Building Melia: Armored to the Teeth

Melia's staff

*deep breath* hokay guys. Let’s do this. I’m going to go about this in the same order that I worked on the pieces, but I’ll try to be brief otherwise this post will be like 100,000 words long.

In the beginning…

There was hope, and reasonable deadlines. The Gods of Cosplay said “let there be Tape patterns!” and lo, there was, and it was good.

Unlike medieval armor which is bulky and made of planes, Melia’s Stella Armor is all sleek, full of complex curves and futuristic. Because I hate myself, this is what I chose to make in two months:

Otakuthingy, revealed

Obviously I didn’t get it all done, but we’ll stick to what I *did* do for this post, mkay? Mkay.

The pauldrons (shoulder bits), greaves (leg bits) and belt are all form fitting and so in order to get them to fit my Amazonian frame, I wrapped myself up in seran wrap, then tape, then drew the design on myself with sharpie. Kamui’s book is a great help for this, by the way. I wish I’d picked it up before I started this project.

I did have some pictures of this stage, but honestly it’s not that important to see progress. Onward we go!

Base Shapes – Foam

From the tape pattern I traced out the pieces in foam, and mocked them up together to make sure that the curves were behaving the way I wanted them to. Sometimes the translation from thin tape to thicker foam can make shapes a bit wonky so I’ll end up having to trim some edges to make sure that they fit okay.

Melia's staff

 Here’s Melia’s staff. Aka creepy bird mask when turned upside down.

protip: Making simple details is easier to do by creating a relief on the foam with twine, cord or cut out foam bits than to try to add extra worbla later. The end result will be smoother and you’ll cut down on heat tooling and then filling/sanding time.

 flying ovaries

parts of the crown with relief details glued on. Twine, foam and laundry cord.

WORBLA (the first)

Then began the endless cycle of ‘burn off my fingerprints for art’.

Worbla.com has a bunch of great tutorials and I highly recommend making your own worbla-friendly workspace. I ended up covering an upside down large Rubbermaid box with a towel, then tin foil. While it worked, the worbla.com example seems much easier to use.

I cut out the pieces and heated and shaped and heated and shaped some more to get the base shapes for the really large parts of my costume: the shoulders, the hips and the legs.

I had some difficulty moulding them to my body at the start because once I was done heating one side of the large parts, the other had cooled and gotten stiff again. Luckily it was summer and I don’t have A/C (haha… ‘lucky’ /sob) so I was able to use the sunshine to help keep the larger pieces warmer for longer. #science!

WORBLA (Second Movement)

I spent wayyyy too much time on this part, fixing up parts where the worbla had thinned or ripped, adding details that I hadn’t paid enough attention to at first, smoothing things out, adding more details, smoothing things out. Etc.

Protip: The best tool I have used for doing detailed work in worbla is… a spoon. Roll the spoon’s edge along a detail to get a sharp edge. Use the tip of the handle to poke in smaller details. Check out the difference between the belt (first image) and the collar (third).

Then I had to make the gems, which I covered in my Resin-ate tutorial.

Protip: Did you know acrylic gems get soft when you heat them up with a heat gun? They sure do! You should probably avoid that when setting your gems into the worbla.

I set all the gems by making a bezel (whooo jewellery terms!) which helped hold the gem in place. It’s important to do this BEFORE you prime or paint because otherwise the gem will only stick to the paint, and can pop off.

I was getting faster at regular worbla stuff though, and whipped out the smaller items that still had to get done: knees, collar, arm bits. The elbow parts were made by moulding worbla over my egg timer from the kitchen.

Attack on Pauldron

Okay. Once I’d stared at those shoulders long enough I took a deep breath and got to work attaching the hoops to the base part. This took a loooot of worbla to stabilize because they’re so… out there. Literally.

Evolution of a shoulder.

It’s Reyn Prime Time

Time was running out, and so I got down to business smoothing the armor with woodfiller, sanding, priming with wood glue, sanding, priming, sanding, prime-

Elmer's Wood Glue

I used this stuff. A LOT of this stuff.

you get the picture. The good news is when I had time to do everything right, the armor looked great. The bad news was that I didn’t have time to do everything right. 😦

I’ll take some detailed pictures of the paint finish and post them here so you folks can see the difference.

Just a little PAINt

Man, even writing about how I didn’t get this costume as done as I wanted is making me a little depressed.

Regardless, I begged help and my dear mother helped me finish painting the silver which helped out a bunch, and I had enough time to weather the important pieces so that the details would show up. The crown, pauldrons, belt and neck piece are all done save for the varnish (so they feel awful but look nice), while the legs, and most other pieces still need to be weathered before I spray them all with a satin gloss finish.

Pictures to come this evening of detailed painting.

Despite my disappointment, the armor is still mostly done, so I do plan to get the costume 100% finished even if it’s just for myself. To prove that Melia is not the master of me. (I the master of my own future! [huehue xenoblade joke])

xox Calamity

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