Sunday, May 27, 2012

This Month's Progress: MORNING RESCUE

Three weeks have passed. What have I built and learned about Homura's Time Shield? I learned that no amount of Morning Rescue can make this go smoother. Here's my current project goals and the resulting mess that ensued:
  1. Build the most detailed Homura's Time Shield from Puella Magi Madoka Magica out of freakin' Magic: the Gathering cards. Since no one else builds with MtG cards, I'm already a winner. Hooray for shallow goals.
  2. Make the gold shutter covers for the sides open. Not "removable" where you pop them off and lose them during a convention. They must open and retract into the shield.
  3. Add loose sand. No cheating with painting the sand containers red. The sand containers must be spheres and cannot be cheap jello cups or colored gems.
With the project goals defined, time to shoot myself in the head with an AT4. Let's take a look at what I've uncovered during the course of making this.

Planning and Research

There's two principles of building this shield: Aesthetically or Accurately. Aesthetically being that with exception of the center gearbox, the shield's features are symmetrical. Accurately being the result of my research into the actual shield itself: as close to the anime concept/production art as possible. Interestingly, you cannot have both.

This particular screencap highlights asymmetry in the sand flow device. The green boxes highlight non-uniformity in the teardrop shapes. The red boxes show where the dimensions differ where the teardrops connect to the center. One can reasonably argue that this is due to the animator's decision to not bother making it perfectly symmetric since that would involve more work. Let's assume that this is a once-of error.

The line art/concept art for the shield. However, I've mirrored the half and shown it in green. Original is red. There's numerous dimensional differences. These differences also match what was in the screencap. I was led to believe that this was perhaps the result of sloppy source material resulting in sloppy details in animation.

I was about to do a "corrected" version of the shield, where everything is symmetrical. Other examples of the time shield did this, since it's easier to do and looks less odd. However, the final piece of evidence that led me to proceed with the asymmetrical design was the production notes sleeve. Brief glance, the cutout is symmetrical. Upon closer examination, there are subtle signs that the differences were intentional. It's a lot easier to replicate something that's symmetrical especially with computers. It takes more effort to make something not.


Compasses are useless. The compass lead is blunt and imprecise. It's easier to draw a circle by making two holes on a strip of paper (equaling the radius), pinning one end to the center, putting a pencil on the other hole, then looping around. It's also reliable since you don't need to adjust the compass each time for repeated passes. So much for buying a compass.

Building gears teeth-by-teeth by gluing each tooth equally spaced around a cylinder is tedious. Given the alternative of cutting each tooth around a circle, gluing teeth one-by-one is easier. Screw building gears ever again. At least they're decorative and don't need to bear loads.

My plans focused on making the shield shutters open using gears.  Worst idea ever. I do not want to cut gear teeth by hand with a knife. Archimedes did it, but I sure as hell don't want to. Did I abandon the effort to make the shutters open? Nope! After some math, I determined the dimensions to get a four bar linkage going that would open both shutter halves with a small 30 degree turn.

The plan is to have the two large rectangles attach to the shutters, then have them open up by rotating the center ring and bar. If it doesn't work, I can always just scrap it, build a static shield, and cry in a corner. My development tests have shown the concept can work; it's just a matter of not screwing it up.

Currently, here's where I'm at. The outer ridges were difficult to judge the height of, since the line art and screencaps don't give much depth about any features. I'll consider releasing plans if someone really wants them.

More progress whenever it comes. Let's hope I succeed. 50 sheep tokens are resting on this.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Upcoming Plans - May 2012


Upcoming projects: Build the best Morning Rescue shield ever.

Scale: 1:1
Requested delivery date: August 2013
Target completion date: 3 months
Budget: Sideways 8.

This project is one of the few commissions I take on: building Homura's time shield from Madoka. My main interests in pursuing this project are building the gear housing, and trying to build something that shouldn't be buildable. I'll also be trying out new building methods in order to manufacture gears. Prototype gears have been built with moderate success. They don't need to function, so there's leeway on gear tooth strength.

End goals for this project are to have this shield be sturdy for light use, and possibly have the shield's spherical covers open up. Prospects look bad for that second goal. There's not enough design space to work with.  Maybe I'll think of something.

Once the project gets deeper into development, I'll post plans, reference material and notes, assuming it can be completed and that people want them.