Introduction: Riddick Lord Marshall Costume
I always liked the Sci-Fi movies of the Riddick series - starring Vin Diesel (Pitch Black, Chronicles of Riddick, and Riddick) especially the movie sets and costumes. So, for this Halloween, I finally decided to make a replica costume of the Lord Marshall's armor from "The Chronicles of Riddick." This was a lengthy process that has adventures in EVA foam, 3D Printing, and painting! I chose to try to get as close to the movie actual costume as possible, taking still photos, rescale and online references, etc. However, this is your project, so take it to the level you want as the entire purpose is to have fun with it! Right? Let's see how I did it!
EVA foam sheets - Variety of thicknesses depending on how much detail you want your costume to have. The thicker EVA foam is most commonly from the anti fatigue mats available at Harbor Freight or Amazon. Try to get the foam without the diamond hatching if possible (easier to use both sides). Thinner sheets are available at hobby / craft stores like Michael's or Hobby Lobby.
3M Contact adhesive - Best glue for gluing together the foam, hands down!
Manilla tag board / poster board for pattern making.
Masking tape - for help in pattern making.
Sharp utility knife and a sharpener to cut the foam.
Kwik Seal Caulk - for sealing / filling edges of the foam costume where it joins up.
Acrylic Paint - Black, silver, sienna, copper, gold, brown, etc for that weathered armour appearance.
Plasti Dip - Add rubber coating to foam before painting
3D PLA filament - for the armor part details and helmet. I used gray in case it gets scratched.
3M Car body filler / Bondo - for the helmet filling.
Hard Hat - To scavange the suspension off it for the helmet.
Sandpaper - various grits from 150 up to 400.
Epoxy Putty / Clay - for sculpting the helmet and paladin's' faces.
Dremel tool - various attachments for the sculpting and cutting / sanding foam to match seams, etc.
Two (2) 1" diameter 4' long wooden dowels - Insert into 1" conduit to make it stiff
Wood burner - to sculpt the foam details as seen in the photos.
Heat Gun - for shaping the foam pieces and drying the paint.
Hot Melt Glue Gun - The save all approach for costuming !
Elastic Bands - Various widths for creating connections between flexible jointed pieces.
Leather Scraps - For the gauntlet detail
Black Leather Gauntlet Gloves - You will need these as the base glove for making your gauntlets
Chain Mail - I was going to make my own chain mail but opted to purchase it off the internet already made. I saved 500 hours work for $30. I still may make my own because I already bough the jump rings but it's really ti
Step 1: Make Patterns
Pattern making is to do 2 things... 1st, to make a plan to work from to minimize the rework and waste of materials, and 2nd is to ensure the best fit and accuracy of how this will all go together. Take the time on the front end to make a great pattern and this will save you tons of time and money down the road.
This step requires assistance from a friend to help hold the patterns on you body as measurements / adjustments are made. A full length mirror is helpful here as well.
For the Armor, consider lines of symmetry to help make the armor identical from right to left sides of your body. Have a friend hold up a sheet of poster board to your back and trace cut lines with a pencil for the neck, arms, and sides. Then just take a scissors and go for it! Cut out the back plate and refit it to your back noting where to cut off more or... add tag board with masking tape if you went too far.
If you have a nice sketch of the left half of the chest plate, just flip it over to get the same lines (trace it) to the other side. Once you trace the chest piece to the poster board, then just cut it out like you did for the back plate. The whole idea here is to take some risk, cut it up as best you can, and add more poster board as you go to refit the finer details to the patterns.
Do not be afraid to make the larger pieces (like the back plate) into 3 or more separate panels that eventually will be separate foam pieces glued up to make a more configured shape to the human body form. Look carefully at the back plate to see how this was done to make it very tailored to MY dimensions.
Use masking tape, scissors, poster board and cut and tape and repeat until it is what you want. Once you have the patterns set up you may wish to make cut notes and match marks (across the seams) on the poster board itself so you know exactly how you want to cut the foam pieces. Label the pieces (for example, lower back right, lower back left, etc.). Note on the foam what side is exterior and interior because symmetric pieces may be cut slightly differently for the seams to be beveled, etc. (more on that later). Once the foam is cut out, I labelled ALL foam pieces on the INSIDE with a sharpie so not to have to worry about any sharpie bleed through the paint.
Step 2: Cut the Foam & Gluing
Online Videos Are Great ! - I'll start by saying there are a LOT of videos out there on how to use EVA foam for costuming. They get into the finer details about how to make a standard foam piece look GREAT, so take heed to those tricks. A lot of credit goes out to Evil Ted (YouTube him) as he taught me all of the concepts I used in this project! He truly has a great collection of videos to reference.
Go Easy - Start with the least complex piece to build your skills up then move to the more sophisticated pieces as you gain experience. So maybe start with the shin guards as few people will notice errors or poorer quality down there versus your chest piece.
Cut with Careful Attention - Lay the poster pattern on the foam and trace the pattern with a sharpie on the foam. Cut the foam with attention to ANGLE of the knife (straight up vertical or cut on a slant for beveled joined pieces). The wrong angle will GREATLY affect to look of the joined foam. Practice makes perfect, but errors are SUPER annoying when you knew better to not rush it!!! Plan carefully and pay strict attention to beveled cuts you will need. It is extremely difficult to try to bevel cut a piece after it has been cut vertically square.
Forming the Pieces - Some of the pieces require excessive curves to look correct. This is easily done by use of a heat gun on the foam pieces. You can always add more heat as the foam starts off stiff and planar, but too much heat will cause a melt down and dimensions will change greatly, so go easy at first and get the feel for how much heat to get the foam to hold a curve. Hold the curve in place until cool and you should have a piece contoured to what you want. Double check and triple check you have the piece formed and contoured correctly. It will be really difficult to correct later on after it has been painted.
I also made a quick tool to melt the "scales" pattern into the foam (see photos). I used a stained glass soldering iron and a piece of sheet metal bent to the shape of scales and it worked great! I also used a wood burning tool for other fine detailing of the foam. Look closely at the photos and you can see where I did this.
Gluing the foam is a very simple process - again there are videos on line that speak to this contact adhesive as the way to go. This is a VERY secure method of gluing the foam! After contact cement is applied to both surfaces and joined together, the seam will actually be stronger than the foam itself. So, be very sure to pay attention to pre-fitting and how the pieces will join up before glue is applied and pressed together. You may want to have long stick pins to help hold curved pieces together until the grip is fully allowed to be joined. The pins will come out very easily so don't be afraid to use long 2 - 3" pins.
Seams - Seams in glued pieces are easily filled in with Kwik Seal caulk that will easily hide your mistakes in cutting out the patterns or misalignments. It is best applied with the nozzle from the tube and smoothed in with a gloved hand. Best part is you can apply several layers to build up significant gaps if so needed, but allow for these layers to dry between applications otherwise the caulk glazes over with a dried skin but takes DAYS to dry underneath.
Step 3: Design the 3D Parts
3D printing has really blown the doors off as an effective means to making realistic movie / cosplay props. The outcome of 3D prints is very durable parts made of plastic and the part can be easily adjusted and reprinted if not quite correct. 3D printing is fairly cheap as the helmet, knife, and miscellaneous components seen here came off of two (1kg) rolls of PLA plastic for about $32. The ultimate best part of 3D printing is that once designed, the 3D printer makes the part for you and you can go on to do something else on your project !!!
It is basically a 3 Step process: Design the component on a CAD software package. I used SketchUp (about $50) but is not ideal for organic structures like a face (more on that later). It is more of an architecture and mechanical parts package for beginners to learn and quickly get up to speed. I had the software and I do not know Fusion 360 or Blender, but those I understand are better alternatives for faces, trees, etc.
1st - Find good reference photos for the helmet you want (ideally front, side and rear views). You may notice differences in the reference photos as many movies have slight differences in their scenes, but who cares? This is your costume, so make it your own! Then import the photos into your CAD software and orient them to the three X, Y, Z axis so that you have a good reference directly there on the screen to draw your basic lines as an overlay. Look for basic shapes like a sphere for the helmet, a rectangle for the face, etc. and keep editing from those starting points. Focus on getting the gross lines and sizing first, then move to smaller and smaller details.
The helmet was drawn as two spheres basically slammed into each other and I erased what I didn't need. I eventually realized the mohawk as it was too narrow, and then split the helmet in half and basically added a spacer mohawk. The spacer also served as a good means to dowel pin each side into the center piece for strength.
2nd - The faces were very hard to draw accurately from the reference photos. I resorted to hardcopy printing the face (from face on) then drawing a grid over the paper printout and then transfering the face's lines to a similar grid I drew in CAD. That gave me a very good representation of the face curves from which I eventually contoured into a topograghy to closely match the SIDE view. Basically what I drew was a face on graph paper in 2D and then extruding the lines out of the page to give the face depth. See the photos. I eventually decided there was diminishing return on trying to draw the face perfectly in CAD and resorted to just completing a "Backing / form" plate from which I would build epoxy clay over it. I figured I could sculpt the face faster than drawing it on CAD. This saved me a ton of time on the CAD station and a lot of frustration in being better at sculting real clay versus virtually. the epoxy CLAY (not putty) was a great solution to get these faces just about perfect.
3rd - SCALE - it is not critical to get the scale 100% on the first try as 3D print files can be scaled larger or smaller just before you print. I measured my head and then drew from there to allow for clearances, did a quick test print for the initial ring size and adjusted a little bit from there. Note that the eyeballs for the breast plate is basically the same eye, but scaled larger and smaller and squished a bit to give the series of eyes as seen in the movie. One file, just printed differently.
Once the CAD file is ready, then you need to export it to the slicer software which takes the CAD file and translates it into code that the 3D printer can use. I used CURA software. The sample photos of the parts in yellow are on the CURA software.
The 3D files are now available on CGTrader and Etsy if you wish to use the same files I did. A good friend of mine made this part go a whole lot faster than if I struggled to do it myself. Bottom line - USE YOUR RESOURCES ! You can learn from each other and have fun doing so! Now I better understand what 3D can do for me for future projects!
Step 4: 3D Print the Details
As you can see in the photos, I 3D printed several times to get the correct look. For the shoulder pauldrins, I located a basic face on Thingiverse and then squashed several of them together. I broke out the infill and bottom skin and then used a heat gun to distort their faces and to conform them to the curvature of the armor. They were back filled with bondo auto putty, and then fastened to the foam from the underside with sheet metal screws and large fender washers.
For the helmet faces, I carved out the infill again to only just leave the face thickness. I did this to make for more clearance inside the helmet and save as much weight as possible. To insure they were still strong however, I skim coated their backsides with bondo.
The gauntlet shells and knuckle guards were all printed in multiple quantities (spares!) and them heat formed to fit the exact contour of the motorcycle gloves I purchased.
The knife was assembled with epoxy glue and I gave it more of the organic look as seen in the movie with hot melt glue gun. It worked perfectly to give that look. The paint then completed that look of an old relic knife.
Step 5: Finish the 3D Printed Parts (The Helmet Challenge!)
Finishing the 3D parts is a monumental task if you really want a great look. I was knee deep in this project so there was no sense in rushing things now, especially on parts that are most key for accuracy of the look I wanted. Take your time here and it will pay off in a big way.
Once off the printer, clean up the flash and imperfections of the print. Remove all the support material and sand the gross seams and imperfections out of the part. I use 150 or 200 grit sandpaper here and usually sand by hand as a power tool will quickly heat up the part (friction heat) and burn through or distort the part.
Once rough sanded, I then hit the parts with Rustoleum Auto Primer that actually fills in a lot of the print imperfections and layers. This works very well to hel identify where more finishing is needed. Once dry, you will see cracks, or holes or other areas needing smoothing. If there are large areas for forming your piece, use car bondo, and minor areas use spot putty. Note that automotive spot putty is much softer and pricier than bondo so choose appropriately for the task. I had a LOT of transition areas to bridge in the helmet so you can see a lot of bondo was used. This also added significant weight that I was careful to use only what was needed to ensure a decent transition.
The epoxy clay worked great as it was slow cured and water soluable while unset. I was able to create almost a slurry to meld seams of bands of muscle strands across the face, cheeks, eyes and mouth. Use of clay tools helped manage the shape of things so a cheap set of them from harbor Frieght may be in order to get the lines of the face done well. In 24 short hours, the clay is hard as rock and very sandable.
Go over the entire piece with 200 - 300 grit, repaint with auto primer and repeat. Add spot putty where needed and recycle through the same steps until the primed piece looks right, then sand with 400 - 600 grit, then apply the final paints.
I used a base of black followed by a light dusting of silver metallice and then "aged" or dry brushed with muddy organic colors. Have fun with this painting as this is where it comes to life! Best part is, if you don't like it, you can always redo it with another coat - no big deal!
On to the other parts of the armor ...
Step 6: Paint for Realism !
There are different ways to paint the EVA foam and it's really the most enjoyable part of the project. The whole costume comes alive when you throw the metallic paint on it. You can watch Cosplay videos or Evil Ted for painting tips on the internet.
I started by coating the pieces with 3 coats of plasti dip (a dark black). Note: I recommend doing the Plasti Dip outside because of the strong odor. This really gives the foam a very uniform surface coating and brings up the levels to a consistent finish from which to final paint. Like the automotive primer, you want to start with an even base.
Next, I then covered the entire piece with a base coat of paint which was a charcoal grey metallic. Now it is starting to look like armor, but it needs a bit more to look right. So, dress it up with the colors mentioned in the supplies needed section. Don't be afraid to try dry brushing burnt sienna, gold, copper, and other metallics types of colors. They really add depth to the look of metal armor. Two colors of only black and silver will look too new and fake.
Step 7: Final Assembly
The final assembly required a lot of thought. I laid in bed at night as I was building this costume thinking of ways to hold the armor to my body. I tried velcro sewn to straps and glued to the EVA foam. It would hold but ultimately, this idea didn't work too good. The armor was hard to put on and attaching the mating strips of velcro to each other when putting on the costume was difficult. Velcro does have it's place but in most cases I ended up removing it. As I moved in the costume, I could hear the velcro tearing as it pulled on the mating pieces.
In most cases, I ended up just hot glue gunning elastic straps to the pieces of armor I wanted held together (or held to my body). This kept the joints flexible so the armor can move and flex. The stretching elastic also draws the pieces tight against your body for a secure fit. The hot glue gun holds the elastic like iron to the foam. The pictures show you enough info for you to come up with your strap system. If you have better ideas, I would love it if you shared them with me.
Step 8: Finished Product / Conclusion
This costume was started in February 2020 and it literally was worked on nearly every week until October. Yep eight (8) months of thinking if I could do it, then researching methods and designs, then building experience with small parts first, then moving to larger more challenging pieces. The finished product is incredible. Not identical to the movie costume but just as impressive. People are stunned when they see this costume and can't believe I made it ! Actually, neither can I !!!
I guess the thing I would ultimately say is don't be afraid to trying a large project as this. This was my very first costume I made and I was surprized at the results, but what made it come to fruition was patience, a willingness to learn along the way, try new ideas, and use resources, keep learning, and small bites at a time! Then before you know it you have a great product that you might never have started if you don't believe in yourself! Note: In the movie, the Lord Marshal wore a cape on his back, not the back plate I made. The Necromonger Soldiers wore the back plate.
With the principles shown here, you could make any costume from any of your favorite movies. Or, invent one of your own ! Bring on Halloween !
Second Prize in the