January 30, 2018

MH4U Eldaora's Taus Hunting Horn cosplay prop [part 7]

Hello blog readers and MonHun fans!

Here comes the seventh and final part of my huge Monster Hunter cosplay build project – I'm making a Hunting Horn called Eldaora's Taus from Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, one of my most played video games to this day. I've been a major fan of the franchise ever since I played Freedom Unite all those years ago and yeah, for the longest time I've dreamt about making a MonHun costume!
I am currently only making the weapon but I will, of course, make a complete armor set later and I think I have it planned which one it will be, hehe.
If you have no idea what I've made before this part you can check all previous progress posts here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

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 the final quest commence!

Adding black worbla to a horn.
So yeah, last time I ended the post with the coloring and weathering/shadowing of the Hunting Horn and what was left to do was to finish painting the head, horns and ears and to attach them. Before worrying about the whole "how the hell do I attach the protruding parts?" issue I decided to first do the worbla episode out of the way.
I had bought two rolls of black worbla for more than a year ago and now I got some use for it; I've barely worked with worbla before this (only done really small and/or easy details) so yeah, I'm a beginner when it comes to worbla. ^^" Frozen Angel helped me by providing an extra pair of hands when I applied the worbla onto the horns on 13th November. I noticed early on that the worbla, when heated, had a tendency to sink into the hollow spots of the chicken wire base under – this was not really a surprise in the sense that I knew that worbla is thin/flimsy by itself, but somehow I had counted on it to not sink in that much; it was as if the aluminium foil wrapping wasn't even there because the worbla just revealed the hexagon shapes of the wire net under, which created a bumpy-appearing texture on the horns. I must admit that I didn't like the bumpy and wrinkly look that it gave at first (I originally expected a smoother application) and was terribly disappointed with both the result and myself for not having had enough time and knowledge to make the base smoother.
I was looking at the horns with this disappointed face as I went on, thinking that I'm wasting expensive worbla as it's not turning out how I had hoped. But as I continued I remembered that the main body of the Hunting Horn is not smooth either and yeah, the imperfect horns would probably look alright on it after they get painted and attached. After all, I went for a more realistic approach with a more battle-worn look and thankfully, because it's a Monster Hunter prop and not a perfectly sleek anime prop, it only makes sense that the thing looks like it has seen better days since it has been used to beat larger than life dragons into a pulp...

I finished covering both horns in worbla, which meant cutting out a lot of 5 cm wide strips and wrapping them so that they overlap each other. I worked myself from the tip down to the base of each horn. I also feel like mentioning that I got the impression that black worbla tears easier than the ordinary worbla (the brown one) when heat-shaped as I several times got it to rip when pressing seams to get them to disappear etc.

Next up was to cover the ears. Now I couldn't do the same approach and so I did a "pattern test" on a paper towel as that was what I had at hand in the garage. The pattern wasn't anything exact but just to give some kind of idea of what worbla shape I could work with.

Worbla pattern test for the ears.
The ears of course got wrinkly too (they had the same base under as the horns) but the wire net's hexagons didn't shine through as much as on the horns but, then again, the ears had a bit more foil to them and I didn't press in the worbla as carefully as on the horns (to avoid gaps in the overlapping "ridges"). At this point I didn't even care about the wrinkles and uneveness as much as I had started thinking that it just looked more natural or realistic somehow or at least that's what I tried to tell myself.

Worbla-covered ears.
Now with all the parts covered in worbla I came to the hard part, namely figuring out how exactly to attach them. At times I wondered why I did not do it much earlier but then I remembered that if the horns had been on already it would have been much harder to rotate the whole build for the painting process...

My stepdad came over to brainstorm and we ended up agreeing on that the safest, and probably only reasonable approach, was to cut out holes to sink the horns and ears into. It felt a bit barbarian to go in with a knife and cut up all that hard work but oh well, gotta do it to get the horns to stay on safely. Besides, now that the horns were wrapped in worbla they were also notably heavier and thus we had to make sure that the holes that got carved out were deep enough to lodge them securely in place.

Marked horn placement on the head.
It was important that the hole was carved at an angle (towards the face) and not just carved out straight downwards, if that makes sense. It's a bit hard to explain but the way the hole was carved would directly affect in what position the horns would stay up when sunk into the hole; I didn't want the horns to stand straight up but be curved backwards and thus the tilted angle was really important to achieve the proper placement.
While test-fitting the horns we noticed that we'd need to slim down the base of the horns (since the head itself is quite narrow) and so I reshaped the base by using a heat gun and pressing it together to be more of a wedge, with downward curved sides, instead of the original round-ish shape. I reshaped the base of the ears as well but only made them a bit smaller in diameter, while keeping the round shape.

Hole for the horns carved out and test-fitting.
Once I saw the horns test-fitted onto the whole thing I started to warm up to them, somewhat – their rugged, worn, irregular appearance started to look pretty cool in their own unique way.

I carved holes for the ears as well, although these I didn't have to angle as much as the horns and pretty much just carved straight downwards. I had to pay attention so that I didn't end up carving out the ear holes too close to the horns; there would need to be some mass between the horn and ear holes for support.

Hole for one ear carved out.
Test-fitting horns and ears together.
The placement of the horns and ears seemed fine (thank God, it would have been horrible to make a mistake at this point!) and so I continued by spray priming the separate parts. Because it's basically winter here by now it's not really good, nor recommended, to spray outside because of the cold – this of course is a bit of a problem since I can't control the weather and I needed to spray paint. :'D The solution was to keep the garage door open and spray in the big open area (where the cars usually are, but during the time of day when I sprayed both mom and stepdad were at work) and pray that I don't accidentally spray something around me...

Priming in progress.
Ignore the random chainsaw in the background. XD
I primed all the parts and left them to dry in the garage. The drying time took longer than usual since it's cold indoors but oh well, I'm happy that I can even spray paint right now since the temperature has been dropping to -10 °C the past days while I was painting (16th November). I have this unsuccesful experience from trying to spray paint a prop sword in the middle of winter several years ago and the paint kind of "froze" and made this cracky, frosty surface on the sword; it ended up looking pretty ugly and I had to sand it out and repaint it. Don't want to risk the same thing happening again...
Oh and yeah, as a disclaimer I want to state it, in case someone is wondering, that I did indeed skip sanding and smoothing the worbla before painting. This was intentional because at this point I don't have the time for it (this prop needs to be done before school ends before Christmas) and I'm going for a worn and imperfect look anyway. One good thing with black worbla though is that its surface is smoother than regular worbla and thus it's pretty okay as-is and requires less work to look decent.

Once the primed parts had dried (I left them overnight) I did two coatings of silver spray paint on them. I left them to dry overnight again and on the following morning I went with stepdad to attach them; we had brainstormed through all possible adhesive candidates from wood glue to 2-component glues but settled on using PU-foam. The reason for this was that "it sticks like a disease" (stepdad's way of putting it :D) and because the majority of the Hunting Horn itself is foam as well it only felt natural that it would stick to itself. Also, because the foam expands it would also help in, at least partly, reseal whatever gaps or excess we carved out that was left around the horns/ears after being inserted. 

What we did was to take a can of PU-foam, spray a gentle click into each hole (one at a time) and some onto a piece of cardboard. We then took one horn/ear at a time, dipped it carefully into the expanding foam on the cardboard and then stuck it into the carved hole. If it didn't stick properly we took a tool (in our case a screwdriver because it was close at hand) and used it to spread around and even out the foam inside the hole, so that it would cover most surfaces. It was important that there wasn't too much foam in the holes because otherwise, once it started expanding, it might push out the inserted parts – but, on the opposite end, if there wasn't enough it might not get a strong enough hold and come off.

Horns and ears freshly attached. Notice the foam leaking out.
We made sure to angle both ears slightly upwards when inserting them and check so that the horns had approximately the same placement and curve to them; of course it was hard with the horns because they weren't symmetrical to start with (we even noticed after lodging them in that one horn is a bit longer than the other! Ceadeus laughs somewhere) but as long as it was "close enough" it was good.
Upon inserting each piece some foam would naturally seep out, which was pretty much a good thing because at least it would be sure to stick. I didn't try to clean up any of the excess foam as it would create a mess and be much harder to get rid off when it's fresh – it's wiser to wait until it has completely dried and then just cut it off. To play it safe we moved the whole build close to a wall (so that at least the longer horn wouldn't get pushed out) but, thankfully, because the fitting of the horns was snug they stayed up on their own and didn't need to be taped down, nor did they need any supporting structures to be placed under them.

 The last progress was done around 19th November and it took until 8th December before I got an opportunity to continue on this project. When I returned to check how the horns and ears had stuck I noticed that my stepdad had already cleaned up some of the " foam spillage" while I was away. I took a knife and cut off the small remains that I saw.

Excess foam remains cleaned up with a knife.
Now, to smoothen and seal the attachment points and whatever remaining gaps there were, I used some acrylic sealant again. I felt so fucking dumb (yes, I had a bad day) because I didn't notice that the cap was on when I started and so, when I took it out, the acrylic just went everywhere like an angry snake because of the built-up pressure. It was a mess and I wanted to die or something – stepdad had shown me just before how to use it and of course, as soon as he left, my dumbass self fucks things up. :)) #accomplished 
The only thing I could think at that point was my new-found motto "ois kiva jos onnistuis enemmän niin vituttais vähemmän".

Acrylic sealant.
I applied acrylic sealant around all the "seams" and smoothened it down with fingers dipped in water. This was a bit tedious to do as I needed to be careful because if my fingers weren't moist enough then the acrylic would stick to my skin but, on the contrary, if my fingers were too watery then the acrylic would turn runny. Hard to keep that perfect balance that was the best to work with.
It was also really hard to get to the gap behind/under the back of the horns – it took some rotating and cursing and some really precise application to get there. I used a piece of this kind of thick bendable plastic rope(?) that I used as an extension of my hand to get to otherwise impossible-to-reach spots.

Acrylic sealant added.
I left it to dry overnight. Once it had dried some days later I noticed that the front had sunken in a bit and the transition point was thus showing from under the acrylic. I applied some more acrylic and left it to dry again.

Christmas stress happened and I didn't get to continue on this project past my school's due date for it. Luckily I was basically about 90% done and could use my progress up to this point in the oral presentation that I had to do for my teacher a few days before school ended. With the deadline out of the way I could now do the remaining work without having to worry about time constraints, which meant that on the very last days of December I took up the work again.

Acrylic seams painted over.
On the photo above I had hidden the acrylic seams by spraying them silver. As soon as they had dried properly I could finally start to paint the head! I did the red parts first, just like the previous time, and used my 4U game as a reference to check how the face markings approximately went. I also put some red on the ears and the upper half of the horns.

Head painted red.
Once the head was painted I turned it around and painted the backside of the horns and, while at it, I decided to fix one detail on the body of the Hunting Horn that had been bothering me since I made it. You see, earlier on the painting process I ran into an issue of the body patterns not lining up and decided on a whim to add a "cross section" on the top part of the body to try and make the distances appear smaller. It's really hard to explain what I mean but in the previous post I mentioned that it was impossible to get the details to be symmetrical because of its size and because I could never see the whole thing at once while painting it (because I had to constantly rotate it). So yeah, while the crosses lined up okay on the front the backside messed up. And I'm not gonna lie ever since I did that one additional cross it had been bothering me extremely much and now, when I was painting the head anyway, I decided to cover it up.

Cover-up. Great example of how much difference the darkening
with black acrylic did to the original color.
Once the red paint had dried I went over it with black acrylic to darken/weather it. I used the same technique as last time, which basically meant applying paint and then quickly wiping most of it off with a paper towel. When I had gone through all the areas with black paint I took the green acrylic (which I had borrowed from art class) and painted the base color of the eyes with it. I left it to dry after that.

It stayed untouched for the remainder of December and a majority of January (I wanted to complete it earlier but school happened). I finished painting the details of the eyes on 28th January. Sadly the green base paint had cracked a bit and it partly peeled off when I was drybrushing the black onto the edges of the eyes. Good thing I managed to hide it by painting over it and now the tiny cracks are hardly visible, success!

Eyes painted.
Now I just had to add a couple or so coatings of clear varnish to seal the whole thing and then it was done! The varnish protects the paint and it's thus always worthwhile to finish a project by sealing it with clear varnish, especially if you want the paint job to stay on longer. My varnish was glossy so it also gave the surface this nice shine to it.

Below are photos of the finished Eldaora's Taus. *basks in the glory*

Not gonna lie, I feel like I've surpassed myself with this project and I'm extremely proud that I even managed to make such a big and challenging cosplay prop (it's very different from anything I've done before!) but, at the same time, I know I could have done it even better if I would have had more time, money and patience. Improvements would have been stuff like making the horn/ear bases smoother, adding worbla to make layer differences and raised details on the shaft, mixing in some brown paint for even more color details and such maybe one day I'll go back to this project and upgrade it or not. Whatever the case, I love this massive beast of a prop and I'm happy that I gathered the courage to even attempt to make it in the first place. Gotta believe in yourself!

But hey, my Hunting Horn (aka my first Monster Hunter cosplay part) build process is over with this post and I'm more than happy with how it turned out in the end; it took a crapload of work, sweat and tears to make but now it's done and ready to swing into action! I can't wait to make an armor set and wear it out to a con, it's gonna be gargwawesome!
Next part: come up with a way to add the sound effects.. although I think I'll have to provide the toots myself, for now. xD *enter Hunting Horn sounds here*

Thank you for reading and do leave a comment if you found this project of interest! Would like to see more Monster Hunter builds from me in the future? Hunt safe and don't let the Kut-Ku bite you!

1 comment:

Frozen Angel said...

Happy I could help. This is amazing and you should be proud bro! Man, gets me pumped to do a massive MonHun weapon too one day :'D