Monday, January 31, 2011

Snowtrooper: Third step (Part two)

When Yoki talked me in to our Snowtrooper project, she stated that it would be easy, because there is only a few pieces of armor in the costume. Bhah, I say! After some research I confronted Yoki with some drafts and showed her how many there actually were. I have never seen such an impression on Yoki's face, this is actually pretty describing (o.o).

We chose to do the armor parts from PETG plastic using vacuumforming method. The positive, master molds were made of insulation foam and wood putty. You can find the posts dealing with the clothes, equipment preparations and references behind the links.

Third step: Production- Hard components

Our mold making started from sheets of insulation foam. We estimated the approximate measurements based on reference pictures and information. One of our reference sources was site dedicated to Snowtrooper construction, which provided measurements for male size armor. We scaled the measurements down comparing them to our size and portion. When the dimensions of the armor pieces were concluded, the foam was cut to proper sized pieces, stacked and glued with Erikeeper. We cut the rough form after the glue had dried with thin bladed saw or a carpet knife and started sanding. We used different rakes; the final sanding was made with the finest one of course.

For detailing we used craft foam, plaster or foam covered with putty, like the molds themselves. After the piece was completed, we added first layer of putty and sanded it smooth. This step we repeated few times, exposed foam had to be covered, because it would collapse under the hot plastic. We used wood putty because it didn’t smell and could be safely handled. Probably any type of putty will do, but do not use car filler, it will melt the foam. After the surface has been polished with finest grain paper Yoki varnished the molds three times before we went on to vacuumforming. We thought that the varnish would make the removal of the mold from the plastic copy easier. We also used silicon lubricant for that task.

Before vacuumforming we checked how many parts we can make with one sheet of plastic, maximum amount was two. We took notice that the pieces should be somewhat the same height. Big differences on height stretch the plastic unevenly and tears it. We used special, three way bolts as raising pieces. When they were placed under the molds the suction was enabled from every side of the mold. This also helps to avoid the folding on the hot plastic. For us folds formed with strict corners. Sometimes any trick worked, even; they happened never the less. The trick is to try to get them where they show the least.

We had custom made frames and platform for vacuumforming. There are instructions on the internet how to make a vacuumforming studio in home environment. We used regular vacuum cleaner for the suction and a normal stove. Bigger the oven you have the bigger parts you can form. Because the breastplate is rather big, we had to divide it in four different pieces. We did try to make it as a whole, but after five ruined attempts I cried a little and went on and sliced up the mold. If anyone needs unique flowerpots from clear plastic, resembling strangely Snowtrooper breastplate, but with folds and holes, let me know.

Abdomen plate plastication. Please note my pretty hairband.

The vacuumforming is rather quick, but taking the mold out from its plastic pocket and cutting the excess parts out is more time consuming. For cutting we used carpet knife and wore work gloves to avoid bleeding fingers. No joking. Keep your fingers safe, you need them if you'd like to continue making costumes. The other time-eaters were construction the breast plate and building two back packs. The gluing took time with the breast plate and the backpacks were made like the molds, but instead of varnish the surface was finished with glue. We didn't vacuum form them, because then the mold would've been in thousand pieces. I figured that it was easier to do them by crafting.

We painted the pieces with shiny white spray paint. Details were added by painting free hand or with stencils. Please note my ergonomic wposture and Yoki's protective gear aka Smurf hat.

Like the backpacks we made the thermal detonator holders from scratch. The inside is made from insulation foam and covered with craft foam, which is sealed with glue. The ends are insulation foam with putty and three coats of glue. I bended left over aluminum sheets for fastenings and attached them to the holder. Raised details were done from craft foam and sealed with glue before painting.

Velcro on the shoulder parts and breast plate construction.

Different kinds of methods were used to fasten the armors: straps, screws, buckles and Velcro. Assembling the armor will be the subject of my last making of post on Snowtroopers.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

This is madness! This is plastic!

Last weekend we reached one huge milestone on our Snowie-journey. We got all the armor parts vacuumformed! Yay to that! It had a price though. Yoki had to endure my mood swings once again and I almost got rid of my right index finger. Gladly, I still have it; instead I have scratches all over my hands. These minor casualties occurred with a carpet knife or my technique with carpet knife, which got people worried when Yoki included a clip of me working on her transmission. I could say that don't try that at home, but then again whittling outwards isn't as accurate when you need to take off millimeters or halves. After saying that, I hope that when Yoki comes over in half way of February, we will be able to have a photoshoot and I still have ten functioning fingers.

At the moment, this is how my workload looks like. I already have trimmed all the parts we vacuumformed. I also added some attachments and assembled the chest plate. There is a sad story behind that, but in short it had to be cut into pieces because our oven wasn't quite as big as it should have. Equipment restrictions should be taken in consideration on the planning phase... Ehem...

Next weekend I'm going to paint everything, minus the chest plates because they still need some attention. Then I have the backpacks waiting with never ending sanding and fiddly detailing. I'm little troubled about my schedule honestly. I only have two weeks to put the costumes together and make them look presentable enough for the shoot. But I'm going to make it! I'm putting the crazy gear on if nothing else helps.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Doom and sparkles!

Years ago summer was very dry and two young women decided to do something that changed their lives completely. Their first cosplay together, featured in Yoki transmission - The kaksi

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Reporting in

January has been really busy and it seems it's going to continue like that. I've had my commissions under constructions and they should be done by the end of the month, plus we have worked hard on our Snowtroopers. Peculiarly, they are actually showing signs of completion. Last few days I have spent finishing the molds which had to be re-done or fixed. Yoki started varnishing them today, so if my calculations are correct we should be able to vacuumform all of the upgraded pieces on Saturday. I had already ordered us some more plastic, which arrived few days ago cut and prepared. We heart Foiltek.

Backpacks still lack putty, sanding, paint and details.

Yoki will probably include some video clips from the different stages of our armor project on her next transmission. When I inquired about the upload date, she mumbled something about shooting it this weekend.

I also dug my other unfinished costumes out from the closet. I left my single cosplays alone and started to unravel the pile from the "pair end". I constructed the base for Luminara's head gear earlier this week and roamed through fabric stores looking the right fabrics for the Jedi duo's robes. I have actually spent months on this task and now I think I'm pretty close. I just wish that wool and velvet wouldn't cost so much

As trivial information, I estimated that we have spent at least 150 hours on our Whiteys. Phew...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Third part of Akatsuki interviews is out now!

Finally, we could say. We had most of the material filmed last year, but the editing or fighting with this seriously disabled Movie Maker took ages. Still, we did it! Akatsuki interviews 3 is now viewable on Youtube.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

We are still kicking

We have been making our Snowtrooper costumes and finally we have been able to finish something. Behold, the thermal detonator holder!

So shiny and new.

Casualties happen before we even get to wear the costumes. Hiron used the old TDH as a hammer.

We have also been correcting mistakes we did in a hurry last year. For example the fastening for armor parts and some corrections to molds.

Velcro is the answer!

The backpack has taken most of our time. Some progress pictures.

-yoki out

Monday, January 3, 2011

Bubbly start for the new year

The topic refers shamelessly to me; I was dressed up as Bubbles from The Powerpuff Girls next to my two good friends as Blossom and Buttercup when the year changed. But it could also refer to bubbling spray paint, which is not in any circumstances a good thing or fizzy drink containing caffeine, which will keep us going when we try to meet the deadlines with our Snowtrooper costumes. Gladly, our deadline is a relative concept. More defining limit is the time we have snow on the ground, because our photoshoot and vid ideas require it badly.

I have already written about next year’s cosplay plans in few posts, so I'm going to leave them out. Currently we are trying to choose the conventions to attend to. There seems to be too many of them! I'm worried that our usable costumes run out before the events do. It's not a big deal in a way; we like to re-use our costumes, but they just seem to be quite hot to wear at summer conventions. I don't know how we survived last Tracon with Joxter and Muddler.

Back to bubbles or Bubbles more specifically. We got the idea of dressing up as the Powerpuff Girls years back with my friends, when someone stated that we were just like them. We are almost the same height and our hair colors match the characters. When we realised we were going to attend to party themed superheroes, we didn't need to think twice. Because we only dressed up for home party, I took the freedom to buy the cheapest fabrics. I ended up in basic sheet cotton 1 meter per dress. One dress cost about 7 euros. The dresses are not exactly like the original ones. I altered them to look like 70's mod dresses. Also everyone decided on their own what kind of belt and stockings to wear. I was bit hesitant with the role of the cute and weepy one, but gladly these few photos prove that it was somewhat achievable. The pics are published with the permission of the photographer.