Last week was polls week for February over on my Patreon. Depending on the level of support, patrons got to vote on a bunch of different topics. Here are the results and things you can expect to see in the next few weeks. I’ll be doing a similar Polls Week every month, so if you’d like to participate in the future, go check out my Patreon!
Next tutorial – Making faux leather straps and belts
Next set of Blueprints – Keith’s jacket (yes, technically a pattern is not a blueprint, but close enough!)
Video Poll – Most folks prefer Twitch for streaming
I was in love with Voltron: Legendary Defender from the first minute. Netflix and DreamWorks Animation have done an absolutely fantastic job of updating a show to make it new and fresh while still making it so nostalgic that it hit all the right buttons. Here is the full build write-up of the entire casual Keith cosplay. I am still in progress on his sword and paladin armor, so that will be a later write-up.
I did a 2016 review, so I figured I should also do a “what’s coming” for 2017!
To start off with, I thought I’d list out the cosplays that I currently have in progress for myself that I’m hoping to have done this year!
First up, I’ve talked about this one a whole lot, is Kanan Jarrus. I’m working strictly on Season 3 Kanan right now, but depending on how my work load goes and how well I do getting things crossed off of my list, I’m hoping to work backwards to also do a Season 1/2 Kanan. The nice thing is that there is some reuse between those two versions (blast, lightsaber, belt, and pants) which makes a second Kanan a little more doable. And a super stretch goal is to also add one or both of the Kanan’s that Lorna Ka came up with. I LOVE both of these renditions of Kanan (essentially a Season 1/2 and a Season 3 samurai version) and would love to wear them some day. Seriously, go check out all of her amazing art too. The first part of my Kanan build write-up is already available, with more coming soon. Remember, my Patreon supporters get behind the scenes and early access to all of my builds!
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.
When I saw the first episode of Season Three of Star Wars: Rebels, I knew that my next cosplay would be Kanan Jarrus.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
For 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.
I’m working on a couple of things I hope you’ll all enjoy including more detailed tutorials as well as some video tutorials and how-to type stuff. Let me know if there are any specific things you’d like to see. But in the meantime, I thought I’d do some quick updates on a bunch of the projects on my plate right now!
All of my cold casting supplies from Smooth-on just arrived. I have a little more work to do on prepping the masters for my Voltron coins. This is going to be my first cold casting project so there will be a little trial and error along the way which is also why I’m working on making it my first video. I figure learning and making mistakes together will be pretty fun.
And, while I’m at it with the cold casting, a friend asked if I could make her an actual pin or necklace based on the Rebel safety pin image that’s been going around. I said yes of course and will be making these as well. This is my initial prototype and my master is almost ready to get molded.
In between everything else, I’m still making good progress on my Rito Harp commission. I am almost done sealing and coating it and ready for starting on the final paint job. If you’re wondering what that “tongue” looking thing is on the bottom, that’s the harp strings wrapped in masking tape. I glued them to a dowel that is sandwiched into the foam since I didn’t want them getting pulled out, ever. Once I’m all done painting, I’ll then tie the strings around the nails in the top cross beam.
And lastly, more work on Kanan. First up is the lightsaber. I’ve gotten all of the parts sanded, puttyed, sanded, puttyed… you know the drill… as much as I plan to and am now starting on the final paint. I used a flat black primer on all the metallic pieces to help with the shading and to make the final metallic paints pop more. Using a white or grey primer under metallic paints just doesn’t seem to have the same great final look.
I’m also trying my hand at making my own gloves for Kanan. I’m just not really happy with any of the ones I can buy, plus I love being able to say my costume is 100% hand made :) This series of pics gives you some insight into my process on prototyping and making my own patterns. This is definitely going to turn into a how-to post.
What I spent most of my weekend on was my Kanan pants. I’ve only ever made one other pair of pants before–my Ashitaka pants, and those were a lot easier – sort of baggy and with a drawstring at the top. These are made from a much more form-fitting stretch denim and required a zipper or button fly. The pattern I loosely based my patterns off of had a button fly so I figured I’d give it a go. I’m REALLY happy with how they turned out. These are also the most comfortable pants I own now. I think I’m going to just start making my own clothes going forward. My wife said I was making jeggings and so now we have coined the term “Jedi Jeggings” to describe the pants Kanan wears!
I’m hoping that next weekend with the holiday will allow me to get a lot more done. We shall see.