In progress

Gold Halo Elite Costume

For DragonCon 2017 I had planned on making the Gold /zealot class Covenant Elite from the Halo 2-3 era. The goal was to have a mostly fiberglass costume with moving mandibles and the energy sword. I started in January and despite daily progress, I realized there wasn't a way to realistically finish him by September. I'm generally ok with this-stressing over a hobby isn't the healthiest way to be so I'm taking a more laid back approach.

I took photos of a halo toy I had and used those to generate drawings in illustrator. I also found many in game images to help as reference. The dotted line box is where i cut these out to fit in my opaque projector to project on a board, using the ruler markings to get accurate size. This was instrumental to getting correctly proportioned parts. I made some decisions to reduce certain parts to keep wearability  as less awkward as possible. Shoulders were reduced as was arm length.

Everything started as a foam skeleton, paper templates, then eva parts. Nothing is wearable because eventually I made molds and cast them in fiberglass

chest details. Some parts were made of wire, some were cast resin from elcheapo disposable latex molds

Most everything was built from a paper template then duplicated as a mirror image to build symmetrical parts, two at a time. Even being careful, mistakes happened. My early drawings weren't great and I had some misjudgments in size and shape but generally it turned out ok. 

The arms were tricky. Lots of weird shapes coming together. Generally , his arms were shortened to be more wearable. Some arm details were sculpted in clay then cast in resin( the bright white parts)

Not many in progress shots of these , sad to say. I had to do some serious tomfoolery to make a symmetry issue seem less awful.

The lower leg is the next largest piece after the chest. I made these a little too wide but it does match the character's proportions. Maybe a lot of scraping/chafing when I walk

Thighs. A generally fun part to make.

Huge ol clod hoppers. Thank god he's mostly symmetrical . I made one leg, one foot, one mold for each. This will be three separate molds eventually

The helmet alone will be  8 separate fiberglass parts not counting the actual rubber head with jaw pieces. This was a tricky booger to build

Breaking out the trusty head form. Foam,wadded newspaper, duct tape. I sculpted him out of WED clay. Fastest part of the whole project. I found tons of photos of the Arbiter from the Halo 2 remaster. His jaws don't quite look like the originals so i may have issues making the jaw bits look right.. anywho. The mold is done( ultracal) and just needs to be cast in latex.

Before making molds, I gave everything a coat of Kilz. Found some issues, caulked n such. I knew there'd be clean up later in the fiberglass copies. The Kilz stuck like crazy to the latex rubber. Yeah, I work for A LARGE MANUFACTURER OF SILICONE RUBBER and I use latex. Hey, a 5 gallon pail is only 125 bucks vs... selling a kidney. So latex shrinks over time . These were one time/two time max use molds then hello dumpster. I made mother molds from plaster bandages but even in the span of a month, the latex was barely registering in the mother molds..Already shrinking. 

Fiberglass is slow going. You can't just jam cloth down there into detailed spots and expect it to work. I mixed milled 1/8th" fibers with epoxy and microballoons. This was gooped in all the details. After 2 rounds of that, I moved up to 1/2 fibers and some cloth where needed. Eventually all the edges will be filled out with freeform air( an epoxy dough Smooth On sells that weighs next to nothing). Some bubbles occurred...pffft. I can live with that. 

Currently I have only half the parts  I need to finish this guy.  Not even counting moving mandible action, hands, undersuit, foam muscles, plasma sword, painting etc. I'm trying to avoid year-long projects and I thought I could do him in 8...nope. But I'm ok with postponing him until later this year or early next to finish him up. Financially speaking, I spent as much as I could spend on him this year and spending the amount needed to make all that happen is a no go. so I'll just pitch the ever- shrinking molds, bag up the fiberglass parts and move on to something else. 

CAT HOUSE

I was briefly employed at the Edventure Children's museum last year. The best part of the job was the zany cast of characters that did their best to keep that place running and one of those crazy people became a really dear friend. This friend recently bought a house so I went into "house warming gift" mode. As a child, she  wrote a "what I want to be when I grow up" paper in primary school where she outlined her future as an old lady's house cat. I think I understand my audience. Bingo

Did several sketches of ideas then I settled on a house being animated like a giant millipede chasing a ball of yarn by all the cats packed inside. I then drew this to scale on the dry erase board to start working

This was a wonky, spaghettified house so I made it mostly out of EVA foam and siding/insulation foam. It had to be bent in weird curves and be light for the multitude of kitty legs that would stick out underneath.

aaannndd.....cats. lots of em. I sculpted one lil head then made a simple push mold to crank out close to 40 cat heads in super sculpey. I also sculpted a few special heads to add character. Legs were a whole 'nother issue. I needed variety but didn't want to spend two years making cat legs, obviously. I made two types of "four legged" kinds then 6 single legs: two rear ones in different poses then 4 single front paws doing different swipes.

close up of the cats in windows. The front windows had the most cats and the most variety of faces. The one lil window has an oddball robot cat with an Ipad type face which is a character from one of my friend's stories. It seemed  a nice personal touch. 

I had to make curtains for the rear window so I whipped some up out of plasticene then did some magic to produce curtains. All the windows had trim done in a similar fashion though those pieces started as styrene rods and sheet. Each window is cut from a polycarbonate sheet with styrene frame and resin moulding. 

Aside from cat parts, the siding and roof were the most time consuming things. I made templates for both using poster board then contact cemented the eva foam on . The Siding is eva foam and the shingles are made of watercolor paper. The chimney was eva foam. I just drew out the grout lines between bricks then ran an xacto down each line. Hitting this with the heat gun opened them up to neat lil lines.

oh the cat legs.  I hollowed out one of the legs and popped it over a threaded rod with tapped steel ball to form the front support of the house. This was epoxied to the foam underside. I wanted it to be a rainbow yarn so i hand painted stripes of color on about 3-4 feet of thread then wrapped it around the steel ball. For the rear, I epoxy puttied a bunch of cat legs to a board then put them in as one unit in the back. All the legs in the middle had a tab that stuck out the top that cut a small  section out of. Then i tacked them in place with hot glue. After a swathe of cat legs was completed, I'd pour in a fast setting resin to lock them down to the foam. The small cut out on the tab gave the resin something to "mechanically" lock into when it set up. Each leg was painted prior to gluing.

I primed the everything with Stix through my airbrush. Then painted with acrylics. My gift was well received. Very happy. She is an excellent photographer so I hope she can take some nice photos.

magical as heck: quick carriage build

one of the board members at the museum where I work was stepping down and they wanted to give her a going away present. I foolishly volunteered with a day and a half to make magic. It turned out generally ok 

Made with freeform sculpt over a styrofoamball, copper rod, styrene supersculpey etc

I partially painted then it was taken from me and this happened to it. oh well. The base was a fail- I made a mold, and poured resin over layers of greenery with lil roses in it. you're actually looking at the bottom of the base because the real top screwed up. meh

King of the Hill : Godzilla

I've wanted to sculpt a godzilla for a while. Not a particular movie version but my own. I wanted him to be pushing up through a mountain range . His back spikes were to match the mountains around him as if the range formed around Godzilla after millions of years of napping. 

I did this mock up in plasticene.

i started sculpting him in scuptex with the notion of making  a silicone mold later. the mountain range would be several molds. 

The rocks and mountains are done in foam. I baked some sculpey boulders to decorate. The sheet of masonite with drawn mountain perimeter shows the separation lines for each section of mountain. Like my cat and pig toys , this one got put on hold

ignoring the foreground sculpts, this is a decent side view of big G and the mountains

hammerhead: sithorian

starting a new costume. My friends are doing a star wars group for dragoncon and i can't miss that

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AFTER sketches n such i started a mock up of him in super sculpey

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i generally know what i'm doing but unlike wrex, i'm flying solo with the design

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foam n wire n mesh n cardboard. the four hoursemen of cosplay

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using WED clay. haven't touched waterbased stuff in almost 20 years

WED clay. not at all like oil based clay.

The first round on the eyes were too messy. i went back and added hard half spheres to build over

shimzz. yay mold building.

one ugly mutha.. his eyes aren't really "screen accurate". way too close but he isn't supposed to be THE hammerhead in the cantina.. just an evil sith one

one half done. ultracal mold. heavy as hell. spray, spray spray that acrylic on your wed clay model. the clay was leather hard but if you don't seal it properly it will affect how the ultracal sets causing cracks

hands . HUGE. they need complicated internal doohickys. i'll figure those out. these were done in plasticene. i don't like wed for thinner stuff

lower legs. i tried eva but couldn't bend that shape. wrapped in paper then resin coated. i added eva to it. i cut them in half at one point thinking i would need to piece them. added more work.

toes. all sculpted from wedclay. did some crappy ultracal 2-use molds and resin cast em. the main foot portion was cast in latex and makes a weird boot

my mold should have been 3 parts and by god, it made itself 3 parts. the latex is currently in there. on the left side of image is a pile of fiberglass parts that will support the giant head and hump

well he's done. not what i planned at all but is ok. generally happy with it..

learning zbrush

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here we go. I used the dynamesh, zremesher, then subdivide as needed method

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adding details. getting better?

playing with texture brushes

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using custom alphas to do texture

Peach Boy!!!

Years ago I visited my wife in China where she was teaching temporarily . We hiked a section of the Great Wall  and then crashed, exhausted, in our room. We found this awful movie on tv called Peach Boy/ Magic of Spell that featured a giant peach monster that peed on enemies and pelted them with peach pits . It became a cherished favorite bad movie. Now for Christmas, whether she wanted it or not, I made my wife a peach boy action figure.

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I sculpted the head and chest parts in plasticene. I made throwaway plaster molds  and I waxed the hell out of them. The chest , seen on the right in mold, was eventually built up in fiberglass to make a light shell. The head parts were cast in smooth on 65d

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the molds for the chest.

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the jaw hinge was made of styrene sheet with a tiny oring sandwiched in, all held together with a brass tube. this was superglued into notches cut into the resin parts then sanded down to shape. the grey butt looking parts are the fiberglass front and back chest

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the parts in the foreground make up the springloaded ball joint for the neck. the green plastic and the crusty looking white styrene parts next the the brass tube were ideas i wasted time on for the arm joints

these are the foot/ ankle joints. not that strong but they work, an oring is pressed against the steel ball joint . The foot was built around it with epoxy putty

the legs were held up with gooseneck conduit from a usb light I bought on ebay some years back. It finally got used.

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I made a generic rounded shape that i cast several times to get the main leg parts. I needed a specific inner cavity to allow the gooseneck to bend.See the cylindrical two part piece at the bottom. It  screwed together and fit inside the mold above. The two parts threaded together and i would unscrew them once the piece set up in the mold. It worked well enough

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An early idea for the arm joints. too much work. didn't work well either

For the arms, I decided to use these beads pushed into a vinyl tube. It makes a strong joint though the paint would always rub off the ball in use.I built over the tube segments. The beads are acrylic - I heated the screws and pushed them through the factory-made hole on the beads. they locked in place well.

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A close up of peach boy's innards. Originally I wanted a sound chip and squirt gun feature to squirt his "peepee". gross but authentic. this shot is missing an aluminum bar that secures the tube in place

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han and chewie.

One of the coolest commissions I've done. I loved this one. A friend wanted this for his wife. Her favorite scene in Star Wars is where Chewie is petting Han in Jabba's prison. We came up with the idea of Chewie giving a disgruntled Han a big bear hug from behind

As always, things start with crappo sketches. Then aluminum foil and wire. They are mostly supersculpey firm  and then a rainbow of multimedia from styrene to paper to aluminum.

Chewbacca's hair was done with toilet paper that had been shredded up, soaked and mixed with elmer's glue and cornstarch. Reaallll technical. As always, the initial hair tests turned out better than the  final. You can see in the images where Chewie has sculpted fur. I scraped it all off when i decided i wanted a more tactile hairiness.  Han's hands are aluminum  and then worked up with miliput.

Just like Furiosa, i had a time with this head. I sculpted this one, made a mold with latex that was too old . I cast once, ripping the mold in the process. THEN I noticed the head was about 20% too big. Like a watermelon.  Ugh. Resculpting took another day, then another mold etc. The likeness is ok I guess. You can see the bright white resin copy glued to the super sculpey body. The original is sculpted in chavant

I wanted a really STar Warsy looking base. I wanted it curved to maybe imply it was part of the Millenium Falcon . This is made mostly of styrene sheets with some tube , wire,  and cast resin parts. Rods on Chewie's feet go in holes in the base( not shown in these photos)

the gun was a rush. styrene and aluminum. my fingertips are mostly superglue at this point. the holster was made with bristol paper, gel medium and craft foam.

Painted with acrylics. I used a product called "buff n rub" for the aluminum parts. Generally I'm really happy with this. The only real issue was I told the client "oh, it'll take a week." Ended up taking over two straight weeks. Yeah.. That's the hardest part about this stuff- not wookie hair , or inch high heads or even tiny blasters: pricing and timing estimates. He's a great guy so he was ok with me missing the deadline which I possibly could have avoided if I hadn't botched the head. Oh well

 

toys...

Ok so i attempted some little guys of my own design. Because Furiosa, Wrex heads, WRex costumes don't sell( inherently expensive due to size, time , etc,), i thought I'd try something smaller, more cost friendly, and not someone else's intellectual property. I did some sketches, then jumped in with the super sculpey firm. In terms of their "story" I let the form help define the function. The triangular guy ended up being a herald of bad news, banging his pots n pans together to let you know trouble is coming. Oddly the other guy became a mailman-who knows what kind of news he brings.

My favorite clay really is chavant j525 or cm 50 but seeing that it is not compatible with silicone,I went with something i can bake. Having a hard product makes for easier mold making too.
 

I rushed through these and didn't take many photos- most of these were instagram pics anyway(kjonesthemighty). After baking the sculpey i went through the process of sanding, filling priming repeat. His little letter was made from folding poster board to shape

i had some mold vent/pressure issues.   I ended up casting 8 of the pyramid shaped guy but he only had one arm due to those issues so i made  a little mold to do an arm and a Furiosa piece( see earlier posts) whose mold had torn.  Honestly i haven't tried to even sell them. I'm not sure how much more of these types of things I should do . I'm learning zbrush now

Painting Imperator Furiosa

urethane resin is notoriously hard to paint. i heard about the trick where you prime your mold then cast so that the resin sticks to the "back " side or "inside " of the thin skin/shell of primer. One guy said he would dry brush gesso into the mold. I used my airbrush to mist in several light layers of primer. i let this dry, cast, and like magic have a urethane cast ready to be painted with acrylics. i think i'm going to do this with my new line of lil toys i'm working on.

skin is hard to get right. not saying i did. sigh.  painting two furiosas at the same time took me almost 3 days.

mold making prep AND THE HARDEST SCULPTINGWEEKEVER

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Here's the base: cracked earth, dried in tire tracks...nothing too distracting from Furiosa proper

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all the arm components are on their "tree", just like in a model kit. the good folks at  Reynolds advanced materials  told me about "J molds" where you pour down a channel and the resin fills your parts from the bottom up. all the white rods are styrene. the upper rods form vents . working on this practical stuff distracted me from the nightmare which is...THE HEAD

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ok i know i know my Charlize theron head has a ways to go.. this is attempt NUMBER 4. i sculpted for a week on 4 different heads ...it was/ is a nightmare. this will be the final, barring clean up and tweaks to proportions etc.  it's been a while since i've been so frustrated with a project. from certain angles it's practically awesome then..meh. i'll think it looks good then...i take a photo and look at that..meh..  i  didn't look at her all day until  tonight and spotting issues all over..

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i am proud of my chain "loin cloth". made of actual tiny ass chain. 3 different kinds, the smallest being 40 links per inch and 27 links per inch. it's glued to some thin aluminum bent to shape. i filled in all the lil chain holes so i could make a mold

furiosa: that damn arm

this had a little bit of everything: styrene sheet, super sculpey,thin eva, perforated aluminum.

a rainbow of headaches

i hoarded this lil sheet of perforated aluminum from something i butchered years ago. like.. at least 15 years i think.

early stages of 2 of the 3 arm struts. i'll smooth out the ends with milliput

where i'm at currently

oh, and more leg strap details...so many straps...soMANY

paintin' wrex

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primed and ready to paint. painting urethane casts suck.  i tried spraying spray adhesive then dusting lightly with talc. gave it a decent surface. using my handy spray gun, i sprayed on several layers of gesso with future floor finish . the future makes a more rigid coat that seems to like plastic better. i also brushed on  a few  layers of thinned pva to give another leathery coat. gessoed over that. we'll see what happens

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undercoats.

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a lil more

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closer still. almost done

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done

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at my etsy store thestrandedrobot

furiosa: gettin a grip on this damn wheel

ok.. i started this steering wheel 2 times before getting it right.

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the diameter was wrong on the bottom left one. top one is it.

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the orange is thin eva foam to get the inner grips. the reddish tint on the skull is a hard casting wax so i can scribe in the lines better

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i used a small diameter , sharpened brass tube to press in the leather bumps on the aluminum foil. i used that as a mold to brush in latex paint

super glued on

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 once the  "leather cover" was done i gave it a grey coat of paint. i pressed the wheel in clay then pressed lil bumps to be the grips on the bottom of the wheel. i had  a beer for confidence then filled those lil depressions with resin then pressed the wheel down in it.  a lil messy but i can live with the results. 

what pisses me off the most was i did this entire thing in a DAY. the other two took several days.. live n learn

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the arms will be separate pieces with their own molds.

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i'm not sure i'm doing charlize theron justice. i think i'll clean up the  back of the wheel a little more

furiosa: acc-sass-orize

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flamin buckles -mold, original, finished

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the most out of proportion part. this is several times too thick but i think it will be ok once the rest of the prosthetic arm goes on

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pouches were made of super sculpey but the flaps themselves are eva foam with paper /wire buckles/straps

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made of sculpey and the hardware bits are styrene , wire, aluminum tube etc

my first attempt at steering wheel with wire and nsp chavant. those are styrene rods pushed in the clay for texture of steering wheel cover. didn't look right. i made another with thicker copper wire. the aluminum foil was pressed with thin small diameter tube to make a mold of sorts. i built up  latex paint to make a wrap with the texture to go on the copper . we'll see

Note: neither of these steering wheels are the right size... several days of work to hit that realization.. i'm so depressed. time..time you can't have back. 

furiosa: more features, more fun

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belts n straps n belts n straps. blah. i have lots of pictures to work from but all are a little blurry. figuring out how these things all connect takes detective work. i can thank my years of patent illustration on sleuthing out the function from blurry photos. if it's not 100% right i can live with it but i want it darn close

i started the "belt buckle' three times.. the green plastic one on  the right was the winner. i'm building up a latex mold to make a sturdier resin one . the left is chavant nsp and the middle is supersculpey.  

some of her belts look like leather, then an inner tube riveted to the leather. i used aluminum tube for the "rubber" tube. i flattened with a hammer. this pic is for the a back strap, pre flattening ,  pre attaching and pre painting