My son changed his mind 3 times about his costume over the year, but finally settled on Talion from Shadow of War. For those who don't know, Shadow of War is a video game that's based in Tolkien's world and lore. It happens between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings on a timeline.
The costume is a challenging one because of all the detail in the armor. It's also not a cheap one with lots of faux leather -3 types- and faux fur on top of the base of EVA foam. I'm not sure how much I spent on this (and I don't really want to know, honestly). A lot of the tools I already owned, but I did add a hot knife and a airbrush to my arsenal.
I don't have many in progress shots because I was running so late this year with construction, but I'll do my best to describe my steps and show the final product. Enjoy!
Step 1: Tools and Materials
Hot Knife/wood burning tool
Airbrush and compressor
extra airbrush paint bottles
Critter Gun and compressor
extra ball jars and lids
spare parts for critter gun just in case of clogging beyond repair
Dremel with various bits (sanding drum and stone bit and cutting disc)
Sanding sticks (sandpaper glued to paint stir sticks)
Snap off utility knives
Xacto knife with extra blades
Leatherman or pliers (for changing the hot knife bits and fixing the critter gun when really clogged)
serrated tracing wheel (sewing tool)
sewing chalk pen, tailor's chalk or something washable to mark fabric
large ruler or straight edge
pipe cleaners (to unclog the critter gun while using the creature cast)
paper for patterns
lots of painter's tape for patterning and masking
stretch saran wrap (the packing or food variety) for masking
metal hanger (something that can get painted)
plastic drop cloths
aluminum foil (I use this to paint on top of so it doesn't stick)
leather belt hole punch
heavy duty snap tool
small piece of roughly 1 inch diameter pipe (to cut circles with)
hot glue gun (not low temp)(I used gorilla glue brand hot glue)
piece of wood or mdf to heat worbla on (cutting mat would melt and warp)
heat resistant gloves (I got mine from cosplaysupplies.com)
face mask for spraying paint, airbrushing and sanding and heating foam
protective eye gear
EVA foam from tntcosplaysupply.com
10 mm EVA-38
8 mm EVA-38
2 mm EVA-38 or craft foam
2 mm EVA-70 (important: this is super dense strong foam necessary for some parts)
Worbla Black Art from cosplaysupplies.com
(Sample of Worbla Finest Art optional)
Flexbond (to coat the Worbla)
Creature Cast Semi-rigid from creaturecastrubber.com (liquid neoprene to coat the foam)
fiberglass rods (can use driveway snow markers or the like which are easier to find than super long fiberglass from cosplay places)
lightweight polypropylene or nylon strapping
quick release plastic buckles
tri-glide slides (to make the straps adjustable)
11x 1 inch silver metal belt buckle (shaped like "D")
2x 1.5 inch distressed silver metal buckles (square shaped)
Fabric (order samples of everything first):
1.5 yards tan distressed faux suede/leather - fabric.com
2.5 yards brown distressed faux leather (I used something meant for upholstery) - fabric.com
1 yard (you don't need this much but it's a minimum order amount) brown stretch leather (fused, thin) - fabric.com
2 yards (which was more than we needed) faux fur - medium to long pile (bigzfabric.com - ours was "baby wolf." Order samples first.)
2 yards rust colored faux suede (the fuzzy kind)
some cheap muslin or other fabric to test patterns with
1 yard lightweight fusible web
quilting batting (lightest weight)
tulle mesh (I got black, but it doesn't really matter because it will be coated)
thread to match (except the rust - I used brown thread)
velcro 2 inch wide
velcro 5/8 inch wide
6 inch zipper
heavy duty snaps
1 inch thick elastic (maybe 8 inches)
5/8 or 1/2 inch elastic (maybe 3 inches)
sew on hooks and eyes
12 mm screw rivets (for belts and leather working)
glue on brooch pin
black cotton yarn
circular knitting needles
Angelus Leather paint:
2-hard (additive for painting plastics)
2-thin (airbrush medium)
duller (additive to take away glossiness)
Sargent Liquid Metal:
Jaquard airbush color:
matte hammered metal spray paint - dark metallic
matte clear topcoat
Krylon satin clear topcoat
silver paint marker
puffy paint (again color doesn't really matter since it will be coated and painted)
rub and buff - silver
self adhesive stencil material (you could probably use contact paper in a pinch)
boots (color doesn't matter - we painted them with the Angelus paints)
black or dark gray long underwear/under armour/moisture wicking workout wear (something to wear under everything and will sort of show through the chainmail)
semi permanent dark brown hair dye
dark brown eyebrow makeup with mascara brush or mascara for beard
clip-in hair extensions
Step 2: Chainmail
Unfortunately you need to have some knowledge of knitting to make this part. Alternatively you could find a sweater that looks like chainmail and cut a piece for the flap. I used this pattern mostly for the chainmail:
I added the flap in the front and the sleeves. The flap is 11 stitches wide and about 24 rows long. The last few rows I did some reduction stitches to make the point. The sleeves were made by picking up stitches in the arm holes. Count the stitches so you do the same on both sides. I believe these are about 23-24 stitches around. I knit them in the round because I absolutely hate sewing seams in knitting! I did a single crochet around the edges of the sleeves and the bottom and flap just to neaten up the edges.
After construction is completed I used foam core/cardboard wrapped in aluminum foil to put inside the shirt and sleeves so it wouldn't be glue shut during this next part. I used the critter gun to spray the knitting with creature cast. This seals the yarn and makes it a little crunchier and holds it's shape a little better. Coat it one side at a time and make sure it's dry before taking it off the board. It also makes the paint sit on the surface instead of being sucked into the yarn. You have to use a lot less paint that way. I painted the chainmail with a foam roller and Angelus silver leather paint. You could also used a sea sponge or dry brush it with a chip brush. All of these techniques were pretty comparable in my testing. The roller was quickest. Put the chainmail back on the board to paint it. I recovered it with aluminum foil at this point. This paint stays nice and flexible and doesn't chip or flake off. I purposely made the silver paint a little random and patchy. I wanted the chainmail to look aged.
Step 3: Torso Armor
I then jumped into the torso armor since it was the largest piece and most detailed. To make the pattern, my son and I first made a duct tape dress form of his torso. Basically you put an old shirt on, wrap some saran wrap or scrap of fabric around his neck and wrap the kid in duct tape from his neck to his hips. Don't try to make arms much - just nubs. (We had too long of nubs and it made it hard to put the armor on the mannequin later.) Work as fast as possible since it's not easy to breathe in duct tape and kids are impatient... Make sure they are standing up straight! We had to make a second because he was standing weird the first time. Then you cut carefully up the back through all layers including the old shirt. Once it's off, use duct tape to tape it back closed. Use duct tape on the nubs and the bottom and neck. If you want to make it a dress form with a stand, get a piece of pvc and shove it through the torso before taping it up. Use a washer and screw the form to the pvc. If you don't use a washer it will rip through. The base was made with a round wooden table top (found at home depot) and a metal flange screwed into it. Use a pvc connector that screws into the flange and the pvc fits into the top. I don't know what that piece is called - I'm sorry! See pictures.
After the dress form was done, I then wrapped that in painters tape (actually I used aluminum foil and painters tape but I don't think that was necessary). May seem a little redundant, but wait. Mark while on the dress form a couple of lines like the centerline in front and back and the tops of the shoulders and the sides. It also helps to add registration marks - little guidelines from one side of the centerline to the other (like 1 inch long). This way you can fit them back together later and line them up right. Cut on the lines lightly with an xacto or a utility knife and peel it off carefully (or peel first and then cut). After you have the pieces cut you want to make them basically flatten. You'll have to make two little cuts for seams in the pattern on the shoulder blades. I think that's all I did. I also cut a gap in the back along the centerline, so I could add straps and buckles later. I put the tape onto paper so I wasn't working with something sticky. Trace the shape onto 10mm EVA-38 foam with a sharpie. Make sure to transfer the registration marks. You can use silver sharpies, but they wear out quickly on foam (buy a box of them). I just used black on the black foam (which is sort of dark gray).
MAKE SURE YOUR BLADES ARE SHARP ALWAYS! Use a snap off utility knife with a fresh blade or sharpen it with a blade sharpener. Cut along your sharpie lines. Use a heat gun and shape the foam a little - don't go crazy with it. Curve the part going over the shoulder and around the body. Use Barge Cement on both edges of the foam at the centerline front and let dry for like 10 minutes. Fit them together slowly and carefully matching up the registration marks. You will not be able to pull anything back apart without ripping the foam. Go slow. Match up the cuts (darts in sewing language) in the shoulder blades next then glue the sides and the tops of the shoulders. Leave the gap at the center back open.
Use the nylon webbing straps and buckles in three spots on the back center - Top, bottom, mid back. On one side of the buckle sew the strapping (a couple times) folded over the buckle. On the other side of the buckle use a tri-glide slide to make it adjustable. Feed the strap through the tri-glide slide and then around the end of the buckle and back through the tri-glide slide. Sand with a dremel the area on the foam you are going to glue on - just to rough it up. Glue at least 3 inches of strap down to give it enough area to bond. Use barge on both surfaces. Put two layers of barge on the straps because it soaks in a little. Wait ten minutes to dry to tacky and then apply the straps to the armor. Make sure they are lined up on each side so they match up correctly. Let it dry thoroughly before putting tension on it.
Then I started on the details. I sketched out the shape of the armor in real size. Then I drew the design from the front of the armor by hand (with references from the game). Once I sketched something I was happy with I went over the lines with sharpie and cut the paper pattern with an xacto knife. I traced it onto 2mm EVA-38 foam and carefully cut it out using my smaller snap off utility knife (fiskars, I love it). This lets you do curves and details easier. The stars are tedious and hard! I only cut one out of paper and traced the same one 6 times. I used barge cement to apply it to the armor, but first trace either the foam or the paper pattern onto the armor so you know where to put the glue. You don't want it to be everywhere around the design so apply carefully with a small brush. If some peaks out it's okay because it will be covered with the creature cast coating, but you don't want a lot. Let the glue dry for 10 minutes and then carefully slowly apply the design.
To make the pieces for around the arms and the neck I used painters tape on the actual armor to make pattern pieces. Peel it off and trace it on more 2mm EVA-38 foam twice. On the second set of pieces, cut everything but the 1/2 inch border out and the pentagon shape (see picture). The neck piece has a couple layers of foam shapes. Cut two of the main shape and then cut the middle of the design out of the second piece. Then add the star and the other shape (see pattern pictures). Glue these on with barge in the same manner as before. The bottom edge of the armor also gets a couple of pieces added, but I waited on these until after the hip pieces were done because the one strap is attaching the hip armor and goes under the detail piece.
I used a dremel on the edges of the neck and arm details around the borders. I wanted them to be a little rounded how I imagine worn metal armor to be. This is a delicate process. If you miss you gouge a dent in the armor where it should be smooth. I did that a couple of times unfortunately. Also sanded the edges of the armor itself. This makes the layers of foam blend together. I did not sand the parts of the tree detail on the chest I wanted those to have crisp lines on the edges.
On the sides of the armor it's supposed to look like leather strips woven together (how I interpret the source pictures anyway). This technique is cool. First I drew out where I wanted the strips to appear. Then you make scored lines with a knife on the surface of the foam. Do not cut deep. Then you take a heat gun to the armor. As the foam heats, it's like the surface shrinks a little and opens up the scored lines.
There are belts and metal buckles attached to the sides and on the one hip but I did not attach theses until after coating and painting so I wouldn't paint over or have to mask the buckles. I cut strips of 2mm foam 1 inch wide and made the ends have a rounded point. I heated them up with the heat gun and then used the serrated tracing wheel and a ruler to make lines of dents in the foam along the edges. This looks like stitching! If you mess up, heat it up again and they disappear. This is a small detail but I think it really makes the foam strips look like leather belts. Do not glue them on yet.
For the buckles, there's 11 in total on the costume although you only need 3 in this step. I painted them all at the same time though. I laid them out on aluminum foil and spray painted them with MATTE hammered metal spray paint in a dark silver/gray/black color. Only do one coat. I ruined the first set of buckles trying to add a second coat of paint. Paint the backs first then flip them once dry and paint the fronts. You have to lay them out with the moving part up so it doesn't get stuck with the spray paint. After that's dry, use MATTE clear coat on them. This gives a protective layer and makes them even more non-shiny although still metallic (if that makes any sense). I really like the finish of these. You could buy distressed metal finished buckles but it would be much more expensive. These buckles came in a pack of 25 (not prime order early).
The larger buckles I found on ebay and were pre-distressed finished. I was actually disappoint with them in that they flaked off a bit when I had to mask them with painter's tape. Not enough that I had to do anything since they were distressed to begin with, but still. You need one on the torso, but it's added later. You also need a 1.5 inch wide strip of foam with the "stitching" added. Don't attach it to the buckle until after coating. For this buckle, since it needs to support weight, I used the 2mm EVA-70 foam. As a possibly overkill step, I glued tulle fabric mesh to the back of the foam strip. You *may* be able to get away with less dense foam like the EVA-38 IF you glue mesh to the back, but I haven't tested this and I'm afraid it would stretch more. I used Flexbond glue and a foam brush to attach the tulle mesh. The flexbond is really flexible when dry which is necessary for some of the strips you need. I cut a larger piece of tulle mesh than the strip and apply the glue through the mesh. After it's dry I used sharp scissors/fabric scissors to cut the mesh flush with the sides of the strip. I made long strips at a time and then cut them to size afterwards since you will need more of these strips later.
I will address coating and painting in a step later. I did all the pieces at the same time.
Step 4: Fabric Flaps, Collar and Pouches
Instead of making another undergarment to wear under the torso I decided to just make the flaps that showed under the armor. I approximated this with paper freehand while my son was wearing the armor. I cut the shapes out of the faux leather and the rust colored fuzzy suede. I made the top edge correspond with the bottom edge of the armor with about a 2 inch overlap. I sewed the pieces together right sides together (with quilting batting on the rust one) with the top edge open and turned them right side out. I topstitched the edges of both. Then the rust colored suede piece needed to be quilted. I laid out the lines with a ruler and a sewing chalk pen so they would match and be symmetrical. I then sewed the lines I made with brown thread. (I thought the brown looked better than the choices I had that sort of matched the fabric - they stuck out too much). Backstitch at the front and back of every line of stitching. Trim all the threads. Then I sewed 2 inch velcro strips to the top of the flaps. Use a HEAVY DUTY needle like a leather needle to do this or it will skip stitches. It also helps to shorten the stitches. This is a lot of layers to go through, but I got it done. I glued the other side of the velcro (the soft side) to the inside of the armor edge with barge.
I did the collar similarly. I used painters tape to get the shape that needed to stick up and fold under the edge of the foam. I cut the painters tape down the fold line. This left me with 2 pieces shaped like crescents (vaguely). I added a half inch to 3/4 for a seam allowance and cut them out of the rust colored fabric. I sewed them right sides together, down the fold line and trimmed the seam allowance and clipped curves. I then sewed the two pairs of pieces together, right sides together, with quilting batting only in the top collar portion, with the back open and then turned them right side out. I topstitched the edges and closed the open side. I also sewed down the fold line so it wouldn't shift the batting. This was the fuzzy fabric that really doesn't need velcro so I added the crunchy side of 5/8 inch velcro to the neck opening and stuck the rust fabric directly to it.
I made all these parts removable for potential washing in the future and also so I could coat and paint them without having to mask the fabric parts.
The pouches for the belts were made out of the distressed upholstery fabric. I sketched out the size I wanted added seam allowances and cut out my pattern pieces. I used roughly a rectangle, a taller rectangle and a long strip that reaches around the whole side and bottom edges of the rectangles. The larger rectangle I made double sided so the inside of the pouch would also look good. See pattern pieces. I attached snaps as the closure on the pouches. I stuffed the pouches with 2 layers of either 10mm or 8mm foam - whatever you have left at the end. This is so they'd hold their shape. There are two belt loops sewn to the back of the pouch to attach to the belt. They need to fit a 1.5 inch strip of foam with a little give for the design on it.
Step 5: Hip Armor
I measured on the chest armor and the mannequin about how big I thought the hip pieces should be and then drew them on paper for a pattern. Cut it and traced it a second time on paper for the detail. This piece has a border around it so I cut out the middle of the design leaving a 1/2 inch border. Which is extremely difficult to trace. You may want to just cut two of the main shape a freehand a 1/2 border on the actual foam. Hindsight is 20/20. There are two more strips/shapes on there so I cut those pieces as well. I glued it all together with barge and then dremel-ed the edges of the border and shapes to round them out just like the neck and arm border pieces on the torso. I used a sanding drum bit. Be careful not to gouge out dents in the main piece while dremelling.
To attach the hip pieces I tried a couple of ways before settling on this one. I used 2 pieces of EVA-70 foam strips on the top edge glued to the back of the hip piece and the back of the torso armor. Then for the front the foam strip needed to be showing and span all the way to the centerline of the torso armor. However I wanted it to move a little so he could walk (kind of important to be able to walk...). So behind the hip pieces I attached a piece of 1 inch elastic to the foam strip so it would have some give. Glue with barge at least 3 inches of elastic to the back of the hip pieces. Dremel the area to be glued to rough it up first.
I'm still not thrilled with this method but it worked. If you have any better way of doing it please leave it in the comments, I'd love to hear your ideas. Next costume I need to figure out a way that sitting is possible. That's my goal.
After attaching the strips to the torso armor add the detail pieces to the bottom edge and the straps. Barge, you know the drill.
Step 6: Vambrace/Forearms
The arm armor is basically a triple layer effect. It's supposed to look like metal on top of leather on top of quilted fabric. I made it in two pieces.
You have to start with the fabric so you have the right size for the foam part. I started with painters tape on his arm (over the chainmail and long underwear or base layer so you have the right size). To take off the painters tape layer leave a seam in the tape or try to rip it neatly. I cut part of the knitted chainmail trying to cut it off. (Fortunately it's such a loose stitch and it was under the forearm armor that I just tied it back together so it wouldn't unravel). I then taped it back together and cut it neatly on the side of the forearm - that's where I wanted the seam/overlap. I put the tape on paper to make it not sticky and cut it out with a seam allowance added to it. You want to add at least 5/8 inch to 1 inch on all sides to have room to sew. Cut a little wider on the open side so it overlaps. Cut this out of the fuzzy rust colored suede. Also, cut out a piece of quilting batting WITHOUT seam allowance. Put the pieces right sides together and the batting on one side and pin baste and sew the pieces together. Leave one area open for turning right side out. Trim seam allowances and notch curves so it will curve and not pucker. Turn it right side out with the batting on the inside. Then fold in the open edge in and topstitch around the edge at about 1/4 inch maybe slightly more. There's a design stitched into the arm part which holds the batting in place so it doesn't slide around and bunch. Decide where your lines are going and mark with tailor's chalk or disappearing fabric pen. Stitch along lines. Back stitch at the beginning and end of all the lines of stitching. Sew the crunchy side of the 5/8 inch velcro to the inside edge of the top flap. This fabric didn't need the soft side of the velcro as it sticks to the velcro fine, but you can sew the soft side of the velcro to the outside edge of the bottom side. Repeat for other side (flip pattern).
Then you can start on the foam part. Put all the layers on (under layer, chainmail, fabric arm thing you just made). You can use tape to get the general shape of the vambrace, just keep in mind that the thickness of the foam affects the width of the piece, does that make sense. You may want to do it slightly wider than the tape if you want it to hit at the right place. Cut a pattern piece and cut 2 of this main shape (one flipped) out of 8mm EVA-38 foam. I then freehanded the design portion and made a pattern piece. Cut 2 of 2mm EVA-38 foam on one side and 2 with the pattern flipped. Then cut out the middle part leaving a 1/2 inch border on one of each side with a couple added lines too (see pattern picture). Glue the border piece to the solid piece and both of those to the main piece of the vambrace. I dremeled the edges of the border and the edge of the main piece of vambrace. The majority of the detail is done by scoring the foam. Do not cut deep. I drew it with a sharpie first directly on the foam then scored the lines I drew. Hit the whole thing with a heat gun to open up those lines (it's also the first step to seal the foam).
This gets two foam straps and metal buckles on each vambrace. I used the EVA-70 foam with the tulle mesh backing for the straps. I attached pieces of foam straps to each side and DID NOT attach the buckles until after coating.
Step 7: Shoulder Armor
The base of the shoulder armor pattern was made with some painters tape to get the curve. Then I made a couple of slits, one vertically and one horizontally to make it lie flat. I traced the shape onto the 8mm EVA-38 foam and cut it out with the snap utility knife. The places where I made the slits were glued back together with barge cement, then I used the sanding drum on the dremel to round and smooth the seams. A second piece was added to this curved one. I attached it with a foam strip so it would give a little. A second layer of 2mm EVA-38 foam was added on top of the curved piece. I put a strip of 2mm foam under the edge of this piece to give it a rounded shape. I also used tiny strips to give it a border. The rest of the detail was done by making shallow score marks in the foam and then heating it with a heat gun to open up the slices. Do not cut all the way thru the 2mm foam - very shallow cuts. I also made shallow cuts on the second piece of base foam. I really like this technique it gives a lot of detail and texture with a limited amount of work. I only made one of these as one would have been covered by the cape anyway.
Under the shoulder piece and on the other side is rust colored quilted pieces. I made the pattern with painters tape again on my son's shoulder wearing the chainmail. I added seam allowances and sewed the pieces right sides together with a layer of quilting batting leaving the sides open. I turned it right side out and topstitched the edges closing the open edges. I attached elastic to the sides of the pieces attaching the two sides together.
I attached the crunchy side of 2 inch velcro to the underside of the shoulder armor. The fabric pieces fit tightly but because of their shape and that something was velcro-ed to it it flopped down a little. I added some crunchy sided 5/8 inch velcro to the shoulders of the chainmail so they would stick in place.
Step 8: Leg Armor and Boots
The boots we bought were green. That was the only color we could get in the right size. This is when I started researching leather/faux leather paint and found Angelus. I couldn't be happier with it. I painted the boots with mixture of Angelus dark brown, 2-hard (to promote adhesion to faux leather), 2-thin (an airbrush medium), and Duller (to take out most of the shine from the paint). Dark brown to 2-hard is 1:1, then that mixture to 2-thin is 4:1 and then I added some duller to the mixture until it was right when it dried. That's not very specific, but I used 5ml pipettes to measure and it was about 20ml of dark brown/2-hard, 5ml of 2-thin and 5ml of Duller, I believe. I airbrushed the entire boot twice (except the sole - I masked that off as per Angelus instructions). Once dry it seemed extremely durable and flexible. I also did a layer of Angelus matte acrylic topcoat just to protect it further since they are shoes.
The boot cover patterns were made by kind of holding up paper around the leg with boots on and trimming it until it was looking right. They come up a ways past the top of the boot but not all the way to the knee. It's a three level effect on these. Metal over 2 layers of leather. I freehanded the design shape over the tracing of the pattern and cut that out as well. The main shape is made of 8mm EVA-38 foam, with 2mm EVA-38 (actually I used EVA-70 for this because I had enough of it) over it. Cut 2 pieces (one flipped) of the main shape. Then 2 for each side of the design layer. Then 2 pieces of the second layer of "leather" out of 2mm foam. There is also a flap that overlaps the boot at the bottom made of 2mm foam. To do this I did the painters tape pattern technique and then cut to slits in it so it would lay flat and have notches out of the bottom. Glueing order: First the bottom flap to the main shape. Then the second leather layer to the main shape. Then the design layer and the border design layer together and then added to the main shape. Heat the whole thing up with the heat gun and shape it around something round. Hold it until it cools some so it holds the shape.
Step 9: Leather Pants
I used this pattern for the pants.
I ignored the fact that it was supposed to be a stretch fabric. I used upholstery fabric honestly since it was the right texture/pattern that I wanted. I used the brown distressed fabric. I made the pants slightly bigger than the size chart indicated to compensate for the lack of stretch. Unfortunately, it appeared that half the pattern instructions are missing. So part of it I had to make it up based on other patterns i’ve followed in the past.
So I suggest finding a better pattern for skinny jeans that has intact instructions.
Step 10: Ring
Our purchased accessory this year was the ring. We got it from www.papillon9.net. She somehow embeds a glowing substance into the engraving in the rings she creates. They are beautiful! She sent us a free black light keychain to charge the ring.
Step 11: The Cape
The cape was a challenging part of this costume. This cape is not symmetrical. It falls over the left shoulder more than the right. I used painters tape over the shoulders to get the shape of the top of the cape. I made some cuts in the shoulder area to make it lay flat and put it on paper. I added more paper for the bottom of the cape based on how tall my son is and where I wanted the cape to fall. Once I had the general shape, I cut out two layers of the lighter faux suede/leather (one side flipped). I basted the layers together (wrong sides together).
The fur was hard to get. We went through several samples of fur to pick the one we liked and 3 kinds that we liked went out of stock on us. We finally settled on "baby wolf" from BigZFabric.com. To add the fur trim, I cut 2 long 4-5 inch strips of fur. If you buy less fur you may have to make several strips and sew them together. DO NOT cut fur with scissors normally. You have to just cut the backing of the fur and not the pile. The best way I read to do it is to use an Xacto knife or utility knife and very shallowly cut just the backing of the fabric. This worked really well for me. It minimized shedding of the fur and keeps a natural looking edge to the fur.
To attach the fur to the cape, I first pinned the fur to the cape right sides together making sure ALL of the pile was inside the sandwiched fabric. Otherwise your seam will look bad and you'll have to pick the fur out with a pin - not fun. Once the fur was sewn on one side I flipped the fur over and folded it around the back. You could hand sew the other edge to the cape. This would be the "right" way to do it, but I was short on time. I got out the hot glue gun and glued the second edge to the cape. The pile hides the "seam" so you'll never know the difference. Just be careful not to melt the pile or get glue on the right side of the fur. The bottom of the cape does not have fur trim. I undid the basting at the bottom of the cape and added a piece of lightweight-midweight fusible web adhesive. I applied it with an iron based on manufacturers instructions. I then cut a ripped-looking edge to the bottom of the cape - a rough varied zigzag. It wasn't quite stuck as much as I'd like it to be because of the base fabric of the suede so I used a lighter and quickly hit the edge with some heat and squeezed it together. This darkened the edge a little too and it looked a little dirty which I think added to the effect.
To attach the cape to the armor I chose to use hooks. It's a heavier cape so it needed to be a strong connection. I bought fabric covered hooks from the local sewing shop. I hand-sewed the loop side of the hooks onto the underside of the front corner edges of the cape. To attach the hook side I used screw rivets. I used a drill to make two holes where the hooks would attach, and inserted the screw rivets through the hooks and the armor. I just didn't trust glue to attach the hooks and you can't really sew to foam.
The cape has a design on the back. I enlarged a picture of the design I found on the computer and created a vector out of it (I'm also a graphic designer). I printed the design and taped it to the top of the stencil material. I cut through the paper and the stencil on the lines. There are several parts that will be loose in the design. You just have to make sure to transfer those separately to the fabric and put them in the right place. Make sure the stencil is adhered well to the fabric. I then airbrushed with a mixture of white, gray, sepia and colorless extender Jacquard Airbrush paint - mostly a light light gray-white. It must be lighter than your fabric color. I put at least 2 coats of paint on the cape and peeled the corner to make sure the contrast to the fabric was enough before pulling the whole stencil off. You can't get it back on after you pull it off and the stencil is basically ruined once it's pulled off, although I tried to save it (because I'm a pack rat). I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. The only thing I might add is some "dirt" to the bottom edge of the cape. I would used some thinned sepia (with colorless extender) and lightly airbrush the bottom edge.
One more thing - there is a hole needed in the cape. The strap that holds the sheaths on needs to feed through the cape. I just made a slit slightly to the side of the cape. Wait until you have the straps and sheaths done to estimate where it needs to be.
Step 12: The Swords
To start the patterns to the swords I resized and printed pictures I found of the swords to the size I wanted to make them. I estimated the size by cutting an old piece of pvc and asking my son what he thought of the size for each weapon. It helps me to see something the right size in his hands so it fits his stature. Once the pictures were printed I cut them out with an Xacto knife and traced the general shape on 10mm EVA-38 foam twice. I cut the piece of fiberglass to the right length leaving some room at the top and bottom of the foam shape so it wouldn't break through when shaping. I used a dremel with a cutting disc to cut through the fiberglass (use a mask and eye protection!). I then used the dremel with a stone bit to gouge out a trench down the middle of the foam pieces on one side of each. This is to give room for the fiberglass rod. Be careful not to sand too much off or you'll break through. I glued the two sides of the sword pieces together with barge. Once together, I used a snap off utility knife with a new blade or sharpened to cut a bevel in the sides of the blade. Be very careful not to cut through both sides and to keep the sides straight. I also cut the corners off of the handle part. Once some of the bulk is gone, I start with the sanding sticks. I have 4 strengths of sand paper glued to paint stir sticks (thank you Evil Ted Smith for that tip and many more). Use the roughest one first and sand the foam to shape. Keep using the other sticks until you are using the smoothest one. Try to get the surface as smooth as you can but it will look a little fuzzy. I then added the guard to the blade. I cut two pieces of 10mm foam for each side. I used a sanding drum on the dremel to sand out a space for the blade and then glued it on with barge. I cut off the corners to the guard as well and sanded them down. I find it easier to sand the blade and handle first without the guard in the way and then to add the guard.
The broken sword is made in the same way except it has a blood groove down the middle. This is a pain. I'm bad at keeping the dremel going straight. I abandoned my first version after messing up on the blood groove. I created it again (ugh) and then did a bunch more tests on scrap foam. I found using the hot knife was easier to control so I attempted it again and succeeded. It's a little rough where it melts the foam, but that part is dark in the final product anyway. If I had some round hand files I may be able to smooth it out but I didn't have any so I just left it rough.
The handles also have a couple strips of foam around them. I rounded the edges of some of these with the dremel and sanding drum. The detail in the pommel of the sword (I think that's it - end of the handle) is created with melting parts away with the hot knife and dremeling with the stone bit so it looks like hammered metal in places.
Once the shape is completed you can use a heat gun or a torch to seal the foam. This will also burn off some of the fuzzy pieces of foam from sanding, but be careful not to burn the sword, especially with the torch.
I wrapped the handles with long strips of faux leather (the thin stretchy kind). I cut the strips using a rotary cutter made for fabric and a straight edge. You have to mask this part before coating the sheaths. Painter's tape and packing wrap are my maskings of choice.
Step 13: The Sheaths - Worbla!
I had my first adventure with Worbla to make the sheaths! The sheath needed to be strong enough to have a slit down the front and hold it's shape. Worbla is a thermoplastic that when heated almost acts as clay or a pre-glued sheet. It's pretty amazing. Also not cheap. I used Worbla black art because I read it starts with a little smoother finish, but I imagine the finest art kind would work just as well (I used a couple pieces of finest art because I had a sample). So to use worbla you sandwich foam inside it to give it more body. I measured, traced the swords and drew out my pattern pieces. This was tricky because it needed to have enough room to slide in and out easily but not look too boxy. So I'd first cut the foam piece and then the worbla slightly bigger (so it would seal to itself around the foam). You can cut cooled worbla sheets with scissors. You heat up the worbla with a heat gun on a wood or mdf surface. Don't use your cutting mat - it will melt and warp (found out the hard way). Use heat resistant gloves - it gets really hot. Heat up the first side of worbla and then add the foam piece on top of that piece. Heat up the second side and put it on top sandwiching the foam inside. Press down the sides of the worbla to adhere it to itself and let cool and harden. Do this with all sides of the sheath. Then you can reheat the edges and stick the pieces together. I think you can work the seams a bit with the gloves and it will blend a little better (but I admit I'm a beginner with worbla). Test and make sure (once it's cool again) if the sword fits. If it doesn't, heat it up and adjust by bending. I then covered part of the sheath in faux leather. This time it's the thin stretchy fused faux leather. To get the shape I used painters tape. The cut and peeled it gently off, added a tiny bit for an overlap at the front where there is supposed to be a visible seam. I used flexbond to glue on the leather since that is what I am going to use to seal the worbla and give it a smooth finish anyway. I used another layer of worbla (no foam) on the end to create a ball shape on the end and cover the last 3 or so inches of the tip. I used some worbla like clay to make a ridge on the edge of this shape and the top of the leather section. I used two layers of worbla to make the v shaped pieces sticking out from the sides. Just heat up the end and the area you want to fuse it to and it will stick. I made belt loops on the back that would fit a 1.5 inch strap with two layers of worbla. I added a leather strap wrapped around the leather part. A leather strap will be added to around the worbla part as well but I waited until after coating and painting to do so.
The second sheath is only about 6 inches tall and the broken sword sticks out the bottom of it. I sandwiched some worbla and foam, wrapped the real sword in aluminum foil so it wouldn't stick and wrapped the worbla/foam around the sword somewhat loosely. It overlapped in the back to adhere to itself. I added strips of two layers of worbla in a design on the top. The bottom half I actually used the finest art version of worbla, but it's comepletely covered with faux leather. This sheath has some leather straps as well that I added after coating and painting. The sheath gets 4 metal d-rings attached to the four corners. I used a small strip of worbla to attach them. I added two velcro straps to the big sheath to attach the little sheath by the d-rings. The d-rings were painted at the same time as the buckles in the same way with the hammered metal spray paint and matte topcoat.
Step 14: Worbla Buckles
There is an elven looking buckle on the strap to the sheath on the shoulder. I used foam and two layers of worbla to create it. It was very tedious to cut the shape because there is a lot of open spaces. I cut the foam to the right size with the cutouts and cut the worbla a little bigger without the cutouts. I stuck them together and used an Xacto knife to cut out the open parts. It must be warm in order to cut it nicely with an Xacto. Once it was cut, I rounded the shape a little to contour to his shoulder and added a belt loop out of 2 layers of worbla on the back.
The second buckle was easier. It's shape was simpler and there were only 2 open spaces. I shaped that a little contoured as well so the belt would go through easily.
Step 15: The Straps and Belts
The straps and belts are made of EVA-70 foam - the strong stuff - because they had to support the weight of the sheaths. They are 1.5 inches wide. I reinforced them further with the tulle mesh glued to the back. They feature the fake stitching created with the serrated tracing wheel and a raised design created with puffy paint. To transfer the design, I first printed pictures of the belt's designs in the right size (around an inch and a quarter tall). I upped the contrast and printed them in black and white so I could see them well. I used a pencil and traced each design while on top of the foam. This created a small indent that was just noticeable enough to trace the design. I then used the puffy paint to trace the design carefully. Let this dry for quite some time.
One of the belts is in two pieces with a real metal buckle. I also made an end for the buckle out of the EVA-70 foam. It ties in a knot of sorts after going through the buckle (see photos). Use a leather hole punch to make a hole for the buckle. On the one side of the buckle punch a hole, fold over some foam at the hole and glue it to itself over the buckle to hold it on. The other side feeds through the buckle like a belt, but you'll have to put it in backwards because of the end of the belt (it's too big to fit).
This belt also has circular pieces added to it. I did this using a piece of piping I found that was roughly 1 inch in diameter. It had a slightly sharp edge so I pushed down on the foam like a cookie cutter and then twisted back and forth until it cut through. This is much easier than trying to cut a circle with either an Xacto, a utility knife, or scissors. This gave a much for uniform result. There were a few fuzzies on the edges after cutting but I used a lighter to melt them off. Use a light touch though I melted too much of a couple and set them on fire, oops! I then punched a hole in the middle of the circles and used the top smooth side of a heavy duty snap to make the inner circle. I would suggest coating and painting these first then adding the snaps, but I got a little ahead of myself and had to mask the snaps later for those steps. To attach the snaps you need a snap tool and a hammer. Follow manufacturers instructions. I did attach these after coating and painting the belts and the circles. I just used some hot glue at that point.
I used nylon strapping and plastic buckles with tri-glides on the backs of the belts for ease of use. Same manner as before: glue at least 3 inches of strap to the underside of the belt, sew the strap to one side of the buckle and use the tri-glide on the other side with the other side of the buckle. I used barge to glue to the foam.
The strap for the sheaths had a different design on it. It also attached a little differently. I didn't want it to be attached to the belts for fear it would pull them out of place. It has a metal buckle in front. I attached it to a shorter piece of foam and glued the end to the armor itself. I glued about 4 inches of it and left the rest free to move. It ended right above the hip armor. The other side of the strap got a strap and a plastic buckle. I hid the one end in between the hip armor attachments and glued it to the underside of the back of the hip armor. I used a tri-glide to make this adjustable as well. This is important because the strap will start to stretch a tiny bit it seems. Make sure to have the cape attached when measuring the length of this strap because it adds bulk. This is the time to cut the slit in the cape to feed the strap through.
Step 16: Coating With Creature Cast (Liquid Neoprene Rubber)
All the pieces of foam were coated in Creature Cast. If they haven't been heated up with a heat gun or torch hit them with that first. Be careful not to heat anything you'd applied the fake stitching effect to or it will go away. They've already been heated and sealed with the heat gun anyway.
To coat with creature cast you can use a critter gun which is a siphon gun powered by a compressor. Make sure to add some of the thickening agent. This sounds counter productive for a spray gun, but for some reason you can't do multiple coats without it. It won't stick to itself. This stuff will clog the spray gun regularly. Keep pipe cleaners on hand to feed through the tube and remove the blockages from the tube and nozzle. Even with this hassle I still find it easier to spray it than brush it on.
I laid out some plastic drop cloths in my garage and used aluminum foil when I flipped them over so they wouldn't stick to the previous overspray. To coat the torso I hung it on a metal hanger and suspended it from the ceiling with some string. Make sure to coat the edges of the foam too. Everything else I laid out on the drop cloths to spray and did one side at a time. The belts and weapons were sprayed on both sides. I put about 3 coats of Creature Cast on these pieces - maybe more on the weapons.
The cool thing about Creature Cast (as opposed to Flexi-dip or Liquid Latex or other options you have) is that you can sand it once it's dry. I didn't do a lot of sanding because of being short on time, but I was able to sand out the obvious imperfections on the armor pieces. I did sand the weapons well because I wanted those as smooth as possible. Be careful not to break all the way through to the foam. If that happens, you have to recoat a few times and try again.
Once you are done clean the gun thoroughly.
Step 17: Coating Worbla With Flexbond
The Worbla must be coated as well for a smooth finish. Once I was all done with the Creature Cast and I cleaned the gun, I switched to the Flexbond thinned with a little water. Be careful not to overspray this or it drips and pools. When several coats are put on carefully it looks really good. The sheath was tricky because there were many sides and it won't sit on it's side. I ended up holding it by the masked part while spraying and then laying it across the end of an large open box to dry. Make sure to brush out any drips before they dry. Do at least 3-5 coats or until smooth.
Step 18: Painting
I did all the painting with airbrush this year. For the brown leather parts I used the same concentration of Angelus paints that I did with the boots. Everything got 2-3 coats: the torso, the belts, and the leg and arm and shoulder armor. I didn't bother masking in this step except for buckles.
Once the brown was dry I cleaned the airbrush and masked the brown parts. For the record, masking is a much bigger pain in the butt than the actual painting part and takes far longer. I used a combination of painters tape and saran/packing plastic wrap on the larger areas.
Then I did the silver coats. I used Sargent's Liquid Metal thinned with Liquitex Airbrush medium. You have to thin it quite a bit because the paint is very thick, but it's the best metallic paint I've found thus far. It's just metallic without being sparkly. Do about 3 coats of silver. Maybe more on the weapons because they need to hold up to some extra abuse.
Now it's time to watch paint dry...
Before unmasking everything make a very thinned batch of Angelus flat black and 2-Thin. Don't put a lot of paint in - mostly the 2-Thin. Use a chip brush and paint over each part of the silver and dab it off with a paper towel. This darkens it slightly and makes it a little dirtier and old. Let it dry then unmask everything.
Wait on weathering the swords. You'll have to mask off part of the swords to add some gold. Once the gold coats are done, unmask the silver parts. You may have to use an Xacto on the edges of the tape so you don't peel off layers of glue and paint. You can then use the black solution on the swords and dab it off. Leave a higher concentration in the holes and recesses and the blood groove.
The swords get a Krylon Satin topcoat for durability. Make sure they are thoroughly dry and spray lightly and evenly you don't want drips. They have a nice feel once this coat is dry they are no longer tacky feeling. Unmask the leather handles after and they are done!
The sheaths and worbla buckles were painted with the same Sargent Liquid Metal mixture and the airbrush. A few coats. These seemed to take longer to dry. Do the same weathering effect with the black solution and dab it off.
Step 19: Final Touches and Assembly
At this time once all the painting is complete, I added the buckles to the arms and legs and the straps and buckles to the sides of the torso armor. For the straps I just used hot glue to attach them. I didn't want the messy brushing of barge to get on the paint and they were just decorative so they didn't have to support weight or tension.
I used rub and buff in silver and my finger to highlight the design on the belts. Make sure this is dry before using the belts. It's hard to get off.
This is also when I should have done the snaps on the circles for the belts and added them to the belts - I used hot glue for this also.
To add the buckles to the straps on the legs and arms I did use barge because they were functional buckles that had to withstand tension. I trimmed the straps at this time so they wouldn't stick out to the sides. I tried the armor on my son and I punched the holes with the leather hole punch to fit his limbs.
Add the worbla buckles to each belt and strap and assemble the pieces. Tighten any buckles you can so it's a snug fit especially the strap for the sheaths.
Use a silver paint marker on the design on the front of the torso all along the edges. This really makes the design stand out.
For my son's look we chose to dye his hair darker. We tried using temporary dye last year and it made the costume a mess so I chose to use semi-permanent dye this year. We added clip in extensions and cut the extensions to the right length to approximate the style of Talion. We also painted on a beard. We use eyebrow color and a small mascara brush that came with it to dab on the stubble. I also strengthened his eyebrows with it to match his darker hair.