Sunday, April 26, 2009

This Weekend's Project: Gauntlets

At last, my last batch of free Magic: the Gathering packs came in the mail. I've gotten a few packs previously with their promotion, and to my dismay, I've yet to see what the contents of a green colored pack was. Seven boxes later, still no green pack.

Not a single green pack. 5 black, 4 blue, 3 red and 2 white packs total. Wizards knows what colors I play, evidently, just by my mailing location. With that out of the way, this weekend was dedicated to doing nothing. After that was done (or, rather, not done in this case), I proceeded to make gauntlets.

I have no idea how to do gloves at 1:6 scale, especially individually articulated fingers. Not to mention, ARMORED fingers. I'll figure that out soon, hopefully. Until that time, I can get the lower arm portions done. Aelia's armor is asymmetrical for the arms, which makes the joy of pattern making useless. Although, that's also a good thing, due to the added complexity of the left arm compared to the right arm...

...because the left arm looks like this. The left arm has a dragon head "protecting" the hand, which seems to limit a lot of the movement instead. The art did not show any indication of moving components to suggest a flexible assembly.

This piece involved a lot of Dremel use to shape the details. Glad I didn't attempt this when I was using crude methods of sandpaper taped around an X-Acto knife handle. There's some whiskers I need to find better materials for, but in the meantime, thin 110lb cardstock strips curled a bit will do.

So far, Aelia's near completion. What's left is skirt plating attachment, gloves, and mostly fasteners. I'm still looking for a good satin ribbon to use to make the belt fasteners, but unfortunately, I don't have the colors I would like.

On a side note, I corrected Aelia's head last week due to her head having a severe case of "made poorly by apathy". Her right eye was 0.055 inches higher than desired, giving her a really bad case of Shunya Yamashita's "beaten on the back of the head with a lead pipe" syndrome. Shunya Yamashita did part of the art for Valkyrie Profile: Silmeria, the sequel to Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth, which Aelia is from. Aside from even more ridiculous armor, Yamashita tends to have the problem of drawing all girls with the same face shape, age, and blank stare like they've been beaten over the head a minute beforehand. The art for VP:Silmeria was rendered useless for armormaking purposes due to the bad idea of "Hey! Let's add high heels to EVERY girl in the game regardless of functionality!"

From an engineering standpoint, I can't enjoy impractical armor anymore. Simply because I'm the one who has to figure out how to make it work if I try to replicate it, and it's going to look really bad when I try to make it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

This Week's Project: A Less Creepy Looking Head

Arguably, Aelia's head sculpt is one ugly one. I could have done a lot better than that. Rather than deal with an ugly face, let's finally move away from the Mizuirogakuen Ruri head template and onto better prospects. But where to start? I first need to find a suitable model to base mine off of. The plan was to create a duplicate of the head entirely by coating it with paper and flattening it out into a template. Luckily, I had some assistance in securing a volunteer.

Ze Doktor eez een!

After a few stabs later... we've secured our base to model a new head off of. Behold, the miracles of science... and malice.
The usual process of paper and tape shell making begins. I've made sure to capture as many details on the face as possible but not too many to render the template complicated. The Ruri template consists of four elements, each with a simple assembly. I ended up with three with a slightly complicated assembly.

Clockwise from top left: Original shell, templates for the new head, assembled head, and the original base.

I ended up spending a week working on the revised head sculpt, then entirely scrapping it and redoing it. The third from the left was the one I was previously using for Aelia. The fourth from the left was too fat and reminded me of Jimmy Carr. I have no idea why he came to mind. The fifth one was actually a test build to get the scaling right. Oddly, the test builds I went through were the better looking of the lot. I aimed to replicate the test build with the second try, pictured on the far right.
So far, this is the current end result. I'm still not happy with it. The nose needs rework. For those who have noticed, this build required a lot of after-work on it than simply cutting and gluing the pieces together. I added three to four layers of 110lb cardstock over underdeveloped regions and taking a Dremel to it to get the right shape. Without a Dremel, this would have ended up very bad looking or have taken a lot of manual sanding and X-acto knife tricks.

I do however like how the eyes and eyebrows came out. The mouth needs work. Unfortunately, in her armor, she looks really fat. It's not as bad now with this thinner head, but the first one was atrocious. Practically heavy weapons girl. I'll properly finish the head sometime this week, then return to constructing the armor.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

This Week's Project: Greaves and Sabatons

Segmented armor is annoying to make on a small scale with unconventional materials. I opted to go for a new method of gluing armor pieces to a piece of fabric. This allows for flexibility while keeping the thickness low. I may have to redo some other pieces this way, since I really like how it turned out.

The leg assembly consists of two major components: the boot- back greave portion, and the front greave plate. The parts were glued with a hot glue gun on small sections to allow for flexibility. I only glued the upper half of the fabric to the greave so there would be slack on the bottom half to assist movement.

Until I build the straps, I'm holding the front plate together with tape. Masking tape is a wonderful tool.

These parts were created the same way as every other piece of armor. I'm quite pleased in how they turned out in appearance. There's still enough mobility in the feet, which was a big concern for making plate. The winged elements on the boots make me wonder if Aelia was intended to be like the dragoon class from Final Fantasy 3, doing high jumps and impaling enemies with a spear.

Girls always go after the snipers, it seems.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

This Weekend's Project: Shoulder Armor

Sometimes, you need to make your own parts. Aelia's entire armor along with the Team Fortress 2 costumes were created by this technique. What you'll need is a lot of masking tape, scissors, paper, and an ability to sculpt. Most of you will have 3 of the 4.

First, I use simple strips of paper to help form the shape needed. The goal is to get the outer shape into one single component that can be cut off/apart to make patterns. I make cuts to flatten down the resulting piece to form a pattern that can be traced.

From the left to right:
  • Replicated piece made from duplicating the masking tape formed piece
  • The pattern created from the original component
  • Patterns for each individual plate for the pauldrons
  • Assembled pauldron plates hinged together by wire hooks
  • Finished right pauldron
This is the finished set of pauldrons. The pauldrons are segmented to allow for articulation and somewhat less restricted movement.

The pauldrons are held onto the main chestplate by a strap looped to the belt holding the front chestplate to the back. A second belt will eventually be added to the bottom of the pauldrons to secure them to the arms.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

J.Norad's Tool Rack

Finally decided to organize my tools. I spent a few minutes trying to find my hand drill, which was buried underneath a pile of markers and my scissors. However, the local Target was less than cooperative in supplying me with a desk organizer that wasn't utterly useless or made of pastel Easter colors. Well, considering I have on me several large boxes of the world's greatest building resource, that's not a problem! Time to bust out those LEGO.

I've now sorted my tools by shape and function. The back row has my cutting and scoring tools and markers. The middle row has all the odd elements: tweezers, screwdrivers, scissors and my special set of tube making rods. On the far right is my drying rack for stuff that I'm painting, held up by a set of bamboo sticks. Lastly, I've added a small section to hold all my heavily used Dremel bits. No more hunting down things for five minutes.

The local Target was more than cooperative in assisting me with obtaining a set of pliers. These were the Stanley 6 pack of assorted pliers. Unfortunately, one came with a defective spring that I had to replace. Got to love quality American tools. I rarely work with wire, but when I do, it's rather delicate. I've been cutting my paper clips and wire with regular scissors, which is a really bad idea. Diagonal cutters to the rescue!

I already own a set of beadmaking jewelry pliers for shaping those rounded elements. However, for the next task of making belt buckles, I needed a better, square shaped tool: needle nosed pliers. These aren't too bad, but I could have probably gone for a finer tip.

Making belt buckles is like making miniature paper clips. You sure don't want to have to make a lot of them. These buckles will be used to hold the skirt flaps in place for Aelia. I won't be putting them together until everything's been painted unfortunately.