Hey there, I'm Bear and I'm going to show you how to make the Barioth female blademaster armor from CAPCOM's video game series, Monster Hunter. Technically, I'm going to tell you how I learned about existing techniques and tweaked them to suit my purpose.
This materials list will be motley hot mess of parts because I built everything with what I had on hand and what I could scrape up and buy. I had more time than money here so a lot of things were done a more difficult way to save funds. This is by no means the BEST way to do this, just how I did. Build it up; cut it down.
- Polyester resin
- Acrylic paint (ALL the colors)
- Google eyes
- Apoxie Sculpt
- EVA foam (Foamies)
- Barge cement
- Hot glue
- Gorilla Glue
- Super glue
- Utility knife
- Masking tape
- Mouse sander
- Lambskin (ALL hides from Tandy Leather or ebay)
- Cow hide
- Elk hide
- Cotton twill
- Black knit
- Cotton/poly batiste (~65/35 blend?)
- Silk dupioni
- Spiral steel boning
- Prefab belt (double prong buckle) x 2
- 4-5 New Look Punky wigs in color 613A
- Cotton Spandex (Blue/White)
- Snaps & setting tools
- Hardware from Tandy Leather
- Grommets & setting tools
- Pyramid studs
- Magnetic purse closure
- Cotton webbing
- Bias tape maker
- Rotary Cutter
- Cutting mat
- Tailor's chalk
- Sewing machines
MOLDING & CASTING
- Super Sculpey
- Bondo Glazing and Spot Putty
- Smooth-On SmoothCast 300, 65D
- Smooth-On Rebound 25
- Liquid latex
- Safari Ltd Ancient Egypt TOOB -large pyramid only
- Panties from another MH costume
- Plastic people parts
- Profuse profanity
Step 1: Reference Images
I got to know a variety of reference material in an almost obscenely detailed way. Even if I couldn't make that happen exactly like that in real life, I needed to know what I was making. Character guides, screencaps, 3D models, pep models, figures, whatever I could find... since my source material was originally from a different country with a different language, I googled in Japanese to see if I could get more hits. (PROTIP: I did.)
I do NOT own any of the rights to any of the reference materials. I saved all of mine years ago and I cannot remember where they've all come from so my apologies for not being able to credit everyone I should. Thank you to everyone that took their time to provide these images. My costume would not have been possible without your help.
The YouTube video I screencapped is now private, so thank you, person, for your video. It was really helpful.
The Portable 3rd site I used is no longer around but thank you BoboFango, you were one of my most helpful assets both playing Portable 3rd AND making this costume.
Step 2: Under Armor (Textiles)
This thing (pic 1) has an base layer that I think should be be made of fabric so I took a sleeveless, fitted bodice pattern I had and started modding that. I can't remember which one or brand but it was a pretty basic template with princess seams.
I cut out the over bust portion (pic 2) because it was unnecessary, and with it out of the way I could easily make the deep concave into the sternum.
I changed the shoulder to a facing (pics 2-4) because I wanted that finished in both pigskin lining (pic 5) and deerskin (pic 6). The game has to hunt, kill, and carve creatures for parts so this thing is made from some real animals. Leather has a grainline that I'm too frugal to obey so I decided to to stabilize the deerskin and prevent it from stretching by backing it with the pigskin. The pigskin itself is a pretty lightweight hide so I wanted to stabilize it with something as well, if I could. There were few mentions of using fusible interfacing on leather in 2011 but The Sewing Divas said it was doable so I did it, and it worked.
The outer white material for the bodice is a cotton twill. The lining is a cotton poly blend batise, the bone channels and binding are silk dupioni. There are spiral steel bones in those channels, not to act like bones in a corset, but to help direct the bodice simply sit how I wanted. Necessary, maybe not but I did it so there you go.
Here are some helpful links for the sewing stuff:
Understanding and Making Bias Tape
Step 3: Breastplate
I wanted the chest to be rigid and hollow (in 2011, a bit before Worbla was a thing) so I wanted to try to do something like what I'd seen other artists do via slush casting, like Volpin's Cassandra pauldrons. I put a bunch of Super Sculpey (pic 2) on a female mannequin torso I picked up for things like this: pushing it around, smoothing it out, adding and removing as necessary, until I felt it looked close enough to the picture of the breastplate in game. (pics 1, 3)
She's a bit twisted in her stance so I'm glad I followed a friend's advice to do an intermediate cast to clean up then remold and cast again for a [hopefully] better, cleaner, final piece. Being cheap and something I had on hand, I used liquid latex to do the first mold. (pic 4)
I tried to back it with plaster (pic 5) but it was either too dumb of an idea or I too dumb to make it work so I had to pitch all of that and used some polyester resin and fiberglass cloth I had laying around for a more toxic (pic 6), lightweight, fast curing option. (pic 7) The first cast was done in SmoothCast 300. (pic 8)
After filling, sanding, and priming (pic 9) times what felt like fore-effing-ever, I moved on to mold and cast number 2.
I had a different base but I knew that I wanted to reproduce the final piece in the same way. I started copying what Volpin did around where the peach colored goo shows up.
I used Rebound 25 for my second mold and polyester resin/fiberglass cloth for the jacket.
My final pull was done in 65D.
Step 4: Thinner Plate Armor
All thinner plate armor (gorget, shoulders, ribs front and back, upper back, thigh, upper/lower knee fin things, mandible) was patterned in paper, foam, masking tape, or all of the above (pics 3-7) for several revisions and test fittings on both my dressform and myself. Once the templates were whatever shape and size I wanted, I transferred the template shapes to a sheet of Wonderflex (going forward abbreviated as WF), cut them out, and coated all the WF pieces with 3-5 generous layers of polyester resin.
*I had previously experimented with poly resin on WF with another Monster hunter costume. This time I put [slightly] more effort into the clean up process, pre-paint job, and was much happier with my results.
I only have photos of these thigh lames I replaced later (pic 8) to show the resin coating process but it was pretty straight forward. Put on your gear, mix it up, brush it on with a chip brush. Wait for it to dry. Do that till it's as thick as you want. Again, 3-5 coats seemed to do me well. Notice I forgot to leave the overlapped area uncovered, so the depth threw off my proportions and things didn't fit right. (DON'T DO THAT) I had to trim the resin off a small portion of these plates so that I could get everything to fit back together better. (pics 9,10)
I ended up pitching those leg pieces and completely redoing them after deciding I wanted a more game accurate shape (pic 11), remembered to leave a portion uncovered, and skipped all photo ops because I was mad and running out of time.
Paper, foam, and tape are cheap; sheets of plastic aren't as economical. Work out your mistakes as cheaply by making mockups whenever possible. (Paper and foam are also good templates for leather!)
Don't know what a piece of armor is called? BOOM. Glossaries with words AND pictures. Things like the arms and legs exist in real life so patterns also exist. I used what I found and altered them rather than starting from scratch for as much as I could.
Be mindful of how you want to wear all of this when it's on. Can you bend your arm to eat, drink, wipe your butt? Can you bend you knee and go up/down stairs? It's important to know now, not when you're strapped in for the long haul.
Step 5: Thicker Plate Armor
For pieces with slightly more depth to them, the knee (pics 1,2), arm (pic 3,4), back (pics 5,6) and chin (pic 7), I did the same as with the thinner pieces but added Apoxie Sculpt and or auto body filler on top of the Wonderflex to create more dome like shapes and detailing like ridges and the teeth on the mandible. I created the spikes on the knees and bracers with WF, after patterning them in paper, then gluing them to whatever base they were supposed to go on with Gorilla glue. After the Gorilla Glue set, I cleaned up any residue, then brushed on more resin. Once that cured, I sanded it and filled till it was ready for paint.
Step 6: Helm & Wig
I had never made a helmet or part of one so instead of winging it, I looked at what other stylized helmets [from games] were like to see if something existed close to what I was looking for. Low and behold, there were a couple of things over at the Halo Costuming Wiki and the 405th.
I poked through the helmets and found some ridges on the Hayabusa helmet and a beak like front to the Aribter in the Halo universe so I used those pep pattern pieces in paper (pic 4) then WF (pics 5,6) for a base.
After getting a [really] rough base, I started layering Paperclay (pic 7) to add up some bulk and flesh out the dimensions. After the Paperclay, I threw on some poly resin, Apoxie Sculpt, and spot putty. Sanded that until it was ready for paint.
I started working on scaling for the fangs (pics 8,9) and deciding how to fit all this crap on the wig and wear all, as comfortably as possible.
The fangs (pic 10) were sketched out by hand on paper and copied to make the right and left mirrored images. I sculpted them in Super Sculpey. I made very crappy, flimsy, poorly thought out molds of the teeth in latex. Had I know then what I know now, I'd have done these as box molds. Derp.
I took one Punky in 613A, harvested most of the wefts off, and hand stitched them back into another Punky in 613A. (pic 11)
To fit the armored part of the helm to the wig, I removed the wefts from the crown. (pic 12)
After I stitched the extra wefts into the back of the wig, I added arches of fabric covered boning every so many inches horizontally, like a Bumpit, teased, and hairsprayed for as much volume as I could manage. (pics 14,15)
Step 7: Sewn Leather
I made patterns for the legwarmers (pic 1,2) from some pants I had. I marked out where I wanted the grey parts to go.
There's a small line of teal-ish detailing between the grey and white that's sort of like a rickrack faux ruffle things so I made a template like (pic 3) and cut strips of teal lambskin like that.
I used a very light application of rubber cement to hold the white elk on bottom, sandwiching the teal lamb between the grey and white. I marked the bottom fringe on the inside with a ruler then carefully clipped the markings.
I stitched a band of elastic to the top opening of the legwarmer for some traction and to hold the edge in place, folded under, without needing to sew through two layers of the elk because my sewing machine would have died then and there trying, leather needle or not.
The leather gloves were made from the same teal as the faux ruffles, breastplate details, tasset front, helm, and upper arm cuffs. The glove (pic 4) pattern was this one from Vogue. The gloves have contrast fourchettes in black knit and a black rib knot cuff.
The leather vambraces (pic 5) under the armored bracers were constructed in the exact same manner as the leg warmers, except as a tapered cylinder that fit my arm elbow to wrist.
There are a couple of sewn leather pieces on the tasset, starting with the undermost layer (pic 6). There is some sort of garter belt-esque yoke. I patterned mine from a skirt yoke and tweaked it till I got the shape in (pics 7 & 8). I made one copy of that pattern in the grey cow and in a striped homespun. (What is a 'homespun'?) Those were machine sewn together carefully, with the teal faux ruffle rickrack, and a hook and eye closure hand sewn to the center front. I opted out of using a buckle on this under-belting to reduce bulk.
There's also a little pouch on the rear belt, I made mine in deerskin (pic 9), lined in quilting cotton in a snowman* print (pic 10). I patterned it out in muslin first then added the center panel of ruched darker skin. There are two belt clips from Tandy Leather riveted to the pouch so I can easily slip in onto the rest of the belting.
*In MH, the barioth has an attack that can inflict a frozen status effect that is identified by a snowman icon.
TIPS FOR SEWING LEATHER
Use a leather needle. There are lots of needle styles and sizes. Here's a link to an explanation on sizes and styles, including photos and overviews on the benefits of each type.
Step 8: Tasset W/ Kunai
Pics 1 & 2 show the parts of the outer layer of the tasset: double prong, double buckle belt with hair, greener detailing and a darker bandolier with kunai, and that butt sack.
I started with two prefab brown faux leather belts. I removed the buckle from one and added it to the other so that piece had two buckle ends that sat right about my hips. The remaining buckle-less piece, I took and made the correct length and punched new holes to make that piece buckle through the other belt, making it whole again.
After I had the base belt figured out, I needed templates for the other features, like the bandolier and kunai. I took some thin EVA foam and shaped out the not quite half circle for the piece holding the kunai. (There were lots of binder clips involved.)
I added some spiral steel to the back of this because it seemed like a decent idea.
I wrapped the back of the foam, with bones, in darker teal suede.
I then needed to know how much depth to account for on the kunai handles so I could patterns the upper suede layer.
The kunai ends were made from Wonderflex, backed in a coating of Gorilla Glue and back filled with foam. The template (pic 3) is just a scaled down part of a prop I made a few years back (pic 4). I opted to make only the upper edge of the blade. The cube ends were created in halves, then glued together. All the blade and end pieces were coated with poly resin and treated like everything prior. (pic 5)
"To get the glue to run from the handle into the pommel of the kunai, I filled the handle with gorilla glue then tacked the small cube on the end with hot glue for a temporary hold.The blade was then flipped over so the pommel was at the bottom; this allows the glue to run down the handle into the cube pommel and secure everything in place as it cures." *Someone else helped me clarify this point and I totally copy/pasted it.
I fussed with the placement of the kunai on the base then tacked them in place with hot glue. I measured along the bottom edge of the EVA, up and over the tubing, to get a rough estimate on how long a piece of suede I would need to lay over the handles.
I added a few inches or six, then cut an arced strip of suede, in an exaggerated shape similar to the partially suede covered EVA base, at the guestimated length and width.
I tested the fit of this and confirmed it would lay, with some coaxing, well enough.
I punched holes along the outer edges and cut lacing from the remaining suede to thread through the holes.
After the pieces, left and right, were laced, I laid them back over the kunai handles and secured the suede with adhesives.
The small "metal plates with rivets" that connect the tasset clip connector and the screwed on plate at the back of the tasset were made with plastic sheeting, google eyes used as rivets.
Step 9: Small Cast Parts
There are a bazillion small, medium and larger pyramid studs all over this thing, head to knees.
The regular pyramid studs came from Tandy and were set by hand.
The other medium studs - ribs (pic 3), arms (pic 4), knees (pic 5) - and larger studs - helm (pic 6), gorget (pic 7), shoulder (pic 8), weren't easily found so I had to fabricate my own.
I took a D8 for the medium sized pyramid studs, made a quick mold with silicone putty (yellow), did a quick cast in either 300 or 65D, cleaned that up and poured a box mold in the leftover Rebound (pink) from the boobs and pulled as many studs in the leftover 300 or 65D as possible.
I did the same thing for the larger studs but used the middle pyramid from this set of toys as the master, did the putty mold, ugly cast, cleaned it up, and did all the Rebound molds at once.
Once prepped, studs were glued in their places before painting.
Two other pieces were molded in Rebound for casting, the lumbar plates and the clasp cover for the butt sack. I sculpted those masters in Super Sculpey. (pics 9,10)
I wanted a closure cover on the pouch so I picked the icon from one of the MH encyclopedias (I think?) (pic 11) and sculpted it in Super Sculpey. ran out of 300 & 65D. I didn't want to go out an buy another kit for one tiny piece, so I did it in a super scant amount of poly resin.
Step 10: Paint
Sorry for the lack of unpainted, progress photos and all the painted photos are of the pieces assembled. They were actually painted individually and assembled in the NEXT STEP.
Here are the steps I took to achieve the paint effect I was looking for. Since, in MH, this monster's body is mostly shell covered, I looked at a variety of high res shelled animal photos to see what textures occur in nature.
All armor pieces were prepped for paint with repeated sanding, priming, filling, and more sanding until I couldn't take it any more.
They were all primed in Krylon Indoor/Outdoor in Almond.
Then I brushed a lighter shade of acrylic over that with a chip brush, leaving vertical brush strokes, leaving just enough depth to be felt but still subtle. (pics 1-6)
Once the base effect was what I wanted I stared the gradient on the larger claw/spike things.
I stippled acrylic paint on, starting with darkest colors first, working my way through custom mixed lighter and lighter shades, covering slightly less and less of the claw per each color. You can see a few shades on the side of the knee in pic 6.
At some point, I left, probably for more supplies, and my cat decided she would take over on some of the weathering had shading for me. (pics 7,8)
For weathering and shading or low/highlights, I mixed up a shade of grey and a sandy tan color.
I brushed the sandy color down from the top and the grey up from the bottoms, to give the color some more depth. I added the sand and grey to the seam lines between armor pieces for a weathered look. (pics 9-18)
The teeth were hand painted with a red to yellow gradient, I painted the groove in the tooth with the same grey from the armor. (pics 19-21)
The claws or teeth or whatever on the breastplate were painted similarly to the other claws but in a black to grey gradient instead of black through brown. (pic 7 VS pic 9)
The clasp medallion was painted with silver spray paint then I dry brushed blue into the cracks then glued to the pouch. (pic 22)
All metallic looking pieces - tasset plates (pic 23), knee upper fin (pic 24), headband plates (pic 25) - were painted with a hammered textured silver spray paint then dry brushed with black.
The leather strapping for ALL rigging was all cut from some veg tanned hide, stained brown, and masked so I could paint the edges with acrylic. The edge of the pouch flap was painted the same way. (pics 22-28)
The pyramid studs, all sizes, were painted in a similar black to grey gradient as the breastplate claws.
The nostrils on the helm 'beak' were hand painted in the same acrylic colors used to paint the studs. (pic 29) *In 29 you can see where I dropped this thing and tried to break it on my way to the convention I made it for.
Step 11: Torso Assembly and Rigging
There are all these pieces and they're all painted, now to put them all together so they're wearable.
I crossed my fingers and hoped with every fiber of my being that everything still fit together like it was supposed to or at least close enough to look OK.
I started looking into strapping and rigging systems for other types of bulky plastic armor. Who has bulky, plastic armor over fabric? Stormtroopers.
I googled until I found this site, featuring a very in-depth step-by-step guide with great photos of how the straps and snaps for armor can work.
Using these ideas I started planning final assembly.
I put the back armor (pics 1-4) together in this order:
- The upper lumbar plate was glued to the upper back
- The lower lumbar plate was attached to the upper plate by a piece of wide elastic glued on with Barge cement
- Back ribs 1,2,3 were glued together left and right with the adhesive properties of the Wonderflex (before paint)
- The assembled rib plates were glued to elastic then the bodice like the lumbar plates
- Bottom ribs have a small piece of hook Velcro to secure the lower edge to the fabric bodice
- There is a small raised detail upper back that I constructed from thin EVA wrapped in leather
- The round detailing a leather wrapped scrap snap
The whole breast piece (pics 5,6) was built in this order:
- Boobs were cast (See previous steps)
- I combined the concept art of split chest plates (like a Mando) with the solid underbust plate
- To do that, I cut the boobs into two pieces and sanded off that T bone thing in the front. *I actually did the final casting as 2 pieces instead of one like the intermediate mold/cast.
- I made a new T bone piece to place UNDER the boobs, same as all the other WF pieces (poly resin) & painted them like the metal pieces
- I glued the boobs to the new T piece
- Secured the underbust plate (thicker armor) to bust at the bottom
- Wrapped more foam and scrap snaps in leather and did the upper teal detailing like the back
The front rib plates are fused together WF to WF before paint and the loop portion of some Velcro was glued on to hold them in place later.
I had one horizontal strip of cotton webbing across my chest and one across the top of the back fabric under with 4 female snaps on the front and 3 on the back. (pics 7,8) (The males were set in PVC sheeting, similarly to the guide, in the corresponding places to connect with the females, and glued on with Barge cement to the hard armor.)
The fabric and leather under armor is rived together and laced up on one side. The lacing can be removed but it's really not necessary because the other leather shoulder snaps open, under the lacing detail of the facing, to allow me to slip in and out easily. Lace the second side panel up and then it's time to suit up. (pic 9)
The shoulder plate is screwed onto the shoulder strap. (pic 10)
WEARING THE TORSO
The whole upper body/torso armor goes together like this:
- Put on the back/underarms
- Secure upper back plate to fabric bodice upper via snaps
- Secure Velcro on underarm to fabric bodice front
- Secure lumbar snaps
- Secure back rib Velcro
- Secure front rib Velcro (pics 11,12)
- Secure upper bustplate to fabric bodice upper via snaps
- Snap side bust males to underarm females
P.S. Now you don't even have to do all that work patterning, this guy was super chill and hooked you all up with a free pep pattern to use for the torso.
Step 12: Helm Assembly and Rigging
The teeth were glued the the helm prior to painting.
Once the helm was painted, I took strips of EVA in the shape of the green headband, covered them with leather, glued spikes on, and mounted it to the helm with hot glue. (pic 3,4)
I made little plates of plastic, google eyes, and snap scraps and painted them like all the other metal stuff and glued more strips of stained/painted veg tanned leather to them. (pic 5)
I put pieces of elastic at the ends of the leather strips, like a headband, and added snaps since I couldn't really pull this sucker on like a stretchy headband. (pic 6)
I added the loop part of some Velcro to the weft-less wig crown and put the hook part on the underside of the helm. (pic 7)
Fully assembled wig and helm (minus gorget and mandible). (pic 9)
The gorget plates are glued to strip of ivory rib knit to be collapsible and are secured around the back of the neck with a strip of leather, stained and painted. (pic 10)
The finished mandible (pic 11) is secured to my lower jaw with spirit gum (pic 12).
Step 13: Full Arm Assembly and Rigging
The plates for the upper arms are split into those below and above the elbow.
The below the elbow plates were fused together prior to being covered in resin but otherwise treated identically to every other WF/resin piece. Same for plate piece above the elbow.
The bracer was made in three pieces then assembled (WF self adhesion and Barge) prior to painting. (pic 3)
The leather vambrace is attached to the below the elbow arm plate with Barge cement. (pics 4,5)
The upper and lower arm plates are connected to each other with two pieces of elastic glued on the inside. The arm pieces are lined with thin EVA that has the suede lacing around the border.
Having the break and using the elastic allows me full range of motion in both arms (pics 6,7). Sweet deal, huh?
The spiked plated on the glove are screwed on through the inside. (pics 8,9)
The armored bracers have stained/painted leather strapping with buckles to hold them in place over the leather vambraces. They have felt on the underside of the claws (like under the kunai) to try and keep them from wrecking things as much as I move around.
The green stuff is high density foam from JoAnn that both elevates the bracer enough to give the look I want, but it also provides friction and keeps the bracer in place. Which keeps the vambrace in place, which supports the arm armor. (pic 10)
Step 14: Leg Assembly and Rigging
The knees were backed with foam and assembled along with the thigh lames before painting.
After paint, I glued some EVA to a few places I was afraid might rub or be uncomfortable (thighs, bottom knee fin).
I added buckled strapping to the knees by gouging out some of the foam and securing the straps in the holes, gluing them in with Gorilla Glue
I added some elastic too, in case those straps didn't hold but they did and I never got around to removing the elastic so that's why that's there if you see it. The green block is high density foam to elevate, secure and provide cushioning since this is at a joint. (pic 4)
The knees are attached to the thighs with two pieces of elastic, like the arms and lumbar plates, allowing full range of movement in my lets.
Step 15: How to Wear
Put it on, bottoms up:
- Costume undergarments (previously made for another MH costume)
- Boots (prefab)
- Leather garter belt
- Tasset belts
- Vambrace/Upper arm armor
Thanks to everyone that provided information to make this possible. I really didn't do anything terribly innovative on my own. I only took technique I'd seen and made it work for me. Teach someone to fish...
Thank you to my local Tandy Leather folks and The Engineer Guy people for always being so friendly, knowledgeable, and willing to share what they know and love.
Thank you to CAPCOM for making Monster Hunter.
Thank you to all the photographers for the finished photos.
Thank you to all the artists that did the hard stuff by figuring out the things I did before I did them and for being an inspiration.
Thank you to everyone that put up with me while I was working on this. Without some of their ideas, this never would have worked out like it did.