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.

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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.

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.

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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”

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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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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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