Time taken: 6 hours
Materials: Expanded PVC foam board, leather strapping (20mm, 25mm, 32mm), leather dye in chocolate, 6 buckles in chrome – 2 of each size, 9mm 810 cap nickel rivets, silver rub ‘n’ buff, acrylic paint in graphite, mars black, burnt umber, mod podge.
Tools: Craft knife, heat gun, hammer, rivet setter and anvil, hole punch, sponge, bowl.
Techniques: Leatherwork, thermoplastic moulding, painting.
Difficulty level: Easy.
I didn’t have a lot to go on with Cullen’s boots. The only picture I could find that showed them was this one:
In that you can see that they have the same straight-angled folding that the breastplate and pauldrons have, and that there are three layers. I had a look at some other armour in Dragon Age and figured that third layer would go right up the shin as a sort of guard. He’d probably also have knee guards and some thigh armour but I decided that for this costume, that’d be going to the extreme and not worth the effort for something you’d never see.
So I got out the cardboard and made some templates, then cut and shaped the foam in the usual way – heat for about 20 seconds, bend to shape, hold for another 20 secs till it’s self-supporting.
The boots are engineer boots and have those loops at the sides, so I wanted to put the top strap through those and around the top of the boot with the armour inside. There would be a strap going around the back of the ankle, and one underneath the sole in the notch where the heel and arch meet. The three pieces would be joined with short bits of leather so they’d have a small amount of articulation. This required the leather to be cut and dyed:
I always punch the holes first because dye doesn’t penetrate right through the leather, and if you make holes after the fresh leather colour will show.
The armour pieces were painted in the usual way, with silver Rub ‘n ‘Buff followed by graphite, then mars black and burnt umber for weathering, finished with Mod Podge to protect the surface. The paint can peel from the wax coating if knocked, so I’m starting to think using silver paint might be more robust in the long run, but Mod Podge definitely helps.
When this was done I started putting it together by riveting the three pieces together.
The hardest part about this was working out where to put the rivets to get the pieces to sit right on the boot. This involved putting them on the boots and making tiny marks, then turning them over and drawing in where the strips should go, then going and riveting each one individually.
The last step was to put the leather straps on – again using rivets. The finished article:
The top straps are attached to the boots rather than the guards, so they are just sitting in the background in this picture.
This marks the last step in making Cullen’s costume. It took 9 months altogether, although I didn’t work on this as obsessively as the Grey Warden, and made several other projects while it was going in. I’m looking forward to getting photos!