April 6, 2013

Polystyrene for leg armors

I've been working on Masamune's leg armor the last days but I haven't done a blog post about it yet. I'll write about it now so that I don't get one super long post.. and besides I've come to a point (read: I ran into a problem) where I must wait before I can continue working with them. *shrugs* Oh well, I'll write at least something now.

Okay, so I've had this roll of polystyrene since late November last year and on last Wednesday (3rd April) I finally started working with it. I've never worked with polystyrene sheets before and there doesn't seem to be so much talk about it being used for cosplay projects (I can find tutorials about styrene used for cosplay but not polystyrene..) on the internet either.. so with that said I had to do the trial and error approach to this one. Oh well, you won't learn if you are afraid to try something new so here goes!

Polystyrene sheet after being freed from most of the protective wrapping...
... and loose.
I don't remember the dimensions of my sheet but I'm pretty sure it was 1000x2000mm and 1 or 1,5 mm thick. Oh well, with the polystyrene rolled out I decided to check, well, how to cut it.

Here's the two candidates ~
It was pretty hard to cut, you had to use some force but it's possible to cut with ordinary (heavier) Fiskars scissors for example.
I took my leg armor patterns and drew one of them with a pencil on the polystyrene and cut it out.

One leg armor piece drafted on the material..
... and cut out.
Okay, I noticed pretty early it's hard to change directions during the cutting. You can curve if you do it little by little but any more noticeable/angled or sudden curves and you'll be cursing. Or well.. at least I was about to. Thank god Masamune's armor is pretty simple in shapes so I got by without further "perkele" storms.

Before finishing for the day I took a scrap piece of the plastic and went to check how well it would take spray paint. I didn't do anything to the surface prior to spraying and it took the spray like a charm!

Aaww yeeaah!
The next day (4th April) I took a scrap piece of polystyrene and went to test heat forming it outside with the heat gun and it was a...

(and protection gloves are pop)

With the scrap piece shaping successful I took my actual armor pieces and gave them the same treatment. The only thing you have to be careful with during the heat forming is not to overheat the plastic or well.. it will melt and be ruined. You will notice during the heating when it's getting hot enough so its shape can be changed, just turn the heat gun off when you feel it loses some of its sturdiness and keep it in its new shape until it cools down. If the form didn't turn out as you wanted you can just reheat and reshape it.. but be careful because you might get these.. err.. "heatbumps". I got a few but they don't bother me.

Oh, also, I shaped everything with just my hands. You would likely get better results if you used some sort of mold in the shape you want the polystyrene to have when done. Because I shaped mine by hand no armor piece has the exact same shape to it.. they all are slightly different, it's noticeable when you put them on top of each other. But I had nothing that was usable as a mold so yeah, freehanded for the win ~

When heat forming I held the armor something like this
Here's a comparison shot with a shaped armor piece (left) and an untouched piece (right)
I must say that compared to craft foam polystyrene keeps its new shape like mountain while it still remains as bendable as it was before. It's pretty fabulous; you can bend it if you apply some pressure but it will return to its shape when you let go.. unless heated, then it will stay in the new shape obviously. Oh, also, if you bend at some very thin point, like maybe 1 cm wide, then it might snap cleanly if you bend too much. Yes, I tried on a scrap piece and at least mine did snap.. then again it might vary depending on what thickness you have.

I went to cut out the remaining leg armor pieces (except the knee caps) and heat formed them. I gave each of them a somewhat pronounced groove in the middle. Next up was to paint them and again I made myself a makeshift working table ~

All leg armor pieces shaped and ready for painting
I gave them a coating of the same black spray paint I used for the arm guards.

After one coat of spray
I let them dry for the rest of the day because the 0 °C weather slows down the drying process. During the evening I moved my armors from the open "car garage" into the rather old summer cottage standing on our yard... I let them be there overnight.

The following day, also known as yesterday (5th April), when I woke up I went to the summer cottage to take my armors inside for a while... the summer cottage doesn't count as inside because it has broken windows and the door is half loose lol. I let the armors be inside and "warm up" for maybe 30 minutes before going outside to spray the inside of them.

Inside of the armors before painting...
... and after a coat of spray paint.
I let them dry for a few hours and when I went to check I noticed somehow some hairs had managed to get on the armor pieces and gotten stuck between the spray paint coats during the drying. They annoyed me so I peeled them off and...

... the paint around the hairs went with them. Fuck. :)
Oh well, it's the inside so no one will see it anyway.. and it just looks like some sort of damage so it just adds to the believability or something.. come on, Sengoku Basara is a hack 'n slash game series, no one would actually have perfect armor for long when you think about it. xD trolololo ~

After the inside paint had dried I gave the outside a second coating, there was a few spots where the paint wasn't even so yeah. After the painting was done I went to work with the knee caps but I will make a separate blog post about that later because I'm having some trouble with them right now.

1 comment:

Arawn Elidd said...

This was an interesting read! I have never worked with polystyrene before, but after reading this, it sounds like it's pretty cool stuff! :)