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:
The Nasus armor has about eight pieces to it:
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.
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.
Here is a shot of all the pattern pieces I made (except the axe). The helm has four or five pattern pieces by itself.
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.
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.
And here is the foil version of half the hat, modeled on Styro-girl here. You get the general idea.
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).
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.
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! 🙂