2016 in Review

2016 has been a wild ride. My first 100% handmade cosplay (Ashitaka) won first place at Renton City Comic Con​, and my casual Keith from Voltron​ kicked off this cosplay and prop business. I’ve made more bayards than I can count. I’ve learned SO much, from sewing to mold making and casting, to 3D design and printing. And I’ve met so many wonderful and helpful folks in the cosplay and prop community.

I’m really looking forward to what 2017 has in store for me. I have more cosplays queued up than I can realistically get done, but that won’t stop me from trying. I also have a ton of ideas for more props to build and put up for sale in my store. And hopefully even more commissions will come my way (I have three on my table right now!) I also have a ton of stuff planned for videos, tutorials, workshops at Sodo Makerspace​, and even more for my Patreon backers.

Special thanks to a couple of folks that have inspired me and/or helped me in one way (or many ways) or another: Bill​ and Brittany​ from Punished Props​, Eric​ from Coregeek Creations​, Beverly​ from Downen Creative Studios​, Charles​ from Ebony Warrior Studios​, Anabel​ from Men vs Cosplay​, and the Foam Friction Cosplay​ gang.

‘Star Wars: Rebels’ Kanan Jarrus Build: Part One: The Mask

When I saw the first episode of Season Three of Star Wars: Rebels, I knew that my next cosplay would be Kanan Jarrus.

Paper template and sketch.

I’d long been wanting to do a Kanan cosplay because he has a great costume with cool armor, but I’d been postponing it. Seeing his new look with the mask really clicked with me. Before the first episode was even over, I was sketching out a template for the mask on butcher paper.

First EVA prototype.

Once I was happy enough with my paper template, I transferred it onto a scrap piece of EVA foam (an old floor mat from my scrap bin. Floor mat EVA is seriously the cheapest foam you can get to do prototyping and templating with) and did a quick prototype. The shape and size wasn’t quite right, but overall, I was pretty happy with the design.

First 6mm thick prototype.

Once episode two aired, I took a bunch of screen shots and zoomed in to refine the shape and capture more of the details. I decided floor mat EVA would be too thick and did my next prototype out of 6mm craft foam instead. I was much happier with the thickness and overall shape and moved forward with it.

Final base mask in 6mm foam.

Kanan’s mask has two different thicknesses, so I actually made my mask one thickness and cut it to the size and shape of the bigger of the two layers. I then heat formed the foam to get the right curvature in it and glued it using Barge (the best foam contact cement out there). You can see in the photo that I had the lines drawn for the inner thicker layer from the beginning.

Faux dual-layer and Plasti Dip coated.

Once I had the mask where I wanted it, the next step was to make it look two-layered. Using a technique I learned from Bill Doran (from Punished Props), I cut the outer rim of the mask and then offset it about a quarter-inch, then hot glued it around the inner rim. This instantly made it look like I had a two-layered mask and both layers fit together perfectly. The next couple of steps are my standard steps for any EVA foam build–heat seal and coat. I just use a standard heat gun to heat seal the foam. This helps make the foam less porous and absorbent, which means easier coating and painting later on. I then did a handful of light coats of Plasti Dip.

Metallic paint and liquid mask applied.

Once the Plasti Dip was all dried, I did a couple of coats of Rustoleum Metallic silver as my base metal coat. I didn’t care too much about using a nice metallic paint since I knew I’d be covering most of it. I then tried something completely new for me. I knew I wanted to do some chipped and scratched effects in the green paint, so I got my hands on some Micro Mask, which is a liquid masking product. I painted it on where I wanted metal to show through the green (that’s what all the blue is). I added not only chips around the edge, but a few chips and scratches across the face as well. The idea is that once you put your paint over it, the mask can just be peeled and picked off.

Several versions and coats of my custom green color along with chip and scratch effect applied.

I masked off the outer rim with masking tape and mixed up my own custom color for the mask. The first coat, the green was a little too bright for my taste, so I tweaked the mixture a bit and then put a few more coats of paint on with my airbrush. What I didn’t expect was that the liquid mask was so thin, that after painting the green, I couldn’t figure out where I’d put the mask on! So I carefully went to work with my X-acto knife. I lightly scratched all along the outer rim until I found a bit of mask and then peeled it off. I didn’t even try this on the face of the mask. I just used my blade to make my own scratches and scuffs.

Finished mask compared with original prototype.

Sorry for the lack of in-between pics here, but next I hand-painted the Jaig eyes on the mask and did some weathering using some weathering powders (soot, sand, and rust) as well as a mix of acrylic paints washed over everything. I then sealed it all in with a clear coat.

It was, of course, at this point that I realized I’d forgotten to do the side “rivets.” These seem to be the part of the mask that magically attaches to Kanan’s face. I took a sharpened piece of brass tubing and cut out two holes in the foam. Using the same technique as I used for the entire edge of the mask, I poked the little cut circles out about a quarter-inch and then hot glued them in place.

Visibility test with white nylon.

With the mask looking excellent, I decided I had two choices to make–would I modify the mask to give myself more visibility, or would I keep the mask solid and use either a helper to walk around or just take the mask off when I wasn’t standing for photos. I am planning to give myself the scar and wear white “blind” contact lenses, so even with the mask off, I’ll still look in character. But it would be nice to be able to walk around with the mask on as well. I did a couple of tests using white nylon in the Jaig eyes on my prototype mask. While I could get pretty good visibility out of it, I couldn’t figure out a way to get it to look good, so, for now and my first con, I’m going with the solid mask approach.

Once I have the rest of the costume done, I may circle back around and make a mold of the mask. That will let me cast it in clear resin and then I can use a reflective coating of some sort to allow more visibility while still making the mask look clean. That will be my 2.0 mask!

I have also started looking into the Rebel Legion. I’ve always been fascinated by the 501st Legion and doing my first Star Wars costume has been a great excuse for me to finally take steps in joining up and giving back to the community! While I can’t become a full member until I have at least one approved costume, I’ve already hopped onto the forums and met a few great people that have helped me with some of my Kanan costume (you’ll hear more about that in future parts of this write-up).

Stay tuned for the continued saga as I work to complete my Kanan cosplay. Get even more behind-the-scenes, early access, and some exclusive details about this cosplay that won’t be revealed publicly until after Emerald City Comicon 2017 by becoming a patron of Billythebrick Cosplay.

Note: This was crossposted at GeekDad.com.

March 2017 is Mononoke Month!

March is going to be Princess Mononoke Month! If you got both the Women Vs Cosplay and Men Vs Cosplay calendars, you’ll see three days devoted to Princess Mononoke! Obviously the Kodama and Ashitaka are Owen and myself, but the great San cosplay is Ellipses Cosplay. I love how the two calendars synch up eventhough we certainly didn’t plan it in advance!

I love being a part of these calendars every year. They are so much fun, such great quality, and you get a year’s worth of awesome cosplay photos on your desk!

I got my package today, and along with the calendars I got my glow-in-the-dark baseball shirt, two pins, a lanyard, and some postcard packs. I also got a bag of Swedish Fish as a thank you for backing both calendars!!


First Patreon Goal Reached!

To celebrate hitting my first goal on Patreon (here comes a band saw!) here is the latest WIP peek at a commission for a Rito Harp from The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. Almost done! Raw foam on the left and almost done painting on the right.

Thank you to all of my wonderful patrons for helping me reach my first goal!

My Cold Casting Video

This is the first part of my cold casting video set. I’m making some realistic looking Voltron coins (now available in my store) but wanted to try cold casting versus making them out of actual metal. I hope you enjoy following along on my little experiment as I compare Smooth-On’s Cast Magic Silver Bullet and straight Aluminum powder.

Supplies Used:
Smooth Cast 325
Smooth Cast 300
So Strong Tint
Aluminum Powder
Mixing Cups and stirring sticks
Chip brushes

Remember, my patrons get early access to my videos (they got this one last week) and tutorials along with behind the scenes work-in-progress photos, polls to vote on what I’ll do next and, at some levels, special handmade goodies. Subscribe to my YouTube channel to get notified whenever a new video goes up!

Black Lion Coin Giveaway!

To celebrate finally being ready to make my final molds and start casting the actual Voltron coins, I’m running a quick little giveaway!

This is a test cast from my junk mold but it is two-sided and full-size. I wont be making or selling coins that are a pure color like this, so this is a one-of-a-kind coin! It is a prototype from my junk mold so it has a couple of imperfections, but that is part of what makes it unique!

Win my Black Lion Prototype Coin!

Rebellion Safety Pin Jewelry

I just added two new items to my shop. These were inspired by an image the writers of Rogue One shared a few weeks back. A friend asked me to make her one, and I figured other people might be interested too!

The Rebel symbol is about 1.5″ tall and wide and is available as a pin/brooch and as a necklace.

Ashitaka from Princess Mononoke Build

I recently mentioned how I won first-place at RenCon for my Ashitaka cosplay. Over the past year, I had published several work in progress articles over at GeekDad.com about my process for making it–everything, head to toe (yes, even my shoes) was scratch built by yours truly. Below is a slightly edited, combined version of all of those posts. If you like these write-ups, please consider joining my Patreon to get early access to tutorials, videos, work in progress pics, and more!

ashitaka-referenceFor anyone who doesn’t know, Princess Mononoke is one of my favorite films, so it was a no brainer for me when deciding on my next cosplay that I’d try Ashitaka.

Continue reading “Ashitaka from Princess Mononoke Build”

WIP Updates and New Item for Sale!

kanandroidcallerAs my work on my Kanan cosplay progressed, I was unhappy with my droid caller. I was using the only one available out there — Han Solo’s, but the only reference pics I could find of Kanan looked totally different. So I decided to model and print my own Kanan Droid Caller! I’m really happy with how it all came out. So happy that I decided to start selling them in my store! Right now just the 3D files and instructions are available, but once I finish mine, I’m going to make a mold and cast it so raw castings and fully finished props will soon be available.

Continue reading “WIP Updates and New Item for Sale!”