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