Sunday, June 25, 2017

Gladiator Sandals

So I don't have any cosplay (per say) or finished Doll armor (though some is in process), BUT!

I Did decide to make a pair of shoes for myself.
So between the Cosplay and doll cosplay (?), I've learned a lot about making things. One of the big things I didn't do with the Wonder Woman costume was use patterns. ALWAYS USE PATTERNS!!!!!
I watched some Evil Ted Smith videos, where he talked about pattern making. I applied this knowledge to the doll making that I've been doing, but had yet to do it for me! So I foiled up my leg and duct taped it, till I almost couldn't walk. Using a sharpie I figured out where I wanted all the lines...

I used the above picture for referencing approximately what I wanted to make. I wanted it all to mostly be one piece so I didn't make different strips. It worked out pretty good!
I transferred half of the leg pattern to paper (so it will be the same on both sides)

As you can see in the picture I did end up with two pieces, one that was the full foot and half the leg. I did the full foot because the foot has such a drastic angle change vs the leg. This pattern allowed me to trace it all out onto my fabric (Jo-Ann's).
I did this 4 times for both pieces! Lot of work...

Here you can see that I have assembled most of the pieces and was adding the zipper up the back! The zipper runs from the heal to the top (making it easy to get in and out while keeping the whole thing tight to my leg).
then I had to make the sole.
I used EVA Foam, and a top piece of the fabric. I layered the ends of the leg and foot pieces under the fabric and above the foam.
Gluing it all together I now had a shoe!
I painted a little, but need to do a bit more where the white backside of the fabric shows in spots.

I was really happy and even had someone ask where I bought them! SWEET!

Turned out pretty good! REMEMBER ALWAYS USE PATTERNS!!!
Thanks again for reading!

Sunday, June 11, 2017


So After watching Wonder Woman, I was saddened by the fact that I really wouldn't be able to cosplay as any of the Amazons. Their outfits were so amazingly well done, and amazingly Feminine. Changing them to a masculine design would make them mostly unrecognizable as to what I would be cosplaying as. But I still wanted to make their armor. Well we bought a bunch of the Wonder Woman generic dolls.
look at that awesome armor! So cool, good job movie!

Hippolyta  was pretty great, she comes with a horse and all, but as far as her armor goes, well... look at the picture, it's missing some things... Also, umm why did they screen print a silver chest piece? It's totally bronze. So taking all my cosplay foam armor making skills I got to work!

First, I took off all the really cool armor pieces, and then I tin-foiled her up and duct taped that...
Why you ask? To make a pattern! I totally should have done that for my costume and I plan to make patterns going forward with whatever cosplay I do...

So I cut it off cut it to pieces until it laid flat, got rid of the right side. Why did I do that? You ask very good questions! Let me explain, see I want both sides to be even and exact. So you make one side pattern, then flip it to get the other side!
As you see I first traced it to cardstock paper and then I used those paper patterns to draw what I wanted onto it. Then I held it onto my craft foam and cut all the pieces I needed!
I labeled everything, which is a good idea, because even doing that somewhere along the way I flipped the breast pieces and the went in upside down! But it worked out perfectly because the seam ended up being just like the one in the movie! Yay mistakes that work out!!!

Next I used super glue and my heat gun to put the pieces together and form them to her body! I used my exact-o knife to cut the details, which the heat gun made show up nicely.  I also wanted to use the cool pieces that came with her so I cut out a layer to make the belt fit nice!
You may notice that in later pictures the foam skirt piece is longer than it is here, that is because I did this one looking at my reference pictures; they only had it run to just above the knee. However, when I put back on her screen printed underclothes the 'fake' skirt image was longer than the above. This looked ridiculous so I lengthened my skirt to match and it looks just fine!

After that it was time to paint the foam armor and paint all of the plastic armor she came with. Part of the goal was to make it less bright gold, and mostly more screen accurate!
It's mostly done at this point it took 4ish layers of paint. Also at this point I had decided that the belt and chest piece she came with was what was going to hold it on, so I cut the back armor corset back in half and glued each piece to the sides. This worked out much better than having seams on the side!

Also I should note here, I could find no reference material for her outfit past the cape she wears in the movie, so I made up the back part, guessing that since they reverse engineered Wonder Woman's outfit to make the amazons, it was probably similar. If later I find something different I'll just fix it up!

And Here she is with all of her armor painted and back on! I think it turned out amazingly!
I may add a furred cape at some point, and my wife thinks we should re-paint her face to match the new awesome-ness of her outfit...

Let me know what you think! It was a nice afternoon build and I really enjoyed the challenge of working in the smaller detail! Thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Wonder Woman? 3 weeks later...

Well as many of you know for free comic book day I cosplayed as Wonder Woman/warrior/man. Part of the choice to be her was to then get to use the costume again 3 weeks later when the (SUPER AWESOME) Wonder Woman movie came out! You know, dress up, get food and a movie...
Well being that I finished it the first time in 2 weeks, I had time to take apart what I didn't like, fix stuff up and add things that didn't get made the first time.

I circled lightly what I added or changed... 

I wanted to add:
Shoes! (didn't actually get to these the first time and just threw together shin guards that looked terrible...
A Sword!!!
And and arm band.
Things I wanted to fix:
I had a lot of glue goobers that I wanted to fix up.
The back had no detail and I wanted some.
The skirt had a hole, exposing my butt...

So I started making shoes...
I kinda thought it would be fun to make the whole thing... it was but I can definitely improve on what I did...

So as you can see I took foam and layered two big pieces, putting straps in between and attaching a back heal piece which ran up the back of my leg.
In hindsight when you are pinching two flat surfaces together, don't stand on them to get the glue to bond. That makes the edges pucker up! Next time I shall clamp the edges down so they don't need filling after I do that! If you look at the first picture of the shoes, you can see two little loops on each shoe, yeah those didn't work out like I originally thought so an improvement will be to make that strap go all around. Also this time around I wanted to try what all the cosplayers say they use, 'plasti-dip' but I got the cheap off brand kind and it doesn't really work well so don't do that!
If you look at this picture (after the whole day of walking in them) you can see the pitted part on the bottom shoe, that's what the off brand plasti-dip did...  Also this picture is a see how they did, pic. after having them on, from 9:30am till 8:30pm. I'd say they did pretty good, but as you see on the back "stalks" they got a lot of stress and started breaking apart. I think I can solve this problem by using one piece from angle to calf! But all in all I'm Impressed that they lasted all day, the soles are still good to go for more wear and tear!
 This pic has a great view of the shoes, I thought they looked pretty good, and very 'roman-y'.

The sword.
For this entire project I'm trying something new, but as I did each section or thing, I would try a new technique that I watched or read about. Here I am trying out the spray-foam technique. Which I honestly don't recommend. Maybe some day I'll try it again, but I think I can do a way better job if I don't do this... but it is what it was. So let me explain it! 
First I took a piece of cardboard and cut it to the length and shape I wanted, then I used spray foam to spray both sides of the cardboard (you have to wait till one side is mostly dry to do the other). 
then you take what you see in the above picture, and cut it until it's the shape you want. 
Now this leave lots of air pockets and odd shapes and at this point you're supposed to add tape and paper-mache and plaster... buuuuttt I didn't take into account how much bigger it would be when I made the form, so I didn't do that... 

No I added tape, then I covered the hilt cross guard with foam. That worked great. Then I covered the end pommel with foam, and that worked too! I even wrapped the handle with the same material as the skirt. The hilt looks amazing. Unfortunately the sword blade wasn't smooth enough. I got some HVAC tape (which I had seen Adam Savage use on a Hellboy sword) but with all the bumps, it doesn't look good. so I'm not showing a picture of just the sword close up. At a distance it looks fine and having the cool hilt stick up from my back looked great too!

Anyway if you look in the pictures above my bicep you will see the new armband. It was pretty simple, I just cut the Double 'WW' and made the wings wrap around, and I used the elastic left over from my headpiece to fasten it around my arm. After many coats of paint, it looks great!

On to the back which most will never see. (except here!!!)

So I tore off the back of my armor so I could cut it to fit better and add detail to the back! One of the things I noticed was that, because I didn't use a pattern (wait what??? Crazy guy) it was a bit big and didn't sit well on the shoulders. Also I couldn't sit well... So taking off the back was perfect for more than just adding detail but changing the shape of both pieces and how they re-attached.
So the design was a new technique I wanted to try, and one I look forward to trying more of in the future, because it worked amazingly! You cut (lightly) into the foam (and I'm told this only works on EVA foam) then take a heat gun (I bought one to re-work this costume, and it's a must have!!!! If you want to work with foam for costumes then go get a cheap one, I got it for $9 at harbor freight and it's the same one that Evil Ted uses on his foam making channel and he's a professional!). Heating the foam where you cut will have two effects. First, the foam will be heat treated, which I came to understand meant you don't need mod-podge, plasti-dip or any other sealer because it's sealing the pores and top layer of foam for you. Second it separates from any cuts in a nice smooth way (well smooth if you cut well). So boom cut your design and heat and you have a perfect design, no glue!!!!

It worked wonders! Ha! Wonders...okay yeah, moving on. If you look at the double 'WW' symbol you can see it looks pretty good and that was all just heat treating!! One of the nicest new tricks I learned the 2nd time around!

So I went to fix up some of the goobers around the front symbol and I accidently dremeled out a chunk of the 'WW' so I needed to add another layer, which I think looks amazing but was really hard, until I decided to lay a piece of thinner foam over the top, cut it and heat it until it came apart.
FYI thinner foam bends when heat treated and it IS better to use a sealer of some kind instead of heat treating! but it worked out okay...

Also this is where I REALLY learned that heat treating a knife cut will make EVERY cut you make show up. For a split second I was super worried, but then I just made it into a 'wear scrape' which when you add those to a costume and paint it accordingly really look great. It gives it a 'used' look. I'm pretty happy with it being up-raised more and everything.
Also check out the stars. I added those, because originally I wanted to add stars to the body, (like the newer comic book Wonder woman has) but I forgot (and it was good that I forgot, because it saved me sooooo much time) but I wanted to add stars to it anyway, so they went up top... which means you never really see them with the cape... but if I ever take off the cape (ha!) you would have that nice feature and the back too!

I fixed that skirt, but sadly didn't have time to add any paint or detail (which it needs)
Also I ran into a new problem. The fabric stretched and the clasp that I used needs pressure to stay, so towards the end of the day anytime I sat down it would undo itself! I only mention this because it's worth saying, 'If you are going to make a costume use clasps that will stay together no matter what!!!' You're costume is going to 'breath' with use and needs to not have this problem! I learned it the hard way, now you don't have to!

Now here are more pics!

The last one is with the Woman herself (well the cardboard version) right before the movie!
Which the movie was amazing! If I give myself time, I'll review it later, but suffice it to say it was great, go see it!

That's all, for the 2nd time, I'll probably work on it some more, but probably wont need to blog about it since most of the changes will be minor vs the major add-on's this time (though I do want to make a shield so maybe I'll jabber on about that when it comes time)!
Thanks for reading and as always click the adds (it should make me money;p)

Oh and remember if you're making you're own cosplay, have fun and give yourself more time to work on it! I enjoyed walking around all day and had many people ask to take pictures with me. Sure some probably made fun of the guy in costume (in a woman costume as a man?) but I had fun and many people had fun seeing me! That's what it's about, having fun and enjoying doing something different. Also someday I'll make it to a comic-con... ;)

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Wonder Woman?

Free Comic book day was this past Saturday, and My wife and I like to cosplay for it, it's a lot of fun!
My wife last year, so cool!
Last year we had a week till the day, and I said lets come up with an easy new costume and only take a week to assemble it... this year we gave ourselves two weeks! I thought, "Two whole weeks?! I can do something I've never done, a full foam armor costume!" Let me stop here and tell you two weeks for a nice foam armor costume is not enough! (that is to say with a full time job and a toddler). I had to work pretty late into the night the 2nd week with Friday being even later to finally finish!
But lets go over the process I took and check out what I could do better or what was pretty good (for my first time)...

To start I had to decide on a costume, First, I find that most of my favourite super heroes are actually Heroines, so when I want to pick a hero I like, I have a hard time not picking a girl, I also find that coming up with a new take on a hero (or heroine) is one of my favorite things to do. Couple those two together, and you get Genderbending. For those that don't know this is the common practice of taking a hero you like who isn't your gender, and turning the costume into you gender. It can be quite the challenge to change the gender of a female costume to male. Many of the female costumes have designs specific to the body shape of a female, but I love the challenge...
With the Wonder Woman movie coming out I thought I would be wonder woman. You may say, well you can't be Wonder Woman, you'd be Wonder Man, and on the day, all dressed up nobody called me wonder woman, they all called me Wonder Man. But when I was looking at her costume designs I ran into these old comic panels, which show when she switched from wearing the 'Eagle' design to the double 'w' design.

If you take a look you'll find that she doesn't specifically think that the 2nd 'W' stands for herself so much as it stands for Women Everywhere!

So this means that I could actually be Wonder Woman in the sense that if I went with the double 'W' I could make the backstory of my Wonder Woman that he chose to be called that to stand for Women everywhere and his main mission in his hero life was protect and serve them.
I thought about it a lot, and would take breaks and search different ideas and even found that On Earth 11, there was a Wonder Man (because on this earth everybody was the opposite gender). Further findings found a time in the comics where Mr. mxyzptlk changed everyone's gender to mess with superman. In this case Wonder Woman became Wonder Warrior! Kinda fun, either way, I decided from all of this, I wanted to keep the Double 'W' on my costume and not have the eagle...
Now on to the actual building of the costume! I started with the skirt. It's not really a big thing in our culture for men to wear bikini bottom's but many of wonder Woman costumes have her wear a skirt, even the movie version (which I referenced muchly since a real person is wearing the costume).
We found at JoAnn's fabric upholstery fabric, which I thought looked really nice. Also? I wouldn't have to sew it, I could use Hot Glue! Which since I'm only a novice sew-er, was right up my ally... 

I drew many designs of the costume, even drawing them late into the process as things changed or I got confused by how something was working, so I highly recommend keeping a sketch pad handy when working on a costume!

here you see what look I was going for...

 So I spent way to much time working on the skirt, and I'd say it's pretty good!

Here it's not quite finished but it's close to what it will look like when it's done!

Now because I have a hard time sticking with one thing at a time, I bounced from working on this to working on the gauntlets and the headpiece. 
Oh let me pause here and mention that I totally thought with only two weeks time that I was actually going to use sheet metal for the chest piece... hahaha, right um no. so I had bought a piece before I came to my senses, and I still wanted to use it, so I made the gauntlets out of metal...

They worked out pretty good, but I learned something about metal gauntlets, that will change how I draw them in the future, if not designed well, they dig into your skin a bit... not fun, but I sanded them and cut bits off and got most of the trouble spots... 
Leaving us with:

I've always liked the comic book look of her's that had the stars on the bullet deflecting bracers, really not many of her comic versions have this feature after WonderGirl gained it on her costume. But it worked pretty good, I used a red spray paint and then weathered it with silver paint... I have to say I learned the 'weathering' technique from doing transformer mods. But weathering is Always a good idea... things don't look real when they are new... or at least a cartoon looks perfect and weathering makes something look less cartoon.

I Honestly don't have any in progress pictures of the head piece because...
Though it was my first foam build, the first one I built worked so fast it was done before I started... but I had tried a technique that didn't work, so I looked up a way to sand foam and give it angles... A DREMEL!!! So I re-did the head piece. 

You may notice that, besides the star, it's pretty much the movie version. I went with this because strangely this version looks more masculine than the classic 'tiara' look. But I still wanted the classic star on it... 
I went back to the skirt in between both of these, but that took the first whole week and weekend... oops. Guess when I started staying up late and working on everything with more fervor? yeah Tuesday of the last week... Should have started sooner!

I was honestly a bit worried about working on the chest piece, and cape. I had never made foam armor before, and the cape could have involved sewing... So NATURALLY put off the hardest things to work on... right good job...
But now that I knew that a dremel would make it easier, I got started. I bought a big EVA Workout mat. They're pretty cheap at Meijer and had plenty of nice gray foam. 
in the left corner you can see the start of he head piece!

I Cut it out in the shape of me and used the stove and some rounded things to heat the foam and then push it onto the objects shaping it into a muscled chest, vaguely with the intent to look more 'roman armor' styled. This went so well, that I thought, I got this, and slowed down a small bit... smart right?? 
WELL as Wednesday rolled around I realized I needed to pick up the pace and I entered frantic making mode! 
I mod podged the chest and then started cutting out the 'w' and figuring out how to place it on the chest armor. I got it on pretty well, using the dremel to bevel the edges of the 'W' which really made It look nice, but also meant that I had to do it to every foam piece I attached to make it look uniform and cool... more time added! 

I got it on and then spray painted the back piece and the edges of the chest piece where I knew the foam pieces I'd add would end... Also I should take a moment to let everyone know that mod podge doesn't dry under things. if you look at the above picture you can see where the middle of the 'w's met the costume has yet to dry. yeah next time I'll hot glue only (which worked really well). 

At this point It was Thursday and I was no longer taking pictures of the process. I had no time! At some point I realized I wanted to paint my lasso of truth to be more golden and I simultaneously I realized that I had forgotten to add a loop to my skirt belt to hold it on!!!! So I paused on the armor (WHY!!!!!) and added a couple more skirt pieces that could then hold a couple loops (one for 'if I had time to make a sword... serious delusions going on).  Then back to the chest plate... I got the foam on and painted Friday night. My wife also helped me figure out the cape, which required no sewing,  just some ripping and safety pins! Woot super easy and it looked more like the comic version cape than the movie version, which was the way I had wanted it anyway! YAY! Oh and I totally threw together some horrible shin guards (which I plan to rework)...
Well 1:30 at night rolls in and I'm just finishing weathering it all together... I can't try it on since it's still wet, so I go to bed hoping in the morning that it all fits together! 
Saturday I wake up put it on and it all works!!!!!! But I realized, superheroes don't seem to need to hold I.d.s and money so I took some time to add interior chest pockets that you can awkwardly reach through my armpits! Ha! They worked though...
And the finished product:

Trying to be fierce, not my specialty...

my daughter held her arm up in a hero pose!

So I should have posed the other way instead of the side where I hooked my keys!!

Honestly for my first time working with EVA Foam, I think it went VERY well. So what could I do better?
Well more time would be good, but who am I kidding? More time would mean relaxing more and then the last few days would still be a rush! 
The gauntlet straps should be looser so that they are further back on my arm or at least the design needs to change so they wont bump my wrist.
The Skirt? Well it had a hole where it connects in the back... it needs two more straps to cover my butt! That's what the cape is for right? Well not when the wind blows!! 
Shin guards? Great idea, but they should be longer.
Also I wanted to make sandals that matched the costume (these are just my running shoes that look super cool).
Chest piece, this needed more time. I wanted to wrap the foam design pieces all the way around, but they only go in the visible front. Also hot glue leaves junk everywhere, that I wanted to sand down, but really didn't have time! Also sitting was harder, I'd like to shave off a bit to make it easier to sit down for awhile!
Really the cape and the tiara were the best parts that I probably wouldn't change! 

I know I didn't give much detail on process or tool use, if you are interested in that, I might be persuaded to take pictures while I fix things and make a more detailed tutorial!

All in all I think it went very well! I got a lot of compliments and a few people wanted to take my picture! If I work out the problems with sitting and such, I will probably wear it to go see the Wonder Woman movie! Maybe by then I will have added a sword and shield (that I wont know what to do with in the theatre)! 

Thanks for reading!