Movie Prop Design

Hi all,

been a while since I’ve looked on here, been working really hard to build my tiny freelance business here in Australia.

At the moment it looks like i’m getting closer to securing a small contract to design some movie props for about 3 small upcoming productions.

Has anyone got any helpful resources I could take a look at to help get me kick started with the process.
I’m an industrial designer but the industry i work in isn’t really that creative, more functional design, making it work quickly and cheaply.

I have the Hareld Belker DVDs about movie prop design and a few others from that series which I watch and get inspired by.

but every time I go looking for other resources such as books or websites i never seem to find much.
Anyone have anything they with the share.

Thanks in advance, and in the meantime I’ll just keep searching.


The design studio press books are great as are Syd Mead books.

You might want to look at ILM picts/books and Gavin Rothery (he did the prop design on Moon, including the miniatures they used rather than CG)

Doug Chiang:

This book is also awesome.

Lots of sketches, plus actual models of props, costumes, sets, etc. Covers all original Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies.


The Art of Star Wars series is also always a winner.

I love those old ILM Star Wars movie books that talk about the inspirations for props and how they made models from things them had around…

The Ewok Village was inspired by Muir Valley Redwoods in San Francisco, the Ewok radar dish was from the giant Stanford radar dish, Boba Fetts ship was a lamp shape they re-purposed, and the Death Star was made up of toy assembly-yourself model parts - it must have be a lot of fun!

You guys are awesome, thank you so much for sharing the links.

This is a long and interesting read about how movie fans get obsessive about building replica props: Han Solo’s Blaster:

Crazy read! I never thought twice about the Han Solo prop, but I am amazed at the effort of replication. Awesome.

Fantastic quote:

wow, awesome!

I love seeing movie prop processes. Along the same lines, I happened across a series of videos of things in Adam Savage’s man cave. Much of it is props, but there are also some drool worthy shop tools, etc.

Interesting. Freelance in props concept art? Why limit yourself to just movies? You should perhaps open up to the gaming industry too. I worked in the movie industry as a props concept artist for about 7 years until I switched to the gaming industry due to the lack of contracts. The movie industry is dead here in Montreal. We have a hard time finding props designers for the game we are working on…

Anyways, it takes time to be recognized. It takes a few movies and good contacts in that industry. Props Masters, Production Designers and Art Directors are your key people. Once you have proven yourself, they will always call you back. Patience and good quality concept art work is key but also finding the right movies that requires your service. It’s not every movie that is sci-fi so this limits a lot on the amount of contracts.

In my portfolio, you can see some process of making a prop; from a concept art, maquette to final object. Mind you that it is not necessary to make technical drawings or foamcore models like I did. In my case (having an industrial design background too), I treated my props as an industrial design job. Furthermore, the director can actually see and touch the prop (prototype). 3D is a very good tool to present a WIP prop.

Someone actually asked me about props design: