Intro: Adjutant Cosplay (Starcraft 2)
This costume is my tribute to the Blizzard game Starcraft II. The character of the adjutant is basically a robotic advisor that instructs the player on how to progress in the game as well as alerting the player to events etc. Creating the Adjutant was a labor of love. I was looking for an unconventional video game character as well as a costuming challenge and she definitely had it in spades. I have been a video game geek for a long time and love the chance to bring their characters to life. When I first discovered the adjutant when searching for a character to create, I found two cosplayers who had each created different versions of the costume. They both were amazing in their own rights so I drew my inspiration from these talented artists as well as the game character itself.
This costume definitely pushed my creative skills to the limit but I loved every minute of it. It was my first chance working with eva foam and worbla and despite some slightly singed fingers, I didn't have many problems. I still look upon the head piece I made as one of my crowning achievements in all my years of making costumes. Another huge challenge (and something I had always wanted to learn as well) was making the gelatin prosthetic. I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to anything I create so I wanted to make sure it didn't look like I was a person wearing a helmet but instead a robot. Thanks to Instructables, I found a great tutorial on how to make foamed gelatin prosthetics and it turned out almost perfectly on my first try.
A day before I posted this tutorial, I debuted my costume at my local comic con. I have never received such amazing reactions to any costume I have ever made. Some people shouted "awesome", others walked by gape jawed saying "whoa!". There were even a few times people thought I was a statue made for display at the con (I stood still a fair bit) so when I moved, they jumped in shock that this was an actual costume. But the best part was when people wanted to learn about how I made it. The reason I love cosplay so much is that it is a warm community that loves sharing knowledge and experience. There have been many cosplayers over the years who have given me hints and tips on how to create different pieces and different costumes for which I am eternally grateful. With this tutorial, I hope to not only give the detailed knowledge of how I created my costume but also to inspire others to attempt the seemingly impossible and embrace their creativity. I hope this tutorial helps some of you achieve your costuming dreams!
Materials You'll Need
craft and eva foam
glue gun and hot glue
silver & black spray paint
wires, cords and tubes
long sleeve black shirt
led push lights
elastic and thick, woven ribbon
sphere or ball the same size as your breasts
Bondo (and tools to use it: mixing/ spreading tool, goggles, face mask, rubber gloves)
makeup and Prosthetic adhesive (spirit gum is not strong enough)
materials for making gelatin prosthetics (gelatin, glycerine and liquid honey)
A Little Quick Advice Before Starting
1) Get lots of photo references and measure everything twice
2) You must use a heat gun instead of a hairdryer (hairdryers do not put out enough heat to bend eva foam)
3) Whenever possible, buy your supplies from home repair stores, not craft stores. (Craft stores are WAY more expensive)
4) If you have a large head (like I do), be sure to do a life cast of your head and shoulders before making the helmet to ensure the helmet fits properly when you're done
5) Worbla is expensive so when you have little pieces left, heat them all up and moosh them together. Then roll them all out into one piece. This ensures you won't waste your worbla
6) Place tinfoil on your head cast or mannequin head before laying down the worbla to ensure the worbla doesn't stick to the cast
7) This was my first time making a costume of this caliber and I made a few mistakes along the way so if you are intimidated by any of these processes, be sure to practice on an expendable project before attempting your actual costume
Step 1: Creating the Headpiece
To begin, make sure you have a styrofoam head to work on. If you have a larger head like I do, be sure to do a life cast of yourself to ensure the headpiece will fit on you properly. As I didn't take photos when I made my head cast, here is a tutorial that will help you http://www.furnation.com/Wookiee/techniques/Plaster%20cast/index.html
First, cover your head cast/ styrofoam head in tin foil. Cut some strips of worbla to wrap over the top of the head cast/ styrofoam head. One at a time, heat the worbla strips with your heat gun and mold over the head with your hands being careful not to stretch the worbla too thin.. Be sure to have the shiny side of the worbla facing up; the shiny side is the more adhesive side so this will help hold future additions to the headpiece in place. Once the head is covered, gradually heat the seams between all of the strips of worbla and blend together with your fingers to create a smoother, more uniform headpiece.
Special note: I did something by accident when creating my headpiece that turned out to be very beneficial. When I layered my worbla on my head cast, I accidentally left a small hole in the top. Normally, this would be something I'd fix. But I realized that a solid headpiece would not allow any heat from my head to escape so I left the hole intact to allow a little ventilation.
Now you can begin creating the additional detailing pieces for the headpiece. Use your reference photos to create the shapes you need on paper, measuring them against your head cast and marking the headpiece with lines for the layout. From here, trace the paper patterns onto craft foam or cardboard. (For any parts that had to bend and fit flush onto the headpiece, I used craft foam and for rigid pieces like the "mohawk", I used cardboard.) Cut pieces of worbla just a little bigger than each foam or cardboard piece. Heat the worlba and wrap it around your pieces, ensuring that the shiny side is facing out. Allow all the pieces to cool.
Once you are ready to place your pieces down, begin by heating the headpiece a bit and then heating the back side of the detailing pieces more thoroughly. Take the heated detailing pieces and press firmly onto the headpiece. They will stick very easily without a lot of pressure so don't worry about pressing too hard. Remember to leave a small space at the front of your headpiece; you will be attaching your gelatin prosthetic to this part when you wear your costume.
To make the "ear buds", I used the base stand for my Kortana light up figure as a mold but you can use any similar shape. Cut out a pieces of worbla larger that your base stand, heat it with your heat gun and firmly press over the base stand. Remember not to stretch the worbla too thin or it will rip. Allow it to cool a bit before popping it off the base stand (if you leave it on too long, you risk having the worbla stick to it). Trace the base of the base stand onto cardboard and cut out. Heat up some worbla and form it over the cardboard circles. Once it has cooled, heat the edges of the worbla covered circles and press your previous worbla piece (molded from the base/mold) on top. Once they are secured, heat any excess worbla from the base/mold and fold over the edges of the worbla covered circles. Then you can attach the ear buds to the headpiece.
For the microphone, you can either create your own using worbla or take a page from my book and dissect an old gaming headset and attach with a bit of worbla. Adding the tubes and cables falls under the same process. Cut your wire/cable pieces to the correct length, attach thick pieces of worbla to the ends of the wire/cable and then attach to the headpiece. Be sure to hold these in place a little longer than your other decorative pieces as the cables tend to have a mind of their own before the worbla cools (especially if you use thick tubing like I did for some parts).
Once everything is attached and laid out the way you like it, let everything cool. Once your headpiece is cool, it's time to apply gesso. Gesso is an artist's primer and will help your paint job stick better. Apply several layers and then carefully sand using fine grade sandpaper to polish down any imperfections. (Sorry, my pictures didn't turn out)
After everything is dried, it's time to add the chin strap. Take some thick elastic with velcro on opposite ends and attach to d-rings. Using small pieces of heated worbla, attach d-rings to inside of headpiece with the detachable velcro ends just under the chin. From here, it's time to paint. Cover any cables or tubes you have already added to the headpiece with tinfoil to ensure they don't get painted as well. Be sure to use spray paint in a well ventilated area (ideally outside) and cover the entire headpiece in black paint. Once the black paint has dried, you can paint the silver pieces as well (mohawk, forehead etc). From here, you can add any other details you'd like with acrylic paint.
Step 2: Creating the Body Armor
First, if you don't already have a life cast of your body, you need to find a friend to help you do a duct tape cast of your upper body. Put on an expendable, thin shirt then proceed to wrap yourself in saran wrap, making sure to define the breasts. The have your friend begin placing strips of duct tape on the saran wrap until you find yourself wearing a very hot duct tape tank top. Have your friend draw outlines around the breasts and then cut the cast off at the shoulder straps and then down the sides just under the arms. Voila! You have a very basic template to create your armor from.
Once you have your templates for the front and back of your body armor, decide how large you'd like the gap between your front and back armor to be (The armor does not meet flush at the sides or shoulder straps so be sure to measure for the amount of space you need). Cut off the excess space from your templates and cut out the boob markings on your template and set aside. From here you can cut the front template in half to make the tracing easier. Trace your patterns onto EVA foam and cut out. (Since the back piece is solid, you don't need to cut it into smaller pieces before you trace). Cover the cut out pieces of your front armor with Worbla and form the melded piece together over your body (or life cast) to ensure it fits you well. Once both pieces have been molded and cooled, you can attach them together with more Worbla. Allow to cool.
While the Worbla is cooling, you can begin working on the breast pieces. Take a sphere that is approximately the size of your breasts (I used a globe from Dollarama) and coat it in liquid dish soap or Vaseline. Then heat some Worbla with your heat gun and form the Worbla over your globe. (The liquid soap ensures the Worbla won't stick to your globe). Allow to cool and then remove from the globe.
From here, you can attach your boob molds to your armor. Here is where I had my first major Worbla-n00b moment. When I went to attach the boob pieces to the breastplate, I noticed that I had stretched the Worbla too thin when molding it on the globe so as a result, the boob pieces began to deform when I heated the edges to attach them to the breastplate skeleton. I had no more worbla and no more money to spend on materials so I opted for another option to solve my problem: Bondo. I used the Bondo to seal up some of the imperfections in the boob area, eventually covering the entire breastplate in it to ensure continuity between materials for painting. Once the Bondo had cured, I sanded it with an electric sander to refine the rough spots and then covered it with several layers of Gesso. Paint the breastplate.
There are a few more details you can add to the breastplate if you'd like such as the trim around the neckline but that's up to you. Simply follow this process:
- create your shapes out of craft foam
- mold worbla over the pieces and allow to cool
- coat pieces in gesso
- attach to breastplate with hot glue
Now for the back plate. The process is identical to making the breastplate (minus the boob cups of course) but here you can be a little creative. As you can never see the actual back of the Adjutant because she's attached to the wall, you can pretty much come up with your own ideas for the back. I didn't want to over complicate mine but I still wanted to add some flair so here's what I added:
- I created two little vent sections using cardboard and duck tape. I then coated them with gesso and attached them to the back plate with hot glue
- I wanted to have two tubes hanging from my back (to look like I had been disconnected from the wall) so I bought a large vacuum cleaner hose which came with two attachments (the the nozzle). Using hot glue, I attached the two nozzle pieces to the back plate. I then cut two long sections of vacuum hose and attached them to the nozzles. Since the hose fit over the nozzles perfectly, I didn't add any adhesive to hold it in place. This will also come in handy if you ever have to drive anywhere while wearing this costume.
- Like with my helmet, I created a few circular "ports" using worbla. Once the entire piece had been coated with gesso and paint, I put a little hot glue into the holes and stuck in some yellow cyberlox for a punch of color.
Once both the back and chest plate are done, you will need to begin adding d-rings to the shoulder pieces and sides with worbla (on both the front and back) and then feeding elastic cords through the rings. Attach velcro the ends of the elastic at the appropriate lengths as a means of attaching the front and back plates together when you wear it. This will definitely take the help of a friend so be sure to have a second set of hands...well...handy. You will most likely have to measure several times but perfection is it's own reward.
There is one other small piece that is part of the body armor: a sort of pseudo cod piece. I created this very simply by cutting out the shapes from craft foam, attaching them together with hot glue and doing the same painting techniques as the rest of the armor after covering the piece with gesso. (I was out of worbla and bondo at the time hence why I didn't use any on this piece). I was pressed for time when I made this piece so I simply attached it to the back of the chest plate using black duck tape
Step 3: Creating the Shoulder Armor/ Gauntlets
First, measure around the upper part of your arm just under the armpit. Then measure around your arm just above the elbow. (The width of your arm near the pit will be wider that the lower measurement). Then measure your arm from the midpoint of your shoulder to just above the elbow. This will determine how long your shoulder gauntlets need to be. You will want your arm gauntlets to encircle about 75% of your arms' width.
Take your measurements and draw them out onto a piece of craft foam (you can use paper if you'd prefer; I simply find it easier to cut out my patterns with an exacto knife if my reference piece is made from craft foam). At the top of your pattern, set down a small bowl or plate and trace the curve so it lines up with the top corners of your current pattern. Cut out your pattern from the craft foam and then trace it onto some EVA foam using an exacto knife (you can use scissors but a knife will give you cleaner edges).
Once both of your gauntlets are cut out, pick up your stick on LED lights that you bought from Dollarama. Pop the external case off and trace the circle in the middle of what will be the shoulder part of your armor. Cut out the circles.
Using a heat gun, heat your gauntlets until they are pliable and wrap them around something the approximate size of your arms while it cools and forms (I used a wine bottle). Once they have cooled, insert the external case from the LED lights into the hole. Because the gauntlets are curved now, the external case will not fit into the hole easily so simply get it in as flush as possible and seal with hot glue. Allow to cool. Try putting the rest of the LED piece into the external case to make sure everything fits and then remove (if the LED piece doesn't fit back into the external case, use your heat gun to re-warm the hot glue you already applied and try repositioning the external case.
Once the gauntlets are assembled and have cooled, it's time to apply the Bondo. (Bondo is a horribly noxious substance so be sure to use proper safety gear such as goggles, face mask and gloves. Also ensure you mix the Bondo and it's hardener properly and use it in a well ventilated place). Once you've mixed the Bondo, start spreading it onto your gauntlets. It won't always spread smooth but don't worry, we'll fix that later.
Once the Bondo has cured, you can begin sanding. I recommend using an electric sander with a medium to coarse sandpaper to ground down the rough parts and then a fine one to smooth out the details (you can even use a hand sanding sponge if you'd prefer). When everything is as smooth as you'd like, begin layering on Gesso, allowing each layer to dry before each subsequent application. Proceed by sanding the Gesso with a fine sandpaper if needed and then apply your paint. Then pop the rest of your stick on LED lights into the external case. Attach d-rings ( I used bondo) and elastic to the gauntlets to hold them around your arms
The next step is to add wires and cyberlox to dangle below the shoulder armor. When you are wearing your black shirt and gloves underneath, this will give the illusion that you have no arms but only wires hanging from the shoulder armor. Begin by cutting several different lengths of different colors of cyberlox. The gradually attach them to the base of the shoulder armor using hot glue, alternating colors and lengths. Once all of the cyberlox are attached, cover them with a strip of duck tape to ensure that any snags will not pull out the cyberlox.
Step 4: Creating the Wire Skirt and Other Garment Pieces
If you are a sewing whiz, I recommend using your skills to create your own wire skirt (aka hoop skirt) from scratch to ensure it fits you perfectly. I however am an average sewer at best so I purchased a pre-made hoop skirt online for cheap. Even if you do want to attempt sewing your first hoop skirt without major know-how, don't worry about it looking nice. The skirt will be covered with wires anyways.
If your purchased skirt is like mine, you ended up with a white one but not to worry: it's an easy fix. Take your skirt outside and give it a solid coating of black spray paint and allow to dry. From here you can begin affixing your wires, cyberlox and tubes. Do this with a combination of hot glue and sewing. Just keep in mind when you're making this skirt that the more actual wires you put on this skirt, the heavier it will be so be sure you either have a strong waistband or attach black suspenders to it (they will be hidden under the breastplate.
I also did another step which may be unnecessary depending on how many wires you put on your skirt. I ran out of wires but still felt my costume needed a little more tube-age. At a craft depot, I had found a huge pile of light rubber half tubes (I have no idea what they were originally used for). I measured my waist and then began creating a belt of black duck tape, placing the rubber tubes every inch to half inch or so. I then covered the tubes with more duck tape and then attached some dense ribbon at each end as a method of tying it around my waist. A few additional cyberlox here and there added a little more color. (Sorry for the lack of pictures but this was an impromptu step I did hours before going to bed)
To go below the armor/ chest plates, you simply need a basic black long sleeved shirt and a pair of black gloves. While you can definitely leave these pieces just black, adding some wires or cyberlox definitely adds to the illusion that your cosplay character is made of wires and metal components. Try to rely mainly on cyberlox so your shirt isn't weighed down and also be careful not to sew too many cyberlox on. If the shirt looks too busy with "wires", it will distract from the awesomeness of your armor. Remember: the breastplate, back plate, shoulder bracers and helmet should be the main focus of your costume. If you plan on using your cell phone while wearing this costume and don't want to have to take off your gloves every time, simply sew some conductive thread into the fingertips.
Step 5: Creating the Forehead Prosthetic
While I could show you the ins and outs of how to make the forehead prosthetic, I learned this technique from another Instructables tutorial by Marshon. So rather than basically repost all the instructions and take credit, I have posted the pictures of my piece's progress with some basic instructions and the link to Marshon's tutorial.
First, I put my already made headpiece back on my life cast to measure how high the forehead piece needed to be (if you recall, we deliberately left a small bit of extra worbla untouched on the headpiece specifically for the prosthetic) Once the measurements were done, I built the basic shape of the prosthetic on the forehead of my life cast with playdoh, using wd-40 to smooth out the edges. I then built a barrier of playdoh around the perimeter of the area where the prosthetic will be.
I coated the entire area within the playdoh barrier, including the prosthetic shape, with vaseline. Once everything was covered, I filled in the space with plaster and allowed it to dry. Once the plaster was dry, I first removed the playdoh barrier and then carefully pried up the plaster. This left me with a negative mold of my life cast with an imprint of where the prosthetic will be.
From here, I simply followed the instructions in Marshon's tutorial:
- filled the negative mold with my pre-made gelatin (be sure to use FOAMED GELATIN; the regular gelatin will be way too heavy)
- place the life cast into the negative mold and allowed the gelatin to cure
- once the gelatin has cured, slowly pull apart the molds and voila! A gelatin prosthetic!
- once it is done, you can attach the prosthetic to your headpiece and face using prosthetic adhesive (spirit gum is not strong enough)
Thank you to Marshon for the brilliant tutorial that helped me create my first gelatin prosthetic. You can find it here:
Step 6: Painting Tips
While flat colors on your armor and headpiece will make your costume "pop", proper painting with distressing techniques will make your armor look battle worn and really draw some attention. Here's how to get the battle worn looking paint job (my apologies for the lack of pictures)
1) Paint your piece with black matte spray paint (be sure it's a flat matte). Allow to dry
2) Shake up a can of metallic spray paint and grab your dry brush (see picture above; you can get these brushes cheap at Dollarama)
3) Spray silver spray paint onto both sides of your brush and gently brush over your armor with varying stroke lengths and intensities. It will look really strange to begin with but trust me, it will look awesome once it's done.
4) When you've finished doing silver strokes all over your armor, spray a smaller amount of spray paint on the same brush and start making slow circular patterns around your armor. Armor doesn't get wear and tear just up and down, it happens from all angles. Keep doing it until you have the look you like.
How you detail your armor is entirely up to you but I have two pieces of advice
1) Use acrylic paint
2) Take your time. Armor takes a lot of work from building to finishing up the fine points so don't make yourself miserable by rushing and ending up with mediocre detailing.