Introduction: Mystic Lord Costume: Horns, Armor, Silk Painting + More (oh My)
The making of a crazy costume, more or less from start to finish, with some fun techniques to surprise your friends and confound your enemies. Condensed version of four months of my life, neatly packaged for your convenience - because doesn't everyone want to be a feared and adored demon sorcerer?
This is my first Instructable, so please feel free to ask questions or comment or whatever. I'm a very OCD costumer but I'm also certain that the same methods I used could easily be applied to whatever you wanted to do. Because of the complexity of the costume, most of the individual steps could have been Instructables in themselves; but I've tried to be concise and clear with the explanations so you can apply my methods on your own projects.
I've been costuming for about five years now. For some insane reason, I had been jonesing for something complex and challenging enough to make my brain melt out of my ears. So, I actually sat down and tried to THINK of something really hard I could make. Finally, going through a folder of images, I found a design I'd previously dismissed immediately after looking at it as a real pain because it had at least two things I didn't know how to make - armor, and giant horns.
The character in question is Mystic Lord Orlouge from the Square RPG SaGa Frontier. It's an older game, from back when there was still a pretty large gap between concept artwork and the in-game graphics. If you've been playing games for longer than a few years, you probably remember the mild disappointment when a game didn't exactly match with the explosively fanciful cover artwork. In the game, Orlouge is a moderately interesting little super-deformed villain. Tomomi Kobayashi's artwork, however, paints a much richer picture than the practical confines of the game.
The great thing about working from illustrations is what happens if you think about the restrictions on other types of designs.
A) Live-action, music, etc - has already existed in reality and therefore cannot break any laws of physics. (Any person who's done live-action costumes knows that finding the exact that someone ELSE used is a huge pain, though.)
B) Animation - can break laws of physics from here till Doomsday, but has to be simple enough to be re-drawn say 32 times a second.
C) Comics - can break laws of physics and vary from page to page, but still has to be drawn multiple times (on a deadline).
D) Illustrations (for novels, covers, artbooks, etc) - only has to be drawn once, can make Newton roll over in his grave, and doesn't have to make any sense to anyone but the (one) person drawing it.
So, obviously, if you're looking for a sanity-killer, illustrations are the way to go. Thanks, Kobayashi-san! ;)
Step 1: Breakdown
I guess for me a costume begins and ends with a breakdown (just not the same kind). Before I actually start a costume, I spend a good long time with whatever references I have making sure I understand exactly what it involves. This means I have to figure out what each piece is, how they relate to each other.
There are some unique challenges when you're working from an illustration. The great thing about the "vagueness" of art that doesn't have to be redrawn (depending on the artist's style, of course) is that it gives you room to make some of your own choices. I'm primarily a cosplayer and most of the time only do recreations of anime, games, movies, bands, etc; so creativity is a real luxury in a hobby comprised of imitation. The bad thing is you have to figure out what the heck that squiggle is supposed to be, and what that means about the squiggle next to it, and when to ignore it because it really IS just a squiggle and isn't supposed to be anything at all. This can be especially infuriating when you may only have one reference.
For this project, the images below comprise ALL my references. I had two illustrations by Kobayashi and the in-game sprite (represented here by a sexy photo of my TV), none of which quite agreed with each other on the details. Often, you don't have ANY reference for what a costume might look like from behind. Basically, you start with the elements common to your references, then analyze the ones which are similar (and pick what you prefer), and resign yourself to (or celebrate) making up the remainder.
Once I have a fairly good idea in my head, I usually draw my own references. They don't have to be coherent, and they certainly don't have to be very artistic; but they're very useful to refer to when you're trying to remember how YOU wanted something to be. I usually write my notes on what techniques and materials I want to use on these. I also print out the most useful references I have so I don't have to keep running to a grab a book or my computer to check a detail when I start working.
I'm not going to list this as a separate step, but it's really important to figure out which elements of your costume need to be purchased; supplies and things like shoes or wigs. Everything you need to order should be ordered early in your process. Even if deadlines don't really matter to you, it's profoundly frustrating to have to wait for something to arrive.
Step 2: Materials and Tools
Most of my materials list is basic and the sort of thing you might need on any project, and much of it will vary depending on what you may use these techniques to make.
~ Fabric . . .
~ Sewing machine . . .
~ Rotary tool . . .
~ Spray paint . . .
~ Hot glue gun . . .
Some of it is items you might have around the house, or can easily acquire.
~ Aluminum sculpture wire
~ Wallpaper paste
~ Tissue paper
But some of it is specialty and not the sort of thing you can pick up at your local store. So this is a brief overview of those materials.
Sintra: Sintra is generally used for making signs but it's popular for costumes too, because it becomes very flexible at a low temperature. The main downside of making pieces with Sintra (instead of, say, vacuumforming plastics) is that it can only curve in one direction at a time. Translation: it won't go in dome shapes or anything else you couldn't manage with a piece of paper.
Price: Mine was free since I had it already. I definitely got three full-size sheets for less than $50.
Where to buy: I've never bought it online but it's probably available. First, ask your local signmaker if they're willing to get you a sheet when they order from their supplier (how I got mine).
Wonderflex: Wonderflex is basically a plastic "burlap", if you can imagine that. It becomes very soft and flexible at low temperatures and can be coaxed into almost any shape. As soon as it cools, it re-hardens. Unlike Sintra, it can take complex curves. Wonderflex is a brand name; I believe Varaform is the same basic product.
Price: about $21.50/yd (this is a big piece! based on where I got mine)
Where to buy: I got mine from Cosworx.
Both Sintra and Wonderflex are nearly infinitely reformable; just reheat.
Fuzzform: Fuzzform is similar to Wonderflex, but in a fabric form. It feels like a heavy felt. It forms in the exact opposite way that Sintra and Wonderflex do; it starts out flexible, and becomes stiffer the more it's heated. Once it's formed, it can't really be reshaped. Fuzzform is a brand name; I believe Fosshape is the same basic product.
Price: about $12.50/yd for light, $24.50/yd for heavy
Where to buy: I bought from Douglas and Sturgess.
Two-part epoxy resins
Magic Sculpt: Magic Sculpt is a clay that hardens into a resin which is very hard and can take what nearly any power tool can throw at it. It mixes in a 1:1 ratio of hardener to resin, works like modeling clay for a few hours, and then sets up overnight. Other companies also make products that work in this way, but Magic Sculpt is the one I'm familiar with and I've been pleased with its ease of use and price.
Price: About $14 for 1lb kit
Where to buy: I've bought from both Kit Kraft and The Compleat Sculptor.
Magic Smooth: Magic Smooth is, roughly speaking, a very thin version of Magic Sculpt. Instead of a clay, it's a spreadable substance with a consistency I can best compare to the caramel on a taffy apple. It also hardens into a resin overnight. It is translucent and can be put over a surface much thinner than you could possibly manage with clay. Note that while it's very strong, it can't be used on surfaces that will flex after the resin sets - it will crack. The particularly awesome thing about it is that you can get it to go from "badly spread peanut butter" to "glossy smooth" with some water and your fingertip.
Price: About $17 for a 1lb kit
Where to buy: I've gotten it from both The Compleat Sculptor and Douglas and Sturgess.
Silk painting supplies
I ordered all the supplies I could not get locally from Dharma Trading. This is all covered under the silk painting step also.
Dye or paint: I used Sennelier Tinfix dye.
Fixative: I used Jacquard's chemical fixative.
Resist: I wanted a water-based resist so I used one manufactured by Jacquard. Make sure your resist is compatible with the type of dye you're using.
Stretcher frame: pre-cut canvas stretcher pieces from local art supply (Blick in my case)
Stretching clips: available from Dharma or you can use clothespins (not as good but functional)
Step 3: Patterning
I don't do necessarily do all the patterning for all my pieces first. But if you do this step BEFORE you order your supplies, you'll have a much better idea how much to order; or you can walk into a fabric store with a good estimate of how much fabric to buy.
Patterning sewn pieces - for anything I'm making out of fabric, I usually make mock-ups out of muslin - or whatever fabric I can get cheapest. This saves me a step since I can draw the pattern or changes to an existing pattern straight onto the fabric, sew it up, try it on, make changes, and ultimately take it back apart to make a pattern. Sometimes I trace my muslin pieces onto quilter's pattern fabric; usually, you can just pin it right on to your fabric and cut away. You'll find you're much better off drawing where you want to have a piece end with a Sharpie when it's not your final fabric. I used to find the step tedious, but I found out it saved me a lot of time and money and "oh snap what do you mean you don't have any more of this" by removing some of the chances to make a mistake on my real fabric.
The jacket pattern was based off several "kitbashed" commercial patterns. The first picture is a sewn mockup which I put on my dressform to mark up and alter; then, the piece with some alterations made, and finally, the muslin pattern pinned to my fabric.
Patterning "Hardscape" - for non-fabric pieces, you can make mock-ups and patterns out of newspaper, printer paper, posterboard, cardboard, or whatever else you have handy.
The photo is the newsprint pattern for the boot caps, traced in pencil once onto the material I was cutting the actual piece out of.
Step 4: Sewn Pieces Overview
I'm not providing details for all the sewn pieces here but I am providing an overview.
TRAIN: Covered under silk painting, since it was originally white fabric.
JACKET: Done in heavy, mostly matte "Ultra Satin" fabric, lined with mystery rayon. Two types of gold trimming, applied partly by machine and partly by hand. Tassels were made from scratch and the ends dyed.
TUNIC: Decent quality satin, body is lined in cotton muslin, design in metallic silver trim applied entirely by hand with invisible thread. Zips up the back.
CUMBERBUND: The black part is made from a commercial pattern with some alterations, using a lightweight upholstery fabric with an interesting suede-like pattern, polyester boning. "Armor" section is stiffened Fuzzform with craft foam for dimension, leather over top. Leather already had a paint effect on it, which I enhanced with silver and purple fabric paint. The black part laces up the back; I made the "armor" section removable with velcro to make it easier to transport.
WHITE SKIRT: Attached to the train and mostly covered by it. Rayon fabric with stenciled iridescent white rose design, with sequins and beads.
PANTS: Stretch velvet leggings, elastic waistband, very basic and easy, all serged. First time doing a serged-on waistband (works great). Used a commercial pattern that didn't need alteration.
GREAVES/BOOT TOPS: Technically these aren't sewn but I'm not going to cover them in detail since I never liked how they came out anyway. They were made from Wonderflex, Fuzzform, PVC vinyl, backed with upholstery vinyl, and attach around the leg with Ultra Velcro.
Step 5: Sewn Pieces: "embroidery" With Cording Trims
Character designers sometimes love drawing random lines on top of garments without any indication what they're supposed to be. It's easy to add lines to a drawing, but not quite so straightforward in real life. Actual embroidery is slow and isn't always well suited to thick lines (especially if you're not experienced).
You can do these steps with a sewing machine using a zig-zag stitch, but I prefer the control of doing it by hand. This technique is very effective with rattail cording, which is easy to get, or any other kind of cord-like trim. (You can use braid or soutache also, of course; the look is different.)
I had bad experiences with "vanishing" fabric marking pens and the like, so for the jacket designs, I drew my design in pencil on a piece of tear-away stabilizer. I pinned it to the fabric and sewed through it, and gently tore it away when I was done. Because I was using a metallic cording and couldn't find thread to match, I used invisible thread, which is pretty effective at making the design appear to float on the fabric. The key with hand sewing with invisible thread is to use shorter pieces because it becomes kinked and knots easily otherwise.To keep the ends from raveling, they were bartacked by hand with the closest matching thread I could find.
For the more elaborate design on the tunic, I tried using an adhesive-backed stabilizer. This *isn't* what the stuff is designed for and I did have trouble getting it off the fabric. If you want to use an adhesive stabilizer because you're working on a thin or otherwise difficult material that you can't stabilize on the reverse side like I was, make sure that you test it on a scrap fabric (comes off some things easier than others) and don't leave it on for longer than a few hours. As the piece is handled, the adhesive gets more reluctant to come off.
Step 6: Train: Silk Painting
There is a disclaimer on this step - this was my first time EVER doing silk dyeing or painting. Please, read as much information as you can from people who *actually* know what they're doing! ;)
Materials: There are other fabrics you can do this type of painting on but silk takes dye exceptionally well and has a great effect, plus a wonderful drape. Contrary to what you might think, plain silk is really not that expensive. I used a 12mm habotai silk for this project.
I chose my silk dye for a lot of reasons; I wanted a dye so that it would be soft, but I needed it to work with a chemical fixative. So, I used Sennelier Tinfix dye with Jacquard water-based resist and Jacquard chemical fixative. I bought my supplies from Dharma Trading; I highly recommend them for their exceptional selection and extensive FAQs and information.
1) Preparing your silk: You should always wash fabric before you use it. Most people recommend a specialty detergent called Synthrapol, but I washed my fabric in the sink with a mild detergent and it did not seem to have any negative effects.
2) Silk stretching: The frame is from the art store - you can buy lightweight, balsa like frame pieces in various lengths for super cheap. They slot together so you can disassemble it for storage. Unless you're going to cut off some of the fabric when you're done, you don't want the silk to overlap the frame. It will affect how the dye absorbs. To suspend it, you can use clips, silk hooks, or safety pins or straight pins with rubber bands attached. All attach to the frame itself with push pins. The frame is also elevated off the table with upended plastic cups, to make sure the silk doesn't touch it.
My frame is NOT ideal - but it was the best I could do. You really want the fabric quite taut, and all of it available to paint at the same time. Most people paint scarves. This is a three-yard piece of fabric. In kimono painting, they work with the fabric before it's cut - which works because kimono fabric is traditionally long, narrow strips (which is why real kimono patterns are how they are). How they line up their designs, I admit I do not really know. But there was no way to get my design placement correct without cutting the train out and sewing the center back seam, making it a super-awkward size and shape for stretching. As the New Yorkers say, whatcanyado.
3) Putting on resist: Resist is like a "fence" for silk dye which it won't pass. Think of it as drawing your own paint-by-numbers; dye applied in one area will stay only in that area (unless you screw up and there are gaps in the resist, which does happen). I wanted to copy the style of the art, so I applied resist with a paintbrush, which isn't how it's "normally" done. The resist areas will become the wide white lines in the finished piece.
4) Painting: I didn't use my colors straight out of the bottle; I did some mixing. I used disposable plastic cups for this purpose. You have to always put the cup back in the same place because it can be really hard to tell them apart; if I was using more colors, I'd have Sharpied the color on the outside.
This section was done on dry fabric. All you do is touch the brush to the fabric; it absorbs and starts spreading. It's very similar to watercolors. I found that on dry fabric the dye spreads much faster; wet fabric, however, is better at preventing hard lines between colors. Otherwise, you have to work really quickly to keep one dye section from starting to dry before you do another color. I was painting a yellow background in completely, then doing diluted Tyrian Rose (pink) in small areas near the edge, and then going over that with a darker mix of some of the diluted yellow with some Aladdin yellow to get a shading effect.
I applied the dye with various different brushes. Brushes with acrylic fibers designed for dye worked the best; fabric paint brushes second best. Standard brushes don't work so well, it was harder to get the dye out. Foam brushes and a sumi brush worked well on larger areas. Watercolor brushes would be a good option also. You can get dye brushes at Michael's and JoAnn superstores, and probably other craft stores as well.
For the background, I used a foam brush with a blue/green mix (more towards blue, due to personal preference), and then a diluted green over it in specific areas. Narrow sections were resist; larger white I just painted carefully with a sumi brush. I did the background wet-on-wet to keep it soft; which, unfortunately, caused some spotting in the dry areas. Because the background area was so large, I had to do something to break it up. I was saved by my reference - there are a few places you can see small areas of white near the top of the garment (in the blue/teal), so I think that there was a design similar to the bottom at the top as well. So I was able to hide two resist "seams" in that design so I could segment the larger areas without getting too much of a harsh edge.
NOTE: Be really careful with silk dye, it is SUPER POWERFUL. One stray droplet of it can expand into a really big stain. I actually had an incident with a speck of it that got on a drop cloth *months* after I finished this costume - if it gets wet, it will kind of cause a dye explosion all over anything it touches. Be really careful what any of your supplies come in contact with.
5) Fixing dye and removing resist: The type of dye I used works with a chemical fixative. Most people don't prefer it, because it's somewhat toxic and supposedly doesn't get the same chemical results; but I couldn't steam-set a piece this large with home methods. The fixative is diluted with cold water and you keep your fabric immersed and moving for about five minutes; then rinse and wash with a mild soap (Synthrapol would be best, but I used dish soap). You may be able to tell that the water is sort of Slimer Kool-aid green in some places; dye does come out in the fixative, but not nearly as much as in water alone. (One imagines the reason that steaming is touted as giving more intense color is that little or none of the applied dye is lost since it never comes in contact with the water.)
After the fixative bath, I emptied the sink, rinsed out the excess dye, and then re-filled it with warm water and soap to get out the resist (it requires both). There is info floating around the net that water-based resist doesn't do well with chemical fixative - even though it seems to be the only type that's compatible with it. :P I'm here to say now this is a myth - the Jacquard resist DOES get slimy/sticky feeling when it was immersed in the chemical fixative - but this had no effect on how difficult it was to wash out when the time came. I had no problems at all getting it out, and actually continued washing it after I was quite sure there wasn't any because it seemed too easy! Then the piece was hung to air dry, and I ironed it while still damp to get out some wrinkles.
Silk painting is pretty forgiving. A lot of the mistakes that looked dreadful to me were softened by the setting process. Embrace your imperfections and think of them as "organic". ;)
Step 7: Headpiece: Base and Additional Bits
The head area breaks down like this - a long wig underneath, the headpiece sections worn on top like a helmet, with another wig over top for the spiky sections of hair. I wanted an easy-to-fluff wig for the top, so I chose a "Tina Punky" style. However, the rest of his hair is super long and straight, so I had to use a second wig in a different style.
The base for the headpiece is a purchased item, which is actually a base for making headpieces; it's basically a plastic skull cap. The only place I've found it to be available is from The Feather Place. I sketched some placement lines on mine and cut away bits I did not need and wouldn't be able to hide. Most of the back of the plastic cap will be covered by the top wig.
I used a hat block I happened to have for most of the early patterning because it was closer in size to my head than a wig head. Be careful whenever you're using foam wig heads to do anything - they're not the same size or shape as a real head and you risk having things come out too small. So always do a lot of test-fittings.
The horns needed to be removable for transport, so they slot into the headpiece. The other elements are mostly permanently attached to the headpiece. Because different things were different colors and materials, they were all made separately and then assembled. It's hard to describe the different pieces, since the headpiece was done in so many sections, but I'll give it a shot.
"Petal" piece: The largest section of the headpiece was made from a material called Fuzzform, which is a sort of thermoplastic fabric. No other material could take all the complex curves I needed it to. It feels like a very heavy felt; when you heat it, it shrinks and hardens (more so the more heat is applied). The resulting piece is stiff, but still flexible. Unfortunately, it also looks like felt; the best solution I tested was to cover it with thin layer of Magic Smooth. I reinforced the piece by sewing wire to it so that I could apply Magic Smooth resin coating over the surface without the piece distorting too much.
"Tiara" sections: The front pieces which sit down over the forehead are made with the Wonderflex technique I describe in the section about the boot caps. The very center piece which holds the gem also has Magic Sculpt resin clay on it.
Wing bits: The "wing" like sections to either side of the tall horns were also done in Fuzzform with Magic Smooth applied to the top like the petal section. All of the "metal" sections for the headpiece had a multi-step coloring process done on them so that the color changes slightly depending on the angle, but this doesn't photograph very well.
Back piece: The headpiece has a back section which wraps around. I have no images of the back of Orlouge's head, save for one very pixelly instance in the game, so this was a bit of a guess. It attaches to the base using magnets hidden under the wig. This piece was also done with the Wonderflex and hot glue method.
Beading: The beading is pretty simple and you can read lots about ways to bead; it's an assortment of glass beads and some Swarovski crystals on beading wire.
Flowers: The headpiece also has a number of flowers attached to it, which are just fake flowers from various places, hand-sewn onto clips so they can attach to the wig. One of the flowers was originally plain white and I custom colored it with watercolors; others have sequins and beads sewn on for interest.
Step 8: Headpiece: Horns
The ram horns and the longer "blesbok" horns are made with the same basic method.
1) Making the base: The base for the horns is made with aluminum sculpture wire, which is quite strong while being lightweight and easy to form. They were fleshed out with finer aluminum wire and some light-gauge hardware wire I had around.
2) Papier mache: To give a base for the papier mache, I wrapped the wireform base with masking tape. (Ghetto, but it works.) The papier mache is basically the same method you learned in grade school; I used tissue paper, ripped into pieces about 2"x2". I use wallpaper adhesive, which comes cheap in a nice big resealable bucket. Instead of dipping the bits into the adhesive, I prefer to brush some adhesive on my surface, then lay the piece down and brush it down with more adhesive. The blesbok (long) horns had an additional step to make the ridges, for which I used some nylon roping I happened to have.
3) Magic Smooth: Papier mache is great, and for some projects you could stop after the mache stage, but I wanted a hard, relatively smooth, horn-like surface. It was also critical that I didn't increase the weight very much. After a lot of research I chose to use a product called Magic Smooth. It's a two-part epoxy, but it's very thin, with a consistency rather like caramel (on an apple, not the hard candies). When dry, it's very hard and machinable. The very tips of the horns were done with another product called Magic Sculpt, an epoxy clay.
I mixed the Magic Smooth in disposable plastic cups; the only material it really won't stick to is silicone, so you will likely want all your tools to be disposable. I used plastic spoons to get a rough measurement to keep the 1:1 ratio, and also used them to stir it. I applied the coating with wooden popsicle sticks. Unlike a lot of similar products, Magic Smooth can be smoothed with water, and the best way to get it level is with a damp finger (wear gloves, it's highly sticky).
4) Sanding and painting: I did a light coat of sandable primer on my pieces before I began sanding them, because the Magic Smooth is translucent and otherwise it was too difficult to tell which areas needed work. I sanded the pieces with a sanding attachment on a rotary tool, and also by hand. I didn't try to get them "perfect" because animal horns certainly aren't.
After sanding the pieces were painted matte black, oversprayed gold, and then highlighted by hand with more gold and some red, then sealed.
Step 9: Wig Dyeing
Most people will tell you that there's no way to successfully dye a synthetic wig. There is a LOT to this discussion which I will not get into here. I made up this method for this project, but while it won't work for any need to change a wig's color, it was more successful than I expected and had a lot fewer downsides from other methods I've tried.
Because of the design I knew I needed to use two separate wigs and couldn't get the appropriate styles in the same brand. New Look "purple" and Sepia "light purple" are not the same color, especially since punk style wigs use a different type of fiber from straight wigs. I was able to get a faint color shift to get a better match between the two wigs by dyeing it with a custom-mixed Rit dye. I used a stainless steel sink and water that was as hot as I thought was safe for the wig (not too hot to stick your hands in is a good guideline). I rinsed the wig thoroughly and then let it air dry fully before I did the next step. Rit does not do MUCH, but it will very subtly change a wig's color and that can be useful.
Next I used Dye-na-flow silk dye (manufactured by Jacquard; available at Michael's, probably other stores as well). Dye-na-flow isn't actually a dye; it's a paint that behaves like a dye. I put my wig on a wig head and applied the dye directly to the wig, starting at the roots, using a fairly wide, soft paintbrush. I used the same technique to add streaks to my longer wig, but wanted a softer look; if you want it more subtle, dilute the Dye-na-flow with water. Don't be too concerned about the dye causing the wig to clump up; because the dye/paint is already so thin, even if you apply it undiluted, it won't cause the wig to become crunchy like acrylics will. The excess will rinse out. However, I do recommend you nab any big droplets hanging off the ends of the fibers with a paper towel.
The first photo is the first color pass, with purple. I went straight over the wet purple with blue (second photo). Then, I went over both still-wet colors with more purple to darken in some areas and get more of a violet in others.
The wig was allowed to dry completely, then was put in a pot of vinegar to soak overnight. (Vinegar helps set some dyes. In my tests, vinegar-set dye work was much less likely to rub off, so is less likely to potentially stain your costume.) I then washed the wig in a sink with a mixture of rubbing alcohol and dish soap (ghetto Synthrapol substitute, the detergent preferred for post-dye washing of garments).
I can't guarantee that there is no way the dye might not come off on another surface. But the punk wig was styled with hairspray, and the lower wig was in contact with a lot of white fabric; I did not have ANY dye come off at any point.
Step 10: Small "metal" Pieces: Wonderflex
The methods I ultimately used for the small "armor" pieces are super easy, totally non-toxic, and cheap. The photos are of the boot caps and the armor pieces which go on the front of the jacket.
1) Base: I made the smaller pieces out of a product called Wonderflex. Wonderflex is a thermoplastic that can take complex curves fairly well. It's easily heated to form with a heat gun, or an embossing gun or hair dryer. While hot, it feels basically like stiff fabric, so it's best to form it over a positive of some kind; if just slightly heated, you can bend it with your hands. When cooled, it will keep that shape. For the boot caps, I actually managed to heat it over the boot itself with my foot in it by heating it to soften the material first, and then pressing it over my boot.
2) Raised details: I did the raised details with a hot glue gun. Hot glue is a thermoplastic also - liquid when hot, cools into a plastic.
3) Finishing: Because Wonderflex has a texture to it, similar to the surface of duct tape, I sealed it with 6-7 coats of Mod Podge and then wet-sanded it lightly to get a fairly smooth finish. It isn't perfectly flat, but neither is beaten metal.
I used different techniques for painting the different pieces but it really looks best if you don't just spray it a solid color. A warning - make sure the paint and any topcoat you use can flex with the piece. Otherwise, if you have something that will be subjected to frequent bending, it will crack. I didn't test this thoroughly enough.
Step 11: Shoulder Armor: Sintra
The shoulder armor I wore with this costume uses another super cheap, safe, and easy method. It has the bonus of being incredibly lightweight. It happens to be one I had to come up with in roughly the three days before I had to leave for a competition I was taking this costume to; Murphy's Law had stepped in and a bad batch of resin axed my previous work. So, I had to come up with a new version out of supplies I had in my house. I don't have photos of this version of the actual armor in progress, but I've supplied a couple few to give you an idea.
I already had pattern pieces made from poster board, which I assembled for a test fit using brads.
Sintra is a very inexpensive thermoplastic material that people in the Star Wars costuming community have been using for quite some time. I got mine by asking a local signmaker to include a piece for me in his weekly order; it's a brand name for the material but it's usually called by that. So ask around. It comes in various thicknesses; I got this a number of years ago so I don't recall the exact thickness, but it's about 1mm thick. It can be cut with scissors.
Sintra is easy to form with a heat gun (or substitute an embossing gun, which is great for smaller pieces, or hair dryer). Practice with scrap to get the right amount of heat to get the flexibility you want without causing it to become overly floppy. Sintra has a similar "cellular" structure to something like foam core, and if it's overheated, that structure can be crushed when you touch it, resulting in a rough texture. You can burn yourself on it so be careful or wear gloves, and never form it directly over your skin. As always, NEVER aim the heat tool of your choice at your body; you can get bad burns even with a hairdryer. If your hands will be in harm's way, wear protection (Ove Gloves are good but even an oven mitt will do).
I really didn't want these pieces to look like plastic; I was going for something between fabric and metal. To get a rougher, more organic look for the pieces, I heated specific areas a bit too much on purpose with an embossing gun, to have sort of a feel like it might have been made of beaten metal.
Because I felt the pieces looked too thin, I backed them with felt and then lined them with pleather. I didn't like how the edges were, so I ran a bead of hot glue along it and then flattened it, and painted over that in black.
The pieces were painted with green metallic and then oversprayed with gold (before the backing was added). They attach to one another and to the rest of the outfit with Chicago screws (self-binding posts). The staff at your hardware store may not have heard of them, but it's highly likely they have them - hiding in with the screws somewhere.
Step 12: End of the Road
And we're done!
Sorry for not having better/more pictures of the finished costume being worn by me. But while I don't suppose there will be a sudden run on Orlouge cosplay, I hope that the information I got making this costume will be of use to others. Personally, I'm looking forward to doing some original costumes that incorporate horns, and considering silk dye for a lot of applications I had never considered it for.