Before we start…
Unfortunately, I did not take many progress pictures, but I think I still have enough to illustrate an article. My phone camera being damaged did not help, so some of the pictures are blurry and/or have black dots in them (you can probably tell which ones were taken with said phone…)
I pick my methods by taking into account my budget, time, skills, restrictions, and tools. What worked for me might not be the best solution for you, and this isn’t meant to be read as a tutorial.
I am also sorry for butchering the English language.
Left arm armour, based on the Kotobukiya statue. The goal here was to keep it lightweight (the entire pauldron is only 96 grams – around 0.2 lbs) without breaking the budget (that usually means no moulding/casting unless absolutely necessary). As a consequence, I had to rely on materials like EVA foam and thermoplastics for this project.
Luckily, I made this for someone whose arm was similar to my own, but a bit larger. This is why I am wearing a slightly loose jacket on the picture below to hide the fact that the arm piece is actually too large for me, and also why my brother is the one modelling it instead of me in the last photo of this article.
The glove armour is entirely made out of Worbla, a material I do not particularly like for a handful of reasons, but find useful in some occasions. The hand is composed of 24 articulated pieces.
I textured the armour, coating it with wood glue and then applying sand on top. The sand I had was rather coarse, so I built a makeshift sieve with tulle fabric and an embroidery hoop to thin it.
I sanded away some of the sand -no pun intended-, so some areas would be more or less textured. The glove received a second coat of wood glue to keep the sand from being rubbed off. All the pieces were then coated with Black Gesso, received a minimal amount of silver paint applied with a rough brush, and then matte spray varnish.
I made a spandex glove to use as a base, glued the pieces to it, and then sewed them (just in case) by heating the needle in a flame. I am aware that sewing it might not be the right way of handling Worbla.
The base of the pauldrons is 5mm EVA foam. I added undercuts on the backside (cut out bevels of foam and then glued the edges back together) to create more relief.
It was time to make some spikes (cones with different sizes). I considered my options, given the budget I had:
- 3D printing
- Pros: lightweight, seemingly perfect cones
- Cons: time-consuming, fragile (since I cannot print ABS with my current setup), would need to be coated or filled with something to make it durable
- EVA foam, PE foam etc…
- Pros: easy to work with, lightweight
- Cons: the tips would quickly get damaged, especially since I had to ship it
- EVA foam/styrofoam/thick paper/prettymuchanything covered with a thermoplastic
- Pros: durable enough for this kind of use
- Cons: easy to screw up, creates seams I’d have to get rid of, heaviest option
- Any hard material I’d have to carve: trying to get this kind of geometric shape without a lathe wasn’t worth it in my opinion
- Anything lightweight covered in epoxy resin: why not ?
Of course, I had way more options than that with all the stuff I have laying around, but I cannot list everything that crossed my mind here. I also considered making the spikes removable (like I did for Roadhog’s armour), but finally decided against it for several reasons.
I made the core of my spikes out of high-density EVA foam. I glued several layers of 10mm foam together and roughly carved them with a cutter (though I could have used a scrollsaw…).
I pinned them to the pauldron to get an idea of the general look.
I then grabbed a rotary tool to actually shape the spikes. I heated them up afterwards and rolled them between my hand and the workbench to get a more regular surface.
I glued all the spikes to the pauldrons, and added a bit of foam clay (I had some, so why not use it) to make the transition smoother.
Some resins are made specifically for coating (like Epsilon PRO). I briefly considered ordering some, and then remembered the clear epoxy I had left from the Death Jester project. It has a 24 hours curing time (of course, it depends on the conditions in which you are working, it cured in 4 hours when it was 40°C in the workshop last summer -I had left said workshop at this point and was working outside). Anyway, it’s meant to be poured and not brushed on, but I still wanted to try it. I mixed the resin and the hardener, and let it sit in the cup for a while since it was way too runny for the use I intended to make of it. After it had thickened enough to my taste, I brushed it on the spikes and kept the pieces upside down, so the resin would gather at the tips (the zone I actually needed to protect) and not around the base of the spikes, should it start dripping. After it had cured, I would just have to sand off the excess resin with a rotary tool and sandpaper. It worked perfectly, but if you are going to brush resin on something, I suggest that you do it with products that are actually meant for this use…
I already detailed the rest in the “glove” section, I followed the same steps to texture and paint this part. Only two things changed:
- I used Flexbond instead of wood glue. I often see people talking about wood glue as a primer for EVA foam and get confused because what we call wood glue here hardens after a few weeks and then cracks when bent or hit (at least the brands I’ve tried). That’s why I save it for hard materials like thermoplastics or PLA prints (and to actually glue wood, while I’m at it…)
- Instead of applying Flexbond/wood glue and then sprinkling sand on it, I mixed said sand with the primer before spreading it on the foam. It creates random chunks and gives a more uneven look to the surface. The pauldron was actually the first piece I coated and I decided to use a different technique for the rest because the chunks would be too big for smaller pieces like the ones on the fingers.
It does not have attachments, the person I built it for wanted to replace her own armour that had been damaged at some point, and already had what she needed on her costume.
The base was 5mm EVA foam again. I cut the backside to create a “muscle” look (I do not know how to describe it, I hope the picture below speaks for itself). It also has three seams, in order to get curves in the right areas. You might have noticed that the seams to not run on the whole length of the armguard, as it’s only one piece of foam with darts.
I do not have much more to say about that part, since I already talked about the spikes, texture, and paintjob earlier. It has magnetic straps, you can see one of them on the picture below.
This project was quite interesting to work on, and weighs less than the box I shipped it in. I hope you enjoyed watching it come to life.