Side Quest Unlocked: Apply Color

12 Jun

IMG_0727Paint!!!

Finally, finally, FINALLY – we got to paint!!!

That meant we were so close to completing our first Cosplay project!!!

Ideally, we would have liked to have built our pieces and then painted them as we went. However, we didn’t (and still don’t)  have a dedicated work space which made that a little hard. Plus, we waited a little too long and, when the time came to paint a few pieces, the weather had turned. So in an attempt to wait it out, we kept building and planned to paint everything at once. With no more building to do, it was time to put some color on ‘em! Time to transform them from foam and paper into convincing, hard metal objects.

We had two options when it came to painting. We could hand paint everything in the relative comfort of our apartment or spray paint our pieces in one of the common areas of our apartment building.

Hand painting would have let us paint whenever we liked as long as we laid something down to catch the paint and opened the windows with fans for ventilation. However, we thought it would have taken a long time to paint everything; especially if we wanted nice, smooth, streak-free finishes. I figured spray painting would eliminate that concern. Plus, I’d had more experience with a spray can. So, we chose to do the majority of work with spray paint but for some detail work, touch-ups and distressing done by hand.

Now, the first problem with spray painting in Chicago is that it’s illegal to sell spray paint within the city limits. We’d only been living in the city for three years at this point and who would have guessed that this was an actual law!? It exists to combat graffiti and tagging within the city; but, if you’ve ever spent a day in Chicago… lots and lots of graffiti… So the only thing this stupid law really does, it make it very difficult and annoying to procure spray paint. The nearest place for us to get some was at a  Home Depot on the border of Chicago inside Evanston’s city limits. That’s a 45 minute train ride, plus a 25 minute bus ride… Through out the course of the this project I had to make three separate trips to the suburbs for paint.

Oh well. On our first trip, we made the trek and the paints we decided to use were: Antique Brass for the base tone of the brass pieces, an Antique gold for the highlights on the brass pieces, Dark Steel for the steel pieces, and a Leather Brown for painting some of the rubber pieces to appear leather. “What about the primer,” you ask? Well, as much as I would have liked to have given everything a nice primer base coat we were very limited on time and I didn’t want to have to do any more spraying of harsh chemicals then need be in an apartment complex. So, we decided to skip it.

Paint in hand, it was time to… well, paint. Wouldn’t you know it? This was one of the harshest winters in recent US history and Chicago was hit pretty hard. Ever heard of a Polar Vortex? Here we were, well into March, and the temperatures were still right at or just below freezing. With C2E2 just around the corner we had to paint or we risked not having the costumes ready in time. So we decided to do the worst thing imaginable… spray paint indoors.

I know, I know… don’t get me started. We all know how this ends.

Spray Painting Inside?We decided to set up a small, make-shift painting room in the kitchen. We laid painting tarps on the floor, hung some from the walls, opened the kitchen window, and used a floor fan for ventilation. Surely, this would be sufficient.

Eleanor Lamb's Harpoon Pre-paint

 

We started off with a couple of small test pieces and everything seemed to be working okay. First, we sealed all of the foam with Elmer’s glue. We do this so that the Shellac won’t eat into it. Next we hit the pieces with at least three layers of Shellac and allowed it to dry completely before moving on to the paint. I sprayed in light layers in very short sessions. The open window and fan did the trick for adequately getting rid of the paint fumes; however, after a couple of hours, I noticed that it was not so efficient for getting rid of the residual paint particles that did not adhere to the cosplay pieces. Instead, it was falling in a fine layer of dust all over everything… :/

 A couple of hours of cleaning later and only a small percentage of Cosplay pieces painted – it was back to the drawing board.

C2E2 was creeping up faster and faster and still we had constant snow fall and below freezing temperatures, painting outside was still out of the question. We were so desperate that it forced us to be creative. So, after a late night of — social hydration — I decided to use our common laundry room as a new paint studio and to knock out all of the spray painting in a few marathon sessions. It was the only indoor common area that was anywhere near warm enough and had proper ventilation.

Subject Delta's HelmetEleanor Lamb Syringe Eleanor Lamb's Helmet

I didn’t want to piss off the neighbors or get the land lord called so I waited until 2 or 3 am before beginning. I crept as quietly as possible down three flights of stairs to the basement where the laundry room is located. I laid out my painting tarps over a couple of tables and lined up as many pieces as I could that were going to be painted the same base color. I did this every other night or so for a couple of weeks until all pieces were painted with their base coats.  I even spent time after each painting session wiping down any surfaces that might have collected residue; including but not limited to the washing machines and bikes stored there.

Subject Delta's Drill

Seeing everything in living color was really really cool. No really. Really cool. It was amazing to see everything in it’s intended color. They looked real for the first time and I could tell that we’d really done good work. Really. I had a day off work when I did all the big major pieces and I sent Sara so many texts with pictures because it was so exciting. Subject Delta and Eleanor Lamb were really coming together.

Eleanor Lamb and Subject Delta Helmets

We did all of our touch ups with acrylic paint. It wasn’t an exact match, which was frustrating. Luckily, we were going to distress everything so that would help. Plus, the differences in color can give the impression that something has gotten dinged in battle and been patched up. Even though it all worked out, next time we’re going to try to avoid the spray paint.

Subject Delta's Air TanksThere were a couple of pieces that we painted by hand that turned out looking really good, which also served to sway me toward hand painting in the future. Included in this category was the trim of both Subject Delta and Eleanor Lamb’s helmets, the tanks for Subject Delta’s pack and Eleanor Lamb’s arm guards. And for weathering, we used black acrylic paint and the process outlined in our Weathered Metal Effect tutorial which you can find here.

Despite some major stress, sleepless nights and a whole lotta time in transit, we got everything painted and it looked amazing. We were so close to finishing that we could taste it! C2E2 was under a month away at this point, so we were beyond happy to have gotten to this point.

Thank you for following along as we learned a thing or two about spray painting and Chicago winters! — TCG

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2 Responses to “Side Quest Unlocked: Apply Color”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Level 7:2 – Upgrade Footwear | Co-Op Campaign - June 13, 2014

    […] Antique Brass spray paint. If you’re interested in the painting saga, you can check it out here. Once they were dry we had a fine-looking pair of metallic shoes. Now it was time to add some […]

  2. Level 4:4 – Stabilize Ranged Weapon | Co-Op Campaign - June 13, 2014

    […] For the harpoon we used gold for the base, silver for the harpoon itself and the side tubes and then brass for the body and scope of the piece. We hit it with several layers of Shellac first and then, once that was good and dry, we used Rust-Oleum brand spray paint to add some color. Daniel worked in phases for this. First he did the copper, then the gold for the base and then the silver. Due to all the tape we had to use between each application, there was quite a bit of touch up to do. For the touch ups, we hand painted with some acrylic paint. It wasn’t a perfect match but, knowing that we planned to distress it, I beat my rampaging perfectionism into submission. If you’re interested in reading more about our spray-painting in mid-winter saga, you can do so here. […]

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