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Level 8:2 – Armor Damaged!

5 Jun

Eleanor Lamb screen shot

As most costumers would tell you, it’s not enough to have a good-looking suit, you have to wear it. I might take that a step further and say that it needs wear and tear to complete it. Thanks to the help of an amazing friend and her superb, sewing skills we had Eleanor Lamb‘s suit but it was up to us to give it a story.

The first step in removing the shine of our new suit  was a couple of rounds of tea staining. First, we soaked the suit in water and then put it into some fresh tea. We left it to soak for about 2 hours, swishing it around every half hour. The picture below is from our test strip and you’ll notice that not all of it is submerged. That’s why we rotated the suit around in the tea soak, we wanted it to look “patchy.”

 

 

Once it dried, we added the serial numbers. Check out the reference photo above, on the right side of her chest you can see some tiny, faded numbers. Hard to read aren’t they? It took us a long time but we finally found an action figure that has the numbers prominently displayed; 726. We decided to use spray on fabric paint which we tested prior to using it on the suit.

Daniel free-handed the numbers and then cut the stencil into some scrap foam we had lying around and we were set to spray our suit. We started by laying out a painting tarp and putting cardboard between the layers of the suit to prevent bleed through.

Suit prep for spray

 

Next, we positioned the stencil and proceeded to cover the rest of the suit in cardboard to prevent any wafting paint particles. Then, using long sweeping motions, I sprayed the paint across the stencil.

Numbers on Eleanor Lambs Suit

After the numbers dried, it was time to add the blood and the rust. First, the blood.

Eleanor Lamb Suit Blood EffectWe decided to use acrylic paint primarily a Venetian Red. Since we’re not dealing with fresh blood, we added some brown as well. First, I put down a layer of paint and then hit it with a spray bottle of water. I wanted to get the look of actual liquid running rather than trying to fake it with a paint brush. Interested in the nitty-gritties? Head on over to our Rust on Cloth Effect Tutorial.

Once I got the look I wanted, I went back in with deluded paint to make it more pronounced. I did the same thing with the smaller cut on the stomach and the arm.

The rust proved to be a bit trickier.

We did a little digging around for a tutorial but didn’t find a whole lot for rust of on clothing aside from rubbing the suit on a rusty piece of metal. So we decided to use chalk for the rust.

Here’s the nifty article we found about using chalk.

Using the same technique as the blood, I started working on the rust. Since copper oxidizes differently than, say iron, I decided to use green, yellow and brown instead of a typical red, orange and brown. Feeling encouraged by how well the blood effect went, I started working the chalk into the suit.

Eleanor Lamb's Suit Rust Eleanor Lamb Suit Rust Wet

The only thing I didn’t account for, is how dark the chalk is when it’s wet and how light green and yellow chalk are when dried. Imagine my frustration after spending hours hunched over on the floor only to find to find out the next day that it’s not nearly dark enough to be noticed. It was also very difficulty to get the coverage right. I would try to dry the chalk with a hair dryer before putting on the damp suit and then the helmet and having Daniel take pictures so that I could see where the lines needed to be adjusted. A mannequin would have so come in handy right about now.

Eleanor Lamb's Suit with Rust

It took about ten hours total to get the effect that I wanted but, in the end, it was worth it.

As I was working on the rust effect, I also noticed that there are faint brown lines around Eleanor Lamb’s waist and thighs. I assumed that these were markings from the leather shorts and leg wrappings that Big Sisters typically wear. So I used more brown chalk to suggest a faded line where the wet leather might have marked the white suit.

Last but not least, the final detail to Eleanor Lamb’s suit, the oil stains. For this, we used charcoal and a wet paint brush and tried to copy the smudges from the concept art and viola; a distressed suit!

And here’s our finished product in full production!

Photo by Geek Behind the Lens Photography

Photo by Geek Behind the Lens Photography

Thanks for following along! Hopefully, you found this helpful and maybe a little entertaining! — TCG

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Level 8:1 – Construct Suit

14 May

Eleanor Lamb screen shot

Cosplay can be very daunting when you don’t know how to sew or own a sewing machine. When we started working on our Bioshock 2 cosplay, we were banking on being able to purchase both of our suits and the modify them to fit our needs. Daniel found the suit for Subject Delta easily enough at a uniform surplus store but Eleanor Lamb’s suit gave us considerably more trouble.

The first thing we looked for was a work suit or coveralls for women. We thought that maybe we could have it altered to fit my short frame once we found it but, as it turns out, there aren’t a lot of coveralls made for short women and there are even fewer that come in white.

Our next thought was to search for a bio-hazard suit. Those come in white and there should be some that are made for the shorter folks in the world. Turns out, most of them are disposable and come in a one-size fits all variety.

Next, I started searching for catsuits which are defined as a one piece garment that covers the torso, legs and sometimes the arms. Spot on, right? Wrong. If I wanted  purple one piece leotard with fur cuffs I would have had no trouble finding what I needed. But, alas, we’re not going for sex-kitten here.

Probably the closest thing we found was a flight suit we stumbled across at the army surplus store. They didn’t come in white, but they were available in my size and came in tan. We thought that maybe we’d bleach it.

But then Daniel, who never tires of Google searches, came across a website that sold an even better version of what we needed. It was light weight and came in a light shade of khaki that could easily be bleached. Plus, it was made for women!

It was, by no means, perfect. But it was the best of all the things we’d found. I placed my first order back in November. I won’t give the name of the company but I will say that they are a retail outlet vendor operating out of China. If there are any seasoned cosplayers from the US reading this who are now groaning and shaking their heads, believe me, I learned my lesson.

I ordered a small size and, when it arrived about a month and a half later, I couldn’t even pull it up over my thighs. No exaggeration here. I’m not saying this to mean that it was so tight that I had to roll it up over my knees and onto my thighs and then I could barely move in it. I literally mean that I could not, even with additional help, force it up past my knees. Disheartening? Yes.

At first, I thought about returning it and exchanging it. But, I would have had to have paid for shipping. Shipping to China cost more than the suit itself. I didn’t find this to be an unreasonable request from the vendor but it made more sense for us to just eat the money and order another suit. This time I ordered a large.

Another month and a half later, I received my large. Allow me to put this into perspective for everyone. I am 5’2 and my pant size can range anywhere from a 6 to an 8 depending on the store. Yes, a small might have been ridiculous but a large should have been a safe bet. I was able to roll the suit like panty-hose up my legs and then hoist the top of the suit up over my shoulders as if they were a tight pair of suspenders. I could get my arms into the sleeves but there was no way that I could button the suit. I thought that maybe I could stretch it a bit but, as I lunged, the inseam ripped. Even as I’m typing this months and months later, I can remember how frustrated I was. It was time for a new strategy.

Let me introduce you to Adina.

This is her in her amazing Alana cosplay she built just in time for C2E2. If you dig her style, hit up her Tumblr. She has posted her own work as well as a wealth of tutorials there for your perusal.

Alana Saga Cosplay

This is her in her amazing Alana cosplay she built just in time for C2E2. Eleanor Lamb’s suit would not have been possible had she not swooped in and offered to save the day with her mad sewing machine skills. I was especially grateful for her help since we were a mere four months away from the convention and the time it would have taken me to learn to sew and purchase a sewing machine might have resulted in calamity!

She picked out an appropriate pattern – Kwik Sew, pattern KSP3052 which was, of course, a catsuit. She let me accompany her out to purchase material, we chose a stretch knit fabric in an off-white color and she went to working her magic. She even went above and beyond to add the patches to the suit. When I got it back, I couldn’t have been happier. After going through so many disappointing purchases and trips to fitting rooms, the feeling of trying on a suit that fit so beautifully was the best feeling in the world. Here’s a couple of pictures for comparison.

Eleanor Lamb Cosplay Eleanor Lamb screen shot

 Pretty fantastic, if I do say so myself. Once again, I want to express my gratitude to my friend. Her generous assistance made my cosplay possible.

This was quite a wordy post. Thank you for letting me vent my months old frustration! I can promise you that the next post will have more than enough pictures and processes to make up for everything! Next up – weathering and distressing the ever-living hell out of this pristine suit! — TGC