IT’S FINALLY DONE!!!

•September 29, 2014 • 18 Comments

I hadn’t updated this blog with my posts in a little while but I had kept it going in my RPF thread as best I could through the last leg of this marathon of costume creation. If you’re interested in the details, head on over to The RPF to check out my thread (link is at the top of the page as well).

Well, here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for: pictures!

 

I also shot a couple short videos during the shoot:

Apoxie Sculpt, Shin Surgery

•June 1, 2014 • 8 Comments

Bleh. Well, for some reason even the gesso is able to be peeled off my thigh armor. I don’t know what the deal is. It’s possible that gesso is always able to be peeled off but I never saw it happen previously. The thigh had a little bondo on it when I applied the gesso over the entire thing. When the gesso started peeling off the bondo, as I discovered it does, it created edges for the gesso to continue peeling off the worbla as well (even with the thigh roughed up for adhesion). The bicep and shoe tongues had no issue with gesso. So I guess maybe you just absolutely have to have a coat of gesso over the entire thing all at once and be careful not to sand through it.

A coworker/friend of mine suggested I try Apoxie Sculpt. I’ve read it’s a fair bit heavier than bondo (although it doesn’t seem that much different to me) but on the other hand this stuff sticks to damn near anything and is rock hard when cured (bondo tends to stay a bit rubbery or sticky even when fully, properly cured). I tried it out on one side of one of the shoe tongues and I really like working with it. No fumes, 2-3 hour working time, is clay-like so it’s easy to build up corners and make it very smooth even before sanding. I’m hesitant to apply it to the larger pieces like the thigh and shins though.

The inside of the tongue before and after sanding:
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Now that I know the EL tape is going to work, I began work on the shins again. I was concerned that they were going to end up being too tight so I did some surgery on the inside and removed the layer of worbla and the inner foam, then reinforced it with a layer of worbla and angled the cut edges so it would be comfortable. So far it seems to help a lot.
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I also finished cleaning up the edges from where I had cut the shin apart, and started adding the flange along the seams where the two pieces will fit together.
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Light Tape Sample

•May 28, 2014 • 2 Comments

eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! It’s heeeeeeere!!

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and with the light turned off:

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It’s PERFECT!! Man this stuff is hard to get a good picture of. No matter what I do it just ends up looking white when the light is turned on. In person the entire thing is a solid, vibrant, green when lit up.

This sample I got is 1/2″x4′ and it runs off a 9v battery via an included driver box.

I think I’ve figured out what lengths and widths I need to buy. I made a diagram to help me visualize and keep track of everything:
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(Measurements are all in inches.)

The dash mark lines at the top are the non-center curves on the shoulder bells. Since it’s a curve along the off center surface of a sphere I can’t have a singular strip because the strip would have to curve and light tape doesn’t curve. So it’ll be one big strip down the center and 5 small strips along each side. I’ll be using my sample piece for the small strips.

Hopefully it’s not too hard to connect everything together, but if anything it won’t be harder than doing LEDs, so there’s that.

The tape doesn’t work for lighting the visor so I’ll have to figure something else out for that – maybe just a couple LEDs.

Yay! I am SO glad this is working out.

Hip ribbing, optimal worbla smoothing method

•May 26, 2014 • 2 Comments

I finished the hip ribbing! Cue pictures of creepy duct tape amputee:

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This is a larger gauge surgical tubing than the kind I used for the arm before. To reiterate, in order make to these I cut a length of tubing in half lengthwise so the back side could lay flat on my body, and glued them together with superglue. Even though superglue is a brittle glue it works wonderfully for this; it seems to melt both sides of the rubber and weld them together, forming a very strong bond. Afterward the rubber is still very flexible. I’m going to be attaching these to the torso armor.

These were not as easy to make as they look. The angular loops require the surgical tubing to warp in such a way that they start to pucker on the inside of the curve if you’re not careful. I had to do a lot of gluing the tubing down to the mannequin to keep everything in place. Luckily superglue pops right off duct tape so I could easily get it off when I was done!

Other than that I’ve been smoothing out the unfinished worbla pieces. Gesso and I have made up and we’re friends again. I finally figured out the best way to get a smooth finish on worbla is a layer of gesso and then a coat of bondo with spot putty to fix small imperfections. You may recall this was the way I did it previously with the first bicep, except back then I was using bondo to repair the failure of the gesso. Turns out I was right the first time! It was still good to learn how these mediums interact with each other though:

Wood glue is nice for small things like the fingers of the glove, but it’s such a hard medium that it takes forever to sand and layering a hard medium under bondo is just asking for trouble because bondo sands much faster (you’ll get lumps if you sand past the bondo). It’s also great if you don’t intend to sand at all.

Gesso on its own takes way too long to layer up enough to sand smooth since it takes ages to dry and is not self leveling.

Bondo alone on worbla will peel off. Roughing it up with sandpaper does work but the worbla fur that’s created sticks up too far and just becomes a hassle when sanding.

Gesso before bondo allows the bondo to adhere properly and it sands at the same speed as bondo. Gesso can be applied very thick without cracking so I pile on as much as I can to make it easier in the bondo stage. Conveniently, the white gesso also acts as a warning layer so I can tell when I’ve sanded past the pink bondo.

More worbla, detail paint, EL tape

•May 18, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Okay, so lesson learned. Don’t put bondo on worbla…at least not without roughing it up first with sandpaper. Bondo doesn’t adhere to raw worbla so it just peels off. So far my tests of sanding worbla with 80 grit before applying the bondo appear to be working though. Previously, for the first thigh, I had applied a layer of wood glue before the bondo. While that seems to hold the bondo on it causes issues while sanding, mostly because the glue sands slower than the bondo which causes more bumps. What a headache.

I’ll be spending the rest of today bondo’ing stuff, but I did a few other things recently:

I finished worbla’ing the first shin (reinforcing the inside and cleaning up edges and seams), then cut it in half. I haven’t cleaned up the cut edges yet.
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It’s very, very snug; comfortable, but I’m a little concerned about fitting lights down the sides if it’s pressed up right against my leg. There’s no real easy way to make more space inside, so I started re-thinking the kind of lights I’ll be using. I did a bit more research and now I have my hopes set on EL tape. I knew about this before but ruled it out because EL wire is very dim, so I assumed the same about EL tape. This tape, however, seems to be made more for commercial uses and I’m betting it’s pretty bright, at least bright enough for me. I ordered a sample which should arrive in 1-2 weeks. I’m so excited to see it! It comes in different widths, can be cut, and comes in the perfect color: “kryptonite”.
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If this works out this will make things SO much easier. *crosses fingers*

I also worbla’d the second bicep and both shoe tongues, which just leaves the last shin to worbla! I’m holding off on doing that until I figure out what exactly I’m doing with the lights.
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Here you can see the right tongue has been roughed up:
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And bondo applied to the inside:
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I added detail grunge paint to the crevices of the first bicep, first shoe, and both halves of the forearm armor.
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I figured out how to keep the two forearm halves together too. To keep them from moving around against each other I simply hot glued some worbla tabs on the inside, locking them in place when they’re lined up. Later I’ll add velcro, snaps, or elastic to keep the halves pressed together.
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First thigh ready for paint, second thigh worbla, first shin worbla

•May 12, 2014 • 2 Comments

I now have one of the thighs all ready for paint except for a few tiny spots (circled in black):
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I ran out of gray primer so I just used white to check for imperfections. Harder to see since it’s more transparent than gray, but it worked well enough.

The second thigh’s worbla is complete and is ready for bondo:
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The thighs fit like a freakin’ GLOVE. I love it.

This weekend I started work on the first shin! Originally I was going to have it flex to wrap around my leg and velcro shut but since I’m making it hard with worbla, now I have to cut it into two pieces that will be held together with magnets and/or clips. Before I cut it though, I need to be sure the overall shape is good and that the two pieces will actually fit together after manipulating it with the worbla on it, so I’ll be worbla’ing it as one big piece. Since the ankle hole is too small for my foot to fit through this meant I had to create an analog for the shin to be on. I made a quick duct tape cast of my leg and stuffed it with newspaper (like the big whole body mannequin, if you recall), and then hot glued the shin shut around it.

The shin before gluing it shut:
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I cut in some V-shaped grooves that had gotten lost in the plastidip and weren’t big enough in the first place (the red areas, which is the original red foam showing through after the cuts):
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I also did one down the front center, creating a Y shape below the knee spike (done after this picture was taken).

Working on the shin!
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The material with the grid on it is the pattern “paper” I use. It’s a fabric-like material which you can find at fabric stores by the yard. It’s nice and flexible which makes it way easier to work with than normal paper. I originally made the pattern for cutting the foam shapes out, but now I’m using it again to cut exactly the right shapes out of worbla!

Worbla is so awesome. It allows me to stretch the foam into shapes it would never hold by itself. Here I’ve warped the left side to be much more rounded:
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Subtle curves just make this piece even more amazing. : D
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I still need to reinforce the inside with worbla, but it’s almost done!

Palm Armor, First Thigh Bondo

•April 14, 2014 • 7 Comments

I finished sanding and then painting the palm armor today!

I just stuck them on with some blue tape so they don’t stay in position really, but you get the idea. I didn’t want to close my hand any further in the second picture because the paint is still soft and it was going to damage it. I think I’ll be able to close my hand most of the way when they’re on there for real.
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After covering the foam thigh armor in worbla, I’ve now applied bondo and done a first sanding pass. The edges are nice and crisp in most places but need some touch up bondo in others.
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