Time taken: 8 hours
Materials: Expanded PVC foam board, hot glue, small amount of Wonderflex, Rub ‘n’ Buff in silver leaf, acrylic paints (graphite, mars black, burnt umber), 810 cap 12mm shank rivets.
Tools: Craft knife, heat gun, glue gun, paintbrushes, mallet, rivet setter and anvil.
Techniques: Plastic thermomoulding and fabrication, painting, riveting.
Difficulty level: Very straightforward, basically assembling stuff and painting it. Easier than the finished result would indicate.
Since we already had the shoulder pad base for these, and also the templates that were made in this post way back at the beginning while I was waiting for my materials to arrive, I knew this bit was going to be fairly quick.
Because the armour pieces are arranged in layers, I also knew that it’d require my model to take the whole cuirass/shoulder pad arrangement on and off several times while I placed and riveted each bit of armour in place individually. Thus, I left that part for the weekend when he’d be less bothered by my constant pestering. However, there was plenty to get on with in the meantime.
The first part was cutting the various pieces out of the foam board:
Here is the bit where you all learn from my mistake. See how I’ve marked them for which bit they are and which side they go on? Clever of me, I thought. Except if you do this, make sure that the marks you make go on the inside. PVC foam board dents very easily and the writing will show through the final coat of paint. It’s not obvious but noticeable if you’re a perfectionist.
*cough* Anyway.. the next step was using heat to form the various curves, then gluing the bits together to make the main large pauldron bits and (for want of a better word) ear protectors.
You’ll see they don’t fit together perfectly, but hot glue covers a number of evils and bonds really well with the PVC, so they are actually quite solid. One thing that’s important to remember here is to try and make the curves about the right width to fit on the shoulder pads, otherwise it’ll get interesting when it comes time to mount them.
After this I spent about an hour sanding the edges to make them look like rounded metal, and hitting them with a hammer and the blunt handle end of a butter knife to give them dents and scrapes. I also added some modelling clay to the joins to make them smoother, then bashed those with a hammer as well. Protip – if you hit this stuff hard enough with a hammer it will break. Luckily, it superglues back together really well. *ahem*
You can see in the pics that the pauldrons themselves have a large circular knob where they are mounted. I couldn’t work out how to make this in one bit given that my templates were in three bits, so I made them and added them after by drawing around each individual end and making little Pacmen:
These were glued in place using hot glue, and then I added a layer of Wonderflex heat-bonded on the back, to make the whole thing more solid. This is the point where I punched the holes for them to be mounted too.
Finally they were ready to mount. For this, I got my model to put on the shoulders and lined each bit up before attaching it, so it happened in three stages as each part of the underpauldrons went on:
I know it looks like these were riveted on, but it didn’t take me long to realise that my tiny anvil wasn’t sufficient to support the back of the rivets on this job – it was just too small and couldn’t cover the surface area needed. So I sewed them on and then superglued the rivet caps into pre-punched holes. It made the back of the shoulders look a bit untidy, but ultimately I know they are not going to fall off and that’s pretty important, right?
Then came time to mount the proper pauldrons. Now, in the game Cullen’s pauldrons are one of the few things that are held on by magic. You can tell from these pictures that they don’t obey the normal laws of physics:
In the first pic, they appear to be anchored by those big round things onto the leather. But you can see in the second that he’s been made so his pauldrons move with his shoulders, and that they are actually holographic and can pass through solid objects.
This is a bit beyond my skill level, just saying. So I sewed them on too, using two anchor points so they’d maintain their position reasonably well. If I’d used one anchor point and maybe a bolt or large rivet, they’d swivel. But I suspect they’d also loosen over time and end up sagging. This way they should stay perky.
And finally, those big round things needed to be added on, to make it look as if they aren’t actually held on by magic waxed thread. For this, I cut a few little circles from the PVC board, and spent a bit of time carving even littler circles into them and Rub ‘n’ Buffing them into metallicness:
And then they were glued on with hot glue, and a bit of grub applied to make them look old and dirty, and voila! Pauldrons!
Now I see why Bioware used magic on this bit. However, I think this situation will improve when he gets his lower body armour, which will stop this from happening. Also, the shoulders will slowly become more flexible over time, because that’s what leather does. At least, it had better..