After the unfortunate plating disappointment, my brain was fried; what now? This is the most significant part of my entire costume, and with less than two months till Game Day, I still had no clue what I was doing! As I drove back from the plater’s, I knew that by the end of the day I needed a solution.
After brainstorming and web-surfing with Dhemerae, we concluded that some sort of chrome painting kit would best fit my price and time constraints. Though nervous to try a brand new process, I would just need to boost my confidence! And I would be pleasantly surprised with what was to come...
The most pragmatic kit that satisfied my criterion was the ALSA Finish Killer Cans; it was the shortest process (two days to complete one piece), least toxic, and most inexpensive out of the few options I could find, which was perfect for my situation and facility access. Other kits that I came across required very specific space requirements, supplementary equipment (respirators), and around 5-7 days worth of time to complete the process on one piece alone.
The kit comes with three cans: a Jet Black or Pure White can, a Mirraclear can, and a Killer Chrome can. A sizable white polishing cloth is provided as well.
The left side shows a testpiece chromed with the black base: beautiful, dark, and dramatic, but not exactly what I was looking for this time around.
The first step is to spray the piece with the Jet Black/Pure White; this provides a solid, satin-ish primer that gives the chrome its shade and intensity. The Jet Black will give you a more gunmetal color while the white will be lighter and more silver in tone. I chrome sprayed one test piece with the Jet Black underneath, while the other I left unprimed, and the difference in appearance is dramatic.
The left side is the same piece with a clear spray paint topcoat on top of the MirraClear topcoat; see how dull the finish became! Theleft side is the test piece
You could skip this step, as I did, but I highly recommend testing prior to moving to final with this kit, for the chrome's tone is highly controlled by the base color. It would have been interesting to see the chrome applied over a saturated hot pink or something more unexpected!
After the base color dries, which happens quite quickly (less than 15 minutes), the part is then sprayed with the Mirraclear, which acts as the chrome-adherent. The biggest aspect of this step is to make sure the entire piece is evenly coated, or the chrome will not stick to the spots missed. I was very generous with the several coats I applied, making sure to turn my pieces and spray every visible area.
The parts now have to sit for twenty four hours, and then the real awesomeness can begin!
The Killer Chrome can contains what is essentially aluminum dust that, when applied to the parts, creates a chrome-esque effect on the piece. The kit’s instructions stress the user to apply this can with “dust” coats, because if it is applied like a standard spray paint (8-10 inches away and concentrated), the area on the piece will become oversaturated with product, and the excess will drip all over the piece and stain it darker, creating inconsistencies. To guarantee an even application, hold your can about a foot away from the piece and spritz, allowing the dust to fall in a mist. Move closer if you feel you are missing spots or need a heavier coverage, but make sure that what is hitting the piece is the mist, and not the initial, higher velocity spray that happens closer to the can. The number of coats is piece-dependent; for the armor, I had to go back and do several coats of the chrome, since the texture made easy to miss spots in nooks and crannys; a smoother surface would be easier to more effectively coat.
To finish off the pieces, wipe them down with the (dampened) cloth to remove any excess chrome dust, and spray a top coat of Mirraclear once they are free of water. The final Mirraclear coat tends to even out the sheen of the finish, and seals the chrome in place. On my darker chrome test, I then applied a thick coat of high gloss spray paint to see what would happen, but interestingly enough, it flattened the finish and left behind an obvious, thick film. As mentioned before, test before final especially if you want to experiment with base colors or topcoats, but the original trio of Killer Cans work perfectly together without any additions or changes to its process.
Vanna White Realness... No Neck Realness...
After completing this process on all my parts, I went back in with some gold acrylic paint on the rivets and smaller hardware details for a bit more color and dimension; the character I am depicting is in fact a Queen, so I wanted a special, royal, touch that the gold perfectly punctuated!
We are beginning to wind down on these Chronicles!