The absolute first thing you need to do after research and gathering your materials is make your body cast. If you are lucky enough to have the exact dimensions of a mannequin, you’re welcome to use that as what you sculpt on for your body, but you need to make sure that mannequin has the exact height, weight, and measurements of your body. A few inches off, and the body suit will not fit you correctly. Also make sure that it’s not going to melt if you stick in into a 100 something degree oven.
We did my body cast before we did everything else, because if we couldn’t do the body cast, then we couldn’t do the costume. I went by this tutorial and I suggest you do the same, but here are some things you need to keep in mind:
Cover the floor where you are doing this. I used two tarps from the hardware store.
Make sure you have at least two people helping you with this. It will make it go a lot quicker, and that’s good for you.
If you have low blood pressure or tend to faint if you’re standing up too long, make sure you take measures to prevent this. I fainted ten minutes into our first try, and on our second and last try, I fainted right as Mario was putting the last layer on me. Thankfully we salvaged it, but I should have eaten more, and bent my knees more.
Make sure you bend your knees and keep still like that. Moving at all can make the body cast inaccurate. I was stupid and thought that I should also wear the heels while I was being cast. Don’t be like me, that was part of the reason I fainted.
Build a platform to stand on that has something attached you can rest your hands on, and make sure your arms are far enough out from your body that the underarms are easily accessible. I did not have my arms up high enough, so the armpits were a pain for us to cast, mold in fiberglass, sculpt on and then mold again. Don’t make our mistake. (We did make a few mistakes, just from doing it the first time, and the purpose of these tutorials is to make sure you don’t do the same.)
If you’re using our method for the wings, have on the corset and the body suit when you do the full body casting, that way what you’re sculpting on will have the same shape as what you’ll be under the suit. Make sure to protect the corset with some saran wrap before you start.
I bought two body suits because I wasn’t so sure the vaseline was going to come out of the suit… it didn’t. I wore a body suit because I wasn’t comfortable with being cast naked, and because the body suit makes your body look different, so once again with what you’re sculpting on needing to be like what you’re wearing under the suit. I also used Vaseline to make sure the plaster bandages didn’t stick to the suit because it’s a lot cheaper than the Nivea cream.
Make sure your materials are prepped and ready to go. Have all of your plaster bandages cut, your wood dowels ready to attach, and your bowl of water handy. If you have only two friends helping, make sure they understand what they’re doing; print out and have them read the tutorial I linked before. Have one friend wet the plaster, and the other friend apply it.
Now… if you’ve got all that, go ahead and get your body cast done. It’s going to take a good chunk of your day, I’d say at least 6 hours, so don’t do this when you have anything else to do. Oh, and make sure you cast as far up your neck as you can, so that the body suit in the end will go all the way up your neck. I would also suggest (strongly suggest, recommend, even) that you do your fiberglassing of the body mold the same day. The instructions for that are also on the tutorial linked above, we did what they did, but we used gel coat as well.
Here are some tips on fiberglassing your body mold:
Release the crap out of that plaster. You do not want any of the fiberglass sticking to this mold. We used Car Wax.
Color your gel coat if you can’t find clear gel coat. If you do find clear gel coat, leave it clear so you can see air bubbles.
Always use proper safety measures when working with chemicals. Wear gloves, protect your work area, and wear the correct mask. If you can smell the fiberglass resin through your mask, get one that properly fits you or you can make yourself very sick. Also work in a well ventilated area. We also worked on a silicone baking mat, it made it easier to clean up the resin after it cured.
We suggest getting an infrared thermometer to help you check the temperature of your plaster mold before you gel coat, because if it’s too cold it will not cure. If it’s too cold in the area you’re working in (please don’t do this in your house, use the garage or outside only!) then you should look into getting a small propane radiant heater to warm things up. If the mold is less than 70 degrees Fahrenheit, the gel coat and resin will not cure.
See our fiberglassing post for the basics on how to use fiberglass.
We also suggest coloring the layers different colors (by using resin coloring to color the resin before you use the catalyst) so you can see if you’ve done a spot yet or not on each layer. I believe we did one layer of gel coat, and three layers of fiberglass.
Do each side (do them both as quickly as possible, within the next 24 hours to prevent warping of the mold. I will not lie, we waited too long and so our body cast is too wide from the front and too thin from the side, but we worked with it and made it happen. We don’t want this to happen to you too) and then take them out of the plaster molds.
Yeah, just tear that stuff off. Should come off pretty easily. Though you should notice that the wax decided to hang out on the gel coat. Fantastic. It honestly took us weeks to get the wax cleaned off (mostly because we were using wire brushes then finally figured out, what are we doing, just stick a round wire bit on a drill and use that to clean it off… took a few minutes to do it…) so don’t do what we did, and go straight to the wire brush attachment on the drill.
You may notice that our fiberglass bodies are not lining up correctly. That is because we waited too long to fiberglass our molds, and so that is what happened. To correct this we had to cut down the edges on each side until it fit together perfectly. Somehow it still ended up with my dimensions. We also fiberglassed the outside edges, instead of the inside (which is insanely difficult.
An alternative method to making a body form to mold on would be using expanding foam, and shaving it down a few millimeters, to help the foam latex suit conform to your body better.
To make a base for the body form to make it easier to sculpt on, we used some plywood, and built a base then propped it up on some paint cans to make it easier to sculpt around the ankles.
We also attached a pole to the board, with a joint that helped it attach to the back of the body form. There are a few things you want to do before you attach it, though: make sure you put the spandex suit over the body form (definitely make sure you sand down the arms and legs and any thing that might be pokey at all) and make sure it fits it perfectly. If there are any alterations that need to be made (we needed to move the zipper down to make it open wide enough to put on the body form; we also needed to cut off a few inches off the arms of the body form to get the body suit on, which was not a problem, because we’re making gloves that go well beyond the point that was cut off) then mark them, and write them down, and then take it off the body form.
If you are going to make a backplate like we did for the wings, then before you start sculpting, you need to lay down your body form on a flat surface, and mark out the area you want the back plate to be on.
Then, use car wax and rub it in really well within that area, and use some mold release as well, we don’t want to risk the back plate getting stuck onto the body form at all.
Next you want to tape off the area, use garbage bags and cover the surrounding area.
I believe we did three layers of fiberglass over this, let it cure, then took it off and sanded the sides so there were no sharp edges.
You may also want to go ahead and start sculpting on the back side of the body form before it’s attached to the stand. I did this, and just leaned the front of the body form on the stand, as you can see below. Make sure you mark on the back though where it’s going to be attached to the stand, so you can sculpt around it.
For sculpting, we used WED clay- buy a lot, we got 200lbs and we’re almost out. If you’ve never worked with WED clay before, make sure you keep it covered when you aren’t working on it (airtight covered) and keep a water spray bottle on hand to keep it moist. If you don’t work on the sculpting for more than a day, make sure you water it. If your sculpture dries up, it’s ruined and you’ll have to start over. Always water the clay right before you cover it up as well. If you start seeing mold on your clay from being too moist too long, you can put a little bit of bleach in your spray bottle with your water and that will prevent mold.
Okay, that concludes this portion of the Queen of Blades tutorials, I’ll cover molding the smaller body parts in the next tutorial!