Nasus is complete.  Finally!  It’s been 5-6 weeks since I started, though the brainchild of this costume occurred prior to Orkfest.

I spent the last week sealing the paint on the armor, adding fasteners and velcro, and using the heat gun to reshape a few pieces.  Here is a small peek at Nasus:

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Taking a selfie with all this stuff on was not the easiest thing ever.  After I took this shot, I used the heat gun to move the tails on the helmet a bit, they were touching the gem a lot on the chest piece.

I added some clippy fasteners (I bought a large bag of small ones on Amazon) to the bracers, shin guards, cross piece, and the skirt.  I also added velcro to the bracers and shin guards to try to hold them in place a bit.  I used worbla scraps to attach them to the armor pieces.  FYI, they don’t stick to foam well …

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I added just velcro to the shoulder / chest piece.  The wires for the gem are glued down a bit, and the weird square thing is a pocket I made for the 9v battery – I used duct tape, and then painted it gold.  As you can tell I was not super careful about painting the inside of my armor pieces, but I tried to get the parts that might be visible to folks.

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Corresponding pieces to all the velcro were stuck onto the bodysuit and leggings.  I didn’t stitch them on, since the pieces are already put together, but I might add a bit of fabric glue for good measure.  Here is a shot of a leg piece.  I put hot glue around the edges of the sticky velcro to try to secure it in place a bit more.  Seems like that worked pretty well.  The fasteners on the leg pieces are actually really hard to clasp, so I’m kind of wishing I had used a different solution, despite the fact that they hold the armor nice and securely.  If these fail, it will be the fault of the worbla engineering to attach them heh.

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Some things about this costume:

1.  I am going to sweat a lot.  I might pick up some talcum powder and try to prevent that with the bodysuit, as I have heard that is helpful.

2.  It is going to be noisy, since anytime the armor pieces touch, they clink, and from my shoulders up I have about four pieces that touch constantly, including the helm.  Might give myself a headache hah.

3.  The axe is heavy as fuck and unbalanced.

4.  The skirt piece is awkward.  If any pieces break, I am betting on the cross piece that holds this together.  I added hot glue to the fasteners to reinforce the worbla.

I have a feeling my wear of this costume will be a bit short – probably Saturday afternoon and evening, so I can participate in the League of Legends photoshoot.  Afterwards I may just take it to the Marriott Atrium to stand around a bit – it is not going to be great for walking around in.  Stay tuned for the trial run next week!

No, I’m not quite organized enough to have started packing yet.  Plus, I have been sick the last few days, which makes me lazier.  Anyway, this post is about how and what we pack for DragonCon.

Costumes

  • Each of my costumes gets its own clear, shallow bin once it is complete.   It’s an easy way to keep all the pieces together.
  • The Nasus costume will have a larger bin than usual because of all the armor bits.
  • I pack a costume repair kit of sorts that includes various tapes, extra batteries, glues, fishing wire, needle & thread, and this year I’ll probably throw a few worbla and wonderflex scraps in there.  I probably won’t both to bring my heat gun, since in a pinch I suspect a hair dryer from the hotel will work.
  • My makeup kit always comes with, and this year I’ll be adding my airbrush to it.  I might try to separate out the make up bits I need for each costume into their own kit, including the contacts.

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Drinks, Snacks, & Other Supplies

  • Our snack of choice to bring to DragonCon is home made beef jerky.  I’m hoping to make some this weekend for the trip.
  • Drinks at DragonCon are pricey.  Much more efficient to bring your own and carry it around in a flask or water bottle or camel pack.
  • I might make some more vodka infused gummy bears this year for a snack.
  • In the past we have taken liquor to mix drinks with, but that becomes a bit of a hassle.  The only time I felt like that worked out was with the chocolate covered pretzel shots (Frangelico and whipped cream vodka, with a lick of salt off your hand first).  I think this time we might stick to beer / cider and wine for ease.
  • At the con hotels, the ice machines are empty pretty much all the time, as lots of folks bring coolers to fill.  We will bring a cooler as well, though we may buy a bag of ice to throw in it on Thursday.  It’ll be interesting to see how the non-convention hotel compares in terms of ice I guess.
  • This year we are bringing Jesse’s small Tardis refrigerator to plug in and keep a couple of drinks cold.  We’ll see how that works out.
  • It’s easy to get dehydrated at the con, so I intend to take some bottled water with us, though I’m not sure how easy it will be to carry with me while I’m in costume.

Are you a frequent con-goer?  Do you have any tips or tricks for surviving a convention that you’d like to share?

Time’s a ticking!  I’m gonna be taking this week to do some DragonCon themed posts while I get all the finishing touches put on my costumes.

OK.  So I borrowed this idea from a fellow cosplayer and DragonCon attendee, Kelldar.  I’m hoping to run into her at the convention this year, since she’ll be wearing Megara and I have a Hades costume!  But since cell phones and social media worked so well last year, it is hard to say if that will happen… Anyway, it’s one of those quiz things where you answer questions about your experiences.  If anyone has their own good answers or stories related to a question on the list, be sure to comment on the post and share it! :D

Regardless, cute DragonCon related quiz!  If you’ll be at the convention this year, look for me and come say hello if you spot me!

1. Favorite alias:  Tyraenna (it’s my go to in-game name for any MMO I play)

2. Hotel you’re staying in:  I’m still hoping to miraculously score a better one, but at the moment, we have a room at the Double Tree, which is in walking distance of the con.

3. What days will you be there:  Arriving Wednesday, staying with friends in the area, then heading to the con Thursday for badge pickup and early fun!

4. Best Room snack items:  Beef jerky (homemade), and possibly vodka gummy bears.

5. Most number of people you’ve shared a con room with? 2!  Been married since I started going.  Well I suppose technically there have been a few nights where we leant room space to a third friend, either sober or drunk.

6. Please give your current status: (as per this: Con Virgin, never been to any convention; Fresh Meat, never been to Dragoncon, but have been to others; Con Neophyte, years 2-5 of Dragoncon; Con Veteran, years 6-10 of Dragoncon; Exalted Con Elder, 11 years or more going to Dragoncon)  This will be my 6th year attending, so I guess that makes me a Con Veteran!

7. If you answered Fresh Meat, Veteran, Exalted Elder to number 6,What other cons are your favorites?  I have only been to two others – PAX, and Megacon.

7a. Have you ever left Dragoncon with more than $20 left?  Yes.  This is an odd question, and I don’t typically plan to bring all of my savings to DragonCon.  We tend to budget a spending amount for each of us, and actually we have had several times where neither of us has spent much.  I do always try to buy a t-shirt, though last year I failed at even that (sometimes I’m not a fan of the designs).  This year, I like the new logo, so I hope that makes it on some shirts!

7b. During the 4 days of Dragoncon have you gotten more than 20 hours of sleep?  Yes.  Not by a ton.  But my husband does like to sleep in, so I’m sure that influences my sleep habits.

8. Are you costuming (Cos Play)?  YES.  YES.  MOAR YES.

8a. If your answer to 8 was yes, could you please tell us what to be on the lookout for??  I’m bringing Sky Captain Rainbow Dash, Lady Amalthea, Hades, Nasus, and probably my Elizabeth costume.

9. Favorite Hall Costume (any con, any year. you can pick more than one)?  I have a soft spot for the Yup Yup monsters, and this raptor I saw one year wearing a dress.

10.Costume you’d most like to wear and why are you not rocking that?  Tron Siren.  I feel like I would be happy to wear this if I lost enough weight.  I support any and all cosplayers, but it’s all about what you are comfortable in, and I am certain I would not be comfortable wearing that costume right now.

11. Are you a gamer?  Yes.

11a. What’s your favorite game?  Probably Civ 5.  Most recently played MMOs would include Wildstar and Guild Wars 2.

12. Favorite Programming Track/s at Dragoncon?  Costuming!  All the tracks are great though, and I love the variety offered at DragonCon.

13. Sorry 13 is an unlucky number; therefore, this space has been pre-empted. (feel free to insert any smart ass comment here)  Meh.

14. What flavor of geek are you? Computer ? Podcaster? Robot Builder? Gamer? Photo Hound? I only come for the booze? Something not named?  Gamer – more board games than video games these days, though I enjoy both.  And I enjoy most sci-fi / fantasty shows in geekdom.

15. Science Fiction/Fantasy celeb, you’d like to have dinner with?  Patrick Stewart.  Especially if Ian McClellan came along.  Those guys just look like they have too much fun.

15a. Favorite Celeb you’ve had dinner/drink with?  Can’t say that I have done this.  I have spotted a few at the con – Lou Ferrigno while checking into the Marriott one year, Colin Ferguson at the elevators of the Marriott, and Felicia Day once rode the escalator several feet in front of us at the Hilton.

15b Story of above?  Ooops, I told them above.

15c. Science Fiction/Fantasy Celeb, you’d most like to get nasty with?  Probably not gonna share that.

16. Thing you’d most like to see stay the same at the Con?  The hotels being the host, rather than a convention center.

17. Thing you’d most like to see changed at Dragoncon?  Add another host hotel.  Extend DragonCon TV to more area hotels, at least the overflow ones.  Mail the freaking badges out ahead of time, or make the lines even faster to pick them up.

18. Favorite book or comic series or manga?  This is not really my thing … I do own some of the Drizzt Do’Urden books in comic book form, which I think are cool.  If we are talking favorite book series, I think I have to go with the Sword of Truth series, by Terry Goodkind.

19. What is your favorite Sci Fi TV show?   Too hard to pick.  On the SyFy channel right now … Face Off :)  All time … probably Star Trek TNG.

20. Favorite Con Musical group?  I liked Frenchy & the Punk in past years, but this year I am SUPER EXCITED about The Cog is Dead!!!

21. Are you on Staff/Panel Participant? What and where?   No.  I love the folks who do this, they MAKE the con what it is, but con is vacation for me.

21a. Panelist list your panels or artist, exhibitor or dealer? Where you gonna be?  N/A

22. Klingon, Star Fleet, Borg, Storm Trooper, Jedi, Browncoats, Scapers, Elf, Colonial, Cylon, Hobbit, Belly dancer, Drummer, Wizard, Furry, Steam Punk or what ever, I may have left off the list this year?   I might be dressed as Steampunk?  Not sure what this question is asking.

23. Current favorite special effects movie extravaganza? So far this summer, I enjoyed Transformers: Age of Extinction.

24. Favorite Con Activity?  People watching & cosplaying!

25. Con guest you’re most excited about meeting\seeing?  I am doing a cool workshop on Thursday with Roy Wooley and RJ Haddy from Faceoff so probably them.

26. Thing you’re looking forward to the most at Dragoncon 2014?  Wearing costumes, going to my first workshop, and attending a couple group photo sessions! 

27. Place you know you are likely to be if folks want to find you?  Trader Vic’s, around 11 pm Friday & Saturday.  Drum circle in the wee hours of the morning.  The Cog is Dead show (whenever that gets scheduled).  Gaming Hall in the Hilton at various times.  Hoping to hang out in the Marriott Atrium a few times with my costumes as well, but no planned times.

28. Thing that’s on your must see/do list while at Dragoncon?  The dealer hall!

29. Best Con memory: (come on tell us a story! )  Hmmm … probably drum circle.  There was a year where drunk Colin used an empty water jug as a drum.  And there is always an older lady at the drum circle dancing, we are fans of hers, so she is kind of a staple of DragonCon for us.

 

 

Let’s see, what updates can I give you guys on Nasus today …

1)  I found a better way to weather my armor pieces than the dry brushing technique I was using previously.  Even spray painted over the old part on the cross piece and did the weathering over.  This time I mixed the paint and added water to it so that I could turn it into more of a wash.  I brushed it heavily over any raised designed and crevices.  Then I smeared it around with a wet paper towel, and left it for a couple seconds (not long!).  It looks about like this after the smearing.

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Finally, I took a dry paper towel and wiped down the armor pieces, removing the majority of the wash.  Here is the set of bracers next to each other – one is weathered, one is not.

photo 3 (3)The difference is quite subtle (the one on the left is weathered).  I actually did the process a second time for that bracer, trying to get more paint on the central bug design.  I’m almost done with the puffy paint and weathering on my pieces – just the collar and the skirt to go.

2)  I added some puffy paint to the helm and added some black paint to the tails on the helmet.  Also weathering, though it is not done yet in this photo.

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3)  I patterned out the pieces for my bodysuit to wear under the armor.  I will probably stitch that together tonight.  Also need to add clear elastic bands back onto the face pieces since I painted the old ones and wound up cutting them off haha.  No pictures of this yet; patterning can be a bit boring.  I made a front, a back, and a sleeve piece.  And completely used up the black Lycra knit I’ve had in my stash for over a year – huzzah!

4)  I worked on the axe some – got some 1″ thick foam sheets and cut an axe shaped piece out to go between my Worbla pieces.  I have spray painted the axe pieces, but some detail painting has yet to be finished. I worked on adding the handle to the PVC pipe, and putting wood filler on it to smooth out the Wonderflex.

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I think I have decided I am putting way too much wood filler on the wonderflex, but what is done is done.  Now I will know for next time.  In the meantime, the axe is not going to be my favorite piece of this costume LOL.  I attached the foam axe head to the PVC handle with some hot glue and some duck tape.  I just didn’t trust the hot glue to be enough once I got the heavier pieces of this thing on there.

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I did a test run on one side of the axe to see how it will look with the gem light, and where I might be able to house the battery.  I think I am going to cut a battery sized hole in the central foam and cover it with tape of some kind on the day of, once the batteries are inserted.

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That’s really it for now.  Next weekend is going to have to be my trial run fiesta, which leaves next week to finish up all the last little bits of things.

I am a little worried now that the version of Nasus I am cosplaying is not an active skin for the character in League of Legends.  The version I am making is based on the old school classic Nasus – even his main skin got an update … hopefully no one will judge me too much for that.  I added a lot of my own tweaks to it anyway, with the puffy paint design and some modifications to the helm and collar piece.  Cosplay would be boring if everyone did everything the same way – at least that is my opinion.

Next week you can look forward to a couple of pre-DragonCon posts, trial runs, and that kind of stuff.  Two weeks to go!

 

 

So painting this Nasus armor is taking forever.  I started at least a week ago, and I am not done.

After finishing with the Worbla, I had to do something to smooth out the plastic pieces.  I read that applying several coats of Gesso, and then sanding it down would work great.  Here are my Gesso’d up armor bits.

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I went through a whole 16 oz bottle of Gesso, which put 4ish coats on the pieces.  For the Wonderflex, this was barely hiding the rough patterning.  I ordered more Gesso, and tried sanding down one of my bracers with a little mouse sander using about 80 grit sandpaper to start with.  In retrospect, I probably should have gone to a higher grit, maybe 120.  Anyway, it helped smooth out the piece, but still did not reduce the visibility of the pattern much.  Below the piece on the left has been sanded and the piece on the right has not.

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I threw another coat on everything and two more on the piece I had just sanded.  I decided not to sand down the rest of the pieces because I felt like it pretty much undid all the work I had done to cover the textures, without improving things.  I’m still wondering what I did wrong because so many people seem to swear by this method.

For my axe pieces, I did some more reading and found that a few folks suggest wood filler before Gesso.  So out to Lowe’s I went, and returned home and then covered my axe pieces in wood filler.

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I used a pretty thick coat of the stuff since the Wonderflex texture was proving to be a hassle.  After letting it dry, I did sand this down, using 120 grit sand paper.  Then I painted it with a couple coats of Gesso.  I think I’m happier with it, but I don’t feel like wood filler is realistic for all my pieces with this time frame.  Maybe next time?  Anyway, I started spray painting my armor pieces as they were out in the garage.

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After a couple coats to make sure I got all the edges and enough of the insides, I pulled some pieces inside and began some detailing work with gold puffy paint.  I have felt like this armor is a little plain for my tastes, so I added a bit of a design to some bits of it.  Oh, and the beetle on my bracer needed legs.

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As that dried a bit, I tried my hand at weathering.  I didn’t want to do too much of this, just get a general idea of how it would look, so that when the puffy paint was completely dry, I could continue weathering. I tried a dry brushing technique, and I don’t think it’s working quite the way I’d like.  Once things are dry, I’m going to add some water to my acrylic paints and do more of a wash and wipe down the crevices with damp paper towels thing.  Color wise, I am using black and forest green mixed together.  Below is the weathering trial on the bottom of this piece, since the top has puffy paint drying.  Something about it is just … off.  Hopefully the other technique helps things out.

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There may not be a post on Thursday, since this painting is just taking forever.  I’ll try to find something to share with you all though.  Here’s to a productive week!

And now for a short intermission during our Nasus costume posts.  Why?  Because I have completely emptied the 16 oz bottle of gesso onto my armor pieces (which is about 4-5 coats of the stuff on each piece). Apparently that will not be enough, at least for the Wonderflex pieces.  So now I wait for my new bottle to arrive.

But no point in wasting valuable costuming time!  Three weeks from today is the first day of DragonCon programming (we’ll be arriving earlier that week in Atlanta though).  I have a giant list of things to do in that time frame, so in between Gesso coats and after I ran out, I did a lot of work on my props.

For Hades, I’m already thinking of poses.  And I wanted to do something like this:

HadesPainPanic

An exasperated look while strangling his minions, Pain and Panic.

Which means I needed some minions.

I bought a lot of Sculpey clay last time I went to the fabric store.  For Panic, I ultimately used 4 light turquoise bricks and less than half of a darker turquoise brick.  For Pain, I used 7 bricks of magenta and 1 deep purple brick.  For good measure, I watched Hercules on Netflex while I worked.photo 1 (3)

I made these guys in pieces.  They each needed a neck piece to be hidden in my fists during the photo, and all the appendages would also need to be hot glued down once the Sculpey was cooked.  I didn’t go into great detail in the fingers and toes, because I think the point gets across just fine without it.

After baking and hot gluing the pieces together, I had two little demon minions.

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Realistically, Panic’s neck is slightly too long, and Pain’s could stand to be lengthened, but I was nearly out of clay.  As it was, I had to hollow out Pain’s head and body in order to have enough.  I am terrified of traveling with these guys … gonna have to pack them nicely with bubble wrap and stuff.  Those tails …

And just to make sure, they do in fact work for the pose.

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When those guys were finished, I worked on my prop for Lady Amalthea – a fake mirror to hold, with a reflection of her in unicorn form.  I started with a small wooden cutting board with a handle, and added three strips of metallic plumbing tape to be the “mirror”.  Then I began painting.  I opted for blue for the mirror, since it was pastel and will match well enough with Amalthea’s dress.  And I did multiple coats of acrylic on the metallic tape.  Here is what it looks like right now – probably needs another layer of the blue paint.

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I might take a puffy paint pen and make a decorative design around the outside of the mirror tape; as it is, I think the transition from wood to the “mirror” is odd looking.

photo 1 (6)It’ll be interesting to see how well this prop shows up in photos from a distance.

Glad I got these done, those were two large items off of my plate!

Thermoplastics are neat, but expensive.  I bought mine from www.cosplaysupplies.com, and I opted for the combo packs, which included both Wonderflex and Worbla.  Since this project was at least somewhat about learning, I wanted to try out a few different things, plus the Wonderflex was cheaper so I wouldn’t have to buy ALL Worbla.  Anyway, that is how these giant sheets of plastic came to live in my foyer. Inspector Talon does not approve (bottom right).

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The brown stuff is the Worbla and the white sheets behind it is the Wonderflex.  Both have a smooth side, which is sticky when heated, and a textured side, though the textures are fairly different.  Before I started putting this stuff on my foam armor pieces, I cut out a few small pieces of each, and played around with it.  I’ve read that Worbla shapes a little better around curves or spheres, so it’s used especially when breastplates or helms are involved.

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The first piece I started with was the cross piece for the skirt.  I decided to do this piece with Wonderflex since there wouldn’t be much shaping happening on this piece.  I traced the piece with a little bit of extra room on the wonderflex sheet, then heated the bottom of it with my heat gun, and went to work.  I used a flathead screwdriver to press the plastic down over the raised pieces of foam.

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I also made lots of strategically placed cuts around corners and curves and things like that to make it easier to wrap the plastic around the edge of the foam.  Sometimes pieces needed reheating.  And honestly, I didn’t find the sticky side of the plastic to be super … sticky.  Regardless, I was pretty happy with my first finished piece.

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I didn’t actually glue the gem on there yet, I just had to see that it would work when I did :)  The gems will be glued down at the very end, once the armor is painted.  I was worried that this piece would be a bit flimsy, so it actually has three layers of craft foam and the layer of plastic.  The Wonderflex did help a lot to make the piece sturdier.

Next, I decided to try Worbla-ing the skirt piece.  I did this while the foam was still flat, which worked great since this piece was so huge, but when I shaped it afterwards, I decided I would probably be shaping the foam pieces prior to adding Worbla.  It just seems easier.  Anyway, here is the skirt piece as I am applying heat and screwdriver to it.

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The other piece I will mention in detail is the helmet.  This piece was already shaped which is good, but had lots of unwanted lines from the various foam parts.  I used multiple pieces of worbla for this, and after covering it, my helmet looked like this.

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Not bad, but I’d really rather not share all the gross lines from the under layers of foam that are on the top dome there.  In case you hadn’t guessed, I’m doing the upper armor of Nasus in two pieces – this helm, and a shoulder / chest piece.  It looks like one piece in his pictures, but for ease and movability, I think this will work out better.  I continued covering this helm with several more pieces of Worbla, hoping to make a neat looking design that also covered the lines and bumps at the top.  And I added some of the stripes to the front tails.

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I wound up with this.  I think I like it.  The stripes look great, and the piece around the forhead is reminiscent of some Egyptian headdresses I have seen, even if it is a slight modification to Nasus.  I think it might make the helm a tad more feminine, and since this is a genderswap costume, I think I’m okay with a little bit of feminine stylization.

As you can see above, I made my face pieces to give me an Anubis nose as well … the first attempt looked like this:

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The severe overbite here made me feel like I was making a Phteven costume instead of Nasus, so I changed it to look like it does in the picture with the helm.

phtevenThe resemblance is uncanny.

Strangely, I can breathe fairly well in the face pieces. However, I will almost certainly get an itchy nose while wearing this costume :/

I am finding that I like working with the Worbla a little bit more than the Wonderflex.  The texture on the Wonderflex seems to make detail indentations difficult.  It works fine for things like the cross where I did minimal detail work.  But I used it for the axe pieces, and the indentations between my raised pieces were much harder to punch into the plastic.  See how there is a netting like texture on it?  It’s hard to get into the grooves between my foam pieces.  In some places I felt like I was ripping it, and in other places I felt like it bounced back and floated about the crevices.

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Ultimately the axe pieces worked out okay, it would just make me think twice about which pieces I will use Wonderflex for in the future.  The bracers and shin pieces should be fine, but I opted for Worbla on the collar piece after I saw what happened with the axe.

IMG_1034Even though a lot of time and goes into the craft foam pieces because of the length of time it takes glue to dry, the plastics were also time consuming – you have to cut them, and the the process of applying them isn’t super speedy.  They heat up fast, but they cool quickly as well.  So you can’t just heat up a giant piece and place it over some foam.  You have to do it in phases, work the indentations, curve it around the edges.

Most of the tutorials I read about working with Worbla mentioned sandwiching the craft foam between two layers of plastic.  I can see how this adds sturdiness, but there is plenty of stability with just an outer layer of plastic.  Having the foam side against your body is also likely more comfortable.  And finally, not placing plastic on the underside seems like a good way to save money / plastic.  I keep thinking I am going to understand why the sandwich method is used at some point, but for now, I have not figured it out.

For what its worth, the plastics can burn if overheated.  And you can in fact take all your Worbla scraps, heat them up, and combine them into a ball of plastic that can be remelted and used again.  I haven’t tried this yet with the Wonderflex.

Here are the rest of the pieces for this set of armor, even though I didn’t talk about them in great detail above.

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Definitely has been a learning experience.  Next I’ll get to learn about sanding and painting this stuff!

In my research about armor construction with thermoplastics like Worbla and Wonderflex, I discovered a few interesting things.

1)  Worbla and Wonderflex are expensive.  Checkout www.cosplaysupplies.com if you are curious about HOW expensive.

2)  Craft foam is still a common method of making armor and it is much less expensive.

3)  Many folks combine these two methods when constructing armor.

If you remember correctly, I have actually made a set of armor out of craft foam, one of my first costumes back in 2010.  You can also check it out here in the costume gallery if you’d rather not read.  The process of making craft foam ready to paint and sturdy enough to wear was quite annoying and I’m not certain I will ever want to do it again.  But it is fantastically bendable, especially with a heat source, and I love how light the armor was to wear.

Anyway, my plan is to listen to some of the tutorials I have read, and make a base layer of armor out of some craft foam.  Once all the designs are done, I will use Worbla and Wondeflex as an outlayer to help solidify the pieces and make it easy to paint.  This makes it much cheaper than it would be if I just built the whole thing out of Worbla (I seriously wonder how people justify enough plastic to make the pieces I have seen in some cosplays).  Here are a few of the tutorials I read:

1)  Cosplay Resources

2)  Constantine in Tokyo

3)  Kamui Cosplay’s Tutorials

The Nasus armor has about eight pieces to it:

1)  Helm

2)  Collar / Chest piece

3)  Lower Body skirt piece

4)  Cross connector for lower body piece

5)  Shin guards x2

6)  Bracers x2

7)  Anubis nose top

8)  Anubis jaw bottom

There is also the axe, but I’ll do a separate post on that.  I began with the lower body piece, not really sure why.  It is definitely the largest piece of this costume’s armor, so it seemed like a good place to start.  I did not actually pattern this piece out first, I just started cutting foam.  That was not the best plan ever, and for all the rest of these armor pieces, I DID make tissue paper patterns prior to cutting.

I used regular Elmer’s Glue to stick multiple pieces of foam to one another.  The drying process with that took a long time, and I was constantly placing objects with a little bit of weight on top of the foam to hold glued sections down.  I did use several layers of foam, in hopes of adding design and depth to the armor when the plastic is placed on top, though I think I will have to cut the pieces a bit larger than the foam to accomplish this.

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With the main piece of the skirt done, I turned to making patterns for the other pieces.  In the cross connector piece for the skirt, I made sure to cut out a spot where the gem will go so that I can run the wires through easily to the back of the armor piece.  I think I will have to make some sort of pocket like contraption on the inside to house the battery as well.

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Here is a shot of all the pattern pieces I made (except the axe).  The helm has four or five pattern pieces by itself.

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Rather than make separate pieces for the ones where I wanted layered design items, I drew the designs on the pattern, and then poked holes in the foam through the tissue paper along these lines when I was ready to “trace” those pieces out.  Below are the bracer and shin pieces after all the gluing.

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For the helm, I did something a little different.  I took some aluminum foil pieces and shaped them on my head in a manner similar to what I wanted with the foam.  I then used the shaped foil to help me make several pattern pieces that would be glued together to form the helm.  Then hopefully a limited number of Worbla pieces can be used to finish the helm off.  Here I am with my fancy tinfoil half-of-a-hat.

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And here is the foil version of half the hat, modeled on Styro-girl here.  You get the general idea.

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I eventually turned all that foil into multiple pieces of foam, and spent a while shaping them and gluing them together.  There are a ton of seams in this helmet in order to get the proper shape – this worries me.  I don’t want a ton of lines and seems on the final piece.  I looked up some stuff, and it appears folks tend to start with like the foam inserts from a baseball helmet or something.  Too little too late for me this time, and I’m not certain that style would have worked for this helm.  Anyway, here is my hodge-podge foam base helmet, sans ears (which I will add after worbla).

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I did similar tricks to my foil hat with the face nose and jaw pieces.  I tried cellophane and masking tape for the lower jaw piece and more foil for the upper nose part.  I intend to hold the lower jaw on with clear elastic that goes over the top of my head under the helm, and the upper jaw will stay on with clear elastic going around the back of my head.  I’m fairly excited with how well these pieces seem to be coming out.

photo 5This is what my table looked like while I glued various layers of foam to various other foam pieces.  I have a skill for taking over all of the tables in my house with my costume and sewing stuff.

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The foam part of the process took a long time, simply because glue takes forever to dry.  I’m glad I wasn’t sealing the foam or making it sturdy by adding fabric this time!  Next up, adding the thermoplastics! :)

Since the lights were complete, it was time to mold and cast the gems I would need for the armor.  At this point, I had pretty much already patterned out the pieces of the costume that would need the gems, so I knew what shapes and sizes I needed to make.

I used some Plastilina clay, which doesn’t harden, to sculpt the pieces I wanted.  I started with a diamond for the skirt piece, then made a slightly elongated pentagon for the chest piece.  I ultimately used a small half sphere cake pan as the base for a mold to do the gem for the axe.

Let me mention here that I had some failures at this at first.  My initial molds were sloppy and made of silicone.  I’ll spare you the details, but because of that sloppiness, and because I had some Instamorph, I decided to try using it for the mold on my second go round.  And I stupidly decided to use the cake pan as a direct mold for the sphere.

This is the resin I used to fill the molds.  And here is the first casting attempt, with the second set of molds.

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The Instamorph stuff is neat.  When it first comes out of the boiling water, it is clear, like this.  Then it turns white again when it hardens (see picture above).

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However, I discovered that despite using a mold release spray, that these materials are too hard to use when the material you are casting in them is also hard.  The cake pan will forever have that resin in it.  I might try to find some metal cutters an cut the ends off of it so I can still use the unruined part.

I did manage to get the diamond cast out of the plastic.  But I did so by remelting it, and slowly peeling off as much of it as I could, only partially burninating my fingers during the process.

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It was an interesting removal process as I had placed my lights into the mold during the curing process (around 2.5 hours in seems like a good time to place them in if you are curious) so that they would get stuck in there nice and permanently.  Here is all the plastic I pulled off of the gem after it was set.

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It worked out okay, but I will probably hope that people do not look super closely at this gem on my armor hah.  There is still a bit of plastic on it, which makes it a little cloudy.  I did spray some Acrylic sealer on it to try to bring back the shiny clear state, but it didn’t completely fix it.

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The other two gems had to be remolded and recast.  I bought some more silicone putty at Michael’s since the hard molds worked so poorly.  Here they are in the molds, pre-light drop-in.

IMG_0998In case you are curious, this resin has a lot of bubbles in it when you first pour it, and they release after a few minutes in the mold, like the pentagon.  The half sphere was poured second, and right before this picture was taken.  And this (see below) is what my table looked like while the resin cured.  When I dropped in the lights, I used string on the chandelier to hold the lights up a bit and prevent them from moving / tipping into the resin goo.

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This worked well for the half sphere, but I had some issues with the lights moving and falling over in the pentagon one, despite my best efforts.  Here are the final gems.  The pentagon lighting is a bit wonky because of the way the lights fell over in the resin – see how the bottom half is a bit dark?  Hopefully it won’t matter a ton, but we’ll see when I get the gems onto the armor!

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Since I really wanted to light up parts of my upcoming Nasus costume, and last year was my first experience with lighting up anything in a costume (my fairy wand), I decided to start this part of the costume first.  I did learn a bit from that first experience – namely that I wanted to go through the trouble of soldering things together this time since my electrical tape method was finicky.

As usual, I began hunting for things I needed on Amazon.  Some of these items I actually bought a while back, thinking I would make a prop for my Rainbow Dash costume, but didn’t have the time.

1.  A small soldering kit - $15

2.Various colored LEDs (came with a bunch of resistors included as well) - $4

3. A breadboard for testing – $8

4. Some wires (with easy links for the breadboard) - $5

5. Toggle Switches – $6

6. Heat shrink wrap – $7

I also checked out a couple of tutorials from the web.  I found several of the ones on Kamui Cosplay’s page to be helpful.  And since I had never soldered before, I found this reference helpful to me.

I wired a practice circuit to the breadboard with some help from my hubby, using white lights, since I knew I would need as many of the green LEDs as I could get my hands on.  Then I soldered together a practice circuit.

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I did this out on the porch since there was a bit of smoke involved – Jesse thought the fire alarm might go off (it didn’t).  The black contraption at the edge of the photo is a vice-like wig stand that I used to tape wires to so that I could use both of my hands for soldering – one for the iron and one for the soldering material.  Someday in the future, I may buy something like this, which would be infinitely better.  I had a damp sponge nearby to clean the tip of the iron after each solder, and some heat shrink standing buy so that I could cut it and place it over the wires as I soldered.

I’m glad I practiced a bit first, but it wasn’t that difficult to do.  Here is an example of one of my soldered joints.

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Once my practice circuit was complete, I setup another circuit, this time with the green lights.  I also added in a toggle switch to turn the lights off and on.

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I knew I would need three light circuits for my Nasus costume – one for the gem on the lower body armor, one for the gem on the chest piece, and one for the gem on the axe.  I had 10 green LEDs and opted to try for 3 lights in each circuit.  The biggest issue I had soldering these together was the toggle switches.  They have 6 tiny pins attached to them, and they ave very short.  The soldered connections I put there were flaky at best on some of the circuits.  When they got too troublesome, I decided to remove them.  I think I would up with only one of my three circuits having a switch.  Oh well, it was a PITA.  Below are my completed circuits for Nasus!

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To activate the heat shrink wrap over my soldered connections, I used my trusty heat gun to apply heat to the wrap, and it just shrinks right up and protects the connections.  Super useful stuff, way better than electrical tape.  However, be careful when heating these, the covering on the wires nearby can melt.

Hopefully these will hold up well during DragonCon!  I am definitely bringing some extra batteries and some electric tape.  But I think the soldering iron will stay home.