I needed a quick costume for a Con that was quickly approaching, Being a bald white guy I had a few costumes in mind that I might be able to pull off in a few days. The costumes had to be both comfortable as well as functional (Didn't want to have to completely undress to sit down or use the restroom at the Con, One reason I haven't done a Bender from Futurama cosplay).
My first idea was Gru from Despicable Me, But I wasn't crazy about wearing a prosthetic nose around for 2 days. Next was Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies, But I can't sew very well and that Grey suit just wasn't gonna happen. Finally I decided on Master Roshi from the Dragon Ball Anime. This Character is pretty simple, Just a bald guy with a goatee and sunglasses, wearing shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. But, he does wear a turtle shell on his back and I would have to build that. This instructable will cover the process of building my Cosplay Master Roshi Shell.
Step 1: Starting the Shell
For the base of the shell, I started with a Sno Racer Disc sled that I found at a thrift store. I knew that I wanted the shell to have some depth and look somewhat realistic, so I decided that I would make it with EVA floor mat foam.
But, to do this I would first need to make a pattern.
Step 2: Making the Pattern
To make the pattern, I started by covering a little more than half of the sled with aluminum foil. At this point you may be asking "Why half?"... That's because the shell will be symmetrical and will you will be able to pattern half and just flip your pattern for the other side, making a full shell! This saves lot's of time and materials. The reason for the aluminum foil is to make it easier to remove your pattern from what ever you're using to make the pattern.
Once you have your sled covered in foil, you will start covering the foil with tape. Make sure to alternate directions when you build up the layers and I suggest doing 3-4 layers of tape to ensure you have a good solid pattern. After you've finished covering the disc in tape, you will need to draw a center line. This particular sled has handle indentions, So I measured the centers of those and stretched a ratchet strap over the disc connecting the points with a sharpie to make the centerline of the disc. Once you have the centerline, you can begin to draw out your pattern. I started by sketching a design on a piece of paper and measuring the disc to figure out the proportions. Once I planned out the sizes for the panels that make up the shell pattern, I began to draw them out on the tape covered disc. Make sure to draw registration lines on your pattern to help you line things up later.
Step 3: Cutting Your Pattern
Using a sharp knife you can begin to liberate your pattern from the disc. You will find that the foil allows the pattern pieces to lift away easily. Once you have removed your pattern pieces from the disc, you can the set the disc aside for a little bit. And take a look at your pattern pieces, if there are any that will not lay flat you will need to cut a relief in them until they do. This is critical to making a good pattern. It was at this point that I realized that I could pattern 1/4 of the shell and flip it to create the whole shell, saving more time and materials! I also took this opportunity to cut in the registration marks that I would need to transfer to the foam in order to like everything up later.
Step 4: Making a Stronger Pattern
In this step, you will transfer your tape pattern to something a little more sturdy. I like to use either butcher paper or poster board, I will be using poster board for this pattern. Having a sturdy pattern is great for this application because you will be using some pattern pieces up to 4 times each and the tape would not hold up well.
To transfer the patterns to poster board you just need to peel off the foil and stick the tape down like a sticker. Then trace the lines onto the poster board (ensuring you transfer the registration marks as well).
Step 5: Transferring Your Pattern to Foam
Now, you will trace your patterns onto the floor matt foam with a sharpie. I like to use stick pins to hold the pattern in place while I trace the lines. Once you have traced your pattern pieces onto the foam, you are ready to cut out the foam pieces that will make up your shell. For this part you will want to have a sharp razor knife on hand because EVA foam will dull a blade very quickly resulting in jagged edges along your cut line. Having a sharp blade and cutting with a continuous motion will yield much nicer cuts.
I wanted a beveled edge where the panels would meet on the finished shell, so once I'd cut the individual pieces I flipped them over and made an angle cut along the perimeter. After the cuts, I took a sanding block with 220 Grit sandpaper and smoothed the edges (I think the beveled detail made all the difference in the finished shell).
Step 6: Applying the Panels
Once all panels were cut, beveled and sanded, I drew out my pattern on the sled to make glue-up a bit easier. For the glue I used Barge contact cement. This stuff works great on EVA foam! To use it you apply glue to both parts that you want to glue together, wait a few minutes until it becomes tacky and then stick the pieces together (Forever!).
Step 7: Attaching the Straps
At this point I decided to tackle the straps that would allow me to wear the shell (If I had of waited until after gluing on all the panels, this would have been more difficult). To do this I decided to use my old camel pak (Hydration backpack), some Chicago screws and leather belt scraps. First I laid the pack in the sled to figure out my mounting points. I went with one up top and two on the bottom for stability. I then drilled holes through the sled large enough to thread the Chicago screws through. Using a leather punch, I made holes for the Chicago screws in the scrap leather. These would anchor to the D rings on the Camel Pak creating a secure mounting point. Bonus reason for using a Camel Pak: You can carry a gallon of water and snacks right in your shell! ;)
Step 8: More Panel Gluing
Continuing with the panel glue-up, I worked my way around the shell gluing on all the panels.
See what a difference those beveled edges make?
Once the base of the shell was done I needed to do the edges, for that I made two simple cardstock templates. One was wide and one was a little smaller, that way I could overlap the seams on the panels creating a more realistic look. I glued these on the same way I did the panels but for some of them I had to use clamps to hold them in place until the glue setup. Note: If you use a clamp on foam, make sure that you use a piece of scrap foam between your prop and the clamp or you will have a clamp shaped indention in your finished prop.
Step 9: Painting
Once everything was glued up and set, I covered the shell inside and out with 3 coats of black plastidip. Followed by 2 coats of grey sand-able primer and 3 coats of purple gloss paint on the outside of the shell. Did a fit test the night before the Con.
Step 10: Finished Costume
And a pic from the Con (Ring of Fire Con 2018)
This project could easily be adapted into a bowser shell as well. I hope you enjoyed this build. Check out some of my other builds at https://www.instagram.com/making_it_with_sean/