Sizing cosplay props and armour in Excel

On October 22, 2014, in Uncategorized, by Toast

As I know not everyone is BFFs with excel like I am, I’m going to write a full tutorial (we’ll see how long this gets anyhow) on how I build these sizing spreadsheets using something I’m in the process of starting to build.

Quick Excel Note:

Throughout this tutorial I will refer to cells and what to place in them. I don’t want to assume anything is basic knowledge. So please see the image below:

In this image the blue cell is C3 and the green cell is A6.

Also yes, you can use google docs to do all this.

Using excel to size props/armour:

One of my current projects is Toan from Dark Cloud, with the Chronicle sword. So as I write this I’m doing the actual work to size out this blade. So here is Toan:

1

As shown in both my armour and weapon tutorial I like to add lines in photoshop to aid in getting more exact measurements. Any program that enables you to have layers and draw straight lines with some kind of tool will work for this. So now Toan looks like this:

2

Note that the blue line is just to make is easier to show where the end of the blade is when a line is drawn from the handle’s tip. I find this a handy trick when the highest/lowest point don’t line up.

At this point I note down the current zoom on my picture, this is so if we were have to revisit this image for more measurements we can still use the same scaling. My current zoom is 66.67%

Now I’ve written this out before, but we’ll do it again!

So I now pick up my ruler and hold it to my screen and measure out the two lines, green and red, in cm. I suggest using cm over inches just due to the ability to be more precise, also, do yourself a favour and buy a clear ruler for this, just do it.

So the green line (Toan’s height) is 22cm and the red line (Sword’s total length) is 18.8cm.

Now we set up an excel sheet with the following columns:

3

Area is the title/description of what I have measured, screen is the measurement that I took on the screen (aka what we just did above), IRL is the cm that the item will be in real life and Ft/in RL is just a conversion over to feet and inches because although I’m Canadian, my brain does still run on ft/in for larger items.

Now enter two items into the “area” like so:

4

So we know Toan’s height on screen (22cm) and my height (168 cm). So enter 22 in to cell B2, and 168 into cell C2.

Now I put a little box somewhere else, generally F2, to hold my conversion ratio. This is created by entering the following into F2:

=C2/B2

Now F2 contains the number that is takes to convert from your screen measurements to your real life measurements.

So now we enter 18.8 into cell B3 (Total Weapon Length). To figure out the IRL length of this we need to multiply it by the conversion ratio.

To make this easier on items going forward we are going to enter this into cell C3:

=B3*$F$2

The $F$2 means that excel will always reference this cell when we drag this formula. So now grab the bottom of cell C3 and drag down a ways. While dragging it down the B3 part will change to B4, B5, ect, however the F2 will continue to be referenced.

So we now have a sheet like so:

5

To fill in the D column (Ft/in RL) we are going to enter the following into cell D2:

=CONCATENATE(ROUNDDOWN(CONVERT(C2,”cm”,”in”)/12,0),”‘”,ROUND(MOD(CONVERT(C2,”cm”,”in”),12),0),””””)

Why is this so long? Because it’s the only way to get it to display a format that is x’x”.

If you care.  This is what this formula is doing in words.  Concatenate is something that allows you to string sentences together, there are other ways to do this in excel but I enjoy the concatenate method.  The CONVERT formula is changing the measurement from cm to in.  The round down is… well rounding down.  MOD is then something that calculates the remainder on a division.  So you are telling MOD that you have divided the inch result of the cm measurement in C2 by 12, and it is giving you the remainder.  I then round this… because it looks nicer.

Now like we did to cell C3, drag this down to fill the D column.

And this is our end result:

6

From here you can play around with the scale (I’m honestly not sure I want a 143 cm blade). So reduce this just overwrite the scale until it produces a total number that you are happy with. Making this blade around 120cm or 4 feet is likely sufficient enough for scale.  There is nothing wrong with doing an 80 or 90% scale when props feel stupidly large. Then I continue along measuring things to keep everything to scale. How big is the handle? The sides? The width? What is the measurement between X area and Y area. You can understand how/why these sheets get very long.

From here I sketch a 2D version of the item, generally on a firmer paper type (like Bristol) then use this to template out my weapon.

As always – Thanks for reading and come visit me/send me any questions at:

https://www.facebook.com/ToastCosplay

Tagged with:
 

Intro to Weapon Building

On October 21, 2014, in Other Props, by Toast

So I wrote this post on September 13th, then promptly forgot about it until October 21st… I sometimes wonder how I manage to build cosplays.  Anyhow.

As it seems most of you just can’t get enough of my lame sense of humour… another panel write up!

Weapon making Intro

Written by Toast Cosplay & TinyChampion Cosplay

Original Panel hosted by Toast Cosplay, TinyChampion Cosplay and Featherstone Cosplay

Planning:

Templating/Sizing:

So this one had a fun animation too, just like my armour one. However because this is my blog, you just get images. Cry, it’s okay baby.

This is Cloud:

1Now although this is a nice picture of Cloud, it is bad for measuring his weapon size and figuring out your prop’s size.

Why?

Cloud isn’t standing up straight, nor is the blade displayed flat to the viewer, it’s at an angle.  This picture isn’t usable as a sizing reference, but it may be fine for colours/other details.

Although not as pretty, this picture will let us better size out the buster sword:

2

The lines are drawn in to show what I normally do when I’m trying to take these measurements since often your two “max” areas on items do not directly line up.  I do this in photoshop, but most programs will work.

So anyone remember my height?

I’m 168 cm, on screen cloud is 8.4 cm

So we calculate our real life to on screen conversion factor like so;

168/8.4 = 20

Then we measure the blade, is it 8.7cm

So we multiple this by the factor;

8.7 x 20 = 174 cm.

So our rough size for the buster sword built for me is 174cm.  From here you can use this conversion factor to size each part of the sword (example the blade, pomel and handle size).

I build a sheet in excel using the conversion factor to figure out many areas.  They look like so;

Sizing-excel

I forget what my transition to this area was… who knows!  Though I think someone was filming me blather and half fall asleep since I hadn’t eaten a lot that day and it was 7pm, so perhaps they know.

I believe this was about the point that people began to laugh at how I had to drink water in my Tera armour.  Due to how the arms were done I only could bend my arm to half, so guiding a water glass to my mouth took sliding my fingers to the very very bottom of the glass and carefully tipping it into my mouth.  TinyChampion, whom sat next to me, had the same issue so we would sit there while Featherstone spoke and try to drink our water…. pathetically.

Wasn’t that a great transition?

Once you have these rough numbers for your prop/weapon you will want to make a full size sketch before creating the weapon.  I find these are best because it lets me understand the size of the prop (if it needs to break down for transportation) and to adjust bits to make it suit me.

5

This is the pomel of Kirito’s main sword, which I often forget the name of.  I believe during the panel I began calling it the realistator.

Elucidator just so you don’t all think poorly of me.

4

This is the real life sketch of Victoria, my Axe for my Tera cosplay.

Two 30cm rulers and a surface pro 2 (you can see my excel and ref picture on there) for sizing.  Also my kitchen table.

3

Once your base build is done on an item it is also wise to “template” out your details. (Ft. Victoria again)

If you are doing a two sided item this will assure it is identical, or roughly identical, on both sides.

Tracking:

Toast:

If you read my armour tutorial, skip this as I copy and pasted it from there.  With the word “armour” replaced with “weapon”

Untitled-5

If you build large weapons you will want to track and plan your tasks so you aren’t up until 3am the night before your con. I build a sheet like this to plan each task for each weapon, and often sub-parts of the weapon if it is large, then track how done I am. It helps me to understand how much of my project I have left and also helps keep me motivated to get to write just how much I finished in a day/work period.

TinyChampion:

As for me, what I like doing for tracking my progress is making a comprehensive checklist on a sheet of paper and sticking it to my fridge, along with milestones I wanna be at overall (i.e. have all the base pieces of a weapon made by X date.) When I finish a task, I get to cross it off the list with a sharpie. Sometimes the list is very long, and sometimes it’s not, depending on how big of a project it is, if I’ve encountered anything new I didn’t notice before, or if any problems have arisen. Trust me, problems are more than likely going to occur, no matter how long you’ve been at it. Just give yourself plenty of buffer before a convention to get your stuff done, just in case.

Materials:

Wow!  The meat of the matter!

But seriously plan your shit well or no matter your material it may look like poop.

In other news I just discovered how to add “title” setting to wordpress – woo!

Wood:

For wood I’ll just direct you over to these blog posts of mine:

Wooden Sword Tutorial

Homura’s Bow Tutorial also contains a bit of speaking to wood.

Aside from that, dowels are your friends, buy some dowels, they help other things.

I don’t have much more to say to wood than that.

Foamboard:

Foamboard is cheap, widely available, comes smooth… I enjoy it.

For those of us who work in an office, your office likely has foam board they throw out – grab it.  My old office ended up providing all the foamboard that went inside Victoria.

Both: Foamboard Sword Tutorial and Homura’s Bow Tutorial contain a bit of foamboard weaponry.

My sheath technique post also features the use of foamboard to build a sword sheath.

Those three posts cover most of my ramblings about raw foamboard as a material.  It will also be talked about as a filler or base material in the Worbla section.

Foam:

Foam can be used as a filler for Worbla based weapons, or firmer foam can be shaped into weapons on its own.  I have no expertise in using it raw, however may other cosplayers have tutorials about this around.  So please go check them out.

As a filler it is used in a similar manner to foamboard, and how it is used in armour.  Shape the base of your weapon out of foam and cover it in Worbla (or wonderflex) for strength/protections.  I’m a fan of this method as I’ve had many people at conventions walk into me over the years and break parts of my armour and/or props due to them being made out of softer materials.  Instead now they just get hurt, which I must admit I take mild enjoyment in and hope to teaches them to look where they are walking.

Worbla:

As above in the foam section, Worbla is used to cover other materials to create a hard surface.   It is also great for detailing.

If you read the armouring tutorial, the majority of this will be pasted in from over there.

This is my giant collection of scraps:

Worbladrawer

Why do I have a giant drawer of scraps?

No not to cry over it.

Worbla scraps are very useful for detailing your weapons. They can be used to add depth or do small pieces. Even the smallest Worbla piece can be re-heated and used to add details.

These details on Victoria were all done using Worbla scraps:

This is one of the main reasons I like Worbla, it makes detailing easier.  You can combine this external detailing with internal detailing through what you use for build you base, which you can see with different depth in the photo above.  The worbla will press perfectly into these details, I use a little plastic tool made for modeling clay to do this.  However anything with a reasonable flat edge will work.

Wonderflex & other thermoplastics:

Wonderflex is another thermoplastic, similar to Worbla. It was on the market before worbla and was the first thermoplastic I worked with. I have worked with other thermoplastics (friendly plastic), but I don’t recommend even thinking about them with Worbla now on the market.

Wonderflex can be more useful than Worbla at times and I recommend all Worbla crafters have a small amount of it around. If you are ordering Worbla off of cosplaysupplies.com order a small or medium sheet of wonderflex as well. Where wonderflex is more useful is for its strength. Wonderflex has a fabric integrated into it so it will not stretch like Worbla will. As a result this means that it’s small scraps are not as useful, but it can strengthen your projects in weak or thin areas (or when you mess up and have to shrink/re-attach some parts like I do) and for holding fixing pieces like snaps, clips and d-rings into Worbla armour pieces. As Wonderflex is also a thermoplastic is stays very well inside Worbla and integrates with it.

It can also be useful on its own for building long and thin pieces or weapons that need a lot of support.

Other materials worth mentioning:

–          Styrene; this is a thin modeling plastic which has slight thermoplastic properties but tends to just give right out under heat and isn’t ideal for complex curves. Can be useful for detailing and straight pieces. Thin pieces can be found at local model shops and I’ve found thicker pieces at plastic shops in my city

–          Sintra; This is a plastic commonly used in sign making. It also has some thermoplastic properties but is more ideal for simply being glued together. Good for making very straight pieces.

–          Cardboard; Yes, cardboard.  Cardboard is a cheap and easy to find material, however it can get heavy.  If you are unable to get other materials to work with, it will do, as long as you put love and care into both smoothing and painting it.  Here’s an old tutorial on a prop I built using cardboard, which mentions the changes I would make looking back nowadays http://toast.picobin.com/?p=81

That’s all for this tutorial, I will cover painting, resin casting and electronics in a different tutorial.  Let’s all hope I don’t complete forget about that one too.

Tiny Champion cosplay on facebook – https://www.facebook.com/tinychampion

Featherstone cosplay on facebook – https://www.facebook.com/FeatherstoneCos

Myself on facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ToastCosplay

Tagged with:
 

Beginner’s Armour Making Tutorial

On September 11, 2014, in Uncategorized, by Toast

At Anime Revolution this year (2014) myself and two of my cosplayer friends decided to take on a challenge, running beginner aimed armour and weapon making panels. We had mixed opinions on who they were aimed at, but generally came to the conclusion that we just wanted to improve the general level and props and weapons that we saw around our local conventions. After sharing a few horror stories of things we had seen (eg. a single cardboard layer scythe and things made out of raw styrofoam) we put together our panel.

During the panel we were asked as to if we would be willing to post our slides or notes online. For anyone who saw our panels, the slide show was just a bunch of pictures and that was us naturally spewing shit about our hobby for an hour without any notes. The slide show was there to make you all think we were super pro.

As a result, I’ll do my best to do a write up of the information we covered in our Armour panel and Weapons panel over my next two blog posts.

As an amusing side note before I begin this tutorial, when the three of us ventured to the panel room to do set up, myself in my Male Castanic Alliance Zerker armour, Tiny Champion in their Dragon Age armour for Lady Hawke and Featherstone in their plug suit for Rei one person in the line up went “Why are you guys here? You don’t belong at this panel!” I responded with “I’m your panelist.” All I got was an “Oh…” Flattering and amusing to say the least.

Armouring for Beginners

Written by Toast Cosplay & TinyChampion Cosplay

Original Panel hosted by Toast Cosplay, TinyChampion Cosplay and Featherstone Cosplay

Planning:

Templating free-hand:

Originally I had a funky little animation, but it won’t translate well on my blog. So you’ll have to make due with just the ending photo from it.

This is Kirito:

KiritosizingpicKirito’s on screen height was 20cm for me with this photo. The size of the small orange line, the size of the piece we are trying to figure out, is 0.8cm.

My height is about 168cm.

Therefore this gives us a conversation ratio of;

168/20 = 8.4

So the size of this piece is 0.8 x 8.4 = 6.8cm.

From here you can continue to figure out the sizing of things. I use these to size out small detail pieces on my armours. Here is an example of one of these sheets for a weapon I built. I like to include a conversion to ft/in because my brain finds that easier to estimate most of the time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sizing-excel

No, my weapon was not 9’4” in the end. I believe it was about 8’6”.

I’ll make a mini-tutorial, which I will post at a later time, with the specifications on how I build these sheets, for the excel impaired.

From here you end up with an item like this:

Kiriotthingy

Templating off the body:

For templating you are often best to start off with templating your body, if the armour is going to be fitted to you. To do this wrap saran wrap around the body part like so;

Then cover this saran wrap with painter’s tape or scotch tape, any kind of paper tape.

Never under any circumstance use a duct-tape or anything similar. You will sweat to death.

As was included in our panel;

image (3)

I actually have no photos of my armour templating, just a photo of my cat sitting on top of my templating. This is a common issue in my house.

So please have a cat on a template of mine:

Cat

Tracking:

Untitled-5

If you build large armour sets you will want to track and plan your tasks so you aren’t up until 3am the night before your con. I build a sheet like this to plan each task for each piece of armour, then track how done I am. It helps me to understand how much of my project I have left and also helps keep me motivated to get to write just how much I finished in a day/work period.

TinyChampion: As for me, what I like doing for tracking my progress is making a comprehensive checklist on a sheet of paper and sticking it to my fridge, along with milestones I wanna be at overall (i.e. have all the base pieces of an armor made by X date.) When I finish a task, I get to cross it off the list with a sharpie. Sometimes the list is very long, and sometimes it’s not, depending on how big of a project it is, if I’ve encountered anything new I didn’t notice before, or if any problems have arisen. Trust me, problems are more than likely going to occur, no matter how long you’ve been at it. Just give yourself plenty of buffer before a convention to get your stuff done, just in case.

Materials:

Foam – Written By TinyChampion

Foam is really great if you’re looking for a really cost effective way to make armor, if you don’t mind having your armour in florescent colours before painting. It’s super cheap, and you can find it at most craft stores. You can hot glue it, heat shape it, basically it’ll take whatever you have to throw at it. It’s also pretty durable and lightweight, so it’s pretty ideal.

I personally like it because it’s incredibly easy to work with and easy to get a hold of.

It’s really great for making general armor shapes, or the overall base of an armour piece. Make sure you mark it out on the foam with a pen before you cut it, because foam tends to be unforgiving in this way, and the scraps, most of the time (depending on the overall size of the piece and what you intend to do with it), will be scraps. You can attempt to patch it by gluing in some pieces of foam, but you’ll probably wanna spackle over it so it’s smooth, and not do what I did and just dump copious amounts of hot glue over it, as seen here (I’ll put up a better picture when I get around to taking a higher res one):

292092_463214653700884_1570868749_nEDITS

One thing I forgot to touch upon in the panel we did was that the thinner pieces are going to be a little more bendy than the thicker pieces, even once you’ve finished shaping, sealing, etc. One thing you can do to help eliminate this, is to hot glue a piece of thin fabric on the underside of the foam (the part that will not be seen) to give it some stability. The glue will help retain the shape of the thinner foam and keep it from bending.

Worbla:

I am a Worbla builder. This shit is wonderful, it is costly, but it is wonderful. If you can afford it Worbla is very much worth it for armouring.

This is my giant collection of scraps:

Worbladrawer

Why do I have a giant drawer of scraps?

No not to cry over it.

Worbla scraps are very useful for detailing your armour. They can be used to add depth or do small pieces. Even the smallest Worbla piece can be re-heated and used to add details.

These details were all done using Worbla scraps:

 

Untitled-3Untitled-6

Untitled-10

Once your template is complete you will cut your foam pieces from there.  I generally check the fit by taping these pieces together with a painter’s tape (causes little to no damage to the foam) then test the piece by roughly placing it as it would be when it is fully shaped and bent.  This will prevent you from having to do adjustments once you have applied your worbla and is good practice in my opinion.

To add small details you can layer foam on your base layer.  Once this is completed cut Worbla pieces about 2 cm bigger than your foam piece, one for each side of the piece, and cover it.  Once you have smooshed the sides together re-heat the edges and clip them with scissors.  If the cutting is done while the edges are heated you will come away with clean edges.  I often do not cut the edges on pieces where I am going to be placing them together with another piece.

Your pieces will look like so;

In each image the foam is on the right and the covered is on the left.

Untitled-2 Untitled-3-2Once you’ve covered your pieces, shape them.  For pieces that will be tight to my body I often just let the worbla cool a bit then press it against my body until it cools.  This often takes some tape to force it to shape or stay together.  In the summer warm worbla on your body isn’t fun, but I find it highly effective for getting it to fit tightly to your body.

Once your base piece is done you can add pieces to it for more effect, or detail as above.  A mix of under-worbla foam details, plus worbla scrap and additional foam covered in worbla for detailing works well.

Wonderflex:

Wonderflex is another thermoplastic, similar to Worbla. It was on the market before worbla and was the first thermoplastic I worked with. I have worked with other thermoplastics (friendly plastic), but I don’t recommend even thinking about them with Worbla now on the market.

Wonderflex can be more useful than Worbla at times and I recommend all Worbla crafters have a small amount of it around. If you are ordering Worbla off of cosplaysupplies.com order a small or medium sheet of wonderflex as well. Where wonderflex is more useful is for its strength. Wonderflex has a fabric integrated into it so it will not stretch like Worbla will. As a result this means that it’s small scraps are not as useful, but it can strengthen your projects in weak or thin areas (or when you mess up and have to shrink/re-attach some parts like I do) and for holding fixing pieces like snaps, clips and d-rings into Worbla armour pieces. As Wonderflex is also a thermoplastic is stays very well inside Worbla and integrates with it.

It can also be useful on its own for building long and thin pieces or weapons that need a lot of support.

Other materials:

There is a long, long list of other materials you can build armour out of. I’m just going to mention a few others that are not bad for a beginner to start with:

–          Styrene; this is a thin modeling plastic which has slight thermoplastic properties but tends to just give right out under heat and isn’t ideal for complex curves. Can be useful for detailing and straight pieces. Thin pieces can be found at local model shops and I’ve found thicker pieces at plastic shops in my city.

–          Sintra; This is a plastic commonly used in sign making. It also has some thermoplastic properties but is more ideal for simply being glued together. Good for making very straight pieces, likely good for props as well.

–          Can tops; Tiny Champion has done two cosplays which took making chainmail. To quote them “you can make chain mail this way, or you can make chainmail and everyone anywhere around you will hate you”. Photos below of their lovely chain mail;

image[2] (2) image[7] (2)

That’s all for this tutorial, I will cover painting, resin casting and electronics in a different tutorial from either my weapons or armouring one as my advice for both is identical.

Tiny Champion cosplay on facebook – https://www.facebook.com/tinychampion

Featherstone cosplay on facebook – https://www.facebook.com/FeatherstoneCos

Myself on facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ToastCosplay

You can check out some lovely photos of all of us from Anime Revolution on our facebook pages

Tagged with:
 

Remaining SAO notes

On May 25, 2014, in Sword Art Online, by Toast

This is a long purely test post with some remaining rambling about Kirito builds.  Try not to fall asleep.

 

The shoulder strap and chest piece:

AKA how the swords free hung from my back. This was my biggest pet peeve with most of the Kirito cosplay I had seen. Either there was no sword sheaths or they were connected to belts which had nothing to do with the chest strap (and were inaccurate). I also saw a few which had connected it to the chest strap but the chest strap had come out to be thick belts and/or armour instead of just another fabric piece like it is on the character.

As a result I set out to find a solution to all of these pet peeves. If I hadn’t succeeded I likely won’t have even cared to wear this cosplay.

Thankfully, all my work wasn’t wasted. But enough yammering.

Chest piece creation:

The base of the chest strap was a loop attached to a loose piece of strap, which buckled into the rest allowing for easy removal of the piece.

This base was covered in the same fabric that I made my Kirito jacket out of, and the same (self-made) bias tape was used to cover the edges. This was made to fit very tightly to my body over the jacket. It had three purposes;

–          Look damn sexy

–          Hold the jacket in the correct (open) position

–          Hold the swords and their sheathes

I have a wonderful photo of myself in the bathroom modeling just this piece on my facebook page.

The chest armour was constructed from foam and worbla and pressed to my chest so that it molded right onto my body. This really is the wonderful part of thermoplastics, everything can mold right to you. The piece had two levels, inside the worbla I put two pieces of foam together to create the lower surrounding edge on the piece. The circles were thin strips of worbla wrapped around a cup, then were squished onto the main piece. This was gessoed, sanded, rub n’ buffed, buffed and covered in future. It was then applied to the chest strap to hide the buckle.

 

Attaching the swords:

In retrospect, this should have been done earlier. Since you are reading this, if you plan to follow my methodology for this, please don’t make my mistakes. Hindsight is 20/20 on this one, but my design worked out in the end.

My mistake is simple, my sheathes were completed when I decided to go about this task. Big no-no, this should have been a part of the design process. Aside from that, all is well aside from using contact cement instead of super glue to attach some Velcro, which is a fixable error. Side note: It has now been re-attached with super glue and is 100% solid.

I added Velcro to each case to get them to stick together in the correct position on my back. This made them into a single object to deal with hanging, though they would still come apart so they were easier to store and it was still possible to cosplay pre-dual wield Kirito if I so pleased. Before doing this check, re-check, re-re check, re-re-r… you get the point, your references to make sure you have the correct case set up and the correct case on top. Once you’ve done that, apply Velcro to their cross over area on the correct faces.

With the cases connected I held my chest strap piece up to them and sketched out where the chest piece would hit them, one case would slide on, the other would have a Velcro strap that could be done up and un-done around the chest strap. The Elucidator has the Velcro strap and the Dark Repulser has the slip on ring.

The slip on ring was made from the same backpack material. I cut two holes in my foamboard case and slid the piece through. As I like to worry I applied two layers of worbla to this area and some of the surrounding area on the case to make sure this area wouldn’t tear. Even though my foamboard sword was a massive 0.8lbs, I wasn’t willing to take any failure chances.

Why this isn’t ideal: The strap rubs against the sword since it is inside the case, possibly ruining the paint. You’ve also had to make a later modification and have possibly weakened the sheath.

How to be better than me: Attach the strap to the case in a different manner (worbla added on the external part of the case as part of the build that holds the strap for example). If you must snake it inside, cover it in felt or fleece and make sure it is flush or close to flush with the rest of the case,.

The Velcro ring was two pieces of Velcro sew together. Like the strap it snaked through the case. I placed the “soft” side of the Velcro inside the case but I still panicked every time I had to pull the elucidator out of the case fearing damage to the paint job. I don’t need to detail why this isn’t ideal, it’s obvious. Thankfully unlike the foamboard the worbla case doesn’t have a big concern about a loss of strength or stability from such a small cut. However just to be sure I applied an extra layer of worbla to this area.

How to be better than me: Same as above, pre-plan, make it flush. If you are using Worbla you may chose to place it with-in the initial “sealing”, allowing it to stick out. Sew the two pieces together and place the inside the piece with the foam, having small slits for them to exit the piece. This would make the fixing very strong and permanent inside the piece, however I would suggest double layering the worbla in this area on the outside just to be sure everything will hold.

This system was easy to take on and off, was accurate and was very comfortable. I wasn’t in pain after wandering around with the sword for 8 hours at the convention, considering my Haseo cosplay it was something I was more than thankful for.

Other notes:

I don’t feel the need to detail my shoe and arm armour. They were done with worbla just like the chest armour, the little bump details were done with screws which I had cut the bases off of. These details are likely suppose to be rivets, but I liked how the screws looked. The arm armour stuck on with Velcro, the shoe armour just used elastics as the boots I wore are boots I rather like for real life things (when armoured shoes might not go over so well).

The jacket was sewn by me, the wig was styled by me and the bias tape used was handmade as I didn’t find any with the colour I liked. The was my most comfortable cosplay to date. It was fun to take pictures with people in it as I could give them a sword to hold (or to threaten me with).

I have two future projects that I aim to finish this year, some Tera online armour http://tera-online.cc/uploads/gallery/main/55/castanic_m_h27.jpg and Toan from Dark Cloud (giant glowing sword FTW). Will try to post notes/ect on these as I go. May eventually put up a post about how my Shadowy Death was built.

Tagged with:
 

Blah blah blah <excuses>.  I moved, took a few courses… and now I’m back in gear for 6 months.  I’ll yammer about last year then go get my butt going on this year’s projects.  My cat also passed away, which took away a lot of time from my life (you can see him trying to “help” with my sheaths a bit later on).

For my SAO project I tried two different techniques for making my sheathes.  The Dark Repulser, made from foamboard, received a foamboard sheath and the Elucidator, made from wood, received a worbla sheath.

This post will discuss how both cases were made and I’ll make another post for the final Kirito details, including how I got the sheathes to free hang from my back.

8-b

This photo again, getting sick of seeing it yet?

Worbla case:

This case was spawned from an over whelming need to use the four rolls of worbla I had purchased in some sort of way (currently it is over a year since I purchased the worbla for this project, I still own 2.5 sheets but it will be put to good use shortly).  At this point I was also sick of dealing with wood as a result of my issues with filing the Elucidator.

2013-01-27_22-49-09_666

The pieces were cut, and I went about sealing the foam in inside the worbla.  It was at the point I started to worry about how strong and secure it would be, just the foam seemed a bit wiggly.  As a result I switched out using foam in the sides in favour of balsa wood.  This meant that the sides were stronger and would stand well, this helped to make the case rather strong.  For those not familiar with thermo plastics for cosplay sealing/base covering is simply sealing a core material (normally foam) inside of the thermo plastic.

Once the base covering is completed I connected one side piece to each face piece.  The face pieces were kept flat on the floor to insure their shape.  To make sure that the sides were squared to one another I placed a square doweling against each connection I made.

Each side was then fabric lined and the two sides were connected, for this part I inserted the sword inside the piece to make sure the pieces correctly lined up.  The end was then closed off and the top was shaped properly.

 P1010488

The case was then covered in my new cosplay bff, spackling.  This stuff can be applied to anything to smooth it out.  It turns from pink to white when it is dry.  I covered the case in this then sanded it with a mouse sander with a low grit on my deck.  Make sure to wear a mask and clothing you hate when you do this, you will be covered in dust.

P1010498

After this it was covered in gesso, sanded again up to a 220 grit then painted with black paint.  The black paint for this was slightly lighter than the sword, it was a lower quality (cheaper) paint made by Amsterdam.

Once the paint was dry the case was covered in a matte varnish.  I used stick on foamies to create the top details, covered them in rub n’ buff, buffed them and sealed them with future floor wax to keep their shine.

Foamboard case:

This case was spawned from a dislike of my worbla case at the time (it was half done) and an excess of foamboard from the Dark Repulser.  Of the two this case was much faster to put together.

The pieces were cut and glued together using hot glue.  Just like the worbla case they were felt/fleece lined to protect the paint job on my sword.  I had some issues with shaping the top portions and ended up having to sneek in some extra foamboard to make them fit the pommel on the Dark Repulser.

P1010489

P1010496

I covered the exposed foamboard texture on the sides of the case in paper clay and used this to cover up any small dents that had occurred during the building process.

There was no gesso applied to this case and only a bit of light sanding on the paper clay areas.  It was then painted with a lighter paint that the Elucidator’s case, covered first in Future floor wax to give it a hard coating then in matte varnish by liquitex.  Sticky foam was applied to the top to, covered in rub n’ buff, buffed, then sealed with future just like it was on the other case.

P1010512

Which method to I prefer?

Both have their strengths; the foamboard case went together much faster, was much lighter and didn’t require much sanding beyond the paper clay I used to cover up the texture of the board’s siding, where as the worbla case was much stronger and I had few fears about my beloved Elucidator being protected inside it.  The worbla case took much longer and also cost about ten times as much to make (the foamboard case cost me maybe $3 to put together) it also took a lot of sanding work to be happy with.  The foamboard case was much weaker, could take damage (and did take a bit over 2 con days, a lot of rough handling and 6 months on my couch exposed to house guests).  The extent of this damage was a small bit of the clay covering on the foamboard peeling up, which was easily repaired.

If you have a wooden sword which is well sharpened and you don’t want to risk damage to, and have the money for worbla or wonderflex (either will work), go with a worbla or wood case (not discussed here, as I avoided building one).  If you have a wooden sword that you are not so deeply in love with, or isn’t very sharpened then a foamboard sheath will work for you, they go well with a foamboard sword and are very cheap.  Paint included the foamboard sword and sheath cost me maybe $15, but I’m likely over estimating.

My next post will deal with how I hung the sheaths from my back without the use of belts, strings or anything but the chest strap and other remaining details on this cosplay.

Toast signing off  o7

Tagged with:
 

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything for here.  Life is busy, life is time consuming.  Enough whining from me.

To build on my last post here’s my build notes for my Elucidator.  This is mostly me ranting about the struggles on building my first wooden sword so you can skip some of my stupidity and/or experimentation phases.

8-b

All of the completed swords and sheaths

 

1069945_10151474332356755_1575842208_nThe Elucidator started as a ½ inch board of poplar.  It was cut to the sizes as specified in my first sword art online post.

Once the basic shape was cut I went to work on shaping the edges.  At first I was doing this with rough files but was unhappy with the speed and the results.  I set this project aside for a while and tended to my commission of Homura’s bow.  Once I returned to the Elucidator I had since purchased myself a Dremel 4000, which came with a small planer attachment.  This was likely the tool that saved my project and kept me doing it in wood.  Using the Dremel’s planer I shaped the edges of the main part of the sword (the straight part) and finished the curved areas by hand with my files.  This same thing could be accomplished with a hand plane which can be easily obtained at most hardware stores.

27311_10151162778751755_647279026_n

The base cut of the Elucidator

1049218_560937823944423_1642975451_o

The sword after shaping and with one of the top pieces

The raised detail areas were cut from ¼ inch ply wood, shaped with a file, then glued on using wood glue to each side of the ½” poplar sword.  The handle was a 1 inch dowel cut to size then attached using both a dowel screw (a screw with two sets of threading, one in each direction) and wood glue.  The handle details were done out of a small amount of worbla and some paper clay.

1003448_10151403693386755_1507082779_n

All of the above was a fair amount of work, but the most work likely went into the paint job.  I spent hours sanding this sword out on my balcony.  I wasn’t happy until it was silky smooth.

After the final bit of building the blade was sanded to 220 grit, then had several coats of gesso applied and some paper clay applied to small nicks that had occurred in the wood during the building process.  The gesso was sanding to 1000 grit.  Two coats of black paint were applied with a brush to the entire sword.  I used Liquitex heavy body black paint, this paint is a bit expensive but it worth every penny.  It was a much darker black that my three other black paints used in this project and it went on well and sanded well.  This paint was sanding to 2000 grit, until I was able to see my fingers in it.  The reflective surface of the sword doesn’t show up well in photos but it is my favorite part of this sword.

P1010512

The Elucidator and the Dark Repulser’s case being painted

After this the sword was taped with yellow painters tape (delicate) and I applied rub n’ buff to the edges with a soft cloth, it was also carefully applied to the pommel areas that required it.  I buffed the rub n’ buff areas with a cloth twice.

The entire sword was seal with two coats of future, which was applied with a foam brush.

The top circle was cut from a wooden piece intended for dolls I found at a sewing store I frequent (Dressew for any other Vancouverites), which was cut into four, sanded, covered in rub n’ buff, buffed and glued on with contact cement.

994554_570753106296228_1990153750_n

3D printed decals

1003161_570753112962894_1488018527_n

3D printed decals covered in rub n’ buff

 

The end pieces on the sword were 3D printed for me by a local pop-up shop (I provided them the model).  This alone was an interesting experience, getting to play around with the 3D printer to get a set of perfect models.  Since the piece was so thin a single piece of tape made the different between the machine printing a good copy of the cross and a bad copy of the cross.  I covered these in rub n’ buff, sealed them and used contact cement to add them to the end of the blade.

Edit: I’ve had a few people comment on my use of the 3D printer for the decals on the sword.   There are many other option for making these, the one I would suggest after the 3D printer option it to create one piece in fimo, wood, tagboard or bristol board and to use it to make a resin mold then cast two copies.  However any material would work including; fimo, air-dry clays, thermoplastics, wood, bristol board/tag board, foam, acrylic… anything that is smooth, thin, paint-able and glue-able.

1044833_10151474332246755_2038470092_n 970615_10151474332251755_1781837677_n

I then swung the sword around a bit, much to the displeasure of my other half.

When you build your first wooden sword this is simply something you have to do, it’s fun to have the weight in your hand.  Do avoid jabbing yourself, anyone around you or any pets.  Also try not to break the blade in the process.

Always feel free to shoot me a note at my facebook page if you need some more help or details.

Tagged with:
 

With the 2013 con season over it is time to post some tutorials/builds of my 2013 work.  This will work through both of Kirito’s swords and sword cases; each was built in a different manner with different materials because I wanted to play around with materials this year.  It’ll also discuss how the swords were mounted and a bit to do with the few pieces of armour Kirito has.

First off, The Dark Repulser (The green sword for those that aren’t into Sword Art Online)

8-b

8-2

This is foam board and a square 1” wooden dowel for a handle, the same dowel I used for Homura’s bow.

Base:

Cut the basic shape from foam board, you’ll want two of each piece, I use a straight edge  and foam board cutter  from Logan (foamwerks).  These simply made the cuts easier and faster, this process is perfectly possible with a ruler and an exacto knife.

Once the base is cut the edges need to be cut to a 45 degree angle.  I suggest doing this afterwards so that you can watch the angle closely and make any needed adjustments as you create it.  With the foam board cutter this can be simply done by setting the cutter to 45 degrees and running it along the sides.  Take time on this, you want as clean of a cut as possible so you have less retouching and clean up to do later.

In my case my foam board was smaller than my sword, so the top bit is a different piece.

Please excuse the cat, he seems to believe that he can help with cosplay props.

8-n

8-p

At this point you are going to cut channels for doweling.   You’ll want ¼” doweling.  Place it upon the foam board piece on the backside and trace it, then check that you have right around a ¼” apart set of lines.  You are going to very carefully cut into the foam board, but not far enough to pierce the entire piece.  Peel out the foam and you’ll be left with the above featured picture.  I used a screw driver with a flat head to dig out the foam surface, be careful not to damage the front covering or it will show on your final sword.  Do this to both pieces such that the channel lines up exactly on the two sword pieces.

For the top a ¼” aluminum rod was used in place of doweling, as this will connect into the handle.  The detail pieces also contain small bits of doweling.

8-r

Glue the doweling into the first piece, and then glue the second on so that it perfectly lines up with the first.  You may have some small touch ups to do with cutting at this point, any errors you made in cutting the angles will be fixed shortly.

Once everything is placed correctly you can either do angle fixing or detailing.  I did my detailing first, then my patching/fixing.

My detailing was done out of craft foam, worbla and extra craft foam.  There is foam with an adhesive backing on it that is perfect for work like this.  The handle was connected by drilling a hole into the square doweling, after sanding it to soften the edges, then attached to the sword with glue in both the hole and on the base of the sword.

8-d

The edges now all need to be seal and fixed.  I used paper clay to do this however it would also be possible to do this with bondo (I believe) or spackling.  Use whichever material you would like to use for patching, the application is all very much the same.

Smooth the patching material over the edges and fill in any spots that were cut funny and any places on the face of the sword that require touch up.  Sand the patching to create a smooth edge; I suggest getting to the range of at least 220 on sanding if not 400.

Once you are satisfied with your patching apply gesso to the entire sword, including the foam board face.  Apply 3-6 layers then sand the entire sword to 400.  I’m a fan of wet sanding, but it isn’t mandatory.

The paints I used were Folkart Plaid metallic aquamarine for the main part of the sword, emerald green for the details and a custom mixed teal for the handle.

Just the aquamarine paint & the Elucidator’s case in paint prep stage.

8-c

The gems are resin cast out of a custom made mold.  To do this a base gem was first created with fimo, baked, used to create a mold out of Easy Mold (handy silicone mold maker) then cast out of polyester resin.  The backing of the gems is painted with the aquamarine colour.

The final detailing on the handle is some strips of styrene and a very thin strip of the adhesive foam, coloured in aquamarine paint.

The entire sword is seal and finished with Future by Pledge, a great high gloss hard coat for cosplay props (and floors, apparently).

I was happy with this sword, it was light, it looked good and was fast and easy to make.  If you don’t want to put the love and attention into a wooden sword and I would absolutely recommend this technique.

8-a

And as required, a photo of my finished cosplay taken by BD MacDonald

8-s

 

My other 2013 con photos are posted on my facebook.  Some nice photos of my Haseo cosplay with a new prop, his scythe Shadowy Death.

Tagged with:
 

Homura’s Bow

On June 14, 2013, in Other Props, by Toast

Hey look, I’m alive again!

This was a commission for a friend of mine.

By the time I was done it weighed a total of 0.9 kg (2 lb) and was 142 cm (about 56 inches).

7-2

 

7-1

7-10

Started with a 1 inch square doweling, cut it in to three 21 cm.  ¼” holes was drill in to each open end to the deepest my dremel could manage with drill bits, including what would make up the top and bottom.  Then two iron rods were cut at just about double the depth of these holes.  The dremel has small cutting blades that very easily, and very well, cut through the ¼” iron rod.

The rods were set aside for a bit.

First these were built:

7-3

These are tight fitting tubes that are glued on to one end and fits extremely tightly to the other end.   A double layer of Worbla thermo plastic was used to build each one.  Each is just under 3 inches, as they fit under the diamonds.

Once these were built the iron rods were glued in to place and tested to make sure everything fit well.  When pulled apart these was even a “pop”, so they certainly fit well.

After these were completed the diamonds were built on top of them.  There is two parts to each diamond, the “base diamond” and the “face diamond”.

Pieces for each base diamond are below, a flat face was created for the face diamonds to attached to.  These were covered in paper clay to fix small defects/smooth them.

7-4

Completed base diamond:

7-5

Each face diamond was built out of a base of bristol board and duct tape (it worked, and kept the form well).  These were filled with model magic and some hot glue to help them hold their form.  Then covered with a light layer of paper clay to make them sandable and more durable.

7-6

7-7

W/ face diamond attached

7-9

The ends of the bow were formed out of 6 layers of foam board, shaped, and covered in paper clay to create a smooth but durable surface.

7-8

Two more iron rods were then cut which were the depth of the holes drilled earlier plus the depth required to attach the bow ends at the correct angle.

Lots of sanding, gesso, paint prep

Then paint and finishes.

7-10

Done.

 

 

Sword Art Online

On November 13, 2012, in Sword Art Online, by Toast

Next project is under way.

After Haseo I wanted to go back to making props wanted to experiment with working in wood.  Back during my Haseo costume I made an attempt at the guns out of plywood.  These did not look very good, bits of chipping and a texture I found hard to remove.  I was so unhappy with these I didn’t include them in the costume and will be re-attempting then in wood (and/or maybe resin) once I become more comfortable with working in wood.

My previous props had either been styrene or cardboard (See my cardboard scythe).

I have begun to work on Sword Art Online main character, Kirito.

The Elucidator:

This sword will be built with one piece of 1/2″ poplar for the main body, one piece of 1/4″ poplar for the pomel details and a 1 inch dowel for the handle.

Here is my pommel design for it, adjust the size of the blade area until it fits your sword properly then print

Main measurements are as follows:

Total sword w/o handle: 86 cm (33.86 inches)

Blade width: 5.8 cm (2.28 inches)

Dowel handle (expected): 21 cm (8.27 inches)

Other important measurements:

Bottom tip is 10 cm (3.94 inches) from the point that is starts angling in.  These angles are 165 degrees.

The expansion towards the pommel begins at 73 cm (28.74 inches) (the point at which my pommel begin in the above sketch).

Angled area on blade: 0.9cm (.35 inches) of each side  (0.9 angled, 4cm flat, 0.9 angled)

Other Materials:

Cardboard:

This sword can also be created using these measurements using cardboard like in my cardboard scythe tutorial or the common online cardboard sword tutorial techniques.  This will turn out best if the item is covered in either bondo and sanded or layers of gesso are used as a final primer.

Expanding Foam:

Although it isn’t ideal for a sword with such a large large surface expanding foam could also be used to carve this sword to the same specifications I have provided here.

I’ll post updates as I get to work on this sword, I just wanted to get some info about this project out there as I see many people interested in building this sword.

More frequent updates will be posted over at my facebook.  I’m waiting for a rain free day to land on a day I have free so that I can get to work, but no luck so far.  Vancouver winters mean rain for months on end! :(

Tagged with:
 

Haseo, Part 5

On October 13, 2012, in .Hack//G.U. / Haseo, by Toast

Last post for Haseo, at least until I decide to build a few more pieces for the costume.  I have started on another project and will post some updates on that in little while.  In the mean time I may discuss some tools or materials.

I still have to build the weapons (the guns) or another of his weapons (Twin blades, scythe or chainsaw sword).  Although I have built the twin blades in the past for my Haseo first form cosplay, and did still own them when I wore this cosplay, they were some of my learning props and didn’t fit with the rest of the Xth form cosplay’s quality/look.  I may consider the scythe just to try out a different scythe building technique (I’m interested in trying expanding foam out for a prop and having a staff the breaks into pieces), but that won’t be for a little while!  I don’t have a workshop or workshop space in my current home so many large projects will have to wait.

For anyone interested.  This  was my Haseo first form cosplay.  I’ve learned a lot about cosplay since I did this, changed many methods I use (and gotten the cash to pay for some better tools and materials).

Knee armour:

This was some of the more challenging armour to think through making.  The basic shape of it is a cylinder which slowly expands outwards, then with a second cylinder attached below.  At this point in my process I was also running out of wonderflex (and time) so I made do with friendly plastic for a few parts.

I, sadly, have no progress pictures for this piece so I can only really discuss the theory of how they were built.

The base was created out of a few pieces of foam, covered in wonderflex and placed around a pot to assure that they would be round.  The edges that stick out are foam covered in friendly plastic.  The bottom part was done in the same manner and attached to the top portion.

Wiring was very simple for this piece as there was only two LEDs.

These stayed on using an elastic which went just under my knee (over the muscle right there) and attached onto velcro on the front of my black tights.

Collar:

Originally I believed that this would be the single least comfortable piece of the armour, it was sadly beaten by the sunflower.  Although the theory of this piece was good it felt like it just stood on my body and didn’t really fit as well as it should have.  I may rebuild this at some point.  To anyone else building this piece I would suggest attempting to shape it to your neck area a bit better.

The base of the collar was foam, to create the soft appearance of the piping instead of adding wonderflex on top of the base I stacked the foam, then wonderflexed it.  I did like this effect for this piece in the end and felt it was effective.

The two pictures below show the wonderflexed and shaped foam (and my lovely socks).

From here I did the normal wonderflex prep (gesso, lots of sanding).  The painted the item.

I blended the rub’n’buff with a bit of satin gloss to thin it out so I could treat it as paint, this worked really well and didn’t change the colour or effect of the rub’n’buff.

And the final item:

My painting is still a bit shaky, I am looking to improve this in the future :)

Shirt armour:

This was built in the same way the belt armour was; foam, mod podge, paint and wiring.  There is some wire in the piece that I used to keep it stiff and shaped, it helped it sit better.

As this was my first time using just foam for armour (no wonderflex, no styrene) I was very happy with the result.  It took paint well and came out smooth.  These two pieces have opened by eyes to foam armour a bit more, I may end up using it in a few more project going forward.

The wiring ran along the entire piece and the battery clipped into the opposite side of the thigh armour from the belt armour.

This wasn’t attached to this shirt direction to make washing the shirt easier (washing cosplay clothing is wise, this shirt did not smell great!).

Shirt:

The shirt, this was my sewing pride and joy of this costume.

I am not really a sewer, I tend not to sew with patterns and I’m not particularly confident in my sewing skills.  I managed through making the pants for this costume but the shirt was a different story, at least at first.

The shirt started as a near dress.  The base of the shirt came off of one of my fitted T-shirts then was significantly lengthened, originally it was to just above my knees, rather silly looking.

The front was cut in half to allow for the centre zipped, as I wanted the neck to come in very tight I wouldn’t be able to pull it on/off.  It also made it so I could walk to the convention in a different shirt, I take transit to my local conventions so I try to wear as little of my costume while transporting as possible.

Once the zipped was installed and the base shirt was somewhat fitted I had to create the lines down the shirt.  I spent a lot of time milling over different versions I had seen of this cosplay, most had simply chosen to draw on the lines.  I didn’t like this effect it tended to look too bold against the shirt and the lines of the character’s shirt look more like texture than drawn on lines.

I resolved to sewing them in.

After measuring the total I determined that the space between each line needed to be 4cm.  For each line  I pinched a bit of fabric, pinned it, ironed it (ironing was very key to keep these lines from puckering), stitched it then ironed it while it was folded, then while it was flat.  There was no puckering in the lines as a result of all the ironing.  These lines were put in all around the shirt.

Once the lines were done I cut out the black fabric.  Black fabric #1, the base, is shiny, black fabric #2 is dull black bias tape.  I liked the effect of the lining this created (and it was accurate to Haseo’s shirt, hooray!).  The bias tape was also used to line the arm holes.

The shoulder pieces were foam covered in fabric and glue.  The glue created an interesting effect on the fabric, which I rather liked.  They don’t show in any of the photos I have, but there are lines stitched into these with my sewing machine at 1cm intervals.  These are stitched onto the shirt, with some velcro to allow the collar to slide under certain parts.

The velcro on the bottom of the shirt is to hold the shirt armour, described above.  Around the neck there is velcro to hold on a leather collar that snaps around the back.  There are a few pieces of velcro to hold the collar in the correct position as well.

These photos are just of the shirt on the floor, not super attractive, but it shows all the sewing/velcro well.

Upper arm armour:

I hated this piece, with a passion as well.  In fact I dislike this piece so much I don’t even have direct picture of it to provide!  It broke both days I wore the cosplay, was very uncomfortable and further restricted my movement (which the other parts of the cosplay had done plenty already!).  I will be re-doing this piece with craft/eva foam in the future.

How this was built (again, I do not suggest following this!):

Wire was formed for each piece, glued together with a dab of hot glue.  A 1 cm piece of craft foam was slit in the middle and one was added to each side of the wire.  At this point the piece would fit my arm, but wasn’t tight.  These were covered in a thin layer of air dry clay.  These pieces were connected using a thin piece of balsa wood (likely my biggest error) then the shape on the connector was built up on top of the balsa wood.

These were then painted and finished.

Again, I do not suggest this method.  I think I will aim for shaped thick foam next time, connected by foam.  This would give a bit more flexibility and would not break as easily!

And that’s it for Haseo!

Here are a few more photos of the costume, but we’re done with this guy for now.

This was my largest, longest and most challenging project to date.  My next one is a bit easier but I certainly look forward to attempting another one like this!

Will post about my new project/some other tutorials in a bit :)

Tagged with: