I've been working on some guns today. I operate a separate blog devoted to my 5 props a week challenge, which is just a way to coerce myself into drawing things I don't normally spend time thinking about. The link's at the top of this page if you're interested.
For this week though I didn't want to stop at five... Like it or not guns are a huge part of prop design I'm while I have yet to work in an industry setting I'd be willing to bet good money that no project is going to have anyone just design 5 guns. More like 500 if you're working on a game. (I kid, but... not really)
The first thing I think about when designing a prop is who I'm designing it for. What is the setting, what sort of person is using the item, what is it's purpose, what would I want the viewer or player to feel when he/she interests with the object? All of these things are important. Since I'm into design and I'm not an officianado on guns in any practical sense I try to design something that looks plausibly functional, but most of my energy goes into shape and silhouette. If you want something to be cute, the shapes you use have to be cute. If you want something to be cool, the shapes have to reflect that too.
For the guns I drew today, I wanted to design something futuristic and cool. When I think about guns, I think about them from the standpoint of a player of video games. When I pick up a gun in a game I want it to have that awesome factor. If you use a gun in a game you're usually unleashing some serious righteous (or sometimes senseless) fury down on someone, and the gun should reflect that whether it is a pistol or a shoulder-mounted nuke launcher. Guns should have some menace to them, they're tools for killing. The setting in my mind was future, but nearish future. I figured the sort of person who might use these guns could be military or possibly a freelance professional.
As I've mentioned before, I use a lot of references. For these guns, I used photos of real guns. Then, since I knew the feel of the setting I wanted, I pulled some elements from District 9, Mass Effect and Halo, as well as from some other sources. I feel a little guilty using other concept art as a reference, it's something I try to avoid. For guns though it's a little difficult and I'm still trying to understand shapes and function so the additional references really help. I work hard to interpret what I see not just copy shapes, but there are times where I feel like I'm cheating a little too much. I suppose I'm just self conscious.
I tried to design a range of weapons including hand guns, SMGs, sniper rifles, assault rifles and even a shotgun and a shoulder-mounted canon. These are the rough sketches, so I'm hoping to apply some photoshop magic to them tomorrow or Sunday to get them looking polished and colored.