OH GOD, THIS IS SO LONG. I promise there are pictures!
Hey everyone! It's been a super long time since I've posted one of these, so I figured I'd take the free time I've accumulated over holiday break to actually document... well, rather, actually START a cosplay project. The past few months have been really busy and life in general has gotten pretty weird, so to blow off some steam, I spent some time bringing Raven to life this month. I wanted to have her finished by Ichibancon (spoiler alert: it was this past weekend), so a lot of crunching happened, but regardless, here we go!
The two pieces I'm getting the most questions about (and am incidentally the most proud of) are Raven's gauntlets and mask. Back in March, I tried Worbla (really popular thermoplastic used by cosplayers) for the first time with my Velvet build and was sort... of... happy with it? But the qualifier there is really to convey the flaws of Worbla's Finest in building this stuff. It's not super clear in the pictures, but I struggled really hard with the texture of the shoulder and wrist pieces because Worbla's Finest is infamously difficult to smooth out. Think wood pulp meets the stubbornness of plastic, because that's basically what happened. I mean, at least it smells like cookies when you heat it up. Well, sort of.
Anyway, I read up on this new sister product to Worbla's Finest, which was this new, sleek, black form of the thermoplastic, and after getting a really good handle on how to use it, I got some. And it is AMAZING. What would normally take a cosplayer 8-10 layers of gesso to smooth out took me a few coats of spray Mod Podge (which is also amazing).
Seriously, fuck Worbla's Finest. I'm never going back from Worbla Black. Ever.
So the first thing to do was to map out the pattern of Raven's gauntlets, which were pretty hard to actually architect because of their limited screentime. Oh well. That's why we have a print screen key.
So eventually I got it down to seven tiered layers of this strange red material. Funny story about that red, actually- two years ago, my roommate struggled really hard to find a metallic red spray paint to use for the Crescent Rose she was building, and after all that passed, I remembered to keep VERY close track of the metallic red paint I stumbled upon in an auto store. That's right, guys. If you're ever unsatisfied by the selection in Home Depot (read: often) and can't mix your own with an airbrush, go to an auto parts retailer. They will blow your mind.
More about that later.
First thing that needed to happen was making a pattern for the Worbla pieces. Kamui Cosplay has some excellent tutorial videos on YouTube about Worbla, so I feel like any detail I might go into would do the product no justice in comparison, but essentially, there are three steps to making anything out of Worbla - (1) paper patterns (stencils), (2) foam patterns for structure, which are sandwiched between (3) two Worbla pieces for reinforcement. After quite a bit of agonizing over the shape that would fit my arm best, I decided that a vector design would be easiest to recreate and shape each piece accordingly, rather than eyeballing things. I drew up a really simple design with Inkscape, scaled each up by 10 percent after starting with measurements from my forearm, and ended up with six of something like this.
Title accurately depicts frustrations, believe you me.
So after all of those were cut, the design started multiplying exponentially with doubles in foam and doubles of those in Worbla. The process can be tedious, but worth it.
At this point it was time to paint!
I found some Dupli-Color Metalcast in an amazing cherry red color and decided to go to work with it.. but failed to initially read the very specific directive on the back telling the user that this is only meant to be used over chrome or metallics... perhaps indicated by the name "metalcast"... well, that's not important. The text was very small. Regardless, if you've got silver metallic spray paint/that "chrome" stuff advertised by Rustoleum and such, your project will be savable. This is how everything looked after I totally didn't spray before reading, possibly realized the mistake, and did another two pieces separately to make up for it-
(You can't really see it in the picture, but the exceptionally shiny "black" pieces were the most gorgeous shade of crimson you'd ever see in that light. I was almost sad to repaint them.)
And here's the after.
Just so we're clear, the formula went like this:
i. Worbla Black, raw
ii. 4(ish?) coats of Mod Podge acrylic sealant (spray, and I think it was matte)
iii. 1 (accidental) coat of Dupli-Color Metalcast in extremely reflective and overall quite a violently red color
iv. "oh shit" (1 coat of high performance silver auto enamel)
v. 4-5 more coats of "candy apples meet blood of thine enemies"
After that, the pieces were all glued together with a mix of E6000 and high temp hot glue. I didn't get any pictures of the straps beneath the arms, but I found out through the shortcomings of Velvet's armor that 1" elastic was pretty durable if secured properly. I did one loop at the top of the gauntlet behind the fifth tier, and another attached to the third tier and connected with a parachute buckle. Whew.
So at this point, I was wearily beginning to entertain the idea of the mask. I was having some serious trouble deciding what would be best for my time constraints as well as my cosplay situation, which would include the shape of my head, ease of taking the mask on/off, being able to actually see through the thing, and shaping everything in a mostly canonical fashion. Eventually, I decided on something like this. It's sleek, it looks pretty damn close to what we've seen in the show, and it would allow me to see through it.
Why yes, I do use a plastic photo frame to heat my Worbla. The floor tiles, also made of plastic, appreciate it very much. (Everything has worked so far, but for the record, that's a sheet of glass underneath the mask.)
P.S., for Destiny fans- can you tell that I was thinking about the Celestial Nighthawk while building this? I blame the fact that late-night Iron Banner partying was happening in the next room over... but I digress.
Anyway, I put off painting this for a pretty long time because of frustrations over attaching this to my head. The reason I did this is because I SERIOUSLY regretted not attaching the Worbla from the gauntlets to itself before I painted them, since I knew the paint would die a quick death the instant I turned my heat gun (read: paint stripper, yes, really) on. But eventually, I decided to make use of some stray D-rings I picked up earlier in the week by securing them onto the Worbla using a few pieces of scrap thermoplastic to create a third layer of the foam sandwich, housing the ring underneath. And I'm super psyched to report that it worked. I cut an elastic headband (think 1980s workout video), tied both ends to the D-rings, and prayed the Worbla would flex- which it did!
So next came Mod Podge + paint...
... and detailing.
So that's the story! Let me know what you guys think?