long fall boots

Portal 2 Cosplay: Finished with the first pieces!

It’s been, like, four weeks since I last posted, and you may think I’ve kind of forgotten about this. Not so! I’ve been working on it so much I actually threw off NaNoWriMo (which I ALWAYS do) to work on it.
And I’m glad to say that the first pieces are finished, painted, and glued in place!
Here’s pretty much how it went: Bondo, sand, Bondo, sand, fill, sand, glue, sand, prime, sand, prime, sand, prime, sand, paint. My hands were so raw from all that sanding that the fingerprint reader on my phone stopped accepting my fingerprint, and my hands are still stained Bondo grey.
Nothing of interest happened during the sanding phase, so here’s a picture of what my porch looked like shortly after I finished shaping the pieces.

I'm still getting the filler dust out from under my nails.

I’m still getting the filler dust out from under my nails.


Once I sanded them, my helpful dad and I primed them. They were so smooth, it brought figurative fangirl tears to my eyes.
Like a baby dolphin.

Like a baby dolphin.


I spray-painted them white, cut the boot to the way I needed it, and marine-sealant’ed that sucker on, with some assistance from my helpful cosplay dad.
And they smell like a car shop.

And they smell like a car shop.


The bad news is I can no longer actually get them on in a reasonable amount of time, since they aren’t as flexible as they were before they were covered in auto body filler. The good news is, I can fix that with a zipper on the heel, and OMG I ACTUALLY JUST FINISHED A WHOLE FLIPPIN’ PIECE.
Are they perfect? No. Who cares? This is my first cosplay, and, considering I didn’t just say “screw it” and painted a pair of leather boots, I’m doing pretty well.
My next step is to do the same thing to the bands that go around the ankles. It won’t take me nearly as long, since they’re much smaller. After that, I’m going to get to work on the heels, attach them to the back pieces, Bondo those as well, and then attach everything together. (That makes it sound so simple. Sanding is not fun.)

Anywaaaaay, thanks for checking me out!

Portal 2 Cosplay: Finalizing the long fall boot patterns

Hey, nerds, and welcome (back) to TFG! This post is a continuation of my first pattern-making adventure, so I suggest you read that one first.
My last post concluded with the creation of my master pattern, which is basically a 2D-ization of all the pieces I’m going to need to construct the plastic parts of Chell’s long fall boots. The final boots will consist of four different pieces (two of which will be more or less fused together, so you can call it three pieces if you want), so my next step was to use my master pattern to construct the patterns I’ll need to make the smaller components of the boots.
First, I got ahold of the half-pattern that I used to make the two-sided pattern that I’ll be using in this post.

Here's all the patterns I'll be using, side by side.

Here’s all the patterns I’ll be using, side by side.

The first thing I did was make a pattern for the piece that will be under the others on the front of the shoe. (Look at this reference pic; you’ll know what I mean.) Ignoring the back piece and the strap that goes across the front of the foot, I added half an inch to the edge of the piece, traced it, and cut it out. It’s always better for your patterns to be too big than too small; you can cut away extra material, but it’s really hard to add it back.

I traced the piece that will go in the front of the boot, under the other pieces.

I traced half an inch around the front piece.

I then cut it out.

Then I cut it out. 

I set that piece aside for a while and got to work on the outer pieces of the boot.
I took the master pattern that I made in my last post, cut off the parts that will be made using the pattern I made in the last paragraph, and separated the two pieces I’ll be using.

After cutting off the toe and ankle piece.

After cutting off the toe and ankle piece.

I split the piece along the lines.

I split the piece along the lines.

Instead of keeping the ankle strap as two separate pieces, I taped the two patterns together, connecting the sides of the pattern that will be on the bottom of the shoe.

Masking tape is my friend.

Masking tape is my friend.

This is the part where I miscalculated and ended up spending forty-five minutes fine-tuning a pattern that I didn’t even need. I won’t post any pictures of it, because it’s not worth your time to read, but here’s the moral of the story: when making two patterns that will connect to each other, check how they actually connect before you decide that one of them is too small.
So, anyway, my next REAL step was to connect the new taped-up lower pattern with the pattern for the calf plate. It made a nice curve around the heel, which means that it’ll look even better when it’s made of thermoplastic and not cheap posterboard. I put it on the boot to see if it would fit. With a few adjustments to the lower piece, it did.
I detached the two pieces from each other and got to work on the third piece.
I traced my cutout piece on my posterboard to make an identical cutout piece. I taped them together along the top of the foot to make a shape that was really awkward when made out of posterboard, but will look a lot better when it’s made of Worbla.

It lays really strangely, but it fits the boot.

It lays really strangely, being posterboard and all, but it fits.

My next step was to make sure I’d made all the patterns correctly. Using masking tape (which is the only tape you should use for this step, since it’s easily cuttable/tearable/removable), I attached all the pieces to each other the way they will be on the final piece, and put it on. I didn’t get any pictures of this stage, since it was kind of hard to hold together properly (being paper and all), but the important part is that it worked.

Here’s a picture of all of my final patterns, side by side.

patternsfinal

The one on the bottom looks like some kind of underwear, but it’s functional.

And there you have it!

Another thing I did was decide what materials I’m going to be using for each part. For the calf plate, I’ll be using this stuff called Sintra, which is basically foamed-up PVC, meaning that it’s tough, flexible, and holds its shape, but its density is low enough to be moldable when it’s heated up. For the other two pieces, I intended to use Worbla (which is magical stuff – if you’re into cosplay, you’ve probably already heard of it), but it ended up being way too thin to look okay with the relatively thick 3mm Sintra. So, instead of using Worbla alone, I decided to use craft foam and then cover it with Worbla afterward, to make it stiff, paintable, and more easily shaped.

It’s always a good idea to try before you buy, though, so using the little bit of each material I already have (and the craft foam I ordered off of Amazon today), I’ll experiment and make my final decision before I go to the trouble of purchasing the rest of the materials I’ll need.

Stay tuned for updates on this project!

Portal 2 Cosplay: Making a long fall boot pattern

It’s late September, and you know what that means!
(If you guessed my birthday, well, you’re right, but that’s not quite what I was talking about.)
It’s time to start thinking about next year’s ComicCon cosplay!
Yeah, okay, maybe it’s not for another nine months, but for those of us who work slowly and want to pay attention to detail, it’s time to begin.
Over summer break, my gaming obsession was the Portal series. I’d heard some pretty epic things about it before, but I never got around to playing it until Steam’s fourth of July sale. I saw I could get both Portal games for five bucks, so I thought, why not? It’s only five bucks either way.
It was even more awesome than I expected.
Now, this isn’t a review, this is a cosplay DIY tutorial/walkthrough/demonstration, so let’s get started.
Here’s a picture of the character I’ll be cosplaying as:

Chell is the protagonist of the Portal series; I'll be cosplaying as the Portal 2 version of the character.

Chell is the protagonist of the Portal series; I’ll be cosplaying as the Portal 2 version of the character.

I decided to tackle the long fall boots first.
It took me a while to find a good pair of shoes to use for the structure of the boots. Target and Walmart yielded nothing; it was too early in the year to find cheap knee boots. I didn’t find adequate shoes at Payless, but I magically found a pair of gray leggings with a blue band at the top (who would’ve thunk they even made those?) and snatched them up in about two seconds.
I finally ended up going to Amazon. It took a while, but I finally found a pair of boots in the right size and color, with an accurately sized heel and platform, for only $7.

They're extraordinarily cheap and not exactly the prettiest, but they're perfect for the purpose.

They’re extraordinarily cheap and not exactly the prettiest, but they’re perfect for the purpose.

First I had to cut off the little buckles at the top. They didn’t serve any purpose except looking pretty, so it wasn’t a problem.
Some people make their sewing and crafting patterns by measuring and eyeballing the shape. Not me. Not only are my math skills questionable, but, since the boots’ design is slick and geometric, symmetry is a must.
Instead of wearing the boot to make it hold its shape, I stuffed it with Walmart bags.
standing

No plastic bags were harmed during the making of this cosplay. As of now, anyway.

No plastic bags were harmed during the making of this cosplay. As of now, anyway.

I then proceeded to cover it with tissue paper, and then with masking (or painter’s) tape. DON’T skip the tissue paper, because if you do, your pattern will be stuck to the boot, and something is going to get torn if you try to take it off.

My majestic mummy boot.

My majestic mummy boot.

Using the seams as a guide, I drew two Sharpie lines down the front and back of the boot.

That's my hand. Isn't it cute?

That’s my hand. Isn’t it cute?

And now comes the tricky part: drawing on the details. Using this reference image, I began to draw the lines that will be used to cut out each piece of the boot, carefully measuring each line to make sure they were equidistant from their respective sides of the shoe.
But seriously, curves are hard to do. The boot wasn’t symmetrical, and one side looked way better than the other.
So I decided to do the half-a-pattern technique. I’d make one half of the pattern, trace it, flip it over, and trace it again, to make a mirrored outline of the pattern. I’d cut it out, and it would be perfectly symmetrical without my having to measure a single thing.
And then came my second screw-up. Since now I was only drawing half a boot, I grossly underestimated the size of the plate on the back of the calf. And I cut the pattern off of the boot before I noticed.
I fixed this problem by taping up just the top half of the boot, cutting the messed-up part off of the finished pattern, and taping the usable portion of the latter back onto the boot. I ended up with a sort of franken-pattern.
Why am I telling you this instead of pretending it didn’t happen? So you know what NOT to do. No lasting harm was done to my cosplay (other than a wasted thirty minutes of pattern fixing), but yours will go a lot more smoothly if you don’t make the same mistakes I did.

The "finished" taped-up boot (before I fixed the undersized calf piece). Ignore the misplaced line on the bottom of the ankle piece; that was for measuring purposes only.

The “finished” taped-up boot (before I fixed the undersized calf piece). Ignore the misplaced line on the bottom of the ankle piece; that was for measuring purposes only.

Once my pattern was REALLY finished up, I cut off the unnecessary taped portions (the front of the top and the toe, where the original boot will show through or be cut away) and traced it onto a piece of posterboard, adding an extra half inch or so on the edges that will wrap around the boot (namely the front of the foot and the back of the calf). I traced the lines accordingly (all except the little slit on the side of the foot, which I’ll add on later), mirrored the cutout as described above, and made a two-sided pattern. I wrapped it around the boot for size, adjusted a little, and the pattern was done!

The final product!

The final product!

This is a master template for the patterns I’ll need to cut the material for the long-fall boot. Since I’ll be making the boot in three pieces (the back of the calf, the top piece of the ankle, and the bottom piece of the ankle and foot), I’ll need to use this pattern to create the others.
The next step is to create the smaller patterns and find out how much material I’ll need for each.
Stay tuned for more updates on my project!