Hello gorgeous people!
So this was my first cosplay attempt EVER, Erza Scarlet’s Heart Kreuz Armor from the anime Fairy Tail. And since I got frustrated searching the internet for tutorials and found nothing useful, I promised myself to share my knowledge with everyone if the armor turned out to be a success!
Before we start I just want to point out that this was all a trial and error process, so there may be a few blunders I fixed along the way. I worked using proportions and not by accurate numbers, so you might have to measure things on yourselves using your own scale as a reference. And speaking of scales, I am 1.53m tall, pretty short! So consider that this armor was made according to my tiny size, and you might have to work out the proportions and make a few adjustments to create your own perfect fit.
I hope this step-by-step tutorial will be useful and help you all make a much better armor than mine.
And of course if you have any questions or comments don’t hesitate to contact me here or email me at ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) and I’ll be more than happy to help you with anything!
((DISCLAIMER: All rights to "Fairy Tail" the anime and the manga go to its creator Hiro Mashima and TV Tokio))
In this part we will go through the making of the: Gauntlets.
Materials you will need:
- Butter paper sheets.
- Craft foam sheets size 50x50 cm, preferably white.
- Hot glue gun.
- 2 pairs of long gloves (elbow length) I used black, but white ones would be better. Make sure they are an elastic material that will have a tight fit on your hands, not wool or fabric or satin, just something stretchy, it will be much easier to put on and more durable.
- Metallic Silver & Black spray-paint.
- Thick black markers.
- Scissors or cutter.
- Needle and thread.
Step 1: Safety Precautions!
Since the fingers, the hand and the cuff of the gauntlets must copy the curve and shape of your own hand, we are going to be wearing the gloves when we are gluing the pieces together.
The good thing about craft foam is that it deforms when it's heated and takes the shape of its mold, which in this case, is your own arm.
Now you can use a mannequin arm if you have one, that would be much better, but since I don't have one I used my own body parts for this one, and to me, I think it was the better option since they were designed only to fit my hands and they worked perfectly for me.
So here is what I did:
You have 2 pairs of elbow-length gloves, one is the base on which you will glue the gauntlet pieces on, and which will be the finished result, the second pair will be worn underneath it, to keep the heat from reaching your hands.
Since you will be doing one side at a time for each step, put on the bottom pair of gloves first, make sure your fingers are all the way in, and then take your bandages and wrap them around the glove. Don't wrap them around too much, just enough so that your hand doesn't form a blob and would still keep its normal beautiful shape. This will provide a somewhat insulating layer to keep the heat of the glue from reaching your skin and would help you avoid some nasty hot-glue burns. Aside from that, those two bottom layers will give your hand more volume and so when your gauntlets are finished they will be a bit bigger than your own hand size and that will be easier and more comfortable to put on and take off. Another benefit of that layer of bandages is that it will keep both pairs of gloves from sticking together when you glue the pieces on the outer pair. Because if any glue seeps in (it won't be a huge amount anyway) the bandages will catch that and it will make it easier to take off the gloves when you finish, since the glove on the inside should come out unharmed, and if some glue sticks to the bandages you can just rip those off from the inside easily or, if they got too stubborn, simply cut that bit off and it would be harmless.
And one last tip, when you are gluing, putting too much glue won't make the piece stick better than it would with a small amount of glue. Don't be greedy and use only enough glue to hold the piece securely in place. Too much glue will only make things messy and you don't want that. Remember that a little goes a looong way, and glue wisely.
That being said, let's start crafting!
(Image courtesy of google images! The link: http://www.carrlane.com/catalog/index.cfm/29425071F0B221118070C1C513906103E0B05543B0B012009083C3B285357454A2D020609090C0015312A36515F554A58)
Step 2: Making the Fingers Template
So that's our plan: fingers > hand > forearm.
Great! Now let's start with the fingers!
After you put your safety gloves on like the previous step (glove, bandages, base glove) you want to cut out long strips of butter paper (about 30-50 cm) with varying widths that depend on the size of your fingers. Since we will be dividing each finger into 3 pieces with our joints determining each piece, you want the widths of those strips to vary between the length of your middle finger proximal (which should be the biggest) and the length of your pinky finger distal (which should be the smallest). That is the width range of your strips.
** Side anatomy lesson:
Your fingers consist of 3 parts, except for the thumb which only has 2 parts. These parts are the Proximal, Middle, and Distal Phalanx. The distal phalanx is basically the tip of your finger, the smallest part where the nail is. The proximal phalanx is the base of the finger where it connects to your knuckle joints. The middle phalanx is, as the name indicates, the middle part between two joints of the finger. To make things easier I'll just refer to those as the bottom, middle and top parts of the finger.
Back to the butter paper strips now. Having small hands and tiny fingers, the width of my strips was between (1 - 3)cm, that means I have strips with a width of (1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3)cm. The length of the strip isn't that important since you will be cutting the strip into pieces, but mine were about 30cm long and that was more than enough. Those strips are just to make it easier for me to take measurements and make the templates for the fingers.
But before we do that, on the base glove that you are wearing, grab a pencil or a marker and draw horizontal lines across the center of each joint on your fingers, the knuckles also. You should have 3 horizontal lines on 4 fingers and 2 on the thumb. Since I used black gloves I used a white Prisma colored pencil, but if you are using white gloves (which is a better option, since white takes paint better than black) then you can use a regular pencil or a black marker if you'd like. Make sure you pull the glove really tight so that your fingers go all the way in and you'd be able to mark the exact location of the center of each joint.
So, starting from the thumb since we only need 2 pieces for that, take the appropriate strip that should go between the center lines of each joint, those are the lines we just drew on our gloves. So the width of the strip should be from the center of one joint to another. Let's start from the top. Put that strip on the side of your thumb top so that it's on the center of the side and wrap it around to the other side to the center, mark that line and cut it out, you should have a rectangle that goes from the center of one side, covering the nail and top part of the thumb, and ends at the center of the other side. Perfect!
Now to shape that piece and make it beautiful, cut the top into a curve to be a little rounded at the tip. This will give the gauntlets a very nice look that is similar to the shape of your hands, as opposed to the boxy rectangle shape you will get if you left it as a rectangle. Don't make it pointy unless you want them to look like claws, and this is not what we want in Erza's case.
So the tip is done, Let's move on to the bottom of the thumb. You will do the same thing, take a strip with an appropriate width from the center of your knuckle to the center of the top joint, wrap it around from the middle of one side to the middle of the other side and to cover the front of the thumb. Cut that rectangle out, and then we will shape the bottom of that rectangle by cutting two mirrored diagonal lines from the bottom of each side, so that we would have something that resembles a trapezoid from the bottom.
You see in the picture what the thumb template should look like when it's finished, please forgive my poor photoshop abilities. I went ahead and traced the shape of the butter paper on the foam and cut it out. You will do that with all the pieces.
The four fingers left have the same shape of the top and bottom pieces, only a different size (smaller). The only extra thing is the middle piece which should look like a rectangle. You will make the template for that piece exactly the same way you made the previous two pieces, by taking a strip of butter paper the same width of the middle part of your finger, but this strip should cover both joints and not go from the center of one joint to the center of the other. So, a rectangle that covers the middle part of the finger including the joints, and wrap it around from the center of one side to the center of the other. Cut that out and VOILA!!
In the second picture you'll see the template for all the finger pieces I made, again, please forgive my lack of photoshop skills, but this should be easy to read once I explain it.
You see in the template there are different shapes and sizes of pieces. Some pieces were repeated because they had the same fit on more than one finger, so instead of making a new piece I just made the same piece for another location. The pieces I repeated have a circle in the center with a certain color, the places where I repeated that piece have the same circle with the same color. This was the template for my left hand so the thumb is on the right of the screen and the fingers go to the left accordingly.
Okay! Now that we have our template ready, let's trace them all on foam and cut them out. You will cut two sets of these, since you will need to do both hands. The third picture shows the foam cut-outs for the finger pieces.
Step 3: Gluing the Fingers
The shape that we are aiming for here is for the finger pieces to only cover the outside and not wrap all the way around the finger, but like a shell. This will look better and will also be easier to construct and to wear, since our stretchy glove will be doing all the work, as if the foam is just there as an accessory, this will also keep the foam from being damaged easily, and you will be able to use your hands this way, pick things up and work and so on. So you still get to keep your hands functioning properly this way.
Assuming that you have your base glove sitting tightly above the bandages and another glove, you will start gluing the fingers to one hand. I started with the left hand, from the pinky finger.
this is very simple, but you have to be extra careful not to put too much glue on. just on the tips and sides.
Okay then, we take the pieces for the pinky, and start with the top piece. Put some glue on the sides and the bottom, and just stick it in place keeping your pinky straight, wrapping it around with slight pressure until it is dry and sticks in place. Now you shouldn't feel anything on your finger since the layers we have on underneath will protect your skin, and when that piece has dried in place it should take the shape and curve of the finger.
After the top part is glued in place, you will glue the bottom piece in the same exact way, just a little glue along the sides, top and bottom, and don't forget to keep your finger straight. After that, you will glue the middle part so that its edges sit ABOVE those of the top and bottom pieces. Here you will only put glue on the four corners of the middle rectangle and glue them on top of the foam pieces you already have. Gluing the middle piece at the corners will cause it to function as a joint and assist with movement. It will look straight but you will have the ability to move your fingers without crushing the foam pieces.
And there! You have just glued the pinky!!
Now you will repeat this step for all the fingers on both hands. (Top piece > Bottom piece > Middle piece.)
You can refer to the pictures and see how the fingers should look like once they are all attached.
Step 4: Testing the Fingers
After that, you should take the gloves off and let your hands breathe a bit, and also, you should be taking out the bandages in case some glue reached them and they got stuck on the inside. Take your time when you're taking the bandages out of the base glove if they got stuck, but since the glove is stretchy nothing should go wrong here.
When you take the gloves off you will notice how the foam took the shape of the fingers, look at the last picture, even with your fingers out of them they still maintained their shape and structure, it's because the foam when it was heated by the glue took the shape of your fingers which was the mold in this case. They look like pretty segmented sausages now!
Now that the fingers are finished, let's move on to making the hand!
Step 5: Making the Hand Template
The knuckles piece should look like a curve from the top and will cover the base of the finger pieces we just attached to the glove, covering also the top of the hand piece. It should also complete the curve between the thumb and index finger from the side so consider that when you are designing your template.
This is what the left hand template should look like when it's done. The piece on top is the knuckles piece and below that is the hand piece. You also see a dashed line in orange drawn on the hand piece, this indicates where the knuckle piece should be. That is important and it will help you know where everything is supposed to be and you won't get lost or lose time trying to figure out exactly where all the pieces go.
After that, simply trace those on a piece of foam and cut them out, a set for each hand, mirrored of course. But since craft foam has identical sides that won't be an issue.
And back to gluing we go!
Step 6: Gluing the Hand
Alright! After you put your glove, bandages, and then base glove (which should be easy to put on even with the fingers attached) you will grab a pencil / colored pencil / marker and mark two horizontal lines one passing through the center of your knuckles and the other just above your wrist, those are your guidelines so that you'd know where to glue the hand piece. This will only cover the back of the hand because, again, we want to be able to grab things and move in this. Put glue on the inside of that piece and just stick it on, hold it tightly in place with your other hand and apply some pressure so that the foam takes the shape of your hand. A piece on the side there should sit on top of the thumb, so make sure to glue that part as well.
Now that wasn't so difficult was it? Now let's move onto the knuckles!
Step 7: Gluing the Knuckles Piece
Hold that piece in place and apply slight pressure with your other hand so that the foam would take the shape of your hand for a couple of minutes and release when it dries.
Move your fingers around, curl them, move your hand back and forth, pick up a potato and throw it at your neighbors, just make sure the movement is easy and that all the pieces are still intact and do some repairs if they aren't.
This is what the finished hand should look like.
Great! Now that this hand is finished, take the glove off when it is dry, and remove the bandages in case they got glued to the inside of the base glove. Now doesn't that feel lovely?
Okay! Let's move on to the other hand and do the exact same thing!
Step 8: The Finished Hand
Take a step back and applaud yourself, you deserve it.
And let's move on to make the cuffs and vambraces.
Step 9: Making the Arm Template
Again, put a sheet of butter paper on your arm and trace the rough shape of each piece, you only need to get the length and width, and the shape will be fixed as you move along.
The top cuff which is the smaller one looks like a curved trapezoid. It should go all the way around your wrist but make it a bit wider than your actual wrist by adding to the length, so that it won't block the motion of your hands or limit it. It will close at the top pointy corners on the inside of your arm.
The vambraces won't close completely around your wrist because that won't allow you to easily get your hands in and out of it, and take into account that you want to make them wider than the actual size of your arm.
The bottom cuff has a C-shaped curve, because we want this to have a cone shape at the top of the vambrace. Again, proportions proportions proportions!! Don't make those too big or too small, you want them just the right size, and be careful with the length of those, when you bend your arm to the inside you want to make sure that this part doesn't cause you any discomfort in that area, and that it doesn't cover the elbow from the back.
Draw each piece on a small separate piece of butter paper, that should make things much easier for you to trace your own desired size and shape.
And your finished template should look something like the first picture.
When that's done, cut those out and trace them on a piece of craft foam and cut them out. You can see the foam cut outs in the second picture.
Step 10: Gluing the Vambraces
So to glue that piece we will only put glue on the sides and at one point in the top center. We want this to open as it goes up towards the elbow in a cone shape, and we don’t want it to close completely around the arm, we will have it open making a straight line down the center on the inside of the arm. This will make it easier and more comfortable to wear and take off.
So gluing this on isn’t really difficult after you mark where it should be and where the opening on the inside of the arm should be, and of course after you glue this in place hold it with your other hand with some pressure like we did with all the other pieces and release when it dries.
And you see in the pictures how it should look like when the vambrace is glued on the glove, and the size of the opening on the inside of your arm. You only need a small opening and that straight line will work perfectly.
Step 11: Gluing the Cuffs
The small one should go all around the wrist and make sure that it is a bit wider so it sits a bit loose and won't limit the movement of the wrist. Now you will only glue that at the very tip where both ends meet on the inside of the arm, above the opening of the vambrace, and at the other end of the diagonals where it meets the vambrace, and also at a point on the bottom center. Since this is wider than your wrist, you will be able to wear this easily even when it's closed all the way around, just be gentle!
When that's dry, let's glue on the big cuff, and that is even easier. First you should mark the line where it meets the vambrace, then put glue on the tip of the vambrace and just wrap the cuff around and close it at the tip. This should also be wider than your regular arm width, much wider.
See how that turns out in the pictures.
Step 12: Try It On!
Anyway, after you finish the first arm, take the glove off and like we did after gluing on the previous pieces, take the bandages out in case some got stuck to the glue inside and so on and so forth. And you will of course repeat the same steps for the other arm.
Notice how, even when you take them off, they still keep the structure and the shape of your hand, remarkable isn't it?
AND, YOU ARE FINISHED!! You should be proud of yourself!! Let's celebrate this with a well-deserved victory dance!
Next, the fun part, painting!
Step 13: Paint Away!
So a few important tips for spray painting, keep the object at a distance when you spray it, you don't want it too close otherwise you'll end up with lumpy tear-drop paint that will look terrible. Also, get lots and lots of newspapers to cover the area you'll be painting in, preferably outdoors, since you don't want to inhale all that spray. Don't wear your favorite shirt because there is a big chance you will get dirty, gloves and goggles if it's windy because you will get paint in your eyes if the wind is mean enough!
Also, make sure to test the spray paint out on a small piece of foam just to check if it's safe to use, because some types of paint will just burn through it, and it's also a good idea to test the colors before you actually start to paint the real thing.
The colors I used for the armor are a silver chrome spray paint and a glossy black spray paint, those are the ones on the left and right. the one in the middle is a textured metallic paint which I used for the sword.
So after laying newspapers everywhere, you place the gauntlets and you spray it from a distance with the silver paint first on one side, wait a bit till it dries and turn it over to the other side and repeat that until you've painted it completely, I also painted the bits where the glove it showing such as the palm and the inside of the fingers and the opening of the vambrace, that's why it would have been better to use white gloves or better yet, gray or silver ones. That being said, spray painting only made the material of the glove a bit harder, but after wearing it a few times it loosened up and went back to its normal stretchy state. After you do a coat or two of silver, walk even farther away and spray some black strokes, do NOT color it black.. this will just give the silver paint some darker points and this will give it more definition, try to hit the points where you think should show more shadow like underneath the cuffs, the knuckles... etc. Also make sure to get to all those hidden places between the finger pieces. Try bending the fingers, or even wearing the gauntlets as you paint them and moving your fingers, hand and arm around to see those spots where the paint might have missed. That might get your hands a bit dirty, but it's well worth it to get a beautiful paint job in the end!
The pictures show how it looks like after being left to dry.
Those look beautiful don't they? Well, wait till you see them after we outline them with black markers!
Step 14: Using Markers
And I swear by black markers. They can instantly make anything, and I mean ANYTHING, look awesome.
So the secret here, is the black outline!
And now that you know the great secret, wield your black markers and start outlining every single line, every single detail on those beautiful gauntlets, fill in the thickness of the foam itself, the edges, everything! It will look drastically different once you are done with it, but be slow and be careful, you cannot afford to make mistakes now because one stray line would be fatal... Black marker is permanent, and you will mess up the paint job if it goes wrong.
Check out the pictures and see for yourselves!
And, can you believe it? You are finished!
Don't they look beautiful? You should feel very proud of yourself now! Now make yourself a nice cup of hot chocolate and admire your work.
Step 15: Conclusion
I hope you found this tutorial helpful, it was fun for me to make this armor and I hope it would be the same for all the brave souls who attempt it.
But one last piece of advice, hard work pays off. This will be exhausting and time consuming and at times even frustrating. But if you want it to look perfect you have to give it all the effort and time you can possibly afford, and when you see your final result, you will be blown away!
Again, if you have any questions or comments please don't hesitate to contact me here or email me at ( email@example.com )
This part of the armor is finally done, now let's move on to the next one!
Lots of love,