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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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