Create physical special effects props

Business Sectors (Suites): Physical Special Effects
Developed by: ScreenSkills
Approved on: 01 Mar 2017


This Standard is about creating props for use in physical special effects. It will require you to research any designs, keeping within the design period and any other parameters of authenticity dictated by production. It will require knowledge of materials that can be used, such as replica foods, soft props, historical props and scientific models. You will need to specify materials and build requirements, source materials and create props that meet requirements.In order to do this you will need to understand the principles of moulding, sculpting and carving. You will also need to demonstrate a knowledge of working with a wide range of materials, to include plaster, GRP, resin, rubber, polystyrene and foam and be able to apply the appropriate moulding, sculpting and carving techniques to these. This Standard is for you if you create special effects props.

Performance criteria

You must be able to:

  1. create physical special effects props in line with production

    breakdown and budget constraints

    1. specify materials and build requirements, including scaling up or

    down as necessary to meet requirements

    1. source materials appropriate for the props being produced

    2. provide documentation detailing the materials, proponents and

    techniques used to produce props to relevant people

    1. create props in line with photographs, drawings, rough sketches

    or visualisations provided

    1. prepare armatures that are suitable for modelling

    2. create 3D models and maquettes in appropriate scale and from

    appropriate materials to test designs

    1. produce full sized products that take account of any adaptations

    required as a result of testing

    1. document all aspects of risk assessment and risk management in

    appropriate formats

    1. carry out your work in line with health and safety requirements,

    taking action if safety requirements are not followed by others

    1. maintain the safety of the cast and crew at all times

    2. provide alternative solutions within budget and schedule if props

    cannot be produced to original designs or budget

Knowledge and Understanding

You need to know and understand:

  1. how to research adequate source information to create physical

    special effects props

    1. the use of drawings, rough sketches, photographs and

    visualisations in detailing materials and build requirements and

    how to produce them

    1. script breakdown, budget and schedule for the physical special

    effects prop

    1. the different materials and techniques used in modelling and

    sculpting for special effects props, and how they can be used in

    combination to mould and cast

    1. the principles of modelling, casting and moulding from an original

    2. how to create patterns from original props

    3. how the internal mechanisms used in models or props are used to

    create effects

    1. human and animal anatomy

    2. life casting techniques and materials and the safety

    considerations involved

    1. the design process, in particular how to convert a 2 Dimensional

    reference into a 3 Dimensional object

    1. how animatronics works in collaboration with the modelling


    1. the different types of dummies to use; inanimate, articulated and

    action, adult, babies, children, animals

    1. the principles of hair punching and finishing

    2. the principles of finishing through painting and colouring

    3. how to produce an armature to support a modelled form using

    materials appropriate to the task

    1. which departments require regular liaison to ensure that models

    and props will be used effectively and safely

    1. the methods of scaling from existing props to create up/down

    scaling of models

    1. what can be achieved by post production and visual effects


Scope Performance

Scope Knowledge





Links To Other NOS

External Links

Version Number


Indicative Review Date

01 Mar 2020





Originating Organisation

Creative skillset

Original URN


Relevant Occupations

Arts, Media and Publishing, Special Effects Trainee, Special Effects Technician, Special Effects Senior Technician, Special Effects Supervisor

SOC Code



Physical special effects; Design; Plan; Props; Breakdown; Budget