Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Snowtrooper: First step

Snowtrooper is definitely the hardest costume I have ever done. Not only did I have to learn things I didn't even know existed, I also had to work long hours and bounce between three or four process steps at a time. Planning a schedule became day to day habit. I knew it was crucial to plan ahead, because there where things I needed to do before I could do something else. For example, I had to finish the abdomen piece of the armour before I could go out and find a right width of belt strap, so that I could sew the belt loops on the coat. If I happened to miss a step or I didn't have enough time to do it as planned or I didn't find the right materials, the progress stopped. It happened few times and I think Yoki didn’t find those moments pleasing. In addition, neither did I.

Also working with new materials got over-whelming time to time. Plastic and vacuum forming, or more precisely failing with them made me want to rip the hair out of my head. But it was only a passing feeling, along with numerous times I thought my veins would burst from high blood pressure. Like with everything not too familiar, mistakes are inevitable. It takes some effort to pull yourself up numerous times and keep pushing on. For me at least, but it really builds a character.

I thought I would open the process of making the costume. The information I include in this series of posts is quite costume based, but you can always adapt it.
I'll start with a step you always should do with care and patience. It pays off in the end, when you don't have to go and Google in the middle of chaulking, sewing or cutting off your finger. It's just plain frustrating.

1st Step: References

We were starting a costume based on movies and not on any movies, but on Star Wars. After some research and finding the right channels of information, it was really easy to stock up a nice collection of reference pictures. And there can never be too many references. More the merrier. The best source, which led to many other convenient sites were the 501st Legion’s homepage.

501st is a world-wide costuming organization which is specialised in the folk of the Dark Side. Dressed up as villains, they still have a good cause. Showing up in birthdays, weddings or game shops or being ordered in conventions doesn’t fill up their purses. All the profits are directed to charity work and fundraising. All the members of 501st are volunteers and constructs their costumes themselves. More information can be found at the homepage of 501st Legion: Vader’s Fist. I recommend you check the origin of the name, their mission and the testimonials and endorsements.

Thanks to well organized and helpful fandom it was really easy to find tons of reference pictures. I read throughout two forums, which I think were the most beneficial for me: Blizzard Force, a detachment specialised on cold climate troopers and Nordic Garrison, branch formed from Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland.

Reference pictures in use

As references we used costume exhibit photos provided by snortooperrefrence on Photobucket, screen captures from Star Wars: Empire strikes back from various sources and process pictures from people who have constructed the costume. The Definitive How To: Snowtrooper proved to live up to it’s name. They have step by step tutorial, designs for the armour and a whole much more on their sites reference pictures and links included.

For us it was natural to find different sources for the references. When you are making a costume based on animated character the process is little different, but alternatives still exist. You can strictly follow animated design or choose more detailed comic version, possibly both if you know how to combine then and if you can stand behind your decision. Digging up original art from the artist might also prove helpful. If the character is wearing something what is recognisably a piece of clothing like kimono, finding pictures from real ones isn’t a bad idea.

Me and protective gear made by Yoki - Mission: Find ref-pics

Always see the effort to search information about your costume! Many questions have already been answered and many costumers have been helped out. You can learn a lot without participating and find sites and tutorials just by reading and clicking. forums are a good source, but more specific help you can find on specialized sites. Not only references, but also recommendable materials and techniques are explained. You can also learn a lot from posts, where people ask for critique on their costumes. Usually the answers are really pin-pointed and possibly you haven’t even thought about some matters by yourself.

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