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Level 10:1 – Power Up Acquired!

1 Jul


One of the coolest elements of Bioshock  is the use of Plasmids! People in the Bioshock series use these by injecting the EVE directly into their blood stream and it endows them with powers and abilities. Subject Delta has a glove that allows him to pull EVE from a tank of his back and flow it directly into the veins at his wrist. We searched and searched the internet and hardware stores to find the ideal glove to serve as the base for Subject Delta’s glove and in the end we appropriately settled on some Halloween Darth Vader gloves. They were made of the perfect material, had the perfect look and were the perfect size and shape. The gloves are one-size-fits-all for adults and come in black so we started by spraying the glove with a couple of light layers of Brown Leather paint.

Subject Delta Cosplay GlovesIf you’ll notice from the reference photo there are some very distinct sections on the glove. On the palm side of the glove there are six ports; one on each finger, one on the thumb and one in the palm. These ports are used to conduct and control Plamids. On the back side of the glove there’s a series of knuckle plates, a speaker box with the delta symbol, and forearm panel with a port and a gauge. In the game you see that the port is used as an injection point for the Plasmid syringes and the gauge I assume is used to determine dangerous usage levels. You’ll also notice that each of the three panels on the back of the glove appear to have a patch under them. So, we started by crafting  these three patches out of some faux leather. We cut out two rectangular patches for the speaker box and Plasmid control panel and a customized piece for the knuckle plate. We then hand stitched the patches for added detail and sewed then to the gloves. Here’s a good shot of the customized patch for the knuckles that Sara made after we’d trimmed it and sewn it on.



With all the patches in place we started on the knuckle panels. We cut out four contoured rectangular pieces from 2 mm foam and then used our hole punch tool from our grommet kit to punch out four rounded foam pieces from 5 mm foam. We hot glued the rounded pieces to the flat, rectangular pieces and laid them in place to see how they fit.


Man that’s already starting to look gnarly!!!

We trimmed the leather patch to more closely fit the contours of the glove and then in turn trimmed the foam pieces to more closely fit the contours of the customized leather patch. Once we had the shapes right we sewed the knuckle patch into place, sealed the knuckles pieces in Elmer’s glue and hand painted them brass and steel. Once they were dried we then used Shoe Goo to attach them.

IMG_0721Next we moved on to the speaker box. For the speaker box, you’ll notice that it’s not just a flat metal panel. It’s raised at the front and slopes down the back like a small ramp. I cut out two large rectangular pieces of foam from the 2 mm foam; one to serve as the base for the panel and the other to serves as the top speaker ‘section.’ Along the front edge of the base piece, I attached a section of our weather sealer to serve as a ‘lift’ along the front edge. I then drilled a series of holes in the top piece to give it that old-timey speaker look. I hot glued the pieces together to form the lifted, ramp-looking shape.


To finish the piece, I cut out 2 mm foam sections for the front and sides and hot glued them in place. I then sealed the panel with Elmer’s glue and painted it a polished brass. Once dried, we Shoe Goo’d it to the leather section on the back of the glove. At first, we tried to hot glue these foam pieces onto the leather but, as you can see in the close picture below, it wasn’t holding. Rather than try to re-glue it with more hot glue, we started looking for other options. That’s when we stumbled across the Shoe Goo. We’re recent converts to the contact adhesive cult and we have no plans to ever leave it.

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Next; the Plasmid control panel. The panel needed to be thick enough to house both the Plasmid port and one of our custom gauges so we cut the base out of  5 mm craft foam. The gauge was already constructed and ready to go from our work on Eleanor Lamb’s syringe, so we just cut out an opening in the foam to hold it in place and moved on to the Plasmid port. For the opening we used one of our plastic ports like we used on our helmets and then crafted the shutter out of 2 mm foam circles.



With the port constructed we cut another hole in the base beside the gauge. We then sealed the 5 mm panel with Elmer’s glue and painted it steel. The port was hand painted polished brass and the shutter steel. We hot glued the gauge and port into the panel and then attached the panel to its leather patch with Shoe Goop. Here’s a couple of shots of the glove at this stage.

IMG_0771Now for the first bit of real color… The Subject Delta symbol itself! Sara was so thrilled to finally be adding something other than a metal or earth tone to our cosplay. I started by cutting out a delta stencil from 2 mm foam. I laid the stencil in place and hand painted it with some teal acrylic paint.

delta symbolpainted delta

I then weathered the glove with some of our black acrylic paint and used an X-acto knife to lightly scrape away some of the teal to so our delta symbol didn’t look like it was painted on yesterday.


With the back of the glove complete, lets take a look at the elements of the palm side of the glove. Now, this part actually came first, but I wanted to save it till last for effect.

For the Plasmid ports on the fingers and thumb we used a standard 3/4″ grommet kit from Home Depot. We followed the directions and used the metal hole punching tool to make the holes in the fingertips of the glove. We then fitted the grommets into the holes and snapped them into place. For the Plasmid port in the palm we used  another one of our plastic ports.


I used the port to determine the size of the hole that needed to be cut in the glove. Once the hole was cut I lined it up to see how it would fit.

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As you can see, the port is a little too thick and sits up too far from the surface of the glove. So, I used my hand saw to cut it in half, but before I did, I drilled some holes around the edges so that I would have a way to sew the port to the glove.


With the holes drilled and the port cut in half I spray painted the port with some of the polished brass and sewed it to the glove.


Last, but not least — it was time to add the lighting elements to simulate the Plasmid. As we discussed in the helmets post, we researched many processes and products that would allow us to incorporate lighting elements into our Cosplay. We even thought about trying to create our own custom circuit, but decided that was too advanced and time-consuming at this stage. So, we ultimately decided on party raver gloves. Blue to simulate Electro Bolt; my favorite Plasmid! The gloves were perfect because they already came rigged with separately lit fingertips and thumb and had three pulse setting to choose from. We purchased our glove from Blinkeez.


To rig up the light for the palm, we cannibalized the second glove from the set (since we only needed one) and hot glued the cluster of lights in place in the palm of the glove. The great thing about this is that we now had two separate power packs and circuits each of which could be set to a separate one of the three pulse settings to better simulate the Electro Bolt Plasmid and boyah! That looks so killer!!!

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Here’s a couple of demos for you to feast your eyes on!


You can tell how long we actually were in the process by how unfinished Daniel’s costume was. Ha!

Thank you for following along as we built Subject Delta’s glove. The panel on the back of the glove was Sara’s favorite part of the cosplay, hands down! (See what we did there?) Hope you enjoyed seeing a little of the magic! — TCG




Team Up: Add Luminescence

25 Jun

Eleanor Lamb Subject Delta Helmets Bioshock Cosplay

With the helmets finally built and painted and distressed, all we had to do was add the lights. For some more experienced cosplayers this may not be a big thing but for us, the prospect of adding a lighting element to our project was incredibly stressful. We’d been planning and testing and researching for this critical step since the beginning of the process in June, it was currently March. Due to budgetary constraints and inexperience, much like the decision to ask for help with Eleanor Lamb’s suit, we decided to opt for battery operated Christmas lights rather than try to rig up our own lighting system. We landed on Christmas lights after days of off and on combing the internet and not liking the look of anything. We had to keep in mind that these lights would be mounted in our helmets and close to our faces so they needed to be small, bright and cool. When you don’t know what to look for, this can be a very daunting process. For now, as beginners, we played it safe. We bought a couple of packages of indoor mini Christmas lights that were battery operated and tucked them away until we were ready for them.

Subject Delta and Eleanor Lamb Helmets

Since both of us have a back ground in theater, we decided to use theater lighting gels to color the visors of our helmets. You can see from the reference pictures above that we wanted a yellowy glow for Subject Delta and a sickly green glow for Eleanor Lamb.

Rosco Gel BookletWe used a Rosco gel sample booklet to concoct a mix of colors that would give us the desired color. For Subject Delta we decided on#12 Straw and #2003 Storaro VS Yellow and for Eleanor Lamb we decided on #4915 Lavender and #388 Gaslight Green in case you’d like to look them up. In the end, we ended up ditching the Lavender. I wanted it to help make the green murky but it wound up making it too dark. So we paired the Yellow with the green for Eleanor Lamb’s visor.

We cut the porthole shapes out of the gels and then hot glued the edges together so they would be easier to glue into the helmets.

Next came the long, involved process of gluing a webbed pattern of Christmas lights into the helmets. We had to be careful as we worked, we wanted light to spill out of the portholes but the lights themselves needed to stay unseen. This was incredibly difficult but we managed and silently hoped that none of the bulbs would burn out since, you know, we’d glued them into place.

Eleanor Lamb Cosplay with Lights

After several hours bent over with a glue gun into the small openings of our helmets, we finished. Hooray!

Subject Delta Cosplay Helmet Bioshock Eleanor Lamb Cosplay Helmet BioshockSubject Delta’s face is never seen. Not just because he’s the playable character in a first person game but even in all of the concept art and fan art. Turns out that most Big Daddies have a bio-chemical gel in their helmets that will react to their state of mind. That’s why you have different colors radiating from their portholes but never faces. From the photo above, you can clearly see Daniel’s face. So we bought a couple of Halloween invisible face masks so that we could still see but our faces would be obscured. Unfortunately, the black mask ate up the lights from the glued in bulbs so we ditched the idea for Eleanor and decided that it was more important that Subject Delta’s face be hidden than for the glow to be bright. And here’s our finished product!!

Subject Delta Cosplay Helmet Bioshock Eleanor Lamb Cosplay Helmet Bioshock

The moment we put the finished helmets on our heads was so amazing! Subject Delta and Eleanor Lamb’s helmets were the first things we started working on and now that we were at the end of the project, they were the last thing finished. We were a little worried about the lack of ventilation and fresh air but, at this point, we were flying high on having finished them. — TCG

Subject Delta Eleanor Lamb Bioshock Cosplay



Level 3:5 – Recon and Advance

23 Jun

Once we had decided to enter our Subject Delta and Eleanor Lamb into the Crown Championship of Cosplay at C2E2, we began looking at certain aspects of our pieces with a more critical eye. Just as Sara looked at her syringe panel and decided it was lacking, I too looked at my drill and decided that the turbine section was in need of improvement.

Subject Delta Cosplay Drill Subject Delta Cosplay Drill Arm Support











This simply would not do!

So, as hard as it was — I dismantled  it and went back to the drawing board and hardware store. As disappointed as I was to be starting over, I knew I could do better and building the first turbine section actually did a lot for me as far as figuring out how to make each section fit together. I would stay with the same basic “cylinder” design in order to ensure that it would fit back into place with the rest of the drill.

I started off with a sheet of light gauge, galvanized steel. I used a pair of metal cutters and cut out an identical strip of metal to match the previous pre-fabricated piece I had used. A tip? Don’t forget to wear gloves and goggles. I got a couple of minor cuts and had a brief scare when the sheet flipped up and hit my cheek. It was a flat slap on my cheek so there were no cuts but Sara just about died watching it happen.

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This would serve as the base of the turbine section.

Next, I cut out a strip of 2 mm foam to serve as the base of the bladed section, the outer shell of the turbine. I then cut out slanted, recessed parallelograms all along the strip with alternating raised sections.


I then hot glued the foam piece to the metal cylinder and affixed the raised sections with short strips of the weather sealer. This way I could build the bladed sections of the turbine in the same way I did for the main blade of the drill.

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Already looking much more accurate and awesome then the previous attempt!

I then hot glued small, foam parallelograms to each side of each of the weather sealer sections and then hot glued them together along the edges to form slanted, foam wedges. Once complete, I then attached the new turbine section to a newly crafted wooden hand section.

Subject Delta Drill Turbine Cosplay Subject Delta Drill Turbine Unit Cosplay

Now that’s what I’m talking about!!!

To finish off the turbine section, I drilled a series of three holes through each section of the recessed panels.

Subject Delta's Drill ReferenceWith the new and improved turbine section complete, I attached it the body of the drill and moved on to some detail work. I searched high and low for a good way to make the beveled gears that are attached in clusters around the outer edge of the drill near the turbine section, but never quite found what I wanted. I did however, find some interesting toy gears at a local robotics store.  They gave me a few to use as they no longer sold the kits they came with, but not enough to complete three clusters like I wanted. Not to be discouraged, I used the toy gears as templates and cut some additional foam gears out of 5 mm craft foam. I cut them out and glued them together in layers of two and four so that I could have some levels with the gears. Now, if we had a Dremel (that’ll be one of our next purchases) I could have beveled these pieces myself, but I was really happy with how they turned out.

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Now it was time to breathe life into our drill with some  paint! So, I set up my paint room in the basement laundry and got to work!

First, I sealed all the foam pieces with Elmer’s glue. Then I sprayed on at least half a dozen layers of Shellac onto the drill. This step was critical to ensure that all the different types of materials would appear to be the same once coated in paint. To make the drill more visually appealing, I decided to go with a two-tone color scheme. I hit the body of the drill, the gears, the stabilizer bars and the bicep coupler with some of the Dark Steel then used some of the Antique Brass for the fore arm coupler and gear spacer at the base of the drill. I then finished it off by hand painting the hydraulics with black acrylic paint and steel for the fixers.

Subject Delta's Drill Bioshock Cosplay

Subject Delta Drill Bioshock Cosplay Subject Delta Drill Bioshock Cosplay

In order to keep the bicep coupler in place, I made a leather band to wrap around the coupler with a costume velcro strap. I detailed the leather band and strap with stitching and hot glued it into place.


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I then weathered it. The first step in this process entailed using the process described in our Weathered Metal Effect tutorial and black acrylic paint. After that was done, it was time for the fun part; the blood! I bounced back and forth between a realistic blood and a stylized blood but in the end I decided that stylized blood would be more fun. I used the same Venetian Red acrylic paint that Sara used on Eleanor Lamb’s suit. Instead of painting it on using brush strokes, I globbed it on in patches to mimic splatter and pooling patterns. Also, let’s face it, this is a drill, it’s going to have gummy messes on it.

Subject Delta Drill Bioshock CosplaySubject Delta Drill Bioshock Cosplay

Here’s a series of shots to show you the details from various angles.

Subject Delta Drill Bioshock Cosplay Subject Delta Drill Bioshock Cosplay

Subject Delta Drill Bioshock Cosplay Subject Delta Drill Bioshock Cosplay

Of all the things we built, this was the most satisfying. The helmets were amazing and gratifying but there was something about this hefty prop dirtied up and bloodied that made me actually feel like Subject Delta. Thank you so much for sticking with us as we wrap up our documentation on this cosplay. Hopefully you had a good time or were able to glean some steps from our process! — TCG

Level 5-2: Attach Accessories

18 Jun

Is that a club on your hip or are you just happy to see me?

With Subject Delta’s suit near completion, it was time for some finishing details! What’s a suit without accessories?


Subject Delta Action Figure Front

If you’ll notice in the reference above, there’s a club of sorts hanging from Delta’s hip. It appears to be a wooden cudgel, the kind akin to a tire thumper like truck drivers use to check their tires. Delta and the Big Daddies use theirs to check underwater pipes.

For the shaft… Ha! I said shaft… we used a 3/4″ inch dowel rod. I cut the length to about 12″ and then cut one end with a series of angles to form a rough point.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     I then sanded the rough point down to a smooth, rounded knob… HA! Knob, this is too easy… and then sanded the opposite, flat edge to round the edges just slightly.  Next, I created a hand guard using a wooden napkin ring and a crafted foam piece.


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 The foam piece took some finagling as the template for a circular trapezoid; or cone without a top, is actually a rainbow shape. Using 2 mm foam, I cut out the rainbow piece and a circular doughnut for the cap. I glued them together with hot glue and attached it to the wooden napkin with hot glue as well.


Look at how nicely that fits! You’ll also notice that there are a series of rings notched into the handle of the club.  I free-handed the rings with a pencil and then used the hand saw to cut about 3/8″ into the handle to create the grip. With the basic pieces complete, it was time to give them some color. For the club itself I used a dark walnut stain. I painted the stain on with a paint brush, let it set for 2-3 minutes and then wiped it off with paper towels.

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For the hand guard, I coated the foam piece with a few layers of shellac and then hit it with some of the Antique Brass spray paint.


After the pieces dried properly, I fixed the hand guard in place with a bit of wood glue, used some black acrylic paint to weather it and viola! Finished Big Daddy, pipe-thumping club!

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To attach the club to the suit, I fashioned a sort of holster out of some of our left-over leather. I started by cutting a rectangle section to serve as a base. I stitched the piece like we did with our straps for consistency. I then cut and stitched another, longer and wider rectangle and attached it to the first to form a leather tube. I hot glued the pieces together and spot stitched them for added strength. I then hot glued the combined holster to the suit along the edge of one of the straps and spot stitched it as well.

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Sara suggested gluing the cudgel into the holster. She was worried that it might fall out and I, with my mobility limited in costume, might not be able to put it back in. But, after reading over the C2E2’s weapon’s policy, I wanted to be able to remove it in case security wanted to take it away. Shows you what newbies we were, worried about a small wooden club. Ha! Ultimately, we didn’t have a single problem.

The other element you’ll notice from the above shots, is the elbow pad. I built one for the non drill arm and two similar, slightly larger pads for the knees. I started off with a basic elbow/knee pad from Home Depot. The pads were an ideal base; sturdy and durable with a built-in elastic strap. They were a perfect anchor to build onto. One edge of the pad is flat and the other rounded; but if you’ll notice, Subject Delta’s pads are rectangular. So, I took out my handy-dandy hand saw and cut off the rounded edge.

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With the pads cut to the proper shape, I measured and cut out a strip of leather to face them with. Before attaching the leather, we hand stitched it with some of our yellow detail thread. I then hot glued the leather to the pads, around the sides and anchored the edges around the backside cutting slits at the edges to allow for the elastic strap. To finish off the tops and bottoms of the pads I stood the pads on end and traced the shape to get perfect curved shapes to hot glue in place.

knee pad IMG_0626

The next step was to build the metal platting attached to the pads. I used some 2 mm craft foam and cut out three rectangle pieces with curved edges to match the shape of the pads. I then used the hole punching tool from our grommet set to punch out some foam circles to serve as “rivets” for the corners.


I hot glued the ‘rivets’ into place, sealed the foam with a couple of layers of watered-down Elmer’s glue,  applied a few layers of Shellac and then sprayed the plates with some of the Antique Brass spray paint. Once the plates were complete, I hot glued them to the pads. Sadly, the hot glue was not strong enough to adhere the plates to the faux leather pads. So, I pulled the plates off and peeled off the useless hot glue. After a couple of days of brainstorming and trying to figure out what adhesive would work best, I remembered the stuff I used to reattach the soles of my sneakers… SHOE GOO!!! This stuff is amazing and I plan to use it for this and future projects. Since it’s made for shoes, it’s perfect for adhering wildly different types of materials together. It’s perfect for attaching more substantial elements to fabric pieces while still remaining playable. You just smear the stuff to both sides of whatever you want to glue together and let it sit for a while, get good and tacky and then put it together. We let it cure for 24 hours and it worked perfectly!


After all of the plates had time to properly dry, I then took some of our black acrylic paint and weathered them.

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Last but not least, I detailed the suit. I laid it out on the floor and took some time weathering it with some of the black acrylic paint. I made sure to grime up the zippers that ran along the outer seam of the legs, as well as all around the strapping and patches.


What started on a pretty basic work-suit and now, after some dressing and distressing, we’d wound up with a pretty fantastic looking suit!

Photo by: Geek Behind the Lens Photography

Photo by: Geek Behind the Lens Photography

Thank you for following along as we crafted Subject Delta’s suit! — TCG

Side Quest Unlocked: Apply Color

12 Jun


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

Level 9:1 – Upgrade Footwear

15 May

Time to build some heavy-duty, splicer stompin’ boots!!!

If you’ll recall from previous posts, we found some killer, rubber galoshes to serve as the base for our Subject Delta Boots.

Subject Delta boots


We found them at a uniform surplus store. They were perfect because they were meant to be worn over regular shoes so they were already over-sized. Plus they had some great metal buckles which add a nice touch and they were on sale for $30 bucks!

If you’ll notice from the reference photo below, Subject Delta’s boots are a little shorter than the boots we picked.

delta boot reference

So, we started off by marking how much we wanted to cut away and then used our box cutter to trim away the excess.

Boots Pre Cut Boots Cut


With the boots cut to the right height we could add the metal that runs along the sides and up over the toes of the boot. Check out the reference photo above. See how the straps appear to be securing a metal step-in “sled?” We decided that these metal soles must be something that could be stepped into and then strapped on. We wanted the boots to appear heavy and gnarly without actually making them heavy, so we decided to craft the “sled” out of foam. I started by cutting out a 2″ wide strip of 2 mm foam to serve as the front of the sled that wraps around the boot. I lined it up and glued it into place with hot glue:

Boots With Front Foam Boots With Full Front Foam










With the first piece of the sled in place, I cut out a foam topper piece that was slightly curved on the backside and to couture to the shape of the first piece along the front of the boot. I had to try a couple of time to get the shape just right, but once I was satisfied with the shape, I hot glued it into place on top of the boot and sealed the edges together with hot glue as well:

Boots With Top FoamAt first, I thought about stopping there for a nice “steel toed” look, but Sara pointed out that the trim should travel all the way around the bottom edge of the boot thus giving it that “sled” look. So, I cut out another long strip of 2″ wide foam and hot glued it into place, connecting the trim all the way around the back of the boot and to the other side. Then I drilled holes straight through the foam and the rubber of the boots and fitted the “sled” with some light-weight bolts and cap nuts for that riveted look.

Boots With Side Foam Boots Complete Foam









With the “sled” trim piece complete, there was only one thing left to do — Paint them!!!

You’ve seen bits and pieces of partially painted items here and there, but this is the first piece we had actually, fully painted!

I started by sealing the foam pieces with a couple of coats of watered down Elmer’s glue. Once dried, I then sprayed the foam with three coats of shellac, allowing the layers to fully dry in between applications.

Once sealed and shellacked, I then taped off the foam pieces and hit the rubber boot with a couple of light coats of Rust-Oleum Enamel Gloss Leather Brown Spray Paint to give it the look of leather. After that dried, I then peeled the tape from the foam and taped off the newly painted brown leather boot section so I could hit the foam trim with a couple of coats of Rust-Oleum Antique Brass Spray Paint.

Boots Painted


Bad ass if I do say so myself!!!

With the boots painted in their base colors, we added a couple of our hand stitched straps and buckles by poking holes through the strap and fastening them in place with the bolts and cap nuts. Then we distressed them:

Boots Distressed

Boots With Full Paint and Distress

Boots Distressed (2)






For the distressing we decided to keep it simple. We did a light, dry brushing of black acrylic paint, let it dry briefly for 10-15 seconds and then rubbed away most of the excess with cloths and q-tips leaving behind the desired amount of grit and grime. We did this all over the boots themselves as well as the brass, metal “sled” and leather strapping with buckles. We paid special attention to certain areas such as the grooves around the cap nuts and other nooks and crannies. We wanted to make sure that these areas had the highest concentration of grime, just like you would see with natural wear and tear. You can view our quick tutorial here.

Here’s another couple of shots of the finished product with the suit:

Boots Complete Boots Complete (2)


We hope that you found this helpful! — TCG

Level 6-1: Assemble Backpack cont.

12 May

When last we left Subject Delta’s backpack and air tanks we had built all of the separate elements. Now it’s time to truly assemble!

We started by securing the tanks to the frame from the backside using screws drilled straight through the frame and into the tanks.  Here’s a great look at the back for the frame to show the screws and how the tanks are attached and a shot of the front to show the overall look.

Backpack frame constructed back Backpack constructed front


Looking pretty good huh!? What’s that in the front view image you ask? Those are the ADAM and EVE tube panel and a lower back support that I built; but we’ll get to those in a bit.

With the tanks attached to the frame it was time to figure out how to strap the whole kit-and-caboodle to my back. You can see by the reference photos that there’s a belt running around Delta’s waist with diving weights attached to it and a sort of harness that goes down through and around the legs to the back of the frame.

delta photo

Since we decided to build the leg straps separately and attach them directly to the suit, a question remained; how is the pack secured to the upper part of the torso or shoulders? In a lot of reference photos it looks like the pack and tanks are attached to the bottom of the helmet, as if the pack and helmet are one piece. This makes sense and would be convenient, but we had decided early on to take a different approach. So, the only other option was to build some sort of shoulder strap.

We decided to use a nylon strap with a plastic, clip buckle for the waist strap and some cannibalized backpack straps from an old backpack.  We attached the straps to the frame using screws drilled directly into the frame.

Backpack shoulder strap test

Because we decided to drill the straps directly to the frame we had to make sure they were adjusted correctly, because once they were screwed in we couldn’t use the slider to adjust the snugness.

With the strapping in place, it was time to makes sure that it would work properly with the helmet. Although we were too frustrated to take a picture, you can see by the above image that the shoulder strapping was an issue. The helmet was too wide at the base to fit snugly in between the straps. Determined to fix the issue we tried a couple of different combinations trying to get the strapping as close to the frame and my body as possible so that it would allow the helmet to fit properly.

Backpack top strap test

But nothing seemed to work. Finally, we decided that the only solution was to do another nylon strap (like the one for the waist) that would run under my arms and across my chest. That way it would be low enough to clear the helmet and still high enough up on the frame to properly support the pack. What do you think?

Backpack straps right Backpack helmet hit


Also, as an added bonus, the strap gets hidden nicely under the helmet so we didn’t have to worry about masking it. Onward and upward!

Now, you’ll notice that the helmet and the pack are finally fitting together as they should! Go Team-Gilbert!!! 

Our secret is the spacer at the base of my back. It pushes the frame out from my back so it was important that it be a cushion against the small of my back. We purchased some Air-Tech High-Density Foam, cut it out into a rectangular pillow, encased it in 2mm craft foam and glued it to a panel of cardboard. 

Foam Cut Out Foam Cut Out 2 Backpack back pad


For the ADAM and EVE tubes panel I also used a cardboard panel, faced it with foam and attached two of the same plastic 90 degree connector like we used for Eleanor’s syringe. I then screwed the spacer and tube panels to the frame.

Backpack with pad back view Backpack constructed front











The pack and tanks are looking great, but they’re missing one last detail — some toppers! For the adornment on the top of the tanks I found a couple of PVC pipe caps with threaded edges. I didn’t want the edges to appear threaded so I hot glued some foam trim around them to make them appear smooth.

Tank Toppers


Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of them attached before painting, but you’ll see how they get affixed in the coming posts.


Back to the straps! Even though the waist strap would have the weights attached to it, I wanted it to look like leather rather than modern nylon. I started by covering the waist strap with some upholstery leather. I cut the leather wider than needed so that I could wrap it around the edges and hot glue it on the backside.

Backpack belt pre leather Backpack post leather







Looks pretty good with the leg straps on the suit.







Now it was time to add the finishing touch; the weights!

I wanted the weights to be light but at the same time appear as if they had substance and since we don’t have a full shop of tools, I decided to use basic wooden trim pieces with curved edges that way they would have a smooth finished look like actual weights. I cut the weight pieces to 3″ x 3″ squares, sanded the cut edges to match the smooth trim edges and attached them to the belt with short screws drilled through the back of the belt. Here you can see the finished product with painted weights and buckle:

Backpack belt weights unpainted IMG_0926







Up next, I’ll take you through the painting and weathering and a pretty awesome rust technique. — TCG

Co-Op Campaign: Status Report

28 Mar

Hola fellow Cosplay citizens!!! It’s been far too long since our last post… a month to be exact… but rest assured that it’s not because we haven’t been hard at work. As of our last post, the submission deadline for the Crown Championship of Cosplay was fast approaching and we wanted to have as much of the costumes completed as possible.  We built as much as we could, almost daily, and there were quite a few nights of painting that lasted well into the wee hours of the morn. But all of the efforts were well worth it! One of Sara’s work friends graciously offered to take some high-resolution photos for our submissions – and now for your viewing pleasure… our mostly complete costumes:

Eleanor Lamb:

Eleanor Lamb Front

Eleanor Lamb Back

Subject Delta:

Subject Delta Front

Subject Delta Back

Sadly… we were not accepted into the competition.

You: What!?

 ThoseCrazyGilberts: I know, right!?

Le’ sigh… 😥

Oh well, that’s okay — because it was never about the competition to begin with and while it sucks to have not gotten in we’ll still be struttin’ our stuff at C2E2 and sharing our hard work with the rest of the Cosplay community and other fellow Con-goers!

We’ve still got a lot of work left to do, for as they say — the Devil’s in the details.

Additionally we’ve also finally gotten around to creating a corresponding Co-Op Campaign Facebook page to make it even easier to follow ThoseCrazyGilberts and their Cosplay adventures.

If you’re on Facebook, like us here:

Co-Op Campaign Cosplay

As always, thank you for reading and be on the look out for a series of catch-up post coming your way in the next week. — TCG

Level 6-1: Assemble Backpack

27 Feb

Greetings Cosplay followers! As Sara said in our last post, we definitely have more built than we’ve had time to blog about. So far for Subject Delta we’ve shown you the helmet, the drill and the suit; but we’ve also been hard at work on the boots, the cudgel (that wooden baton thing that hangs at Subject Deltas hip) and… the back pack and air tanks!!!

Subject Delta Action Figure Backpack

We started – as we always do — by analyzing the various reference photos to get a good sense of the general look and feel for the pack as it’s quite a specific design. One of the things we’ve noticed from looking at other Subject Delta cosplay costumes is that the pack and tanks (just like the helmets) can often look a little off, because the game dimensions are so drastic. So again, we tried to be conscientious in making sure the pieces fit my dimensions as much as possible.

sawing pvcSara took the lead on this one! We didn’t want the pack to be too heavy so we decided to make the frame out of 1″ PVC tubing. Sara measured my back to get some accurate dimensions and we figured out from the reference photos how high up and low down on my back the pack should sit. Sara set to work measuring and cutting the tubing to the various lengths.

I helped with the some of the cutting cause there was just so darn much to cut and we lacked the proper tools for the task. I then took a stab at the oblong section that juts out from the bottom of the pack. this is for the Little Sisters to stand on while the Big Daddy goes tramping around, in case you were wondering.

I drilled holes into the frame at angles and used some extra dowel rod to serve as the crossbars. Once complete we fitted the frame together.

Subject Delta's Backpack Frame

You’ll notice from this first assembly that it’s a bit too long both at the top and bottom. The top interferes with the way the helmet needs to sit on my shoulders and the bottom hangs off to low and too far. Good thing we hadn’t glued anything together yet.

Subject Delta's Backpack FrameWe took the pack off, made some adjustments, cut off some extra length here and there a couple of times and tried it again. Perfect fit!!! Confident with the structure of the frame, I glued it together with our PVC epoxy.

Subject Delta Concept Art

Next up; the air tanks! If you’ll notice one of the tanks look to be fairly normal size, but the other is gargantuan and has a pretty decent circumference. This larger tank was the portion of the frame that most concerned me as far as making sure we stayed as true to the design as possible while still making it look appropriate to my proportions. I didn’t want it to be so large that it looked ridiculous on my frame. Like everything else, we wanted to make sure it was made to my proportions.

For the sake of weight, I again settled on PVC tubing for the tanks. A 3” tube for the small tank and a 4” tube for the larger tank each with their corresponding PVC cap. I cut the tanks a little longer at the top of the frame so that they would stick up over my shoulders just slightly like they do in the reference photos.

Since they looked a little bare with just their caps I cut out foam circles from 5 mm foam to seal the bottoms and then used a bit of weather-stripping to accentuate the edge. I then cut strips of 2 mm foam to service as the bands that wrap around the tanks and accented them with hex screw screwed right into the tanks.

Subject Delta's Airtanks

While I’d love to leave you with an action shot there’s always more to do and we have less than a week before we have to take some pictures for our submission to the Crown Championships for C2E2 but we’ll be sure to keep you posted!  –TCG

Level 5-1: Upgrade Suit

25 Feb

For those of you that check in on us and take note of the count down to C2E2 along the right-hand side of the page, I want to reassure you that we have more built than we’ve actually blogged about. While we might be stressed and filled with fear and you might be filled with those same things on our behalf, we are much more prepared than it might appear! This week’s update will be coming in two parts. You’re reading the first one right now and it’s about the details on Subject Delta’s suit. The second will be posted on Thursday and we’ll show you what we have cooked up for Subject Delta’s back pack and air tanks!

Subject Delta Drill Reference

If you’ll recall way back in July, we found a work suit for Daniel’s Subject Delta and we finally got around to making some leather patches for it! We bought some upholstering faux leather and some butcher paper for making rough patterns and got to work.

Take a look at this reference photo, you can see that beneath the helmet there’s a couple of layers of leather to serve as padding between the metal helmet and the suit itself. We started calling this “the bib.” I took some butcher paper, cut a hole into a large square section of it, put it over Daniel’s head and had him put the helmet on. Then I free-handed the curve of the bib in paper.

Subject Delta Leather PatternSubject Delta Leather Pattern Back

I created two patterns, one for the larger bottom layer and another for the top layer. I then laid my patterns out on top of our material and got to cutting.

Bib Patterns Bib from the Leather

When I put these cut pieces of leather on Daniel again, I noticed how flat they looked. Yes, they were very practical and if Daniel really did have a huge metal helmet to wear they’d serve as a nice buffer between his delicate shoulders and the cold steel but, in Cosplay, we’re going for an aesthetic so we decided to do some stitching.In case I forgot to tell you, we don’t have a sewing machine so any stitching was going to be done by hand. With this in mind, we knew that any sort of stitching would be purely for looks.


I picked up some yellow thread from Michael’s, we went with the color on the left, along with some needles and Daniel and I spent two movies stitching the details onto his bib, his knee pads and the other decorative panels for his suit. We wanted something that would be big enough to be seen at a distance, which is why we picked the yellow instead of a dark brown like you see in the reference photo at the top of the article.

All of our hard work and stabbed fingers gave us a table full of details; beautiful, beautiful details.

Bib with Detail Stitching Details Stitched

Since Daniel’s suit was double lined and padded, we decided to hot glue the patches onto the suit instead of attempting to wrestle it into submission with hand-stitching. I was really afraid that the glue would make the leather pucker but it worked quite nicely. Score another point for Daniel who assured me that this was not in fact cheating.

Suit with Detail Patching

Knee Pad in LeatherFor the knee pads we bought a set of light weight , plastic foam knee pads from Home Depot and cut them into squares. We then covered them in leather. They’re not done, by any means, but we need to paint the rest of the detailing before we can add it to the cloth on the knee pads.

Just in case you think the suit needs even more leather detailing, I want to let you know that we’re not done by a long shot! If you take another look at our reference you can just make out some leather straps running along the top of Subject Delta’s thighs. Here’s a better angle so you can see exactly what I mean.

Subject Delta Action Figure Front Subject Delta Action Figure Back

So, I got to cutting and stitching. We purchased some buckles on-line from They arrived quickly and in great shape! I decided to cut all the strips we needed for Daniel’s suit as well as our boots and weapons all at once. I was cutting so many strips that I almost lost track of all the strips! Using a nail and a block of wood I punched some holes in the leather for the buckle to go through and then glued the other end shut with some hot glue and I was set.

Buckle with Hole Buckle with Glue Buckle Strap with Stitching

While I was putting the finishing touches on his strap stitching, Daniel cut and hot glued some leather around his belt. This belt is actually going to be supporting the backpack and tanks so you’ll see more about it next week. We decided to hot glue yet again and here’s what we got!

So sorry to post and run but we’ve got lots to do and not as much time as we’d like to do it in! Check back later this week for our post on Subject Delta’s backpack and air tanks! — TCG