon, where an exposed mass of pipes were. I applied to them a rusty glaze/wash which also lent to the Falcon, a feeling of being rundown somewhat.

Meanwhile the model makers were building a stand for the Falcon to perch upon. The stand was angled interestingly and covered with mirrors to enable the viewer to see the falcons underbelly.

I was approached by the powers that be in the studio; informed the art-work should be completed within a couple of hours. Now considering I had only been working on this for just two days, I had to hurry up a bit; however I was nearly there.

Lastly I airbrushed a build up of smoke and carbon around the areas exposed by enemy laser fire. I applied that smokiness to the engine port outlets. Next I applied subtle ‘metal knock and scrape’ damage to the paintwork; just little details that concluded the whole ‘worn and hard lived’ look.

The Falcon was then packed into a freight case and sent to Disney/lucus Film Studios in America. I felt a sense of deep satisfaction.

Looking at the Falcon in the end, I was happy with the final resulting look and feel. Yes I could have had more time to add and add, but with the time restraints, I was forced to look at the vital areas. This was also a blessing in disguise, which helped me capture the character of this much loved spaceship!


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I have worked in the film industry as an artist for the last nineteen years, across several creative departments contracted out by major motion picture studios.

View more articles by Robert Stannage


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