June 8, 2017

MH4U Eldaora's Taus Hunting Horn cosplay prop [part 3]

Hello cosplay fans and monster hunters alike!

Here comes the third part of my Monster Hunter cosplay project. I'm building a Hunting Horn weapon prop from scratch as part of a big school project. I've been a major fan of the MonHun games for years and I thought that it would be high time that I made a costume to make my love for the games visible, haha. The Hunting Horn that I'm making is the Eldaora's Taus from Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate and, if you missed the previous parts of this project, you can find them here and here. ^_^

Note: this project is split into several parts because otherwise it would turn into a kilometer post; I need to document my progress carefully (many photos etc) since it's a school project. 

Let's get to crafting this thing!

Starting position. I know that the end knob
is crooked but it was unavoidable. I will
hopefully fix it later.
Okay, so I left off last time with my Hunting Horn looking like a sleeping foam mummy. I had run out of the two extra cans of PU-foam (aka expanding foam) that I fetched from Säästötex earlier and, meanwhile I was busy with school since I left, mom actually went and bought more of the sale cans for me. Once I got back to mom's on 4th June five cans of foam were waiting for me. The sale 5 cans for 10 € was still available, God bless. 
I continued applying expanding foam to the build, mainly the knob at the end of the shaft, the back of the "horse head" and the thickest part of the shaft's backside. I left it to dry for some hours and when I came back I noticed that the foam had hardened but it wasn't ready to be cut. I checked the knob and noticed that the foam had indeed fallen off and was partly stuck to the ground (thanks gravity) and so I separated it from the floor which thankfully I had covered in plastic before, for protection and decided to turn the prop so that it laid on its side, to allow for the "inside" of the knob to dry. You see, where the foam had fused with the ground it actually was all wet on the inside, and when I turned it I accidentally grabbed on that non-hardened spot and my fingers just sank into the sticky goo. Eww. Protip: if you ever get PU-foam residue on your hands (it sticks like a second skin and feels like really sticky glue that won't go away) you can get rid of it by applying nail polish remover onto a cotton pad and swiping the affected areas with it. It's important that the remover contains acetone.

The following day I returned to start shaping it. I started off with the back half of the mane and just cut it somewhat into its general shape. I noticed at some point that I'd need to to make each of the mane hairs (there would need to be 7 +1 on the back of the final product) deeper.

Started carving out the back mane.
While I was working I suddenly caught a sniff of that strong distinct smell of fresh PU-foam. I stopped in my tracks and checked where the smell was coming from – it didn't take many seconds before I noticed that some thick, yellowish and unhardened foam was bubbling up from the inside! It was all gooey and sticky and I used whatever scrap pieces I had at hand to wipe it off, but it just kept coming out slowly but steadily. I was just standing there like "oh come on..." because it had gotten about 24 hours to dry but it was still, seemingly, not enough.

Red arrow points to the fresh foam bubbling out.
(note: this was taken directly after I noticed it, it grew a lot more since then)
No can do but put the carving on hold until it has completely hardened. What a bummer, I don't have so much time to finish this project.
During the remainder of the day I went out a couple times to check on it and there had formed a pillar of foam! It was probably close to 10 cm in height and had this weird I've-kinda-hardened-on-the-surface-but-still-gooey-on-the-inside consistency like I could touch it without making a sticky mess but I was sure that my finger would crush the surface if I applied even a small amount of pressure, aka I could feel it give in under my fingers. I decided to rip off the protruding pillar of foam (using tools and not my own hands) to make sure that, if anything else would flow out later, it would be able to come freely.

The next day I checked the hole that the foam had been flowing out of; it had hardened and so I continued work. I continued to shape the "hair bananas" in the back, aka the back mane. :) As I've mentioned before I'm not even trying to make this thing 100% accurate to the game (which would be a pain in the butt because of all the symmetry) and so all the mane bulks are free-handed; I kinda wanted them to have a natural "flow" to them, if that makes sense. I did make sure that there were 7 of them though and I'll add the small pointy tip one later.

Mane carving in progress.
Once the back mane was somewhat in shape I decided to test out the papier-maché ears that I had made in school earlier – turned out indeed that they were a tad too big. :/ It's really hard to get the size right when you don't have the head there to compare with and have to go by memory and a note.
I quickly made some new ear bases out of chicken wire, slightly smaller.

Comparing old ear(s) to the head.
Comparing new ear(s) to the head.
I decided to skip the papier-maché approach on the new ears because I don't have the equipment for it and I think I might get better end results with the foam anyway, since the whole build is covered in expanding foam. I'll save the old ears for another project so they won't go to waste.

New and old ear side by side. For size comparison.
I didn't attach the ears yet and instead continued on carving out the shaft (handle, whatever you want to call it) of the Hunting Horn. I thought that this would be easier to do than the manes but lolnope. :') So yeah, I started carving as usual and then, at some point, I realized that those separating lines (showing where each of the three levels end) didn't meet! It was really annoying to notice it after I had already done a majority of the work. Even the slightest difference would add up and then when you had spun the thing around completely the separating lines, at worst, had more than a 10 cm difference. -_- It was impossible to keep track on if the line was straight or not because of the foam's bumpiness and the circular shape, aka I had to constantly rotate it to do any progress and thus couldn't get a good grip on if I was cutting it straight or not. I had to improvise a lot and it's not perfect nor symmetrical good thing it's not super noticeable because of the shape.

Started carving out the shape for the shaft.
I took the can of foam and filled in some uneven spots on the manes, on the shaft and wherever else there wasn't enough foam. Meanwhile it was drying I made the horns in the same way as I made the ears. They had to be 50 centimeters long each.

Horn bases done.
You might notice that the horn sketch is under and that the curve on it is different. I can say that I drew the reference image way too big for the paper (common mistake that I do, lol) and thus the proportions were off (I had to fit it in); I wasn't planning on doing strictly the same shape anyway, just drew it to get a general idea and as a reference for details, once I get to painting the horns.

I left the horns for later and left the Horn (hihi) for drying overnight. The following morning I continued carving – this time doing the rest of the shaft, except for the end knob. Now it's starting to look like something!

Shaft carved out and new foam added to uneven spots + end knob.
I can't help but think that it looks like an oversized fancy chess piece. It's quite noticeable that it's not exactly like in the games and yeah, I had to make it different for a number of reasons and hey, taking some artistic liberties every now and then is fine~! The main difference is the shape of the upper neck (where the head attaches to the shaft) and thus the head's position, as well as the position and shape of the manes. It just ended up differently and I don't even mind – I made it my own and it will still be easily recognizable. It's like, maybe 85% accurate, haha.
I have used so much money on this that I don't want to butcher half of my hard work just to correct some proportions and/or placements. I can't change the shape of the head/neck part anyway (which is the only thing that slightly even bothers me) because it's a placement miss that happened so early on, aka already at the cardboard base. Because of that, and how I started with the front mane hairs, the head is pretty much doomed to be almost stuck to the neck instead of being more up and free like in the game. No can do and no big deal – it will be awesome anyway! 

Before I left it for the day I added some foam to even out the end knob and to patch up some small spots on the shaft that were uneven. The following morning I went out to carve the end knob and oh boy, it was a pain in the ass! I was thinking all along that "it can't be so hard" but I swear this was the most frustrating part of the project by far.
I quickly gave up on trying to get the knob to be identical on all angles because it was flat out impossible! Every time it looked good, when viewed from a particular angle, I would spin it around and then the opposing side looked like a case of "end my misery". The more I tried to correct one side the more it messed up when viewed from a different angle... or when compared with another side; it basically needed to have the exact same angles on all four sides to be perfect. It just wouldn't line up nicely no matter what I did and I ended up losing my patience, which is rare. Yeah, I was at the verge of ragequitting.

Fuck this shit, let's call it close enough. 8C
So yeah, the knob is far from symmetrical and it's obviously tilting more towards one side than to the other but oh well, I did what I could. It's not bad enough to be a complete eyesore but it does trigger my perfectionist side a bit, lol. It could be worse though at least that's a consolation!

That's all for this part and next time I'll get to start on the surface treatment! Be sure to follow my blog if you don't want to miss it. ;)

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