Hey there wastelanders!
With Fallout 4 here at last I thought it'd be a neat idea to share with you a technique I've developed to quickly turn old beer bottle caps into shiny old Nuka Cola ones. I'm actually using this to create currency for a Fallout Live Action Role Playing (LARP) game here in New Zealand, but they're also great pieces of gaming memorabilia.
In this tutorial I'm not going for a 100% authentic look to the game originals, but more for one that fits the best with the poor sacrificial beer caps that gave their lives for this project (drink responsibly kids!).
In New Zealand, especially in the mighty Waikato region, Lion Red beer is the beverage of choice so there's always plenty of spare caps from these that we can re-purpose into Nuka Cola ones. The colors in the PDF provided with this tutorial will work best with Lion Red caps, but you can substitute these with caps of an equivalent deep red from your area.
For this project you'll need the following:
- 15x red bottle caps (I used Lion Red for this tutorial)
- 1x sheet of A6 gloss inkjet sticker paper
- An inkjet printer
- A metal file
Each cap will take about 2 minutes to make.
Step 1: Printing the Labels
Download and print out the sheet of cap labels using the inkjet sticker paper. The sticker paper can be purchased online or from your local stationery store. For this particular tutorial I used sticker paper from a seller on TradeMe, New Zealand's version of eBay.
The PDF was made by myself and the label artwork is high-resolution vector graphics to ensure that you get a nice crisp edge on the printed text.
You'll need to ensure that your printer is adjusted to fit A6 sized paper and that the PDF will print out at 100%. If the PDF is scaled at all the labels will be too big or small to fit on the bottle caps!
Step 2: Overprinting
If your printer is set to standard settings, chances are the reds in the print from the previous step will be too pale to be effective. This can be fixed easily by printing the same PDF over top of the existing print.
This technique is called "overprinting". You'll want to make sure that you place the printed sheet upside down in the printer, with the labels facing you. Ensure that the sheet is lined up correctly otherwise the printed labels won't line up and will look a little fuzzy.
Print the PDF and when the printer is done you should get nice rich reds once the ink has dried.
Step 3: Cut and Apply Stickers
Cut out the labels, carefully ensuring that there is no white around the edges. Don't worry about not getting a smooth edge as we're going to rough up the label and blend it with the cap in the next steps.
Peel back the backing paper and carefully apply the sticker to the bottle cap, covering the existing prints on the cap with the sticker paper. The sticker should be just enough to cover the entire cap.
Step 4: Filing and Ageing
Get your file and run strokes outwards from the cap, running it across the label edges. Some of the paper will tear a little - that's ok - it'll add to the distressed look of the cap and will give it a nice 'used' look. This will also take some of the paint off the cap, exposing the metal below. Do this until you have filed all the edges around the circumference of the cap face.
Put the cap on its side and run the file across the edges of the cap. This will weather the paint on the edges and complete the look.
Finally run your file diagonally over the face of the cap a few times to further distress the label. This should give it some nice streaks through the printed text.
After you've filed several caps you'll notice that the file will have accumulated paint and metal. If you leave this on the file it will help to give the rest of the caps and nice gritty feel as parts of the paint and sticker paper flake off the file and end up on the caps.
Step 5: Finished!
You're done! Aren't you awesome?
EDIT: An earlier version of this tutorial mentioned using acrylic spray paint to seal and finish the caps. Unfortunately doing this with certain types of sticker paper will dissolve the adhesive and the labels will come off. You should experiment and find the right sealant that works for your project.