Queen of Blades tutorial Step Three: Resin arms with removable fingers

Now that you’ve made a mold of the stone hands (and if you’re having issues getting the stone out of the fiberglass mold, because we did, then we ended up having to chisel it out, and shatter and break the stone out of the hand) you can finally cast some arms with fingers that come out. If you’ve forgotten, the reason we need these for gloves is so that when we take the glove off of the arm after we’ve cast it in foam latex, the glove won’t tear with you taking it off, since the fingers will come off and you can then take the fingers out. If you used a stone hand to bake these in, then you have a very real possibility (I almost want to say 100%, but there may be someone out there who got lucky) that the fingers will snap when you  take the glove off, or even sooner, when you make the fiberglass mold of the glove sculpture.  Continue reading

How to: make a fiberglass mold! (also: clay walls and a quick tutorial for silicone molds!)

This tutorial is to go along with my Queen of Blades tutorial series, but can be used for any fiberglass molds! It also covers silicone molds really quickly, since you can use the same clay wall to make a silicone mold. I’ll cover stone molds next!

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Queen of Blades tutorial step two: Smaller lifecastings

Okay. Now on to the smaller castings of your body parts. We purchased 15 lbs of alginate from Monster Club, we got a lot of our materials from them and Frends. We may have used 12, maybe, but it’s best to have extra, and to make sure that in case you mess up (we did the first time, you have to learn how to feel when the alginate is about to set up). We also purchased 4 boxes of 12 rolls of bandages, and we almost used all of them up. We suggest prepping your area before you begin, of course. We put a cardboard box on our table to protect it, but you could use a cheap plastic tablecloth instead. Have at least two people other than the person getting cast to help, one to wet the bandages and help apply alginate, and one to apply and mix alginate and apply bandages. Also, make sure you cover the floor you’re working on, plaster is pretty hard to clean up if it gets into carpet or tile, you have to scrape it off and I know you don’t want to ruin your floors! Continue reading

Queen of Blades tutorial Step One: The full body cast.

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. Continue reading

Queen of Blades tutorial: Introduction

I’m going to be doing a lot of tutorials rather than one really long tutorial to take you through the steps I went through to make my infested Kerrigan costume. I decided to do several posts because there are so many different parts to the costume, and also because it would make for such a long tutorial, since I like to post so many pictures with my tutorials.

Edit: These tutorials can be used more than for Kerrigan. They can be used for fiberglass molds, life casting, foam latex gloves, cowls, and body suits. You can sculpt and make any type of suit or gloves that you want. I couldn’t find any definitive foam latex body suit threads on the internet, and so I’m showing you what I did, because all in all, it’s one piece, didn’t (and hasn’t) fallen apart, and moves beautifully. We did all of this for the first time, everything we did was new to us, and we’ve learned so much, so we wanted to pass that on.

This is an introduction, where I tell you what you need to know before starting on a costume of this caliber.

Now, we made Kerrigan the way we did because one, we wanted to do her justice, and two, we wanted to make it as realistic as possible. This was definitely a joint effort between Mario and I, because he just handles the power tools better, and with a lot of the mold making, it would have been impossible for one person to do.

I’ve said this several times, but it bears repeating: We aren’t happy with the cowl/face. We had to use the face prosthetic to cover up elastic that was holding on the cowl, and it didn’t fit correctly because we didn’t allow for the extra room that the dreads would take up under the cowl. I will talk about ways to prevent this when I get to that part of the tutorial.

If you’re planning on following this tutorial to make this costume how we did, please, listen to me now:

Do not plan on doing this costume for cheaper than $4000. This is all material costs. Foam latex, building materials, renting a huge mixer, gallons and gallons of resin, yards of fiberglass, contacts, clay, fiberglass rods. If you are interested in what exactly everything was costing, email us and I can send you an itemized list, but know that we bought the minimum of everything that we needed, and only had maybe the tiniest bits left over, and had to go back and get more of a lot of the materials because we underestimated how much we needed. This also includes reference materials, DVDs that cost hundreds, expensive books, etc. Ours was over 4k, but I believe 4k is the absolute lowest you can go with cutting things out unless you have a friend with a special effects studio you can borrow.

Do your research. There are some forums, reading materials and DVDs that I recommend you check out before you start on this project. You need to fully understand what you are doing and why you are doing it before you even pick up your first tool.

Have a friend(s) or significant other to help you. This is absolutely not a project you can do alone. Our method calls for lifecasting, which is impossible to do by yourself, and fiberglassing a mold of a large size is also impossible. It took us two days working 17 hours each to get the full body mold finished. If you have more people working with you, you will get things done much quicker. 

Budget your money. I had to order a ton of things online because we didn’t have a store nearby that carried what we need, but if you live in Los Angeles or another city that has a lot of special effects stores, you might be able to save a lot of money just in shipping by getting your materials local.

Make sure you have all of your materials before beginning each step. I know there were a few times we almost ran out of fiberglass sheet or resin and had to run to TAP Plastics before they closed for the day. Make sure you have plenty of all of your materials ready and on hand before you even begin.

Have the proper amount of space for this project. You’ll need a large garage or covered outside area to do the majority of your work. Working with fiberglass needs lots of open air and the proper safety measures, and working with stone molds is just plain messy. We didn’t do anything but the sculpting inside. You will also need a garage for the large oven to bake the foam latex in, unless you know someone who has a very large oven that you can borrow (not one that’s used for food, the fumes that foam latex puts off during the curing process makes ovens unusable for food). 

Budget your time. This is not a costume you can just decide to do a month before the convention, unless you are a professional special effects artist and have a team of people working for you to get it done. Even then, you’re probably pushing it. It took us 700 to get this costume ready to wear.

We are not professionals. I got a lot of advice from a friend, which I will transfer here, but we have never, ever done anything like this before, we may have done things ‘wrong’ a few times, but we learned as we went, and a lot of what I go by is from the first book on our list below, so please pick that up.  

Recommended learning materials: 

These are materials I will be referencing throughout the tutorials; in some spots I was going step by step from one of the books, so if nothing else, pick up the first book I list because I’m not putting word for work pages and pages from the book.

1. Special Makeup Effects for Stage and Screen: Todd Debreceni. This is the book where I learned most of the techniques I used for Kerrigan. Read it front to back, make sure you understand each step and why you do each step, or you won’t understand what you’re doing while you’re doing it. Make sure you pick up this book, if nothing else. I also suggest putting tabs in the pages for quick reference for each step.

2. Neill Gorton’s Creating Character Prosthetics in Silicone. No, we aren’t working with silicone, but these DVDs helped me to understand how to make molds and work with fiberglass. If you can’t afford the whole set, at least get parts 1-3.

3. Mark Alfrey- Prosthetic Makeup for Beginners DVD. We decided to use foam latex for all the pieces of Kerrigan, as well as make a cowl for the head/dreads. This video is definitely a must have if you’re doing the dreads/head the same way we are. This DVD helped us to understand more on how we need to make the foam latex cowl, and how to handle the foam latex.

4. The Monster Maker’s Mask Maker’s Handbook. This book is for a latex mask, but helps to understand with the sculpting and molding aspects. Not a must have, but a good reference material.

5. The FX Lab forums. Definitely fun to look around, read, and even ask questions if you have any, but I definitely suggest using the search engine for any questions first. Lots of good tips and helpful people.

I think that’s it for the intro. I’ll be putting up a post or two each week, depending on how long it takes me to write these out.

EDIT: I forgot to add in one important thing. Have lots and lots of patience. This costume was one of the most stressful things I have ever done, there were times when I just wished that we hadn’t even attempted it, but we’ve learned so much over the course of making it that I’m glad we went through with it. There were nights when we just had to step away from it for a few days, not look at it so that we could get a clear mind. Don’t rush, and take your time with each step.

Blizzcon 2011 Recap

Well now that we’re home and comfy at our desks (OMG! I can sit at the computer now for as long as I want with NOTHING TO WORK ON! It’s an amazing feeling, really), I figured I could tell you how our Blizzcon went.

This post is going to have nothing to do with announcements or tournaments, because honestly, I didn’t really get to see or hear any annoucements or panels first hand, just heard about them from friends.

Firstly, I have to say that the cosplay dinner that we (along with Pocket) threw the night before Blizzcon was a huge success. We are so grateful to everyone who came out to the dinner, and we were so happy to finally meet all the cosplayers we’ve been following, face to face!

Photo by Tony Hsu

Also, earlier that day Mario and I participated in a G4 photo shoot for the burlesque group that our amazing friend Lisa put together, it was really amazing to meet the ladies behind the group and hang out with them while we got pictures taken.

Photo by G4

The first day of Blizzcon, we helped get everyone in our room ready- our original plan was to help everyone get ready, relax for the morning, walk around the con until 11 or so, then head back to the hotel and get into Kerrigan, getting us back to the con in time for the cosplay photoshoot at 3. Mario wore his doomsayer costume and I wore a quickly put together ‘apprentice’ doomsayer one so I could hold a sign and be somewhat in costume, and we stood in the Jinx line and then went straight to the hotel. It took us 4.5 hours to get ready, were set back a few minutes by losing an eyebrow stencil and messing around with the makeup too long, and didn’t make it back in time for the photo shoot at the fountain, unfortunately.  Continue reading

Blizzcon Kerrigan Debut

So, even though I have decided that I will not put on Kerrigan until later in the day for the first day of Blizzcon, I am still showing these pictures the morning of! These were taken for the photoshoot, and later in the day I will try and post pictures of the updated version of the costume. We fixed the way the dreads lay, the forehead isn’t quite so high, the paint on the face is closer to what Kerrigan has, and the neck and ankles aren’t quite so loose. Enjoy!


If you are at Blizzcon today, please look for me by the fountain around 3:00 or 3:30 at the cosplayer’s photoshoot!

Queen of Blades Update: October 11 (She is FINISHED!)

Well people, we can finally say that Blizzcon is next week, and finally, Kerrigan is (99.9%) finished! She is wearable in her current state, but we need to do some tweaking to make her more wearable and comfortable for myself so that I don’t die before the end of the day.

This past week, we:

Marked the cap under the cowl on where the dreads would go, and practice fit them.

Had a 12 hour day where we did nothing but cast, seam, and paint dreads all day.

Finally finished the dreads, and these aren’t even all that COULD fit into the cowl, just how many we thought we’d need to make it look nice.

Inserted the dreads into the cowl and cap, one at a time while holding them in, the gently turned them upside down to epoxy them in.

Here is a picture of the cowl with all the dreads inserted; one of the things I need to do to make it more comfortable (and accurate) is style the dreads to have that look that Kerrigan has:

 

Just wanted to point out that this is the statue from Blizzcon, NOT ME lol.

I’m likely doing a huge foam bumpit! We’ll see though.

I painted the wings, and Mario finished painting the body suit, gloves, and feet.

Can I just say, I could not have done this without Mario? He’s amazing, and this costume is not a one person costume. If I didn’t have him to keep me going and to make me feel better about my flaws, I could not have completed this thing. If you guys see him in his doomsayer costume (he’ll be near wherever I am), go up to him and tell him how awesome he is, because this would not have happened without him. I may be the one wearing the costume, but he helped create it. <3

Well people, that’s my last update for Kerrigan! Come back on October 21 for some pictures of the completed design, though I’ll warn you now, that the dreads/cowl won’t necessarily look the same as the one I will wear to Blizzcon, but at least you can see the costume as it was for our photoshoot, and we will try and post more photos that night :) Thanks for sticking with us through our progress posts!

Queen of Blades update: October 3

Ugh, it’s October already. Blizzcon cannot possibly be this close! We really aren’t ready for it yet.

I like to get things done weeks ahead of time, and unfortunately that’s just not happening this year. Kerrigan will be done by the end of the week (we ran out of dread material, and also the wings are taking longer than anticipated to shape and cover), and we will be doing the photoshoot on Sunday.

This past week, we: painted a whole lot, cast a ton of dreads, and worked on the wings. That’s really all that’s left, but even with working 12+ hours on this thing on our off days, it’s taking a while. We also want to make sure that we’re doing her justice and not ruining details by rushing. I was going to start painting the dreads tonight, but we need to hang them up to dry them, and we didn’t have anything for that. I’ll be building something first thing tomorrow. Oh! We also got in the mail the wonderful plushie hydralisk that Fiendle made for us! He’s wrapped in some of the dreads we’ve made in the picture above.

Since we haven’t been sharing much picture wise with you guys lately, have some not anywhere near finished gloves. These are just the first base coats!

Another picture of the heels, Mario is painting those as I type!

And finally, the dreads. This is just the beginning of them; there will be probably close to 60 when we’re done, with 5 different size dreads.

Oh! I also went to the mall to my local MAC counter looking for help to make my lips look more like Kerrigan’s, and let me tell you, that was the most amazing part of my week so far! The girls there were so nice to me, and the girl who did my makeup was so helpful, explaining everything that she did and they even wanted me to come back with pictures! It makes me want to go there just to hang out and chat!

And! My contacts came in! How awesome looking are these!

Well… that’s it for my last progress post! I’ll maybe post next week to tell how the photo shoot went, but I’ll post a completed picture of the costume on the day of Blizzcon, so that everyone who isn’t able to make it can see it then!

Queen of Blades update: September 27

Well… I really hope that this is my last update, and that next week I can happily report that this costume is finished. We’re pushing to get it done by Sunday, but I guess we’ll see.

This week, we have to: finish painting the body suit, paint the gloves, shoes, cast the dreads, cast another cowl (we had issues), paint the cowl, make the spikes for the cowl, make the dread holder for the cowl, paint the dreads, attach the dreads, finish putting modelling paste on the wings, sand the wings, paint the wings, and done.

This last week, we painted a lot of the body suit, finished the basic wing structure, covered it, carved the wings, and halfway covered it in modelling paste. We also sculpted the heels, practiced gluing the cowl on, and tried to mold some dreads- but it was too cold outside, and they didn’t want to rise properly. We also practiced painting the feet, with a spare foot cast we had.

That’s it for this week! We’ll see if next week I announce that it’s finished!