Process – Shining Armor

One of my bigger projects this year was my Pony Princesses Group. I designed these dresses on a whim when I realized I wouldn’t get one of my costumes done in time for Kumoricon this year. I decided to bring this group back and expand on it for Sakuracon 2014! Rather than just having my friend MacKenzie as Celestia and myself as Cadence, I’ve added to the group my friend, Shannon, as Twilight Sparkle,  her boyfriend, Jacob, as Shining Armor, Lumos Cosplay as Princess Luna and Princess of Tea as Queen Chrysilis.All the gowns include huge 6-hoop skirts, giant wings and some of them even have giant staffs! This was an awesome group and I was so glad to have this happen for Sakuracon 2014!

Photo by: Jonathan Konkol

Photo by: Jonathan Konkol

The dresses for the princesses, while all unique and beautiful, are all rather simple. Shining Armor however is wearing, well, armor. So I figured it might be interesting to share with you my progress and how I made his armor! When making armor the first thing I did was bring Jacob over and make a paper pattern for this armor. I did this by taking a large piece of paper and taping it around half of his body, then I drew on the lines of where the segments of armor should lay on his body. This is a method that Kamui cosplay uses, and while I did a much less labor intensive version it still worked fine.

After this I cut out all the separate pieces for the layers of armor. Now that I had my base pattern I could trace it onto my craft foam! While I generally suggest using large sheets of craft foam (18×11 I think it the size of the largest stuff sold at Joanns), for this project I used small (8×5) sheets of craft foam. This is partially because of the large volume of foam I needed, the smaller sheets come in packs of 50 rather than 12, and it’s only 5 bucks for 50 sheets rather than $8 for the larger sheets. So the price was just much better. Since I chose the smaller sheets of foam I had to glue them together to create sheets large enough to hold my pattern. But once I did this I was able to trace my pattern onto the foam and then cut it out!

After I cut all the pieces I traced the bottom edges of the pieces on to craft foam again and then cut them about half an inch wide , this created the trim of my armor. After I glued these onto all my main pieces I was ready to begin covering the armor in wonderflex. I’ve talked about wonderflex before in my Thermo Plastic 101 post but here’s a quick review. Wonderflex is a thermo plastic that comes in large sheets and can be heated and molded into different shapes. I chose to use Wonderflex for the bulk of this project because of it’s price, but also because this armor does not include many complex shapes, thus the Wonderflex can cover it easily. So I cut my Wonderflex a bit larger than all of my shapes then heat it up and covered my armor in it. To make sure the trim was visible I pressed the flat edge of my scissors over the wonderflex along the edge of the trim while it was hot. Now it can be seen more easily. After I finished covering all my pieces in wonderflex I connected them together to create the full front and back panels. This was done simply by hot gluing the segments together. Then I re-heated both the front and back panels then curved the edges and the shoulder straps so they would fit more snugly to the body. All that was left for the main armor was to paint it! But we’ll get there once we finish the other pieces.

Next I made the shoulder pieces. This was made the same way as the main armor, however since shoulders are round I had to add darts to the craft foam base. And since it’s a round shape I couldn’t use Wonderflex without having bumps and bubbles. So I choose to use Worbla. Worbla is another thermoplastic, however this one has more stretch thus it can be pulled around circular shapes smoothly. Another thing about Worbla is that it doesn’t have as smooth of a surface so it needs to be primed before being painted. So after I finished covering my shapes in Worbla I coated them in around 8 layers of Modge Podge. This gave it a smoother surface that could be more easily painted.

The last thing I had to make was the arm guards. These were made like all the other armor pieces, the only thing that was different about these was all the detailing! This was made by gluing craft foam shapes onto the foam base then I covered them in wonderflex and again use my scissors to push around the details so they were more raised. Since there were so many small details this took a very long time, however it was very worth it. After I was done I again re-heated the whole piece and shaped it to his forearm. Now that everything was made I could finally paint the armor! I started by putting a silver base on all the pieces. This took maybe 2-3 layers. Then I used my purple paint to paint all the trim, this took 4-5 layers since the paint I bought was actually meant to be used for stained glass, however it had the shiny finish that I wanted so I used it anyway. Finally I used some basic white paint for the detailing. Lastly I weathered the armor. This is a very important step, if you don’t weather your armor it can sometimes look fake or too perfect, adding weathering can help to make it look real. When I weather armor I use a basic black paint. I paint some on around all nooks and crannies, specifically around the edging and detailing, then right after painting it I use tissue or paper towel to wipe off most of the paint. This only leaves paint in the few places where dirt would build up on real armor. This makes it look a bit older and worn. I did this to all the pieces.

Finally it is time to close the armor. To create closures for his armor I used strips of pleather and velcro. One side of the strap was glued to the inside of the front piece of armor the other side of the strap had Velcro and would attach to the inside of the back armor. Then the shoulder pieces attached to the main armor with more velcro. And that’s all the armor!

The only other things I made for Shining Armor were his ears and horn and his sword and shield. The ears and horn were very simple and were made of clay. The sword and shield however were not so simple. The sword and shield were carved out of insulation foam then the edges of the shield were covered in paper mache and wood filler. They were then sanded and primed with sealant. This gave a smooth surface to be painted. The star is made of craft foam and glued directly to the shield. It holds on his arms via faux leather straps which are glued to the back of the shield. The sword was covered large craft foam sheets so it would be extra smooth and the edges were covered with wood filler so they could be sanded smooth. The hilt was made of craft foam and has cardboard supports to hold it’s shape and the handle is PVC. After these are sanded they were painted ! And that’s how I made Shining Armor.

This is one of my first successful armor builds and it was very exciting to debut him at Sakuracon 2014!

Photo by: Jonathan Konkol

Photo by: Jonathan Konkol

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