For this years Halloween addition I wanted Pirates to go along with the Western, Fairytale and Zombie themes from past years. I recently purchased a 3D printer to help me create my projects with a higher degree of detail. Below are the steps I took to achieve this display.
Step 1: Designing the Cannon
I outlined a picture of a cannon and Cypher I found online with illustrator. Then using Autodesk Fusion 360, I imported them and created a 3d Model for the cannon barrel along with other parts I may need. I am new to Fusion 360 but with their online courses I was able to revolve, extrude and edit every piece I needed. I wanted to make sure this object printed without any supports in order to save time and supplies. The fillet tool made it possible for all the overhangs to print that way.
Step 2: Printing the Cannon Parts
As you can see, I divided the cannon in half to avoid the large overhang created by the middle post. My printer can print up to 2 feet high so I only had to have 2 parts to get a total length of 46 inches. I glued the two halves together and sealed the seem and added detail with Apoxie Sculpt.
Step 3: Cannon Frame
I used 2x4s to build up the sides and bottom of the cannon frame and covered them with thin plywood to give a uniform shape. Then I used a grinder and sawzall to ad shape and texture. This had to look like it has been lying around rotting away. The wheel plates were 3D printed and the wheels were cut out on the band saw. I made the axles by cutting into the edge with a hole saw and chipping away the outside area, I needed them longer so I uses scrap wood and the hole saw to make plugs to glue to the ends. The whole thing was glued and screwed together and ready for some 3D detail and paint.
Step 4: Mast, Crows Nest and Yard Arm.
I needed a mast for the scene that was weather proof so I decided on using a 6 inch PVC sewer pipe. I used a belt sander to flatten out the smooth surface so it looked like a hand carved wood mast. I used a Dremel tool with a grinding tip to add splits and cracks to the surface. I again used Meshmixer to model the end of the mast that was broken off. I also modeled and printed two 26 inch cone shaped tubes to give a tapered look to the arm. These where glued over a smaller PVC pipe and then glued into a slightly larger pipe. I used the same model from the mast and scaled it smaller to fit the ends of the Yard Arm.
The crows nest was cut from PVC trim board. Every piece was cut perfectly then destroyed with a jigsaw to give the appearance of weathered and rotting wood. The splinters and wood grain were added with the Dremel tool.
The PVC board cuts and screws beautifully, can easily be shaped and has the added ability to be glued with PVC Cement
Step 5: Adding Mussel and Barnacle Details for the Washed Up Look
I found a 3D scan of a mussel and barnacles online. I used Autodesk Meshmixer to scale and combine one mussel into rows of mussel shells and scale/copy the barnacles. I used Gorilla Glue to secure them to the cannon and mast as well as adding more texture.
Step 6: Weather Proofing and Paint
I use DRYLOK on all my Halloween projects. Not only does it weather proof them, It also adds a grit to the surface and hides the texture created by the 3D printer. I wanted a drift wood look for the mast and cannon so I used tans and grays for the main color and added a darker shade for the wood grain and water line area. The top of the mast and areas at the water line where painted a green shade as if algae was growing there. All of the mussels are painted a dark gray and the barnacles are painted almost a bone color.
Step 7: Added Elements.
By this time I was getting fairly good at using Fusion 360 and Meshmixer for simple shapes. I use Fusion to model the part and Meshmixer to distress it. Here you will see a basic block and tackle and a standoff for the yard arm to attach to the mast, The sail was an old shower curtain (weather proof), painted to look like old sail cloth. I used the pre-cut holes to tie it to the yard arm.
Step 8: The Pirate Life
Since the skeletons you can buy at Home Depot are only 5 feet tall (life size) I used my wife's clothes for a template. There is a video on You Tube on how to sew pajama pants that I used for the pirate outfit, the dark shirt was left over from a old costume and the white shirt was based on a shirt my wife has. I am by no means any good at sewing, but the beauty is you don't have to be when dealing with dead pirate costumes. Just find a pattern that works, buy some cheap fabric remnants and sew it together. I distressed the outfits with bleach. paint, stain. and scissors. The belts and bandoliers are cut from craft foam painted with craft acrylics to simulate leather and glued to 3D printed belt buckles. Add a bandana, pirate hat, and cheap toy pirate flintlocks for more detail.
Step 9: Final Outcome
I hope you enjoyed this post and it inspires you to try your own pirate decoration. I know most of you probably don't have a 3D printer but any of these things can be made other ways. Just look at some of my older post for Halloween. Everything up to this point has been carved out of foam and glued to PVC pipes.