RWBY: Adam Taurus’ Mask Part 3

If you haven’t read my previous posts on this project, you can check them out at these links: Part 1, and Part 2.

Now came time to seal the foam to prepare it for painting.

Obviously, using the heat gun on the foam to shape it had already heat sealed the foam for me, speeding up the sealing process. For this particular build, I’m focusing on using materials I already had, so I decided to go with the white glue/water mixture method for sealing the foam.

To do this, I just use Tacky glue, which is my favorite glue to use for bonding foam, paper, and cardboard. The mixture is usually around 2 parts glue and 1 part water, but you may need to adjust the ratio for your applications. I like to make sure that the mixture is thick enough that it won’t run or drip too much, but thin enough to spread easily. I just use a regular paintbrush to apply the mixture. If you prefer, Mod Podge seals foam in a very similar fashion, and you don’t need to make up any mixture.

I seal the backside as well as the front and edges. I only needed to do about 3-4 coats on either side, but if you don’t heat seal the foam or if you use a thinner mixture, you’ll need more coats. It’s very important that the seal is allowed to dry completely between each coat to ensure the smoothest finish. The first couple of coats should dry up fairly quickly, but the more coats you add, the longer each coat will take to dry.

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You can see how some of the lines of the design are clearer than others. Some of the paint cracked in the recessed area. I fixed this problem by rubbing a little glue over the cracks and painting over it after it dried.

After the seal had dried, it was ready to paint! I like to use acrylics for hand painting. I started off by giving the whole mask a base coat of color. Adam’s mask doesn’t seem like it is perfectly white, so I mixed a little bit of gray into the white paint to get the look I wanted. To get complete coverage, I had to do a few coats. The acrylic paint dries pretty quickly, so waiting between coats isn’t too bad.

The paint accentuated some of the gaps between the layers around the edges of the mask. To fix this problem, I carefully cut out any paint that filled these gaps with precision knife. I then filled the gaps with Tacky glue and pressed the layers together until the glue dried enough to hold itself.

Once I had complete coverage, it was time to fill in the design color. I just used plain red acrylic paint. The design didn’t open up as much as I had hoped from the heat gun, and I think that this was because I used thinner foam. As a result, the paint filled in parts of the design. When I make this again, I’ll be using thicker foam.

For the final touch, I wanted to make the mask look a little grungy. I dry brushed some gray paint across the surface and in lower areas to create some shadows. The easiest way to do this is to dab a little paint on a napkin and rub it into the napkin a little bit. Give it a second to start to dry, and then brush the paint in the desired areas. Make sure to have some water or a damp napkin nearby to quickly rub off any paint you don’t want. This works great to lighten up thicker areas to give a subtle effect.Be careful with that, though, because the water can wash off the other layers of paint too. This can be prevented by spraying a clear coat of seal in between the layers to protect the areas you don’t want to wash off. But for this particular project, I didn’t feel like it was necessary, as this was a practice piece.

For being a practice piece, I’m really happy with how this turned out! This was a great learning experience. I now plan on correcting some spots on the pattern and making a digital version of it to be available for download. I also plan on making this mask again with the corrected pattern and doing a video tutorial on the process.

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RWBY: Adam Taurus’ Mask WIP Part 2

If you haven’t read part 1 yet, you can check that out here!

When we last left our villainous accessory, it had been cut out and awaited heat forming. But before doing that, I had to address a detail on the under layer.

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As you can see in this image, the under layer extends past the over layer at the top. At that point, there is a border that seems to be slightly raised, surrounding a recessed area. Looking at some other images, it looked like the border was actually on the same level as the rest of the under layer (or at least where I wanted the under layer to be). I decided that I would cut out the inside of the border and the reattach the cut out piece just barely inside the border to create a recess. If that was hard to follow, don’t worry, I have pictures. 🙂

(Hover over or click the pictures to read more details)

After I had the piece cut out, I thought it would be best to go ahead and heat shape the mask before reattaching the piece. That way I would avoid encountering any issues that could be caused by the glue in the shaping process.

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Here are both layers after I shaped them with the heat gun.

All the design that I had previous carved in has opened up just enough to really pop (although you can’t really tell from the picture). I can’t wait to see how that will look once I paint it. The middle point comes out a little bit to fit comfortably on the wearer’s nose,  while the eyes sink in slightly. You can see those particular shapes much more clearly on the black under layer piece in the picture. As you can see, I haven’t cut the eye holes out of the under layer yet. I have yet to decide for sure how I want to handle the eyes. I want to make sure the wearer can see through the mask while the eyes remain externally black. Because of this, I thought it would be best to wait to cut out the eyes on the under layer until I have that sorted out.

The more I look at the references images, the more I see that the eye slits don’t have the angle to them that I thought they did. I’m not sure how I got that in my head, but when I go to correct the pattern, this will also get fixed. Right now, the foam seems a little more flimsy than I would have hoped. On the next one, using thicker foam will probably help, if not eliminate, this issue.

 

Once I had the under layer shaped the way I wanted, I blasted the cut out piece with the heat gun to give it a similar curve. This didn’t have to be exact, just close enough to work with. This foam is thin enough that it still has plenty of play in it. I then hot glued the cut out so the the outward facing edge lined up with the inward facing edge on the inside of the border. So the cutout is attached just inside the hole.

Here are a couple of angles from the front side. You can see how the cutout has suddenly become a sunken area inside the border. While it’s a little messy on the backside, I’m very happy with how it looks from the front. I’m pretty happy with the pattern overall, though I think the border and cutout pieces could use a little bit of correcting.The sides of the border seem to be a little bit wider on Adam’s mask than on mine.

I carefully cut out the eye slits in the under layer, making sure they lined up with the slits on the top layer.

I wanted to only use materials I had lying around for this mask. I had some black chiffon from a previous project. I thought this would be perfect to use for the eyes. I folded the chiffon to be three layers of the fabric; this way the eyes look black from the outside while still allowing the wearer to see. I cut the fabric to a rough size and then used pins to hold the layers together and mark the area that would be used.

To make sure the layers would stay together without the pins, I dabbed glue around the edges marked by the pins and rubbed it in to make sure it went through all the layers. Once the glue was dry and I could see that the layers were staying together, I removed the pins and trimmed down the excess material. I mark the glue area on the under layer of the mask, being careful to keep track of the eye slits. From here on out, I had to be very careful of not getting anything on the fabric in the eyes. The fabric glued to the foam really easily, and it didn’t take long for it to be dry enough to glue the top layer on. Again, I applied the glue to the foam, this time the backside of the top layer. The most important part at this stage was the line up the eye slits. since the top layer foam was flimsy, I used the piece between the slits on the under layer to strengthen to corresponding piece on the top layer.

There are discrepancies in the shape of each piece. Even though I used the exact same pattern for both pieces, they don’t line up perfectly because there is a curve to them. I already knew this would be a problem going in, but I got a little too excited and didn’t account for it. Next time, I’ll cut each piece out with some extra space around the edges and wait to trim the mask down to the proper size after both pieces are glued together. That way I can ensure a clean and even edge around the whole mask. I may even bevel the edge a bit.

This particular mask is sort of like a trial run to test the pattern and to try some new techniques. When I go to make the next one, there are some issues I plan on fixing.

RWBY: Adam Taurus’ Mask WIP Part 1

I always enjoy having random projects to work on and perfect my skills. I was in a big RWBY mood (but when am I not?) so I decided to make something from the show. Adam’s mask seemed like the right balance between simple and detailed, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Once I’m able, I plan on making a downloadable pattern for the mask, as well as a proper tutorial.

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Everyone’s favorite Jerkface

So here’s my progress so far. For this project, I’m using:

  • Craft foam in 2mm and 3mm thicknesses
  • Non-corrugated cardboard (also known as chipboard)
  • Precision knife set (A box cutter or X-acto knife will work)
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I started off by making a paper pattern before creating a more sturdy, cardboard pattern. I only have the eye slits drawn on one side because I flipped the paper pattern and used the same eye slits to mark both sides.

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Here’s the cardboard version. When I flipped the paper pattern to mark the eye slits, I also used that to make sure the mask symmetrical.

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Here’s the pattern I made for the top layer. I drew the designs for one side, and then used tracing paper to mirror it on the other half.

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I traced the design pattern above and then used that tracing to transfer the pattern to the craft foam. This is really easy to do. Simply place the graphite side of the tracing paper on the craft foam, hold it so it won’t move, and rub the paper until the graphite rubs off onto the foam. Then just draw over the graphite! Keep in mind, if you have asymmetrical designs, this way will mirror whatever drawing you have. Because this mask is completely symmetrical, I didn’t have to worry about that problem.

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Here’s the top layer of the mask cut out of 2mm foam. The design on the left hand side has been drawn over with a pen, whereas the design on the right hand side is just the graphite rubbing.

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The under layer is made of a thicker, 3mm foam and has an arch that extends past the height of the top layer.

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Here are both layers together so you can see the slight shape difference. You can see the original design pattern on the cardboard underneath!

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It’s important that you use a very sharp knife to cut out your foam. This will insure that your edges remain nice and smooth. Some people will use box cutters or X-Acto knifes. I personally use this knife set I found at Wal-Mart for around $10.The different types of blades really come in handy!

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I used a precision knife to carve in the designs. To do this, just follow your lines and make sure you don’t cut all the way through the foam. Once you use a heat gun on the foam to shape it, the heat will cause the cuts to open up a bit, making a nice groove on the foam’s surface.

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So now the pieces are just waiting to be heat shaped! As you can see, I haven’t cut the eye slits out of the bottom layer yet. I plan on adding a piece of black fabric between the layers so the wearer can see out, but their eyes will remain hidden.

I’ll continue to document my progress and keep you all up to date with how the mask is coming along!

RWBY: Nora Valkyrie’s Magnhild

Earlier this year (2016) I made a Nora Valkyrie cosplay from Rooster Teeth’s web series “RWBY”. She’s one of my favorite characters, and I really wanted to challenge myself as a prop builder with her signature hammer, Magnhild. maxresdefault

I wish I had taken more pictures of the process so this would function more as a tutorial for you, but I’ll do the best I can to explain the pieces as I go.

For this build, I used

  • EVA craft foam in 2mm and 3mm sheets (In hindsight, I think using 3mm and 5mm would have been better)
  • Non-corrugated cardboard, also known as chipboard
  • Tacky glue (I use Aleene’s brand)
  • Dimensional fabric paint (3D fabric paint, I used Tulip brand)
  • Hot glue
  • Gorilla glue
  • Wood (for the handle)
  • Recycled Pringles cans (4)
  • Recycled reticulated foam (a type of packing material)
  • Spray can Primer
  • Valspar spray paint in pink
  • Acrylic paints (Anita’s; I hand painted the majority of the “metal” pieces)
  • Spray can Clear Coat Seal

A 3D model of this hammer proved to be invaluable in the design of the hammer because I had to hand design all of the intricate details. There are more images of this model on the web, and a quick Google search for “Nora Valkyrie Magnhild” will yield plenty of results for you to do research. Plus, you’ll also find lots of pictures of other cosplayers’ versions of Magnhild, and they are definitely worth checking out!

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Nora’s hammer is taller than she is. According to the RWBY Wikia, she’s only 5’1″, but I’m about 5’6″, so I had to make my hammer larger to keep in in scale compared to my height.

Hover over or click on each image to learn more about the pieces.

The decorative designs aren’t completely accurate, but they are very close. Somehow the design on the top layer ended up slightly skewed, but this became less noticeable once painted.

If you plan on using 3D fabric paint like I did, I recommend test painting on some scraps to get used to it. Remember to maintain even pressure on the bottle and clean the nozzle between painting lines. I keep a few napkins and some q-tips on hand to clean up any mistakes I make along the way. If you have an uneven section where the line goes from too think to too thin, take a q-tip and gently drag the excess from the thick section to balance out the line. The paint takes about 4 hours to dry, so make a safe space for your pieces to set out.

My dad helped me with the handle, so I’m not sure what kind of wood we used. The handle breaks in half for easy transportation. The top half of the handle goes all the way through the hammer head, making contact with the underside of the top layer.

There are several different ways to seal craft foam, all offering different advantages and disadvantages. Do your research to figure out what would be best for your project! Punished Props made a video explaining and testing several methods of sealing craft foam, and you can check that out here. I highly recommend following Punished Props if you plan on making cosplay armor and props on a regular basis.And before you ask, no, I’m not being asked to endorse them. I’m just an avid fan of their work!

For this project, I sealed the foam by watering down tacky glue. I keep my mixture in a small glass jar that used to hold moisturizer! I usually make my mixture to be 2 parts glue and 1 part water, but you can experiment with what works best for you. Keep in mind that the more water you add, the thinner the mixture will be, making it run and drip more. But the less water you add, the thicker it will be, making it hard to brush on smoothly. I use a basic paint brush to paint my mixture onto my foam, but lots of people prefer using a sponge style brush. I use the paint brush to my advantage, though, and recreate the brushed metal texture with seal and paint.

After several coats of the seal mixture, I sprayed everything with paint primer. Once the primer was dry, I painted the Pringles cans with the pink Valspar paint, which was nearly the perfect color. These were used for the cylinders later. I hand painted all of the gray and silver pieces. Using a standard paint brush, I made all of my strokes in the same direction to imitate brushed metal. For detail work, I switched between using a lighter gray and a darker gray to help the intricate designs pop out. I dry brushed highlights of light gray and silver to give it some shine under bright lights. When I was done painting, I used a spray can clear coat on top to finish it off. In hind sight, I would have liked to do at least one more layer of clear coat to protect it more, but time limited me. Time also limited me from constructing the support arm on the back of the hammer.

I used the reticulated foam on the inside of the hammer head as the core. This is a very porous, lightweight foam that is impressively strong, so it made the perfect support for all of the pieces. For the cylinders, I used the 4 pink Pringles cans. I think it’s safe to say that Nora’s Magnhild probably has 6 cylinders, but only 4 are visible. Only using 4 cans allowed for extra room inside the hammer for mounting and support. I designed the internal structure to have 2 cans on either side of the wooden shaft from the handle. To do this, I made a large circle from the reticulated foam that was about 1 1/2 inches thick. I carved smaller circles where the cylinders would go, making sure to leave room between each pair of cylinders for the handle to go through. I used hot glue to mount the Pringles cans into the holes at the very front end, hiding the foam behind the support pieces on the top layer. Because they’re only supported on one end, the cylinders shift around a little bit more than I would like, but they aren’t in danger of falling out.

The wooden shaft went through a slot I cut in the reticulated foam core and was secured with gorilla glue. The foam core was then gorilla glued to the top layer of the hammerhead. The rest of the layers were hot glued together in the appropriate places.

Here’s a video from my YouTube channel where I do a basic overview of the hammer. You can skip to around 4:45 to see just the hammer from a few good angles.

I hope this helps you on your next prop build! I unfortunately don’t have any patterns for this hammer, but please feel free to ask me any questions and I’ll do my best to answer them!