Goal: create a better Watchmen's Comedian costume than the store-bought ones while keeping it in the same price range.
Wasn't able to find the costume anywhere, so the comparison had to be made with what I could find online. Canadian retailers (yes, I am Canadian) apparently sold the costume for $85 (all prices in CAD, not USD). The one you will see here amounted to $5-$10 more, so I'll round it off to an even $100.
While the costume is not 100% movie-accurate, this is as close as I could make it, given the budget and circumstances. No power tools were used and much of it was improvised with the material that was on hand. Got no clue how much time was put into making it. Couldn't even give you a ballpark figure, so don't even ask.
Measurements have intentionally been left out. The principles and methods outlined here are far more important than minor details like these. Besides, I can't give away all my secrets :)
There are enough pieces to the costume for many of them to have their own Instructable, but I figured it would be nice to have everything in the same document so it's all easy to find. This is by no means written in any particular chronological order as several pieces were being worked on at any given time. Essentially, the costume (and this Instructable) can be broken down into the following parts:
-the shin guards
-the elbow and knee pads
-the guns and holsters
-the shoulder pads
-the torso armor
Keep in mind this has been written with the assumption that some viewers will skip ahead or go back and forth in order to focus on what supports their interest at that particular time. Consequently, some points are mentionned more than once in different steps.
Once in a while throughout this Instructable you will see DAISNAID, an acronym for Do As I Say, Not As I Do. These are hints and suggestions that y'all can use to make an even better costume than what you see here. Most are things I would do or take into consideration if I was going to repeat the process.
Please leave me some comments when you're done going through this Instructable, especially constructive ones so the whole community can learn together, including myself.
Well then, let's get started, shall we?
Step 1: The Comedian: Shin Guards
-cereal box for cardboard template
-vinyl banner thing
-silver spray paint
-black spray paint
-polyurethane protective coating spray
-stretch utility strap x 2 (one for each shin guard)
1- Measure and cut cardboard template. Try it out to make sure the size looks right and that it fits between the boot and knee pad.
DAISNAID: Get your knee pads before working on the shin guards. I guesstimated and wound up making them a little too long. By the time I had the pads and tried everything together, everything was allready painted and I didn't want to go through all that trouble again to fix it.
2- Trace the template onto the vinyl banner thing and cut it using a utility knife. Use a ruler and press down hard on it to keep your cuts straight.
SIDETRACK MOMENT: I really wasn't sure what I would be using for the shin guards and the belt buckle. I really didn't want to use corrogated cardboard because the stuff looks like crap, in my humble opinion. My backup plan was to use another type of thick cardboard (I think it's called newspaper board), but my fear was that when it would be painted, the wetness would cause the cardboard to warp. One day as I was leaving work, I noticed the office across from ours left a long, coiled up band of vinyl/flexible plastic stuff. I think it's used for making signs or something. Taped to it was a page with the word "garbage" written on it. Presuming intervention, I picked it up and brought it home to a girlfriend rolling her eyes (I keep all kinds of crap for possible future projects:)
3- Take it to a well-ventilated area and spray on a few coats of silver paint. Read the can for proper drying times.
DAISNAID: Make sure you get the right kind of paint for your purposes. The silver paint I got didn't adhere well to any of the surfaces I applied it to. It chipped off easily, creating the need for an unnecessary and frustrating touch-up phase.
4- Decide and measure the silver border you'd like to keep and mask it out with the tape before applying black paint. If the masking tape is well applied and completely flat on the surface, no worries about ruining the border.
5- After all the painting is done, protect your work of art with the polyurethane spray. Read the can for instructions and drying time.
6- When it's dried and cured, put on a boot and place the painted vinyl thing on your shin as if it were in it's right place when the costume is done. Bring out the elastic and measure the right length for being glued to the bottom side of the shin guard and running in the space between the front and the heel grip. You could also have it go around the ankle if you prefer. In any case, cut two pieces of the correct length, one for each guard.
7- Hot glue the elastic near the bottom of the shin guard and one of the straps across the top edge so it will go around your calf. Alternatively, you could measure another length of elastic to go around your calf instead of using the straps, but personally I like having the velcro tabs to easily take it on and off.
GENERAL DAISNAID: For cooler looking shin pads, you may want to consider a method to create raised edge instead of just having a boring silver-painted border. You could use the template to create an edge template, trace it out on the same material you use for the shin guard, cut it and paint it and glue it on top of the main part. If this is the case, there's no need to mask out the border and you can just paint the shin guard black, the edge piece silver, and glue the two together before applying the polyurethane.