Top Image: An Illustrator "drawing" of my inital design thoughts.
Bottom Images: This was the final sketch I did of the costume; Comparing it to my final piece, how much did my vision change?
With my character chosen, I began to set the groundwork for the project.
I always start my projects with a sketch of my ultimate, ideal final product, regardless of any hindrance; If I had all the time and money in the world, what would this piece come to be like. While portions of it may be impossible, I find that those ideas nonetheless inform other more pragmatic solutions. And with a brain like mine that is constantly firing off ideas, laying everything out on paper in the physical world is crucial for my focus, no matter how outlandish the idea may be.
Since the illustrations in the book leave many important aspects of the armor’s design ambiguous (color, texture, details), I spent several days sketching, searching for how I could capture their luxurious details and textures, and translate them into 3D space. I did not just want to make a standard suit of armor; Riddell’s attention to detail is what captivated me in the first place, and I had to capture that detail and go running wild with it. Also, I was 3D printing it, and always want to push myself and the technology with each project I take on.
Regarding cosplay in general, I tend to be more attracted to those costumes that take the source material, and put a new perspective on the design. This does not mean that I appreciate the direct replicas less, but as someone really interested in character driven stories, I find a character’s design to provide more inflection and dimension into who she is (Tetsuya Nomura’s designs are some of my favorites because of this notion), and as a creative person myself, I feel that the best way for me to show my admiration for a character, is to re-interpret her in the way I see her and her story; I feel like I am giving back to the creator in that way. Each cosplayer has their own form of appreciation through their creation, and this is mine.
But I digress...
In expected Sarah fashion, my design includes a (micro)mesh layer composed of teardrop, petal shapes that would encase the both the breast plate and armbands. The mesh would create a lovely rich texture that I felt captured the essence of the pencil marks in Riddell’s drawings. The character is also royalty and would probably own beautifully crafted and decorated armor, which I also felt this detail would highlight. The choice was very personal as well; mesh is a very prominent motif in my work, as well as the flower petal shape, and I felt that, because of the bond I felt with the character, the armor should be just as much hers as it would be mine.
To add even more texture to this already ambitious piece, I was hoping to develop my own layered chainmail links to evoke the drama and uniqueness of the images. The shapes create cool twist on standard mail, and I thought interpreting this would be an exciting technical challenge (but more on that later!).
I also wanted to amp up the cheeky skull and crossbone accent on the sword by building the handle out of vertebrae, almost decorating it with bones. I even thought of putting a flower on the skull’s head would cheekily reference the images of the Queen wearing a flower in her hair.
With aesthetics are intact, I kind of have to think of the rest of the project all at once; what material I choose will affect how I build and post-process the piece, how I see the piece finished will affect how I model it under the restrictions of certain materials, and so on. I feel like I am standing the the middle of the Sphere Grid with smoke coming out of my ears. These first initial steps always tend to fry my brain.
Press images of the Projet 7000; Click on the images for links to their source
I decided that since I was still a bit unsure on how exactly I wanted the finish and color of the armor (I was between chrome, gunmetal, and silver), the ProJet 7000 was the right choice of printer for the armor. The machine prints in an ivory acrylic resin, a material that is brittle and water resistant that also generates high detail models. Compared to other materials like the spongier Veros and DMs of the Connex ie, the 7000’s material is the closest to commercial plastic. The nature and color of the material would give me more post processing options while maintaining the strength and detail my armor needed. Also an added bonus; the ProJet has one of the larger printer platforms, so I would not have to cut my pieces up too dramatically.
The next step was to schedule the 3D scanning. To create a base for my design that would fit my body the best, I planned to scan my upper body and forearm. Off of those scans I would build outwardly (to maintain the fit), adding thickness and any other structural or decorative additions, and so on-
But the details on that is for another entry, for the scanning process is an interesting one, and I want you to have the time to enjoy my story of the process-
The gears are turning, and the machine is heating up; our journey is just beginning! Are your ready, because I sure am!