Wednesday, March 23, 2011

525 Tailoring: Becoming a Mage

Here's a shot of Jaimi and I (Rob) at JoAnn fabrics.  We were just starting to get materials for our PAX East costumes.  My plan was to build a Mage costume that was modeled after the World of Warcraft Tier 11 Heroic Mage or "Firelord" set.  My last attempt at cosplay was a warrior and had a hell of a time with armor.  I figured this would have it's own set of challenges, but nothing like building a suit of armor.
Before I started, I made a few decisions:  I wanted this thing to glow.  I found a place to get Glowire, which I would use for the shoulders, hood, and wrists.  I would change as little about the costume as possible, but I wasn't going to have giant, bulky gloves.  I ended up opting for no gloves and I embellished on the cuffs of the robe.  Finally, I made the choice to do whatever it took to ensure those shoulders would allow arm movement.  My costume from last year basically pinned my arms to my sides.
I found myself a basic robe pattern and some textured cloth on clearance.  I also got some plain gray cloth and a bunch of gold trim.
I guess I didn't account for how much sewing I would be doing on this project.  The gray was cut out and fabric glued to the red cloth.  This was temporary, as the gray was sewn to the red when I did the trim.  And there was a lot of trim.  There's not much more to say about this step.  I sewed a lot.  Then I sewed some more.

I was very happy with the results.  I wasn't worried about the middles section where the top and bottom gray sections met.  This would be covered by the extra wide belt.
The hood was from a different pattern.  I gave it a couple inches along the edge for the glowire.  The cuffs were given a healthy section of the gray cloth to make up for the lack of gloves.  I also have to modify the patterns on the cuffs.  Sew more.
Here's a shot of the nearly complete robe.  The belt was just a section of gray cloth with Velcro in the back.  I got some yellow/goldish cloth for the highlighted areas.  Also, I got some really cool buttons to add here and there for details. 
The shoulders.  The problem with World of Warcraft costumes is the shoulders.  They're designed to be overly large in game.  The problem is that virtual characters don't have to worry about lifting their arms and stabbing themselves in the ear with their shoulder pads.  I tried a few methods for turning a flat piece of gray foam into a rounded shoulder pad.  I ended up using a papercraft pattern for a poke ball.
I added red cloth to the bottom.  Super glue worked well for this.  Also, I put a layer of fiberglass along the inside of the bottom section.  I left the fiberglass to set overnight in a form to hold the shape I wanted.  Throughout the process, the shoulderpads remained light, yet somewhat durable.

Same shoulderpad + spikes.
Bondo time.  The bottom sections were taped off and the spike area was slathered in bondo.  I was worried that the Bondo would eat the gray foam.  I've had that kind of trouble in the past, as Bondo is pretty nasty stuff.  Luckily, it wasn't an issue.  I used my mouse sander to smooth out the rough Bondo finish.  Because of the final texture of the shoulderpads, I didn't have to be too picky about this step.  I then cut my "lava channels" with my trust Dremel tool.  Then a couple layers of stone spray paint and clear coat.

I ran glowire in and out of the shoulder pads to match the shape of the lava and the "runes" along the bottom section.  The glowire process included a lot of soldering and super glue.  Also, I sewed pockets into my robe.  The left pocket had a hole in the back that let my glowire circuits in.  I had all the sires sewn into the robe on the inside and down to that pocket.  This let me change the 9V batteries and turn the circuits on and off easily.
This is the final product.  The hood and cuffs got the glowire treatment as well.  In lieu of boots, I got long, black socks and put them on over my Sambas.  Thus, my foot comfort was assured.
The staff was almost an afterthought.  It was modeled after the Gladiator's Staff.  I took a long piece of dowel and chapped it up.  I cut it at scaled lengths at an angle and screwed the pieces together.  This left me with a rather wobbly staff.  I fiberglassed the hell out of each joint to fix that.  The gray stuff came into play again.  The pieces were beveled and sandwiched around the dowel.  The gems are chunks of quartz from Ithaca's MUSEUM OF THE EARTH.  After some paint, I wrapped the handle in electrical tape and added some more of the the buttons for detail.

PAX East was a lot of fun.  We met some great people and I got to fight a monster from Bioshock Infinite.
I also polymorphed Mike.

The Making of a Samus

The following is how we turned one Jaimi Bain into an intergalactic warrior:
This is the "before the storm" photo.  We moved our kitchen table into the craft space, bought a dremel tool, and stocked up on super glue.
This is an early prototype session in Oswego.  Jaimi's armor was created first in paper.  She had a chest piece to make, along with upper arms, one forearm, ribs, abs, thighs, and shins to create.  The gray stuff Jaimi is sitting on came from Big Lots.  It is some kind of workshop floor foam material.  It was really cheap and ended up in a lot of our costume elements.
 This is the first PVC tube we used for the arm cannon.  It had a 4" diameter to hold a Nerf gun.  This idea was abandoned as the gun could not be chopped down enough to fit in the pipe.  Jaimi is sporting a lovely one piece body suit that was the bottom layer of her suit.  Already, she is having Samus-like tendencies.  Had I been a space pirate, I would not be writing this post right now.
Jaimi experimented with a couple types of cloth to use for the armor pieces.  This stuff was a bit too sparkly for our tastes.  The ab pieces in this picture are made out of the gray stuff.  We eventually went with craft foam.  The gray stuff didn't bend enough to follow the shape of Jaimi's rippling abs.  Jaimi built a bathing suit around the black suit and we created pockets in the outer suit to insert the craft foam.
This is a picture of Jaimi taking a well earned craft break.

This is the second (and final) version of the arm cannon.  We downgraded to a 3" PVC pipe.  We used a 3"-2" adapter to cap it off with.  We once again employed the gray stuff to wrap around the pipe to give it dimension and texture.  Then came the fun part.  I went into my big old box of old electronics and started disemboweling devices.  My old camera and CD player fell victim.  Then I basically glued random bits of cool looking electronics to the cannon.  My favorite parts are the camera lens in the end of the cannon and the half of a half gig of ram.
 Also at Big Lots, I found an absolute gem.  This is a toy plane that lit up and made noises at the push of a wire remote button.  It has four super bright LEDs and a speaker.  These all got stuffed into the head of the cannon.  They were positioned at Jaimi's fingertips for easy use.  The result was that Jaimi could either "charge up"  or "fire" her arm cannon.  Also pictured is the failed Nerf gun.
I added a couple lines of Glowire and a ring around the muzzle.  I got it from  I had a lot of practice with Glowire; which was good because the soldering process was a little tricky.  The arm cannon got a silver/green paint treatment...and VIOLA!
This picture was probably taken quite late at night.  The chest piece was also made of the gray stuff.  It was connected to the rib piece and could be snapped on one side for removal.  The other arm pieces were made of the gray stuff and covered in shiny cloth.  The cloth was attached with a combination of spray adhesive, super glue, and gorilla tape.
We found these great Hannah Montana child bike helmets on clearance at Wal Mart.  This was after several failed attempts to make shoulder pads.  We tried to find the appropriate sized hamster balls and we tried foam soccer balls covered in bondo.  The Hannah method was definitely the way to go.
Step one was to de-Hannah them.  The denim layer was removed, the straps cut off, and I removed about a third of each helmet.  You will once again notice the use of the gray stuff.  To get the edges to come together nicely, I used a grinding bit on the Dremel tool to bevel the edges.  The gray stuff responds very well to super glue.
They were then oranged.
And with a light coat of gold, they were complete.  We found a couple buttons at JoAnn fabrics to add to the strap holes.  I removed the styrofoam insides and fiberglassed some metal loops inside for clipping onto the chest piece.  Shown is the right shoulder with Scott Kurtz's signature.

The thigh pieces were a combination of the gray stuff and craft foam.  The shin pieces were attached to some cheap boots via a zip tie system up the back.  The lights on the hips were LED safety lights from Big Lots.

We met with the band Metroid Metal.  They were pretty excited to have a real, live Samus.  We had a great time at PAX.  The effort of putting these costumes together was definitely worth it.

Monday, March 14, 2011

PAX 2010

I felt the need to add some pictures of last year's adventures as King Varian Wrynn & Lady Jaina Proudmoore from WoW. We designed and created the costumes for PAXeast 2010 and were a big hit.

This picture was taken by Anna Fischer, Thanks!

These costumes looked great, but were pretty beat up by the end of the day, including but not limited to my (Jaimi) shoulders falling off. I have thrown them away with the thought that if I need to wear the costume again, I will make a better set. Also, Wrynn (Rob) couldn't raise his arms more than a few inches.
However, a pretty stellar product for our first 'con.

Pax East

We made a trip to PAX East this past weekend.  The show was attended by close to 70,000 geeks, including us.  Below are some of the highlights of the show, including our costumes.  I, Rob, went as a mage.  Jaimi was the amazing Samus Aran of Metroid fame.

 One of the first panels we went to was the Blamamations! with Scott Kurtz and Kris Straub.  These guys are both talented artists and incredibly funny.  Before the panel began, Scott had a line going to trade pokemons.  Kris felt left out, so we formed a line to give him stuff.
 So, I did a card trick for him.  He was impressed.

This was a giant inflatable pikachu in the expo hall.

After we costumed up, we took some shots at the hotel.  This one is called "Chargin mah fireball"
And this is the last thing a metroid sees.

We later met up with Scott Kurtz at his table.  Jaimi was able to coerce him into signing her shoulder pad.

Jaimi was unofficially adopted by the Metroid Metal guys.

Poor sheep.  Luckily, we found the bloodthirsty Samus a burger.

She's just a the world.  That's all that you'll let her be.

We made some new friends: Mike, Mike, and Colin.  I turned one of the Mikes into a sheep....and then laughed at him...then Colin did something Scottish to said sheep. 
DOODLE BUG!  Or whatever it's called from Bioshock Infinite.

That's it for now.  More photos will be rolling in, along with a "making of" post.