ETA: I am done with these. I wore them to 3 cons, and while they held up well, I trashed them rather than re-sanding and re-painting. After the last wearing (and being dropped on linoleum a number of times) the Bondo cracked. Had I sealed it, it may not have. Had I not dropped them, I probably would have been okay. In any case, I'm going to redo them by doing them in paper: from 3D model to paper print out to assembling, glueing, fiberglassing and finishing. I'll be sure to do another instructable on this process. I deliberately tossed them in the trash at ConCarolinas so I wouldn't be tempted to re-shape the originals before DragonCon.
This is my Instrucable on how to make Lina Inverse' shoulder armor or pauldrons from scratch.
The armor is pretty crazy looking, but starting it out I noticed some definite details:
1) assume they're metal and the final product should look metalic - the yellow should be gold or brass toned.
2) Keep proportions in mind - they're pretty darn big, and stick out beyond her natural shoulders. They also, as an added pain in the butt, move with her shoulder and arm motions.
3) They are a decidedly odd shape. Illustrations can vary from image to image, but they do seem to have rounded sides.
In addition, this instructable will be updated later, as I'm not entirely happy with how they turned out. I didn't sand and re-patch them enough, and I want to cut off the gold accents and make them out of paper clay, but I believe the basic process is sound.
Step 1: Step One: Materials and Estimations
What I expected to do:
Cut up slats of cardboard, glue them in two identical stacks of 20 or so deep, shave them down somehow, slather the results in bondo and sand and paint.
What I expected to spend/use:
Cardboard: free ($0)
Glue: already had ($0)
Bondo: already had ($0)
Spray paint, black: $5
Christmas ornament(s): cheap or free
handful of glue sticks, glue gun
12 hours total
What I actually did:
-Modeled the shoulder armor in 3D to make sure I had the right idea for the shape.
-Glued stacks of cardboard out of various boxes that I had to cut to size, most pieces were uneven and had to be re-sized. Set heavy objects on top of the stacks of cardboard in order to press them and ensure they dried well stuck together. Wait overnight
-Transfer the basic shape of the shoulders, clamped them into place on/in a worktable and used an angle grinder to remove large large chunks of cardboard. From there, dremeled the snot out of what was left, rebuild with a few extra pieces of carboard, built the housing for the giant red gems out of cardboard tubes. Used a utility knife and chisel to dig out the inside of the armor so they would actually fit and not sit on top of my shoulders.
-Covered them in one, then two laters of bondo, let dry completely, then dremel off large chunks with a cutting blade and sanding bit. Sand like a crazy person Apply second layer of bond in parts. Continue to sand like a crazy person. cover edges of each piece of armor in craft foam and duct tape, prime, paint.
What I actually spent/used
Wood glue ($2)
2 sheets of craft foam
1.5 cans of bondo ($10 extra)
$4 wasted on styrofoam ball
$4 for ornaments that didn't get used for shoulders
$1.59 for clear ornament, spray painted
$5 metallic red paint
$3 for primer
$8 for 'hammered black metal' spray paint
$6 for gold flake paint
$3 for plastic putty knives -disposable
$2 for mixing tubs, disposable
2 Aleve for my aching wrist tendons
20 hours, at least
While they ended up costing more than I anticipated, I have more paint I can use on other stuff - both the black and red paints can be applied to metal surfaces, and I didn't use all the primer, and only about 1/4 of the gold flake paint.
I learned that I should have laid down a wet paper layer over the cardboard to prevent unevenness with the bondo that soaked and sank into the corrugated cardboard. I learned that bondo should not be used to fill in uneven spots if I'm applying a layer all over the object in question. I used WAY too much bondo, and didn't sand long enough, and should have done one more layer of bondo to fill in the remaining pockets of 'battle damage'.
I am pleased with my choices of paint, and the overall look of the finished shoulder armor.
Warning: bondo STINKS!!!!
The second image is a screenshot of my 3D build of what I think they look like once built.
Step 2: Stacking and Cutting the Cardboard Blocks
Step one: Find free cardboard, large flat tv boxes would work best, since they'd be easier to cut into uniform pieces, but you can use medium sized boxes as well. Stacks can also be made with half pieces, such as both sides of the top of the box flaps, as long as you glue everything down solidly. I actually found this to be a pretty good idea because it helps you eye ball the center of the object later on, when positioning accessories.
The part of the armor you are building up at this point is the main base, and not the half dome weird shape on top.
I used my 3D model outline to trace the basic shape on one side of each block.
Step 3: First Cuting: Power Tools!
I used an angle grinder to lop off big chunks of each block, from the 'bottom'. Each piece should be roughly symmetrical, and the sides should be evenly sloping up and in.
Step 4: More Carving
After forming much of the top area, I dug out the underside of the shoulder several layers with a chisel and utility knife. No one is going to look under the edge of the shoulders, so it's okay to leave them unfinished.
Later, I dug all the way through tot he top so I could insert an LED later, if I decided to do so.
I made the upper pieces out of cardboard tube and duct tape.
For this step, you can use craft foam if you so choose, as it will be completley covered by bondo. I liked it because it gave me an even form and shape and height for the 'rim' of the gold trim.
The hole in the middle top is for the ball half to rest in.
Do not apply craft form for the decorations on top - the spoon shape nor the trim in front or sides of the rising upper shape.
The red ball is half an ornament mold that I purchased at Michaels for 1.69. It came as 2 halves, which I spray painted metallic red on the inside, then mounted into place before bondo-ing and painting, mostly because with this format, they'll be impossible to insert later.
The ornament is 4" across. I used metallic red spray paint meant to be used on metal, but it looks great on plastic too. Spraying only the inside protects the outer surface from showing scratches or smudges in the paint, should you drop your armor by accident.
DO NOT APPLY CRAFT FOAM TRIM PIECES
Way too much Bondo!!!!!!
Don't use this much, seriously.
This is also where I should have done either a paper mache layer or another layer of something to surface the armor before applying bondo directly to the cardboard areas. While Bondo is amazing for filling in uneven places, it turns out it doesn't work that well when your surface is entirely covered in Bondo.
I used 1.5 cans. I should have used half that.
I can't stress this enough: MIX IN SMALL BATCHES! They aren't kidding when it says it sets in 4-5 minutes. It really really does. And you can't smoothly cover an entire piece of shoulder armor in one pass. I did 2 passes total per shoulder, and I should have done about five.
Sand down with a dremel tool, and then with sandpaper, and especially sandpaper blocks. I covered the red balls with duct tape to protect them from the coat of primer I'm about to apply, but I should have done this earlier in the process.
Not shown 4 hours of sanding and dremeling to a surface that still isn't really smooth enough.
Step 10: Primer
Step 11: Finally: Armor
As I said in the beginning, there are things I know now that I would have done differently, and I will update later with my final final results.
One of the first things I'm going to do before these are actually 'finished' is that I'm going to take a dremel tool cutting blade to all the gold on this thing and cut them off, then remake them with paper clay or sculpey, paint gold, and re-apply. I am also very not happy with how the edges around the red 'gem' turned out.
As stated earlier, DO NOT APPLY CRAFT FOAM.
While it looks like it primed well, I have been since informed that the primer is going to eventually nom up the craft foam and destroy it. So, no craft foam.
Overall, I am happy with how they turned out. They will be re-done or at least fixed before my next convention, however.