An unfortunate fire accident and a love of Skyrim came together to help create one of the best up-and-comers in the world of post-apocalyptic propmaking: Deadbeard Props.
Owner and designer Schlieber Didl created the one-man shop back in 2014 as a hobby to build props and costumes he admired from movies and video games, but it was a clash with fire that led to the unique name. “I picked the name because I’ve grown my beard since I was a teenager,” the Austrian native told me. “So my friends joked about beards and names like blackbeard and metalbeard, because I am a metalhead (black and deathmetal).” A shop fire damaged his beard so badly that he had to shave it all off, and Deadbeard Props was born.
Self-described as a mix of “sometimes chaotic, complicated, and improvised,” Schlieber says that his style is also a healthy dose of accuracy with a keen attention to detail.
The 34-year-old currently works as a gardener for his family’s business, but spent 12 years building custom interiors and fiberglass body kits for cars. While he has had no formal artistic training, he credits the car customizing job as an inspiration for learning to do things by hand.
“I started out knowing nothing about propmaking but now I’m to a level where I can say that I can build nearly everything I want,” he described. “It took a lot of practicing, trying out material and learning how to use them, but that was the fun part. I learned everything by myself with tutorials and a lot of asking, trying, and listening to advice from propbuilder friends I met in the last 2-3 years since I started.”
Schlieber’s first build was from Bethesda’s Skyrim, but since then he’s enjoyed making masks, weapons, helmets, and other props from Borderlands, Mad Max, and Fallout. “I only build things from games and movies I like. Maybe if Bethesda would bring out a new open world game, I would build things from that game,” he joked.
When Deadbeard Props started, there were only a handful of propmakers out there making tutorials and videos, but Schlieber soaked them all up. “Thanks to Youtube videos from Punished Props, Volpin Props, SKS Props, Folkenstal, Jarman Props (and many more) for inspiration and motivation. And when I see something I like and want to own and place in my gaming room, I build it. Playing games and looking at other artists’ work is my inspiration.”
Out of everything he’s made since 2014, Schlieber names his NCR Ranger costume from Fallout New Vegas as his favorite. “It was my first helmet, EVA foam, and weapon build,” he said. “This was the point where I began to work on costumes and helmets. Helmets are my fav.”
Schlieber’s current projects include several of the most iconic props and costumes from both Fallout 3 and 4. From Fallout 3, he’s building the Alien Blaster, helmets for the Hellfire Trooper and the Mechanist (yes, the Fallout 3 Mechanist) which he hopes to eventually turn into full costumes. And from Fallout 4 he’s working on the complete version of the Mechanist from that game, plus the Thirst Zapper, the Super Sledge, and a collection of Nuka Cola bottles. “I want to own a complete set of all Nuka Cola in the game,” he said.
He has also very recently been getting into 3D modelling and printing, thanks to some help from his brother and 3D Fusion. “I don’t like 3D printing very much but for fasten up some builds it will be helpful,” he said on his website when he announced his adventures with the 3D tools. “Some tiny and rounded greeblie parts are too time consuming to build and this is why I decided to go the next step into future.”
But as busy as Schlieber is with these ongoing projects, he beams at the idea of passing on his own knowledge down to the next “generation” of propbuilders. “Try to learn everything about everything and don’t stop practicing,” he advises. “Don’t be shy to ask other propbuilders for advice and help, and always try to make your stuff as good and accurate as possible.
“Challenge yourself to get better and better. Build things you like, not things because other people build it.”
A big thanks goes out to Schlieber for doing the interview, and be sure to follow along with his work on his Facebook and Instagram pages. Next up on the agenda is Joe from Daedalus Cosplay, so look for that one coming soon!