Friday, 17 November 2017

Animals in the shape of buildings?

Animals in the shape of buildings, it's worked on way around, surely it can work the other way around.
Sorry, it was late and I was feeling silly.  So enjoy this image if you're looking into my references.


Friday, 15 April 2016

Blogging is not in my Blood! Youtube seems to be though!

Armoured Brownies on YouTube

I am not good at Blogging, I don't have the mind or time to sit down and write up everything I do in a text format, but if you're interested in following my work my YouTube channel is a much better place to track me down!

See you there.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Cosplay Chemicals: EasyFlo 120 Polyurethane Rotocast Resin

I am going to start sharing with you all how I do the more technical stuff that I do.
To that end, here's a walk through of my first Costume Chemicals video.

I usually buy mine from they seem to be pretty consistent.
It's this product exactly:

If you pick any up, tell them ArmouredBrownies sent you ... they won't know what you're talking about but it'll sure make me smile.

If you have any questions or feedback on the subject just ask, I can happily answer a lot of questions about this stuff.


Sunday, 20 September 2015

Octopus Face Beak Prosthetic

I got a simple brief; Octopus/Cephalopod face, but not a tentacle style Davey Jones or Illithid, no a squid beak, something entirely different.
This was from the same LARP system that asked for an Alien Lamprey Leech Monster over a year before.  So I guess I knew what to Expect.

Turns out Octopi have super weird looking beaks, alien to a anthro human style, but I picked out a few important elements and thought I would blend them into the face design.  And like a bad crafter I didn't sketch it out beforehand.
The important parts that I wanted to capture:
  1. Proper Shaped Beak (Obviously).
  2. Organic Sheath Around the Beak, ribbed for your disturbment.
  3. Flanges expanding from the Sheath to give the impression of expanding into tentacles.
  4. Smooth progression over the face and eyes.
Even with that laid out and sounding fairly complicated, it is mostly simple shapes and smooth surfaces so just a matter of proportions being correct.
This was also the last sculpt before moving house and getting my new beautiful workshop space and setting up my recording rig.

Cheap, disposable male, like all men are to me.
We start!  Basic polystyrene sculpting head, hot glued to an upsidedown Ikea Lazy Suzan, perfectly little makeshift sculpting station.
Also pictured, the important Cup of Tea, my MTG Cublet and my make up, vain thing that I am.

A sculpt in a quantum state.
The basic foundation shape is, well, strange.  This could have gone on to become anything really, and it kind of went on to become the thing that people would have least suspected.
The important part was building up enough area that I can carve the beak out and make a nice junction for the sheath. 
Also trying to find the correct angle so the face looked like it would carry on from the skull rather than just covering over the wearers mouth.

A pretty dramatic step, but it was all kind of done in one go, using a sharp edge to cut out around where I want the sheath to sit and from there it was just smoothing out the beak shape from what was left.  Oh, also building out some of dem pointed cheek bones.

Now the anatomy or detailing, even my own made up stages don't make sense to me sometimes.  
But here we start adding the sharper edges, but literally lubricating my fingers with water and 'pinching' along to create a nice sharp edge.  Then using the sculpting tools to add the creases and being nice and bold gouging out parts and creating some good edges.  
Also creating the proper hook effect around the beak.  Something to remember to do whilst sculpting like this is to add detail under the chin, it's so easy to leave that just plain but you'll regret it later.  You can do this by leaning the Lazy Susan back and resting the back of the head on a piece of foam.

And there's the thing basically done.  It was a fairly quick sculpt, all told, mostly came down to getting the surfaces smooth enough that it looked slick rather than forcing some flavour of texture of on it.
This did involve a lot of water on it, so before I could do the mould making I had to leave it overnight as I like to seal my clay sculpts with a thin layer of varnish to help with demoulding the first time.  And of course, if the clay is too moist it'll still be very soft and therefore prone to accidental interference.

Now for mould making.  
This isn't a conclusive guide as I don't know how much detail is useful detail to go into, but hopefully the photos should be pretty descriptive.  

  • We go from building wall around the sculpt that'll stop the first layer of plaster from dripping off everywhere.  And preparing a good runny mix of plaster. 
  • Then we slowly drizzle the liquid plaster over the mask making sure to capture all the undercuts, get no bubbles and generally capture all details.  I often repeat this stage twice just to be sure, and get nice thick detail layer.
  • Now I add a scrim layer, this is for strength.  The mould is quite likely to have a tough life, so for strength I soak hessian cloth with a thick mix of plaster and layer it over the whole mould, making it MUCH stronger.  It will also mean that the mould will crack rather than shatter if broke.
  • Again, this step was repeated twice just to get the mould super strong, with a lot of plaster over the top.  You can smooth down the outside with water and your hands before the plaster dries to get a nice surface on the outside of your mould that stops the hessian from fraying and getting pulled out.

Then you leave this whole rig overnight to dry, or longer if you can spare, and pry it carefully off your precious sculpt.

It's like a murder scene, as the mould brutally pulls half the face off.
Here's where we skip even more stages I'm afraid.  The mould is pulled off the sculpt, cleaned out with lots of water, a scrubbing brush and just generally has all of the mud scoured from it ... though not too hard, as you may lose detail.
Then I tend to varnish the insides of my moulds, to make it easier to get casts out and I feel it helps the moulds last longer.  Of course if your mould is full of some very fine details you may want to avoid this.

The top set of photos are what I painted the mask up like for the customer and the bottom is what another artist used the mask for at a LARP event called Empire, two totally different uses of the same mask.  I love it.
Also, I'm currently painting one of the masks up as a Parrot Fish as I think it's close enough in appeal to pass for that, which should totally broaden the appeal of a rather niche mask.

If you have any questions about process, think I skipped a stage you'd like to know about or simply have feedback on the article, I'd love to hear it and answer.

Thanks for reading this far through, I hope any of this was useful to you, if it was let me know either here or on my FaceBook page of the same name.


Friday, 18 September 2015

Cosplay Prosthetics Sculpt #1 - TwoFace, Batman

I'm trying to be more open with my crafting, as I love communicating my hobby to others.

Also, I want to try and reduce how scary some of the more complicated parts of making fancy pants costumes are, and for my part that has to be sculpting.

I make prosthetics, costume and Cosplay prosthetics and here is where I'm going to try and share this hobby with you.

For those that don't know, I regularly run competitions on my Facebook Page for "Guess the Mystery Sculpt" where I'll give away a free custom sculpt to a person who guessed what the last one was.
The person who requested this mask correctly, or most amusingly, guessed what this sculpt was.

You should have a go at guessing what it is.
The next mystery sculpt is going up in a few days so you'll have a chance to win a free prosthetic.


Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Gem Glow: Light Up Resin Cast Steven Universe Cosplay Gems

Believe in Steven

Steven Universe is Awesome.  And I needed more of it in my face.

But failing to have more of it than they can put out, I decided to try and learn something new by resin casting Gems, and trying to make them glow and see what I could do with different clear casting resins, pigments and silicone moulds.  And this is my first project being heavily lead by 3D printing.
Loads of new stuff!

Super Simple Designs, and no a Digital Kindergarten 
First step, designing the gems in a 3D modelling program.  This is not something I'm good at, but you know, simple geometric shapes that I'm going to put a lot of finishing work in before I make moulds is a great place to start.
I chose 3D printing not because sculpting them by hand doesn't work, but because this guarantees something totally even and perfect shaped, it's not required.

This program is SketchUp, and though not too powerful, is amazing for making nice shapes and simple stuff as a beginner for 3D printing.  I would suggest it to anyone as a place to start. Once your head around the idea of sketches being different from the model you're on your way.
Best thing about 3D printers?  The totally Sci-Fi sounds they make.
Gratuitous 3D printer shot!  I extracted each Gem, scaled them to what I thought would be appropriate for an average human, and then, you know, sliced and printed them.

I use the printers at my local makerspace, So Make It, who are all universally wonderful and taught me everything I know about 3D printing.  If you have a local makerspace, JOIN IT NOW.

Raw prints are not pretty things, they are covered in striations and terror and will have little holes all over them where the filament rebelled against the power of the LulzbotTaz.

It is very rare that on a home 3D printer you'll come out with a finished object or prop that you want to use straight.

3D Printers leave you with so much work to do!
 Now there's the long process of sanding the piece down, then building it up with car body filler, then filler spray and then finer spray paints, sanding it down again all under you're using 1200 grit sand paper, water and spraying it with thing varnish.

That's when you get an object you are happy to replicate that has that glass like surface you can then go on to mould making.

Locked in where it can never escape.
Now we make a mould.  Out of Silicone!

Proper mould preparation is KEY to making a silicone mould and I have been stung a few times recently.  For one, loads of different factors can make silicone just fail to set, just like that, and then you've wasted £30 of material and have a hell of a job cleaning off your master.  For the most part, just follow the instructions on the bottle, but here are some tips to help you out:
  • Allow your master/mould container to degass/settle for at least a day.  After you've put together your mould, varnished the surface a load, applied mould release spray (I use a PVA agent through an airbrush and sometimes Wax), leave it AT LEAST a day for it to settle, all those chemicals can interact poorly and inhibit the silicone.
  • It's called Room Temperature Silicone Rubber (RTV) for a reason.  Make sure the room you're doing the moulding is is at least 20°C or higher whislt you're working with the materials otherwise it may not cure.  As it turns out, if you work in colder temperatures, then try the next day to heat it, that doesn't work.
  • Take care with the tools you use.  Make sure to use fresh plastic cups and clean metal tools, wooden, cheap plastic or paper may have strange and bizarre chemicals in them that inhibit stuff, who knew?

A finished Silicone Mould, not knowing what's ahead of it.
Yay, now that's a silicone mould.  Wash that out a bit and get ready for your first casting.

So, now you mix resin!

I measured out the volume of each mould with water, then marked plastic cups with half that for the 1:1 ratio of the resin, and then noted down the weights each time so I didn't have to keep marking cups and can just work by weight.
Be sure to mix the resin together thoroughly, be sure to work at a decent temperature and be sure to remember that polyurethane pigment is SUPER STRONG and if you use too much you'll end up with something that is completely opaque or almost black.

The Rose Quartz mould takes almost twice the volume of Resin as Amethyst, the undercooked runt.
I had ... problems.

These are my first few pulls from Amethyst.  Disappointing right?
This was because I used the wrong sort of Silicone ... yes, there are loads of types of silicones.  And each of them hate something.
Turns out my silicone hated this type of Polyurethane.  For reference, this Polyurethane needed Addition Cure Silicone rather than Condensation Curse Silicone.  And that's why the moulds above are Yellow rather Pink, it's not a flavour issue ... well, kinda is.

No matter how much I smoosh them together they won't fuse.

Once out of working moulds, I had two wonderful solid gems!  

To get a really nice gloss surface I used you know, really nice gloss varnish.  It is actually Polyurethane Furniture Varnish I use that gives a great tough surface and adds to the glassy look of the gems.

This is the magic in side each gem
Very simple piece of electronics to live inside the glowing version of the Gems.
The single best piece of advice I can give about simple electric circuits like this; Get battery cases with built in ON/OFF switches!  That will save you 100% of your work.

Now, you can either set the little 'unit' in the resin as it sets OR drill a hole in the back after the fact and set it in with hot glue.  
For reference, I now chose drilling as I have not found a great way to position the electronics just immersed enough that it can still be accessed whilst deep enough that it glows nicely.



Lookit the Gems!  I loves them.

It's actually really hard to photograph glowing things properly.

Simply find the best way to attach them for you.  
For me I used Pros-Aide, as I have access to that thanks to all of my other prosthetics work, but any sort of Prosthetics glue will do, or Eyelash glue, or Tit Tape or even Superglue (if you're careful ... don't laugh).

Thanks for reading through this, if you have ANY questions don't hesitate to ask, I'm happy to help you out with any of your projects in the future.

And if you really want one of these gems for your Cosplay here's 15% off for making it the end of the article: BLOGREF01

-Vicki, Armoured Brownies

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Reaper Mask, from Overwatch

Ignore the ear!
Overwatch, a new and awesome looking Blizzard game was announced at Blizzcon.

It looks super exciting, and was announced with a Cinematic that made my cry, and was utterly brilliant.

The game has a range of very, creatively designed character!  And then one goth one that every liked, including my boyfriend and, you know, it's been a while since I've done anything with polyurethane casting so, lets give it a go.
Time to Reap

So, first step as always is to isolate the mask itself, get the best images I can, scale all the reference images off a human and make a scaled copy of the mask on paper.

These are not the reference images you're looking for.
I scaled this off my Boyfriends face, him being a standard male nerd guy.  We both have 'large' sized head I'd say, that being better than us being too small for most people.

So, I have two options for this sculpt really, something resistant, or something soft.  I did play around with using rigid expanding foam with the intention of coating it with a rigid apoxie resin that I could then sand down for a nice edge.

But since I've just come off a very long sculpt with WED clay(My Dragon Sculpt), have a bunch of it laying around, and feel pretty confident in it I stayed with doing a soft sculpt and just trusted myself to give it good finishing.

My blank sculpting armature.
My sculpting table begins.
Sculpting through time!
A night of sculpting lead to a base 'anatomy' of the mask that fit the reference but was pretty basic, and missing a lot of correct scaling.

End of second night of sculpting.
 After my second night of sculpting, I got to something that I was very happy with, it was all as accurate as I could make it, some of the edges weren't exactly perfect, but I would carry on with that in surfacing and texturing.
Details coming now!
Details and surfaces take as much time as half the sculpt.
Good care for a WED sculpt, a water based clay, is to put your sculpt to bed each night, covering it with cling film and plastic bags.  However, if you leave it out overnight it doesn't dry out straight away but gets a leathery surface, harder, better for doing details and texturing.

This third night of sculpt involved a lot of glaring at a screen, picking out every detail on the mask, copying the position of the rivet caps, the crap, the nicks and getting everything as crisp as possible.
Lots of nasty spray in an enclosed space.

Now this was an odd step, I'll admit.
After leaving it to dry out a bit, I sprayed the sculpt with a grey paint.  Then used a very wet mix of clay to go over uneven parts that stood out, before hitting drying it out with a heat gun and hitting it with another coat of spray and repeating until I had a complete surface and edges that I was 100% happy with.
It also smoothed the divide between the rivet and the clay.  For easier mould making.
Everyone who knows how to make moulds is allowed to cry seeing this.
 Speaking of mould making.  First you build the walls around your sculpt!
Time to Mould!
Then your poor an un-thickened layer of silicone over it.  I actually did two layers of un-thickened silicone over that, as my walls aren't very high.  However, doing a really thin layer of silicone means the fact that I have no ability to de-gass my silicone doesn't hurt as bad.
After this I did a large batch of latex with it's Thixo agent to turn it into a really thick, very stable mould silicone mould.
Finale stage is a mother mould.  This is a solid plaster outer shell that holds the silicone in shape so my final moulds will all be a consistent shape.
I was bouncing around the house when it actually worked.
Then the thing came!
It actually came out and looked real good!
Looked like a mask, just like something a person would buy!
If I say so myself.

Now, this was basic Roto Cast, Polyurethane plastic rolled around in the mould, helfted around for like, fifteen minutes.  That was left to set for a bit, then another small amount of plastic sloshed around to reinforce any areas that I had missed.
Grrr, I look fierce.

Next step took half an hour of solid work.  Cleaning the casting off with a rotary tool, a mixture of a cutting disk and a grinding tool for sanding everything.  It required a surprisingly small amount of cleaning up.
It was also now that I got to see where the plastic pools in the mould and where I need to be careful next time.
Remember, protect your floors.
Painting.  This is the part I feel very confident about.
First a base coat, I airbrushed on some black and white over their respective areas, then went over all the bone area with some wonderful System 3 Acrylic paints, they're wonderfully permanent and can go on basically anything.
Then an hour with more paint, making sure the bone all looked even, giving it a nice texture, then shading with an airbrush.  Then some dry brushing to get highlights and give more of a bone effect.
After this, I added the dark colours, the metals, then highlight the metals to give it a nice metallic effect.

These finale steps included adding some semi-opaque black cloth around the eyes, cheeks and mouth because the face of the character is always in shadow and you can 'just' about make it out and this worked perfectly.
Oh, and since it's a rigid plastic mask, I put some foam pads on it and an elsatic strap!

All this equalled this:

Time to Frizz!

That, that, just, that is something I was very happy with.
I am thrilled with the outcome!

Now, I'm going to spend a few weeks making copies of this for all the Reaper Fanboys out there!

>> Check out my Etsy store to get your mask before Christmas. <<