‘Voltron: Legendary Defender’ Keith Cosplay Build

Voltron CharactersI 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.

Continue reading “‘Voltron: Legendary Defender’ Keith Cosplay Build”

Best Week Ever!

I’ll start with yesterday because, what an amazing way to end the week.

Yesterday afternoon this popped up in my Instagram feed along with the below caption.

So this is Loooong overdue. But with season two and the holidays now behind us I’d love to give a huge shout out to @billythebrick for making these amazing, super legit Voltron bayards! Cannot tell you how exciting it was to get these in the mail The craftsmanship is top notch! A true artist you are! You guys should go check out his other cosplay work. It’s absolutely insane!

Not only is that a photo of Joaquim Dos Santos, Lauren Montgomrey, and Tim Hedrick holding my bayards, but Joaquim gave me a glowing review!

I originally met the three of them at SDCC 2016 when I did an interview for GeekDad.com. I hadn’t started my business or making bayards for sale yet, but I promised them that I’d make them some. As soon as I got up and running I sent them a set. I love it and it totally made my day to see them in action.

And as if that weren’t enough to make this a great week, I was also invited over the Punished Props workshop to be on the Q&A livestream. You can watch the recorded version over on their YouTube channel.

While I was visiting, Bill also helped me with part of my Keith Bayard sword. I got some transparent aqua acrylic for the glowy bits, but I just didn’t have the proper tools to cut it well. Thankfully, Bill has every tool you could ever need, plus a ton of great advice. We got the acrylic pieces cut out and glued where appropriately, and everything fit perfectly! Now I just need to finish the sword and bayard, install the electronics, and I’ll have one more prop ready for ECCC.

Speaking of having props ready for ECCC, I also made a ton of progress on Keith’s Galra dagger. In addition to putting the blueprints, 3D printable files, and 3D printed kit up in my Etsy store, I finished assembling my own dagger! Just as an FYI, I started using the PRO PLA from Matterhackers and it is amazing. I cannot recommend their PLA enough. The response has been so overwhelming that I’ve decided to make this the next finished prop I make and sell in my shop.

Minor spoiler alert for those not done with Voltron: Legendary Defender Season 2, I’ve also started on my next prop that will have blueprints, 3D files, and a 3D kit available. That’s all I’ll say about that for now.

And finally, I received my Red Lion kigu from RTS Cosplay! This is my very first (and probably only) kigu, but why would I ever need another? Thank you!!

Voltron and Star Wars Props

Although I’ve been updated a ton on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, I realized I’ve been somewhat neglecting updates here on the site. Here are the latest updates from my workshop!

First up are a ton of Voltron: Legendary Defender goodies. If, like me, you’ve been enjoying Season 2, you’ll most likely have seen all kinds of great new things that inspired me to get to work! I finished designing Keith’s bayard sword and am currently working on building it out. I also now have blueprints, 3D files, and 3D printed kits available of Keith’s bayard and sword.
Very similarly, I have done the same with Keith’s dagger. The unveiling of his dagger was amazing, and I had to get to work on it right away. Blueprints, 3D files, and a 3D printed kit are also available.
Just for fun, I decided to cast one of my bayards in all black. I call it the Zarkon edition! I’m going to paint some purple on it and call it done. Maybe Neil Kaplan would like one?

And to celebrate season two of the best show you can watch right now, I’m having a big sale in my shop. Use coupon code VLDS2 to get 15% off your order!

Next up is Kanan from Star Wars: Rebels. This is the main costume I’m trying to get done for ECCC (which is now barely over a month away. I’ve made a lot of progress on the look, including a makeup test. I’m going to be doing another, hopefully final, makeup test as a live stream soon so keep your eyes peeled for that!

I also found a great, cheap pair of boots to use as a base for Kanan’s boots. Hopefully these will allow me to quickly build the boots since I’m not building the entire structure from scratch.

Lastly, I painted all of my Kanan belt pieces. I used this amazing new paint I just got–Alclad 2 Aircraft Aluminum. Oh man is it gorgeous. I can’t wait to get my belt all assembled.

I do have a handful of other things I’m working on, but, for now anyway, they are all secret projects or for my Patreon patrons only! More updates, videos, and tutorials coming soon!

Finishing a Resin Kit

I get a lot of questions about the best way to finish a resin kit which makes sense since I make and sell them! I finally decided to write-up a quick how-to on how to finish a resin prop along with some of my favorite supplies to use when I’m finishing my own.

The first thing I do with a fresh resin kit is to cut off any sprues or their remnants. These are the pieces that stick out from pour holes or air spouts in the mold. You can use anything, but flush cut nippers like these from Mr. Hobby are great. They will let you take off almost the entire sprue, leaving little additional clean-up to do.

Next, I take a blade–either an X-Acto or a box cutter depending on how big the prop is and how bad the seams are–and scrape. The seam lines are where the two (or more) parts of the mold came together. Depending on the quality of the resin casting, you may be able to skip this step (or you may need to do a LOT of scraping). But it’s exactly what it sounds like–holding your blade at an angle, just lightly scrape around the prop along the seam line. This will speed things along on the next two steps by quickly doing a lot of the smoothing work.

The next step, I do is round one of sanding. You will be doing many rounds of sanding if you want a nice, smooth prop, so be prepared. My current favorite way to sand is with 3M Sandblaster Flexible Sanding Sheets or Rolls. I use a combination of 100 and 220 grit for 95% of my sanding. They are great because they not only do a great job of sanding but because they have a rubbery plastic backing instead of paper, they seem to hold up a lot more to wet sanding. Speaking of which, try to always wet sand. It doesn’t kick up as much dust (though you should still be wearing a mask), the sand paper will go further, and you will get a nicer finish.

Most likely, you will need to fill in some spots. Even the highest quality resin kits will need at least a few spots filled. My go to for spot filling on resin kits is Bondo Spot Putty. It’s cheap, doesn’t require mixing like normal Bondo, and does a great job of filling everything in nicely. It dries pretty quickly and can also be wet sanded. My first Bondo pass is only to fill in the big, plainly visible stuff. Make sure your resin casting is relatively smooth before moving on to the next step.

Next up is priming the kit. The primer I use is the Rust-Oleum 2-in-1 Filler and Primer. It’s a nice filler primer so it can help smooth out small imperfections quickly, it can be wet sanded, and all the different paints I’ve used have all adhered well to it. You spray it on like any other primer, but it will actually fill in any scratches and pin holes. This is why I skip Bondo on the small stuff for the first pass. Once the primer is dry, you guessed it, wet sand it again. Once it’s dry, you’ll have a nice combination of primer and Bondo showing and you should be able to easily find any more places you need more Bondo. Now, you just repeat the above steps as many times as necessary until you have smoothed everything out and have a nice finish.

Before moving on to paint, I’d recommend one last pass with a finer sandpaper, like 400 or 600 grit. This will still give your paint something to grip on to, but will make for a nicer finish. As for paints, I personally prefer acrylic paints because I like the easy clean-up and try to lessen chemicals when I can, but I’ve tried other paints and they pretty much all stick to this primer pretty well. I mostly paint my props with an airbrush using Tamiya acrylic paints, but they can also be brushed on. I’ve also used Rust-Oleum spray cans.

After the joy of the masking and painting dance, I seal everything in with a clear coat. I’ve tried a lot of different ones, but I’ve been the happiest with Varathane Polyurethane. It’s intended for things like wooden furniture, but it gives a really nice hardy clear coat on plastic props! It comes in both Glossy and Satin.

If the prop does need a gloss finish, I have a final, final step. I finish it off with some Turtle Wax. This will help protect the finish from most scratches. It’s also a nice way to replenish a prop if it has some minor scratches in the clear coat. Apply the wax with a sponge or buffing pad, let it dry, then buff it off. You’ll have a nice shiny prop, all ready to go!

Secret Updates and Tutorials

For better or worse, I’ve been spending a lot of time these past two weeks on secret projects and write-ups that my Patreon backers get early access to. If you want to see a couple of the cool props I’m working on to unveil at ECCC, my Patreon is where the action is!

One of the things they have been following along with is a new 3D printed prop. In the next couple of weeks, I should have it all done to unveil and then the blueprints and 3D files will go up in my shop. Have fun trying to guess what it is!

Kanan Makeup Test

One of the things I plan on doing is Kanan’s scar and white contacts beneath my mask. This accomplishes two things–1. It will make my cosplay that much more accurate and 2. I can take off the mask and walk around and see where I’m going but not look out of character!

I ordered some contacts (that still haven’t arrived yet–my eyes are photoshopped), but I did break out my Mehron makeup kit (that I use for my Ashitaka curse) and did a quick test. I also used a little bit of the Mehron Rigid Collodion Scarring Liquid across my face. It doesn’t show up very well in this photo which means it probably won’t look very good in real life either. I think this is a good first attempt but I need some more work on the scar and a little darker around my eyes.

Vacuum Chamber Unboxing and Mold Making

My latest video is now live! Watch as I unbox and setup my new Best Value Vacs Vacuum Chamber and then make a mold using Mold Star 16 from Smooth-On degassed in the chamber!

Any and all feedback is welcome as I continue to work on making videos.

Happy New Year!

I did a 2016 review, so I figured I should also do a “what’s coming” for 2017!

Cosplay

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!

Continue reading “Happy New Year!”

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.