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 10mm and 12mm shank rivets, 1.2mm leather in 20mm strips, 20mm buckle
Tools: Craft knife, heat gun, glue gun, paintbrushes, mallet, hole punch, rivet setter and anvil.
Techniques: Plastic thermomoulding and fabrication, painting, leatherwork, riveting.
Difficulty level: Making the template was a bit tricky, the rest was straightforward.
I used these two pics for reference:
So we’re looking at three layers of geometrically-fitted tasset, the top one being waisted to tie on. There’s another three-tier section in the back to protect his tailbone, and the whole lot sits over the top of a slightly larger main top waistpiece, to which it seems his overskirt is attached. I’ll cover that part in another post, otherwise this one will be far too long.
So, tassets. Luckily I’d made a mini version of the template back when I was practicing making templates.
But as you can see, that one is a bit wonky and also it was only 10cm long, so not really much use except for reference. However, I took it apart and used it as the base to make a bigger one.
And just in case anyone’s thinking I’m incredibly clever *cough* and that these things always work out right first time, here’s a glimpse of what the process actually looks like:
It’s basically educated trial-and-error until the shape works. I’m getting better at knowing the basic shapes, but those geometric folds? On a curve? With lines that have to meet up? Yeah, I went through a bit of cardboard..
So anyway, once the template was sorted, it was a matter of laying out the pattern pieces on the foam board and cutting them out. I scored them along the folds so that they’d be nice and crisp when moulded, and also to make sure they bent in the right place.
As you can see, each piece is marked – left and right, which tier the piece is in (top, middle, bottom), and for the waisted bit, I had upper top and lower top to show which was which.
Cullen’s armour is also pretty dinged-up, so before I made them into awkward shapes, I spent some time annoying Dr Wheel hitting them with a hammer and scratching them with various tools and adding the bevel around the edges – generally making them look old and well used.
And then it was a simple matter to shape them using the heat gun, and glue the waisted parts together using hot glue. I like the way hot glue partially melts the PVC board, and thus they make a really solid bond. I’ve never had that combination fail, even when gluing edge to edge on an angle like this.
Once they are together they get coated in Silver Leaf Rub ‘n’ Buff, then the usual weathering process of a layer of watery graphite acrylic to make the silver look aged, then drybrushing and wiping off gradual layers of burnt umber/mars black mix to build up grime in the corners and crevices. The graphite layer doesn’t like sticking to the wax of the Rub ‘n’ Buff, but it’s a matter of finding the right consistency to stick, then using a paper towel to wipe it and smear it around, which leaves a kind of patina that just takes the edge off the shininess enough to make it look authentic.
In that pic I’m not just showing off the weathering, I’m also showing how I lined them up to get the right positions for connecting them together. I put a tiny dot in Vivid where each overlap should be, which when measured would show how long to make the leather pieces that would suspend each piece.
For this one, it was 8cm for the top and 9cm for the bottom ones. So I cut those, along with some shorter parts which would form belt loops for holding the armour on the model. Each piece was bevelled and punched, and a corresponding hole made in the armour.
After that, working from the bottom, I riveted the leather strips onto the armour in the premade holes. In the top bit you can see in the picture, both strips of leather are being held by one rivet – hence the extra long shank ones listed in the materials section. I guess you could use two short ones, but I thought it’d be neater to have them like this.
Once that was all done, I made a belt from 20mm leather to strap the whole lot on, and voila! However, there was one more bit to do. Remember this?
I don’t know what that symbol is. Maybe it’s a mini dragon like on Justice’s armour in Awakening. Maybe it’s a maker’s mark. Maybe it’s a stylised sword of mercy. I can’t tell, so I just copied what I could see on a small piece of Wonderflex.
I cut enough away so there’d be a gap when attached, and also made some little flamelike effects on the sides. Then I used the heat gun to stick it on.
You can see that the heat has bubbled the paint a bit and if I were to do it again I’d put this on before painting it, but I think it adds a little to the aged effect. And also, the weathering covers a number of ills:
You can also see in this picture the loops that will hold this part onto the belt. They will be covered by the sash when worn.
I don’t have a completed picture of these yet, because they can’t be shown properly without being on the person, which requires the overskirt and sash to be completed. These will be shown in the next tutorial.