Time for some upgrades! After walking the floor at Salt Lake Gaming Con, despite how much fun it was, I discovered several issues that would need to be resolved before I did it again at Salt Lake Comic Con. Not only was it hot as hell, despite being a very open costume, but I had little to no support on my feet - and the foam slid around a ton.
So, right away I got home and took out the layered foam platforms from inside the feet.
The pile of foam was the perfect height inside the boot, and I could just slip my shoe in and walk around without any straps to hold it in place. Problem was, since I had to cut each piece in order to fit into place inside the boot, and several of the layers couldn't support my ankles very well which, honestly, started to hurt after only a short time. I needed something more stable, more secure, that wouldn't slip around while I walked.
So I went and bought a couple 2x4s. These I measured out using the foam stacks for the height, and the inside of the boot to ensure a good fit.
I used some of my rarely used woodworking skills and chiseled out a chunk of the two bottom boards so that they could nestle in together. This was for not only front/back support, but side to side as well so that I wouldn't tilt. Then I cut the top piece, angling the back corners and the front to the shape of the inside of the boot. After that, it was a simple job of measuring the difference remaining to cut out the support risers. I did two each to ensure a strong support, though if I did it again I'd definitely cut it down to 1 each - just wasn't sure how secure a single one would be.
Once everything was set, I screwed it all together. Did a quick standing test; these things are super sturdy. Much better than before! So, I got a couple cheap slip-on shoes and screwed them down to permanently attach them to the risers. Then I put in a couple foam gel insoles, so that I wasn't walking on screw heads all day.
Again, another test after these were on, and despite them being much heavier than the foam, the support I now had was muuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuch better. It also was much better about not slipping around, though it still did a little. To combat this I glued on some no-slip drawer liners from the hardware store, and all slipping was eliminated.
Boots done! I may go in and redo them again eventually, since even here I couldn't walk for extended periods simply due to the weight: 10 pounds a foot! Extremely great support, I could pose better, I was much more sturdy when standing, I just still couldn't walk for a long time. Walking sure was faster though!
Now it was finally time for the head. For SLGC, I ran out of time (and really didn't have the funds) to do what I really wanted to do with the head. Now, though, I had the time and materials to really get into it.
It's time to talk about another type of foam: upholstery foam! It's really great stuff, (relatively) readily available, and comes in multiple thicknesses. It's open cell foam, as opposed to the floor mat foam I used for the rest, which means it's lighter and more malleable than the floor mat foam, but comes with its own set of problems.
First, I taped off the crest and eyes where I didn't want any of the spray glue to get on, then started cutting pieces of the upholstery foam out and gluing them down. The spray glue acts similarly to contact cement, where you spray it, wait for it to be tacky without coming off, then attach the two parts. Tons messier than contact cement though!
Once that was done, the Krogan Bandito (TM) was ready for skinning! After a tip from my good friend Brian, I stretched nylon pantyhose over the entire face, which wrinkled and stretched and wonderfully.
The thing about upholstery foam is that, unless you seal it, it'll soak up paint like a sponge. It's best to seal it with something like balloon latex, but that's expensive and I don't have a spray gun that can spray it quite yet. So, I coated the whole face in more PVA glue, then my favorite Plasti Dip.
After that was dry I coated everything in the same ivory color as before, but instead of painting it all the same way as before, I grabbed my airbrush. Starting with a black, I highlighted all the deep wrinkles to add more depth. Then I went over everything with a tan color, following the movement of the face and leaving the highest spots (mostly on the neck) ivory to make a nice blend. Finally, I used a transparent brown to blend the three colors together, especially around the black areas.
As a last bit of detail, to emulate the scales, I stretched a pair of pantyhose from a local costume shop that had a really neat pattern to it and, using a sponge, dabbed on the same dark brown color over the brow, chin, and edges of the neck. When I removed the pantyhose, this left a great scale-like pattern where I had dabbed the brown. Once that was done, I removed the tape and airbrushed some more black around the crest, to take down some of the shine and blend it with the rest of the face a bit better.
Doesn't that just look AWESOME???? I love it, I really do. If you want to get more insight on the process of the head, I go into much more detail in my new eBook! Check it out in the Store. :)
Now that the risers and head were done, time for yet another test! Test as much as you possibly can to make sure things work right, especially after big changes like these.
Looks awesome right? Still missing something though. I needed to add a couple fans to deal with the heat, so I picked up a couple USB fans and portable power banks. Turns out I only needed the one battery, since even on high one battery lasted all day, but it's always good to have a spare. I glued the switch in a spot that was easy for my handlers to access, and used velcro to secure the batteries - though I had to place those under where my chin would be to keep the head balanced.
Then, to finish off the look and really add some good realism, I 3D printed a set of teeth! Krogan are omnivores, did you know? :) These I hot glued into place. Made it a tad harder to see out of, but really added to making Garm look real. Even better, depending on the angle I put the head, made him look either happy to see you, or ready to charge. XD
DONE! For realsies this time. Had a blast at SLCC, though again due to the weight of the risers I couldn't walk around for very long. Was much better than the foam though, so there's that!
Be sure to check out FOAM: An Instructional Guide for Armor and Prop Making for more details on the process on the head! I'll also be making a cool announcement soon regarding foam armor and prop making so be sure to follow me over on Facebook or Twitter to be one of the first to know!
Straight from one gigantic build and into another! I've always wanted to make a Krogan, and being the crazy person that I am I wanted to do one that was full size - at least according to the lore/game logs. You see, Krogan are supposed to be seven to seven and a half feet tall, but their representation in the game - most pointedly cutscenes - were the same size as humans due to programming constraints. I also wanted to do something different from everyone else; all around the internet you can find some really awesome Wrex and Grunt builds, but no other Krogan really.
So while I was going through my wife's playthrough of the trilogy (she gets super sick if she plays so I play while she listens and makes the choices), I actually got up close and personal with Chief Weyrlock Guld. I've always killed him from far away, but somehow he got close enough that I actually got to see his armor. I fell in love with the design, even though the lighting made it look pink (where as the actual color is white). I immediately wanted to make it, and expressed this want to a good friend of mine, Keelah Monster Cosplay. She mentioned that Garm, the leader of the Blood Pack on Omega, had basically the same armor set, and was covered in the group's colors and symbol, and would be much more recognizable.
I was instantly hooked. So, if anything, you guys can totally blame her for this gigantic monstrosity. ;)
Now, this build not only was a test in patience (as was Threshy), but it also taught me a whole new skill. You see, the model I used was literally ripped from the game, and as such it was designed for animation, not as something to be worn as a costume. Because of this, there were lots of overlapping/clipping parts, some parts that didn't need to be there, and other parts that were hidden inside other things that I needed to fill. Me being unfamiliar with how to edit 3D models, I spent an entire weekend learning Blender, a free yet powerful 3D modeling program.
(If anyone is interested in learning this program, I highly recommend starting out with masterXeon1001's Blending Away the Pain beginner course. Very informative, and it's totally free - though donate a few bucks to him for it 'cause it's totally worth it!)
Once I had enough knowledge to do what I needed, I fixed up the file, then sent it over to the ever trustworthy Pepakura Designer program. This one isn't free, but it's super useful in turning a 3D model into a physical pattern. That helped me flatten everything out to something I could cut out and trace to the foam. It also help me lay it out in a way that used as much of a foam sheet as possible to cut down on having to buy tons, and cut down on the amount of parts I had to cut out which lowered the amount of seams on the part.
There were still seams of course, but tons less than I would have had to deal with normally. Much easier to hide a few seams than it is when they're everywhere.
Next came the fun part: cutting! There was a huge pile of paper to cut, just like with Threshy, though thankfully the parts were much larger and there were fewer of them. It still took forever getting them all ready, but it was worth it.
As with Threshy, I ended up cutting all the parts out by hand rather than using the band saw. It's just come to be easier and faster to do it by hand, since I can trace, then immediately cut the part out. I can also change the angle of the cut on the fly, and since half the parts were angled into another part it was just easier overall to cut it all out by hand. That and, since I could regularly sharpen the blade, the edges were a ton smoother than had I done it with the band saw.
I used BARGE Contact Cement on this one as well, to give a much more secure hold than the DAP Weldwood does. I started with the torso section, partly because I wanted to but mostly because it was the biggest, most detailed section and I wanted to get the hardest part done first.
Had my son lie down under the front half, as a bit of a cute tax and to really show the scale of this. Garm was supposed to be the biggest, baddest Krogan ever, nearly killing Archangel, so I opted to make him the full seven and a half feet tall. Already you can see just how tall this thing is going to be.
Got to work on the back next, which is set up in a kind of stair-step section of sorts. It kinda makes me think each section slides upward under the one above it, so that the Krogan inside can get into and out of it. We never actually see it happening, but it's a fun theory all the same. I also made the shoulder bits, which were super simple but really bring out the full look.
Right here you can really start to see the evolution of the mass the Krogan have. Laying down on the floor above it's hard to tell, but as the back parts got attached, the full scope of the thing really started to show. Especially when, as you can see, my entire office chair was able to fit inside.
Of course, you're probably wondering what those empty spots are on the back and sides. Don't worry, we'll get to those. For now though, I wanted to get the entire back section done. The last bits included the lower back, and a tail.
Of course, now that the torso was basically done, I had to thrown it on. You know I had to. XD
Without the legs, I didn't really have the placement right, and had no way to properly determine where to frame it, so I totally have itty bitty legs while it dwarfs me lol. We'll get there! I ended up moving the torso out to the garage to keep Threshy company, since I had no idea whether it would fit through the door if I added the other parts to it.
Once that was safely stored away, I got to work on the extremities. The arms and legs were muuuuuch easier to do than the torso was, but each would pose their own eventual challenges.
You see, I intended to make the hands move and grip things, which meant I only prepared the armored sections of the fingers and left what I would eventually use as the joints open so they could bend. These I planned to cover with cloth or something to hide the mechanisms. I also discovered that I couldn't touch the ground while wearing the boots, which meant I had to make a platform of some kind to stand on. Of course, I planned to do that anyway since I knew I needed to be higher up to keep proportions right, but I've never made an actual platform like that before. Not even for my Giant Robot.
So, taking my new skills with Blender and my newly acquired 3D printer (gifted to me by a family member who saw I was taking interest in 3D printing), I started designing finger joints.
In the first picture, at the top, you can see the first attempt which failed. It required that I drill into each piece to make the holes, since I was still having trouble with prints failing and didn't want the holes to misprint. I scrapped the idea and just made them with the holes, also printing a rounded piece they could slot into so that I could secure the foam to it - as well as have something to put the wire I'd be using to pull the joints. I used chicago screws on the joints, and attached screws to the top with springs to pull the joints back into place.
Here's a video I made to demo the process:
I ended up scrapping that, since I was short on time and it was a bit expensive to get all the parts for each finger (and too long to wait for my local hardware store to restock). We'll get to what I eventually used a little later. Meanwhile, I worked out what I would be using for the platforms in the boots, and made the giant tube things for the torso.
Yep, I decided to stand on 8 layers of the thicker foam, since it's there and I have a ton of it. I plan to upgrade it to something more secure, like metal pipes and wood which the massive Warhammer Space Marine guys use. For now though, this would work. I stacked each piece and shaped them by hand, so that they could slide right in and sit in place. I also only glued the bottom two layers together, and glued those to the walls of the boot, so that I'd be able to remove them later once I was able to make the more sturdy platform.
I totally nailed leg day. XD With those layers of foam inside I was able to test out walking, which worked like a dream. It's filled up enough inside that I can slip my foot in - while wearing my regular everyday tennis shoes - and step down, and my shoe stays in thanks to the wonders of friction. Again, worked as I would need, but eventually I'll secure a shoe in properly with the platforms.
And, thanks to having everything to the right sizing, I could finally install the frame inside the torso!
Those of you that have been with me for at least the last three-ish years will probably recognize that part of this frame is the same as what I used for the Giant Robot. My old camping frame backpack is really putting in work after all these years! I was going to use it to help puppet Threshy as well, but read Part 1 to find out why that ended up not working. Instead, it sat at the absolute perfect height inside the torso! I added in pieces of PVC pipe as a simple support frame, to hold the rest to the frame backpack and to keep the bulky shape of the torso from getting squished in.
Then I went to the hardware store again, and grabbed some insulation tubing used for pipes so that I could fill in the openings in the back and a few spots in the arms.
All in the details! :D After I got those all attached, it was time for the first real walk test!
Here's video of the test in action:
Really happy with the proportions of this; they turned out right on the friggin money. :D
Since that worked out how I wanted, I grabbed some more of the tubing and got back to work on the hands. I glued in the foam to the finger armor bits and cut a V in the back right where I wanted the joint to bend. I ended up cutting a small strip of foam to glue the thumb on, rather than dealing with getting it to move as well. I also cut a section of tube in half and glued it to the back of each boot, just to add a little more detail.
Since the boots were done, I decided to start painting them so that they could dry while I worked on the next, most difficult part of all: the head. I went through ten full cans of Plasti Dip on Threshy, and at nearly 7 bucks a can I wasn't going to do that again with Garm. Instead, a friend of mine who moved in with us handed me a big bottle of white PVA glue since he didn't have a need for it, which turned out to be the lifesaver I totally needed. I had to hand brush it, but that ended up working out just fine.
After I brushed that on, I got a quart can of red interior/exterior latex paint and hand brushed it on too, again mostly for cost reasons. One quart at $12 as opposed to eight or ten more spray cans at $3-5 apiece.
While that dried, I went and worked on the head. The head is more organic than the rest of the build, but thankfully I had already learned a ton after building Threshy that things worked out pretty well. I originally wanted to make the mouth move while I spoke, but ended up leaving it as is. Most of the difficulty ended up being in the forehead crest though, with all the spikes and hard edges.
Lots of extreme angles, mixed with smooth sides, mixed with smooth but bent sides needing hill and valley cuts underneath, but the monstrosity of foam I call the head really came together well. Thanks to the way the part pattern came out, I didn't need to heat any of it to shape, and it held its look together just fine.
The head ended up being bigger than it should be, but it's not so big that it looks like a bobble head and it still fits the overly massive look of a full size Krogan. That and I really didn't want to do all of that again, but with even smaller pieces. The head is also not technically finished either - I still intend to make a moving mouth and add all the wrinkle details with a few tricks I learned recently thanks to Ted Haines and the Stan Winston School.
Used even more of the foam tubing to finish attaching the arm pieces, and glued in another PVC pipe inside the wrists so that I could hold them up and move them around.
Did another test of the torso, to make sure the arms looked right and to get a shot of it with the head. Skipped leg day this time though. XD
Started up on the paint on all the finished pieces, and while I got those going I worked on how the heck to get the head to stay on mine. Had to throw some supports to hold up the torso, since the balance is terrible and all I had for it to sit on was my stool.
For the head, I got a hard hat with the intention of adding PVC pipes to it. After multiple attempts to secure them with epoxy, E6000, BARGE, and a number of other things, eventually I went back to the tried and true foam that I should've used in the first place.
And now, back to the paint. After sealing everything with white glue and painting on the main red, I grabbed a cherry red spray can I still had and gave everything a random super light powder dusting. Then I grabbed a mahogany and did another similar pass, as randomly as I could. After that, I did an even lighter dusting of what was left of the metallic black from my Terminus build, which really gave it the perfect weathered look that I wanted.
Once that was all done, I grabbed the brush again and hand painted the main black sections. If I had bigger rolls of craft foam I would have given it a two layer detail, painting the black on first then the red on the upper layers, but I didn't have any. Instead, the black ended up looking like an awesome tribal paint which I think fit the look just fine.
I made the eyes out of a mold of the same half spheres I got for Threshy's eyes, which thankfully ended up being the exact size I needed. They're casted with Smooth Cast 300, which I lightly sanded so the primer could stick to it. I did three layers of primer, and three layers of yellow.
I also threw primer all over the head, after sealing it with the PVA glue as well. Time for another full test!
And another test video to check the movement and sight:
Something was missing though, so I finished up the pauldrons the same way - adding that little touch that would make Garm stand out from the rest: the Blood Pack symbol! I also went and got the fabric I would need to fill the open areas and sell the illusion properly.
Yes guys, I totally used fabric. :D
Oh, you thought I actually knew how to sew? XD Nah, don't even own a sewing machine. The last time I sewed anything was in 7th grade. I actually attached the cloth with hot glue, enough to cover the open spots but still leave me room to move and get in/out of it.
While this was going on, I finished up the paint on the head. I sprayed on the same ivory color I used on Threshy all over the face, then sprayed the maroon onto the crest. I let some spots overlap, since some of the bony bits meld into the flesh, and I thought that would help with the organic look. Then I dusted on a few different browns, just like with the claws on Threshy, letting some of the darker browns dust up onto the crest. I had to do this a few times, because my hand would either slip and angle it wrong, or it would press a tad too hard and ruin the look. Thankfully having to redo it gave the whole thing a rougher, grainier texture and feel, which really made it all come together.
Finished up the eyes as well, with a dragon/lizard look to the iris. I also gave it a light blackwash and speckling with acrylics, to make it more than just a simple yellow ball with a black line on it. I was out of time and money to do all the detailing I wanted to on the face, so I tried painting on the wrinkles and spots, but was failing miserably. My super awesomely amazing wifey came to my rescue though, and made it look tons better!
I designed some Krogan sized rivets in Blender and 3D printed out a whole ton of them. I probably could have done the same with a dowel, cutting slices out on the band saw and drilling a hole in the middle, but I had the filament (and the printer needed calibrating anyway). I added a ton of these to the armor to give it one last pop, and filled in all the rest of the open spots on the arms. I also 3D printed some rings that I tied to the fingers with fishing wire, to give them some movement.
Demo of the fingers:
Aaaaaaaaand done! Garm, Krogan Battlemaster and leader of the Omega Blood Pack, is ready to find Archangel and destroy him. Once that threat is gone, nothing will stand in his way of taking down Aria! RRawrgh!!!
This build was a lot of fun, definitely easier than Threshy but still with its own challenges. I still have upgrades I'd like to do on him, but as he stands now he's already a huge success. He was a big hit at Salt Lake Gaming Con, everybody loved him, and he won me my first actual placed award as Best Master Overall! Really happy with him, other than the fact that I need about a dozen fans inside so that I can wear him for longer than an hour at a time lol. Here's the final test pics, with a few videos at the bottom of the test and of Garm in action!