How to Design a Futuristic Gun

This futuristic gun design project was a part of my homework for the Design Fundamentals topic whilst undertaking study at CDW this year. The brief was simply to design firearms. There were no constraints on our design, therefore we were free to explore styles that we enjoyed working with. Personally, I am a fan of science-fiction in the ‘not-too-distance-future’ sense. This influenced my design for this assignment.


I wanted to create a gun that had an ornamental aesthetic but was mindful not to sacrifice its functionality. I had the idea of creating a weapon for a leader of a crime syndicate. A gangster who would have a gun that he could “pray and spray” with. Also, something that symbolises the wealth he has achieved from his illicit dealings and the extravagance that comes with his wealth.


Below you can see some of my references that I gathered. I was heading towards either a Japanese crime syndicate or a Mexican cartel. I researched what type of guns are used in real gangs and collected references of various symbols used on them and certain styles I could gain inspiration from.


Concept Art and Design

Next began the first round of sketches. I referred to the images that I had found during my research that I thought were cool and embodied the look I was hoping to achieve. I also looked to my research for key things regarding function such as what an actual grip looks like and the shapes you generally see on a modern firearm.

From here I had some fun mixing and matching things from all my drawings, generally trying to find something that got me excited about what I was creating. Sometimes I would grab my sketches and even mix and match between them, grabbing a bit from here and there and seeing what I could make.


Eventually I settled on 3 that I liked the look of and then went further into refinement with some simple rendering, giving a sense of the materials and thinking about what kind of design they could have on them.  I also tried to include visual labels for certain features of the gun such as an extra function or moving element. After getting some feedback from my teacher I decided on the middle design. james-ross-mcnab-02Before creating the final design, I had a bit of trouble trying to figure out how I wanted to present it, so I did a little research. I came across Kris Thaler on ArtStation. He specifically designs weapons for games and I really liked how he displayed his final pieces. He shows multiple views and also what it could look like from a first person view. I thought this was super cool and wanted to create something similar for my gun.

3D Modelling

After a little more research, I decided it would be best to model up my weapon in 3D. This would make it much easier for me to create multiple views and also to adjust and refine the design within a 3-dimensional space.

At the time my 3D program of choice was Modo, so I made sure I looked up a tutorial that I could follow to model up my own gun. I came across Tor Frick’s Gnomon tutorial. I followed along with this tutorial and created my gun at the same time. Though the end results were very different, the key points were virtually the same; block out the main shapes, refine details, and then render.


When it came to the process of rendering I set up individual lighting for each view. This way I could get some nice highlights on parts of the gun that would otherwise disappear into the background. This helped the gun to stand out in the way I wanted it to. I knew at this point what types of materials I wanted to have the gun made out of so I used pre-sets within Modo to get as close as I could to the look I wanted and then changed some of the attributes such as colour to get it the rest of the way.


Painting and Final Presentation

After rendering multiple views I then took it into photoshop and added the gold design texture. Below you can see a before and after of adding the texture to the gun in photoshop.


For the texture, I used Japanese and Chinese ceramics. Vases and plates painted with cool imagery of dragons and cherry blossoms. I then warped the texture into perspective and did a paint over to remove noise. I then composed them all together on a design sheet inspired by the work of Kris Thaler.

Related Link: How to Create a 3D Smith and Wesson Handgun


Author: James Ross McNab

My names is James Ross McNab and I am a concept artist and student from Adelaide, South Australia. I am currently finishing up my honours year at Flinders university and CDW studios.

I entered the rookies because I was keen to see what the judges thought of my work and of my portfolio. I wanted to see how other artists currently working in the industry perceived my body of work. I would like to thank the rookies for giving me this awesome opportunity to write an article and share my process. If you would Like to see more of my work, check out my Rookies page or my Artstation (links below).

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