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Blog

Here's where the magic happens. I'll be posting about all of my experiences and experiments (both failed and successful ones), introducing you to my costumes, sharing fun stories, linking tutorials and useful products, and who knows what else!

 

WIP (not quite) Wednesday: MOBA Edition

Michael MacWolff

Hello again folks! Mikey here, trying his best to keep to the plan he put forward last week. And we'll be starting things off simple, because I'm going on vacation this week and don't have a ton of time to lollygag around. So this week, I'm bringing you some WIPs from my current collection of commissions! (all of which come from MOBAs, no less!)

First is a set of weapons from the giant lion, Rengar, from League of Legends.

I've been working on both the big, spiky sword, as well as the claw blades on his left arm.

I decided to use MDF for the base on all of it, so I started by patterning out the blades. Once the patterns were transferrred, I used my jigsaw to cut them out.

Here are the patterns for the blades (along with the engine sword I built. You'll get to see that later.

Here are the patterns for the blades (along with the engine sword I built. You'll get to see that later.

To connect the two small blades, I used a chunk of dowel rod and screwed them on, then wood glued everything to make sure it stayed together.

To connect the two small blades, I used a chunk of dowel rod and screwed them on, then wood glued everything to make sure it stayed together.

As you can see here, for the small gauntlet blades, I beveled the MDF directly using my Dremel tool with a sanding bit. Since they were so small it seemed silly to add an extra layer, just to bevel it. For the big sword, however, I added some layers of foam core board, and did the wide bevel on those.

As per usual, all of the exposed foam was spackled & sanded smooth. For the gauntlet part that the arm blades would attach to, I weapped strips of worbla around 2mm craft foam, and shaped it so it would take the approrpiate curve to be worn as a gauntlet. It also has holes so it can be laced up along the bottom. I also attached the blades themselves with a strip of worbla, heated and stretched over the piece of dowel between the two blades, and mushed into the worbla on the gauntlet.

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From here, all that was left was to put a bunch of layers of mod podge on everything and then start painting! That's the step I'm currently on, but they should be done pretty soon after I get back from my vacation.

The next weapon I'm working on is one a lot of folks should recognize, considering how popular this game has been.

That's right, I get to make Symmetra's photon projector. Honetly, I'm super pumped about this project because it should look awesome when it's done, and of course it's going to light up! The other nice thing is that Kamui Cosplay made an amazing one of these (but let's be real, all of her props are phenomenal), and has a tutorial of how she made the gun.

While I built the base of the gun a bit differently (namely, mine is hollow), and lit it in a slightly different way, it was super useful to see how she put it together. Also, the arms will end up being built more or less the same, so that'll be helpful ^_^

As always, I started by patterning out the base (which naturally I didn't take a photo of). I cut the base out of cereal boxes and wrapped it in worbla, the result of which you can see here:

The detail over the glowing part is also worbla, wrapped around craft foam. For the blue panels where the light will come through, I took toploader car protectors which I have a ton of because Magic: the Gathering. The blue is actually just blue plastic shopping bags I cut up, wrapped around a card-sized piece of clear plastic, and inserted into the card protector.

I then began to build the barrel of the gun which, in common fashion for me, is made out of trash and scraps of things I have leftover from other projects. I started with the cap from a baby bottle (left over from my Adam Syringe) which I used for the actual end of the barrel because I could make a small disc of the blue translucent setup and screw the top on to keep it in place. The next chunk is part of a wire spool that I had lying around (which I wrapped with a piece of craft foam so it wouldn't glow when the light was on), the thick disc is a piece of MDF that came as some sort of packaging for something and I decided to keep it (because I am a pack rat and  this junk comes in handy sometimes). Lastly, there's a piece of aquarium tubing (left over from my Dr. Who lightsaber) what is attached to the back. I cut slits in the aquarium tubing to snugly hold my light, and because it's transparent, the single light actually makes the front and both side panels glow, all together.

Don't even ask me how I came up with this method because I have no idea what my brain did to come up with it.

Don't even ask me how I came up with this method because I have no idea what my brain did to come up with it.

Now that I had the lighting mechanism put together, it was time to build the rest of the gun base, which I used more cereal box wrapped in worbla to build.

Here you can see it with the pattern pieces. The aquarium tubing fits through that hole on the front.

Here you can see it with the pattern pieces. The aquarium tubing fits through that hole on the front.

You can just barely see in the photo, but there's a large opening on the inside curve here. that lines up with the end of the aquarium tubing so that you can putt the little light out to turn it on/off. When it's finished, there will be a piece of craft foam that covers the hole, and will most likely be attached by velcro.

Here you can see everything with the light inside.

Here you can see everything with the light inside.

The last part that I've put together is the handle, which it two layers of EVA foam glued together. As you can see I still need to sand it so it's not oddly textured like that, and then that will also be covered in worbla. Then I'll just have to make the arms and paint!

The last project, which I haven't actually started yet as I'm waiting on a few more measurements first, is also an Overwatch commission. This one is for a few armor pieces for Imp Mercy. Specifically I'm making the hip tassets and the leg armor.

I'll be making them using the same method I used for Leo's armor: worbla over craft foam. Also, I get to light the little purple panels on the hip pieces so that'll be fun.

 

And that's all for this week! I'm working on two new posts for you guys:
First is a tutorial-ish post on how I made my engine sword from FFXV (which I haven't posted anything about it on here, though I did post some progress photos on Twitter/FB). 
Second will be my first installment of "Materials Monday" where I talk about some of my favorite crafting materials, how to use them, what they're good for, etc. The first material on the list is foam board! I'm hoping to have that together for next Monday so stay tuned!

Vroom Vroom (FFXV Engine Sword Tutorial)

Michael MacWolff

Hey guys, welcome back! Today I'm going to be talking about how I made my FFXV engine sword! Lets star by taking a look at this absurd weapon.

So the fun thing with putting this together (besides all of the cool little details) was the relative lack of official references for it. So what I ended up using primarily was photos of props other people had made, to see what the details looked like. I primarily used this beautiful model, from someone who sadly no longer appears to be on deviantArt.

So, let's get down to business! It all started, as I'm sure you all know by now, with a pattern, which you can see here along with the pattern for the Rengar blades I was also working on.

I decided to make the base out of MDF (because I've been enjoying using that lately) and cut out the body, making notches on the end to fit a piece of PVC for the handle.

As you can see here, the PVC fits into the notches and holds itself in place. This makes for a much sturdier connection that simply gluing it on the end.

As you can see here, the PVC fits into the notches and holds itself in place. This makes for a much sturdier connection that simply gluing it on the end.

To solidify the connection with the handle, I plugged up the end of the PVC piece (the part where it attached to the blade) with kleenex bits, and sealed it with hot glue. Then I mixed up some liquid plastic, which I often use for casting, and poured it into the open end of the PVC pipe. The liquid plastic cures solid and strong, and prevents the PVC piece from wiggling around and falling apart.

To get the bevel on the blade, I used a dremel tool with a sanding bit. you can see the bevels in the next photo.

I'm sorry for not having a photo of an in-between  step, but here's the first round of details that were added. The red is a piece of craft foam, which I used a ball point pen to engrave the details. There's a lovely tutorial for how to do that here. As for the round pieces, the large round section is actually the cover for a CD stack, kind of like this. I got it at Big Lots for pretty cheap, and consequently I have a bunch of blank CDs floating around my craft foam now. I cut out the center, leaving about a 1-2cm ring around the outside. I also cut out the center circular part (where the spindle fits in). You can see it slightly better here (with a bunch of other details I'll get to momentarily).

For the smaller circular pieces, they're actually the plastic covers from plumber's seal tape, which you can find at Home Depot for about $.50 each, which is the only way I justified buying 6 rolls to myself... consequently I also had to travel to several Home Depots before I had enough because I wasn't about to spend $3 on the more expensive rolls with the same packaging when I wasn't even going to be using the tape. 

The mesh that I fit into both round structures is something I found at Home Depot as well. It's actually chunks of gutter guards, similar to these ones. I cut the corcular shapes out of the gutter guard, and glued them into the round plastic sections. It worked out really well because both the CD cover and the cover for the seal tape had a lip that I could easily glue in the gutter mesh. Once they were assembles, I glued on the main ones with E-6000. The rest we'll attach later, after we finish a few other details.

**A Note about attaching the CD covers: Because the PVC pipe extends into circular portion of the MDF base, I had to carve out a rounded section from the CD cover so that it fit over the PVC. I used my dremel for that, with the same sanding bit.

Now onto the other details. the three main details left to build are here:

For the red section, I cut the black part out of MDF, and used a small cardboard tube (I believe it was the center of a roll of something but I'm not sure what) and a plastic cap which I had in my stash of junk that just happened to fit perfectly over the end of the cardboard tube.

Next up we have the purple details. For those, I cut out several layers of cardboard for the base, added craft foam details for the ridges on the back, and glued on actual dimes for the little circular parts. I then covered the whole thing with a piece of worbla.

Here you can see the shapes a little better defines in the worbla. I generally use a Popsicle stick for pushing the worbla in to get the detail definition.

Lastly we have the yellow detail, which involved a lot of trial and error to get right. I knew I wanted it to light up, and thankfully I has a tiny keychain flashlight that would work well for the base, and let it light up the way I wanted it to. I had a clear plastic tube that as one point held little glass beads. It was the perfect size & shape, and it was transparent, so that was an easy call for the section that needed to glow. The hard part was figuring out what to fill the tube with such that it would glow blue. I tried mixing up resin and adding blue to it, but the dye never turned out looking right, and in once case the reaction was hot enough that the tube melted out of shape. Finalle I had a stroke of genius. I cut a section of hot glue stick, wrapped it with a section of blue plastic grocery bag, and shoved it into the tube. When I turned the light on it glowed exactly how I wanted it to. VICTORY AT LAST!!

The end cap was actually the cap of the bead tube, so that was easy, and I attached it all to the flashlight with E-600. As for attaching it to the sword itself, I carved out a little channel for it to sit in with my dremel, and then used contact cement to attach it. The reason I used that instead of E-6000 is because it was topheavy, so it would've been difficult to get it to stay in place while the glue dried. With contact cement, you paint a layer on each piece, and then press them together after about 15-20 minutes. It creates an instant bond so there was no worry about the topheaviness messing things up.

As you can see, we're almost done! That just leaves a few details to look at before we can start the sealing and painting process. First off are a few small details you can see in that last photo. Both of them were done with layers of craft foam. Here's a close-up:

As you can see, I've also attached the other round pieces made from the seal tape containers, as well as the other details I'd constructed. All attached with E-6000.

The last detail is a subtle one, but I'll point it out anyway. I added a little cap to the bottom section highlighted in the photo above. I hadn't attached it in that picture yet, but you can see it here:

From here, all that's left are the finishing stuff. I added a bunch of mod podge to everything, and then spray primed it all in black. The main reason I did that was because I wanted the inside of the pieces that had the mesh overlays to be black, which was way easier to spray than to try to shove a paintbrush through the little holes in the mesh.

**IMPORTANT NOTE** Make sure you cover the glowing part before you spray it! I just taped some plastic around it to protect the transparent section.

Here's some of the painting process! I base coated all of the silver parts with a medium grey before painting my metallics on. A few spots were a darker silver so they got gunmetal grey metallic paint instead of the sterling silver.

The last little details to be added were here, which I squeezed out metallic silver dimensional paint to get them.

And with that we have another finished prop, and another happy customer!

Thanks, Alex, for the fun commission, and thanks to all of you for stopping in!
If any of you guys are trying to make your own engine sword, I'd love to see it, especially if this was at all helpful with your construction :-D

Mikey Gets His Shit Together (maybe)

Michael MacWolff

Hello my dahlings! Today's installment is probably not going to be the most exciting if you're just here to look at pretty photos of cosplay (but maybe if you stick around until the end you'll be rewarded).
Today, Mikey is here to tell you he's trying to overhaul his online presence. I know my posts on here have been super inconsistent because that's pretty much how my life works, but I'd like to work towards a more steady flow of content for all of my lovely followers out there, and feel some responsibility to do so purely for you guys, and also because I'm on that top cosplay blog list so I figure I should at least try to life up to that. Anyway, here's my general plan, I'll try to keep it simple.

  • More consistent blog posts

Ok I know that sounds super obvious, but it's my step 1. I want to get better at posting more consistently so I'm trying to implement an actual posting schedule. At this point I'm optimistically hoping I can do at least one post a week. One of the ways I'm intending to do that is by having a regular rotation of posts that are not directly related to what I'm working on at the moment. Here's my general monthly schedule idea:

  • Materials Monday: A new monthly post about a specific material I use a lot in my props and/or cosplay. I do have a page in my Help Desk which is specifically about materials here, but I thought it would be good to have some blog posts highlighting stuff I use all the time.
  • Throwback Thursday: Those of you who've been around since the beginning remember when 3/4 of the content in this blog was me going through old costumes for TBT. Well, I want to bring this tradition back and hopefully I have enough cosplays I haven't already done a throwback post for to keep it going. You can hopefully expect this once a month, depending on how many old cosplays I even have stashed away.
  • Fotoshoot Friday: Ok the "f" on the front there is pushing it, but the idea here is to motivate myself to actually wear my cosplays more frequently and do photoshoots with them. Given the time commitment and the necessity that my husband (or someone else willing to come be my photographer), this will likely be at most a monthly, but more likely a bi-monthly installment. This is probably the thing I'm looking forward to most in all of this :-D
  • WIP Wednesdays: They won't always be on wednesdays, but to round out the weekly posts, I will be doing my best to post progress of my current projects more frequently than I do now because I'm really bad at that. Hopefully getting into this habit will also mean I get better at taking periodic progress photos too. Let's all keep our fingers crossed.
  • Tutorial Tuesday: Don't worry, these won't generally be my tutorials. We all know how bad I am at explaining things most of the time, but if I don't have much else to post about I plan to highlight one of the useful tutorials I've used for my cosplays. And of course there's always the tutorials section on my Help Desk page.

 

  • Site Updates

I'm hoping to get a lot more content on the site in general. Here's the general plan:

  • Help Desk: I want to expand my help desk with more materials & tutorials for all of you out there who use my site to help them create their own awesome cosplays. Fortunately the "Inspiration" section is constantly growing as I find more awesome costume photos on pinterest, and the "Warm Fuzzies" section is just full of things to make you feel good. Mostly adorable animals.
  • Mikey's Words of Wisdom: Ok, this sounds cheesy, but I wanted to put something simple and goofy on my main page that was also helpful. So when I occasionally have insights into things, I'll change the "Words of Wisdom" section. The first one is up now, so go take a look at my home page and see if you can find it. Follow the link in the title for more detail about said words of wisdom.

 

  • Mikey Points

Ok, so I've toyed around with this idea for a little while, and I want to actually implement it for real. I want to have some sort of a reward system for people who visit my site/FB page.

  • Earning MP: You'll have periodic opportunities to earn yourself some MP both here and on facebook. In order to earn your points, you may have to be the first person to answer a silly fandom trivia question, identify an obscure cosplay, or otherwise participate in activities related to my site.
  • I'll keep a log of everyone who's collected MP, and how much they have. My intention is to put together a new page where all of that info is kept together, so that if you start to earn some points, you can actually see how many you have at any given time, without having to ask me.
  • In order to qualify for earning MP, you need to be willing to give me a name of some sort that I can connect back to you, if you decide to redeem your points. It can be a screen name or your actual name, it makes no difference to me, it's simply something I can have displayed on the new page so we can all keep track of our points.
  • If you'd like to redeem your points, you need to be willing to share your address, as most of the redeemable prizes will be physical objects that I'd send you. There may be digital prizes as well, in which case I would need an email. I will never give your information away, and I only need it in the event that you redeem your points for something.
  • Prizes: You've waited long enough, let's talk about the prizes! Mostly it'll be things related to my etsy store. If you earn enough points you can get things like crocheted amigurumi, bow ties, or even gift certificates for my etsy shop! The new page I set up will have a section dedicated to redeemable prizes. Stay tuned for that.
  • EARN YOSELF POINTS NOW!
    Since I'm implementing this new system, let's have our first giveaway now! Here's a little piece of fandom trivia for you to answer:
mysterycharacter

The first three people to correctly identify these two characters will win themselves 50 MP!

Since this is trivia, and publicly posting the correct answer will make it way too easy for the rest of the people trying to guess it, please send your answers using the "Contact Us" form on the site header.
Please include your name in your message, so I know who to give the points to!

That's all for now, thanks for stopping in, and good luck collecting your Mikey Points!