Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cowl Clean Up, Purchases.

Things are definitely slowing down as I run out of things to do. By my estimates, the only manditory remaining task is attaching the neck armor. I am very seriously contemplating hemming up the cape.

I picked up a can of black Plasti-Dip the other day at Lowe's. I've never used it before, so there were a few unknowns. But after a few tests, I really grew to like the stuff. What I find most interesting is that you can apply it over an existing coat, and it blends in really well. It flattens out nicely.

And with that knowledge in mind, I did a bit of touch up spraying on the cowl. It probably didn't even need it, nobody would have noticed, but there were a couple parts that did not recieve good coverage in the initial painting, so I nailed those. You cannot really tell from the pictures, but it turned out great. I also painted over the fabric that I glued onto the inside of the chin strap to make sure it is well hidden.

I mentioned earlier that I wanted a new camera for Halloween. Today I got one from costco. I am a huge fan of Sony products. In fact, I still use a Sony camera I purchased about six years ago for most of my photography. It's not the best in low light, and it's pretty big compared to todays cameras, but MAN does it get the job done. I stuck with Sony and picked up this nice little tiny cybershot.

Lastly, I picked up some eye liner! Historically, this has proven really effective for blacking out my eyes when wearing a Batman costume. It's pretty tenacious stuff, and stands up really well. I picked up a couple different kinds, in case one works better than another.

Since I have found out how well the plasti-dip blends with prior applications, I'm going to fix a flaw I caused on the leg armor. I got some Dap on the front side of one piece, and it ate right through the plasti-dip. I will fix that.

I'm going to take a closer look at the cape right now, to see if I think I can pull off a respectable hem fix.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Neck, Sleeves, Pouches

Today saw me knock another bunch of little todo items off the list. Sort of tiny tasks, but all of varying degrees of importance. I really like solving mechanical problems in interesting and durable ways, so this phase of the project is really fun for me. It's more about coming up with unique solutions to unusual problems, as opposed to just following directions.

I flipped the cowl inside out so that I could dremel away some excess material around the eyes. They were kind of digging into the area around my eyes, so they needed a little smoothing out. I also tightened up the chin strap. It seems to be holding together pretty well. I cut it with scissors, then removed a little material. I used Dap to glue the two parts together, then soaked a little strip of material in dap and glued that in on the inside. Then I sprayed the inside of the chin strap with plasti-dip to hide it.

I added a big slab of velcro to each of the sleeves. This will hold the gauntlets securely in place, and stop them from spinning around on my forearms. Not like they were going to be whipping around, but they could slowly slip as the evening progresses. This should keep them VERY firmly in place. They are held in place by Dap, which is my new favorite product evar.

I also FINALLY finished the hood. I built a piece out of the mesh material using the same pattern as the milliskin hood. I was a little worried that it would be too small, but it fits AMAZINGLY. It also hides ALL of the imperfections that I was so worried about in the milliskin hood. Lesson learned, silly boy. Notice that the entire head is not covered by the mesh, just the neck. I didn't want the cowl to fit my head any tighter than it already does, as it's pretty much the perfect fit right now.

The bottom line is that the neck turned out rediculously good. though there is ONE major flaw in it. I pinned part of it wrong, and consequently, one of the seams is on the outside. I was going to fix it, but then figured because the neck armor will be covering it, I just don't care. Nobody will ever see it. I MAY re-make the entire hood after halloween, as I learned so much from making this first one. Namely that the under-hood doesn't need to look very good at all, as you're not going to see it at all. I was getting very worried about making it fit perfectly, and not getting any ripples or gathering in the fabric. Turns out, you can't even see it. Doesn't matter.

Here is a picture of my KB V 2.0 belt that arrived in the mail the other day. It's just stunningly beautiful. Rediculous. The guy who did the build up is just an artist. No doubt about it. I NEVER could have done the kit the justice that this man did. I am DEFINITELY not going to wear this on halloween, as it's just too pretty. This belongs in a display case, not around my waist.

For better pics of the belt, check out this blog post.

Another item on my todo list was to make sure my camera pouches fit on my belt. Well, they do! I sort of wish the Sony one would fit around the wider part so that I could put it in the back, but that's a minor detail. Besides, it IS a utility belt.

Only a few tiny items remaining on my todo list. I need to get some eye makeup, I would like to buy a new camera for the event (since both of my current cameras have not been serving me well lately) and I need to attach the neck armor. Other than that, I am done. I will do one final suit up to make sure all the parts fit together properly, but that's it.

I am DEEP in internal debate about the cape. It drags on the floor. As does the screen used movie cape. But I'm not sure if I want that for halloween. It looks great though. But I know it will get dirty, and maybe a little trashed. I think if I hem it up, I run the risk of doing it wrong. If I wear it out and it gets damaged, I can always hem it up AFTERWARDS and hide the damage. I'm just worried that I will do it wrong and ruin the cape. It's just so beautiful, and I love the fact that it's screen accurate at that length. I will have to think more about it.

That's all for now. As always, thanks for reading, and thanks for all the supportive emails and comments. I appreciate it!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

TDK: Random Tasks Cont'd

As I reach the tail end of the build, it's really coming together, and the remaining tasks are becoming more and more esoteric. My todo list is getting shorter, but there are still a couple doozies on there. The main one is the hood and cowl. I've decided to dedicate tomorrow evening on that. I want to be fresh when I tackle that, as it is some pretty important stuff.

But that doesn't mean I didn't get a lot of great stuff done tonight.

I finished off the wrists and thumb holes on the black undersuit.

And also did the heels. The seam is a little sloppy, but who cares.

I also trimmed up the gauntlets so they fit better around my forearm, and also decided to do some velcro on the back side to help keep them in place. I have placed strips of the soft side inside the gauntlets. The burr side of the velcro will go on the mesh outer suit.

Not pictured, but I also went over the mesh outer suit with a sharpie and touched up any places where glue was showing. Just tiny little white spots that would otherwise stand out against the armor and mesh.

Last night I got all bent out of shape over the fact that I was going to have to re-do the cod strap, as it was burr side out. I was worried that could scuff up the cape. Then I realized, all I need to do is cut a rectangle of furry side of the velcro, and stick it to it. DONE!

The most fun of the night came from attaching the cape to the chest armor. I put some thought into it, and finally came up with a really simple solution. It starts with some leftover shoe string that I originally got for the cod strap. I threaded that through the eyelets in the cape, and then sewed the loop off.

I then made some straps of velcro. These are about 1" wide. Furry size and burr side facing up, joined at one end.

Here's the cape threaded through the holes in the armor. It's actually really clever.

And lastly, here's a shot of the inside of the chest, showing how the whole thing goes together.

I like this solution because it allows me to remove the cape for packing and travel, but it's also very quick to put the cape back on. The velcro straps make it adjustable in case I need to increase or remove tension. Overall, a total cape win!

Silk Screening Video

With all of my work lately on the Superman Returns silk screening, I did a little research into the process, and found a neat little youtube video that does a good job of describing it. It's not a very well edited video, and they went way overboard with the goofy effects, but it's still pretty informative.

Check it out.

Final Body Suit Chores

As far as I can tell for right now, the mesh body suit and armor is complete. It's a little messy in some places, and there are a few TINY things that I might go back and fix, but as of right now, I think it is done.

Here's the last few little clean up chores I did tonight to get it to this point.

I put a length of shoe lace on the zipper pull going up the spine. This will allow me to get in and out of the suit more easily. The bulk of the pull is easy, but the last foot is a real pain in the back. This isn't really a big spectacular piece of work, but is really just a little enhancement to make life easier.

I also added a zipper onto one of the wrists. The right arm fit a little more snug than the left, and it was a bit more difficult to get in and out of. This will just make the suit-up process that much easier.

Lastly, I built a little velcro attachment for the cod string. AND I just realized I made a mistake. I used the burr part of the velcro on the string. This is bad, as this will be touching the cape, and could do some damage to it. Maybe. Or it could cling to it. I might have to put some cloth on one side of it. I originally wanted to have burr on both sides of the tab, with the thought being that this would mean less fiddling around if I had to undo or attach the thing mid-bathroom break. But now that I think about how it could brush up against the cape, its not worth it. I will need to revisit this.

I wrote a to-do list tonight of the remaining tasks, and it is really not that long. I think if I put my mind to it, I could finish it all up in one evening. In fact, THAT shall be my plan. I will try to get the entire costume finished by tomorrow night. That could be a little agressive, but I'd rather get it done two days early and have to stay up a bit late, than to have to work up until the last minute. This will also give me two days to ponder anything I may have missed, or think of any enhancements I might want to make in order to improve comfort. Or something else.

As of this writing, I am REALLY pleased with the overall results. I did a partial suit-up tonight, and it looks really good. The armor makes my torso look VERY boxy, kind of like a Mike Mignola drawing, but the exaggerated shoulder bells throw off the proportions. I think at the end of the day, it will look pretty great. There are certainly some shortcomings, and things I am not 100% happy with. But I still think this will be an absolute show stopper of a Halloween costume. And that's all that counts.

Armor, Gauntlets, Suitcase

A VERY busy night over here at the project workbench, and I'm pleased to say that I got an awful lot accomplished for a school night. With the time crunch officially on, I'm very proud to say that I think I'm actually ahead of schedule. As a lifelong procrastinator, this is a great relief to me. I actually HATE being in a mad panic, so it's very nice to see things coming together so soon. The light of the tunnel is upon me.

First up, I had to pick up a suitcase yesterday. I was going to buy a fully rigid suitcase, but then thought better of it when I saw the price tag. The idea here is that I need something that I can use to transport the suit, without it being crushed. I have a couple of suitcases, but they are all of the sport/duffel bag style. No rigid walls. I got this at Target for like 100 bucks.

As of tonight, all of the armor has been glued onto the body suit. I am missing 8 pieces from the back side, and I don't plan on adding those in. They will never be seen, and they will only serve to hinder movement further.

I needed a way to secure the cod piece under the crotch, and based on some pictures I saw online, I figured some good old fashioned shoe strings would do the trick. I'm sure some thin cord would have worked as well, but I don't know where to find that stuff. Shoe string, I know where to find.

Here you can sort of see how I attached the shoe string to the back of the cod. I basically spun the string into a little pattern, with the theory being that it is less likely to just slip out from under the cod if it's wound up like that. I first glued the string to the cod, then glued a piece of fabric down on top of that to keep it in place. That Dap stuff is REALLY strong! I love it!

And then it was on to the gauntlets. I picked up a small bottle of liquid Dap today from Lowe's. The gel stuff is a little too thick for delicate work, and I didn't want to risk getting too much goo into the channels on the gauntlets for the fins.

Here is what the gauntlets look like prior to having the fins added.

Knowing how error prone this type of work can be, I taped up the gauntlets to protect them against spilled glue. The stuff eats right through the plasti-dip, and ruins the finish. I've already seen it in action a couple of times.

No surprise, I actualy did drip a TON of glue ALL OVER the gauntlet on my first try. The inside of the cap was wet with glue, and I didn't notice it. So when I went to brush the glue in using the brush that is on the inside of the cap, I didn't notice the stuff dripping onto the gauntlet. FORTUNATELY, I had laid down that painters tape to protect it. If I had not, the finish would have been ruined. Funny, as I had ALMOST not taped it up, thinking it was too much hassle, and that I would just be careful. No such luck!

Here's the first gauntlet finished.

And here is the completed pair.

There is still a little work needed to be done on the fins, which I may end up blowing off, but for the most part, these are done. I may also need to trim the velcro so that the fit better. I guess they are not really done. There is still some work to do after all.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tron Identity Disk

When I was a kid, I was all about painting frizbee's just like Tron's, and then having frizbee wars with my buds. Times have change, and I'm happy to say that all the creativity out of playtime has been removed. Now you can just buy the thing right off the shelf! And because it's not even a real frizbee, you can't even throw it.

The good news is that I'm more of a collector than a thrower of things nowadays, so it actually all works out.

So you can understand my happiness when I found this at the local Target yesterday.

It's from the upcoming movie, Tron Legacy. I really think this is one of those sequels that people have been asking for for more than 25 years. Pretty great to see it's finally happening, and even more great that they got most of the original cast back in some capacity.

Here's the disk out of the box.

For fifteen bucks, it's a pretty neat toy. I don't have any good reference material to compare to, but the details are pretty sharp, and it looks pretty cool. If I had to guess, I would say it is a little undersized, but hey, it is meant for kids. Or the kid inside, in my case.

Leg Armor Progress

As of yesterday, the leg armor attachment is almost done. Just a few more pieces to go.

Being in a rush and allowing for a certain degree of sloppiness is very liberating! I highly encourage it from time to time. It turns out that you can actually get a lot of stuff done if you're NOT trying to be perfect!

Only a few more days left on this build. As I write this, it is Monday morning. I need for this to be done by Thursday night.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Columbus Half Marathon

Kind of off topic, but today I ran my first half marathon! I'm really excited!

I was in no way speedy, but my goal was to finish within a certain time, and I ALMOST made it. Missed it by 3:12! VERY CLOSE! It was a great experience, and I'm really glad I committed to it and finished!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Interesting Superman Returns Article: In French!

A new friend of mine on Facebook and fellow SR enthusiast Gerardo Rivera sent me a REALLY interesting link tonight to a french discussion forum that has some great info and a couple REALLY cool pics of Routh half dressed in the costume.

Check it out here.

And here it is after being run through the BabelFish translator.

There are a couple of pictures that reveal details I had not noticed before, so this is good juju.

Thanks Gerardo!

More Glue Action

I am knee deep in the glue up. The first thing I did was to lay out all the parts, using a reference diagram I found online from Brad's original cad file.

I have started attaching a couple pieces, but no pics yet. In the mean time, here is a pic of the shoulder bells attached to the upper torso.

That's all I've got for now.

Body Armor Glue-Up Begins

Mostly pics today, as I'm too tired to write. I have started the glue up process. Attaching armor plates to the body suit. Hard work!

Here's the glue I am using

First I attached some velcro to the inside of the upper torso.

That velcro matches the other side that I put onto the straps attached to the shoulder bells.

First pieces glued down are the knees and the cod. All the other pieces have to fit in between these two, so I figured it was a good place to start.

It might be the fumes, not the fatigue.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Mesh Body Suit Touch Ups

With the armor all dremelled up and ready to apply, it was finally time to turn my attention to finishing up the tiny details on the mesh body suit. Just a series of random finishing tasks that were best completed before the armor is applied.

I cleaned up the seams on the back side. They are still quite sloppy, but they are functional. Before, the material from the leg slits was not attached to the waist. Now it is all secure.

I also put the zipper in the crotch. I'm sort of stunned at how well my Omega sewing machine is doing. It still drops way more stitches than I am happy with, but because I am going for function over form, I can live with it.

I also closed up the excess lip on the back zipper. Just a tiny detail. I suppose I could have just as easily just clipped it off. Instead I decided to fold it over and sew it up.

And lastly I put the stirrups on the ankles. I really don't know if these are going to do any good, but it may save me from a tiny bit of bunching around the knees when the boots go on. Not really a big deal at all, but it was fun and a good experience to attach them.

And here's my pro-tip for the day. When working with black fabric, use a silver sharpie. The bummer is that it's very permanent. The good news is that it's very visible. Just be sure to mark the fabric on the wrong side, or mark it on a part that will be clipped off. Or hidden in a seam.

I think that may be all for tonight. My apartment is a total disaster, and I'm thinking of just cleaning it up. There are rubber globs all over the living room from where I did all the dremel work, and I'd really like to clean that up before I start gluing on the armor.

At this point, the only things that remain are the armor glue up, and the hood. I will also need to do some clean up work on the cowl, and maybe trim the chin strap. So while there is still a long way to go, I've definitely gotten a lot of work done.

More Dremel Action On The Armor

God bless Dremels! That's all I have to say today. I would be totally lost without it. I can tell you that for sure.

Today has already seen me spend three hours with a constantly running Dremel in my hand. And my hands are pretty sore at this point. I'm working on cleaning up the back sides of all the body armor pieces. Just smoothing them out and cleaning up the edges so they will sit flat on the body mesh when I go to glue it down.

Here's what I have finished so far.

The blue tape on the front of the armor is absolutely critical. If you are going to do your own armor clean, I cannot recommend this enough. The deal is, the dremel sometimes slips. Try as hard as I can, I would say about once per piece, the dremel slips over the edge and swoops down onto the outward facing side of the armor. The first piece I trimmed got a couple little scratches as a result of not using the tape. But after that, it was tape all the way. When the dremel slips, it just scuffs the tape. Which is easily removable.

This is all that I have left to do, and then I'm done cleaning up the armor. I'm looking forward to being done! And it is that thought that keeps me going!

After all the armor is cleaned up, I will need to clean up my living room. It's a mess right now. Chunks of half melted latex everywhere.

I think the next step will be to do the final clean up of the mesh outer suit. You know, take care of all the little random tasks that I mentioned in a previous post. I want the body suit to be all done before I glue the armor on. I fear that once the armor is in place, it will be a lot hard to deal with the suit, and certainly impossible to feed it into a sewing machine.

Body Suit Just About Done, Plus Dremel

Tody was an immensely busy day, though there is not a lot to show for it. It was another 8 to 10 hour day doing nothing but working on the suit. Don't get me wrong, it's a lot of fun. It's jus exhausting. My fingers are now really sore from all the detail work I've been doing, and my legs are sore from all the standing up and sitting down I have done over the past few days. I do most of my work while sitting on the floor, mind you.

So the big accomplishment today was finishing the waist band for the body suit. I attached the top half and the bottom half together using a doubled over strip of milliskin.

The results were great. Not only was the body suit one piece, but it fit pretty well, and there was a great amount of flexibility that I was not expecting.

And it was at that poing that I took a good look at the mesh suit and got some ideas. The legs have been a little snug on me, so much so that movement is a bit stiff. I thought the mesh would be a little more stretchy than it is. Seeing as how I was pretty successful with the waist band, I decided to put strips into the back of the legs. I figured this would allow not only for some expansion to make the overall fit better, but would also help with overall mobility and flexibility.

I still struggle with thinking in three dimensions, so figuring out how to sew this all together was actually kind of time consuming, and I must have flipped the suit inside out and back again a dozen times before I figured out what I needed to do to get it all pinned up.

At the end of the day, quite literally, this is what it looks like:

And I could not be happier! The results are just stunning as far as flexibility goes. I realize that this is not screen accurate, but I'm ok with that. Not only will these never be seen by anyone, but the comfort factor increase is well worth a loss of accuracy.

Now that the body suit is essentially done, I turned my attention to some of the fine tuning details that have been on my list for a while. Mainly, I wanted to put a couple darts in the lower back area to tighten it up a little on my torso. As you can see from the first pic, the suit is VERY untailored. It's just a T-Shirt pattern basically, and not very form fitting. So I serged in a couple of darts, and they made a WORLD of difference. The torso is now a lot more form fitting, though not too much so. There's still some wiggle room in the back, but overall it's much better.

The only thing remaining on the body suit are little clean up tasks. I need to install a zipper in the crotch, and possibly some elastic stirrups. Then it's really just cleaning up the seams.

Aside from those tasks, I'm pretty much done with the "soft" parts of the costume. Oh wait, I still need to do the mesh part for the hood. Other than THAT, I'm pretty much done.

I then turned my attention to the armor. Since I'm going to have to start thinking about gluing it on. The back of the armor is very bumpy, as the contours match those on the front. I decided the best way to tackle them was to dremel them down. And thank goodness the dremel worked for this task, as I have no idea how I would have done it otherwise.

The bad news about the dremel clean up work on the armor is that it's very painstaking work. It's slow going, precise, and meticulous. And there is a LOT of it to do. So it's not exactly a party.

What you are looking at here is the back of the ab section. I'm pretty sure this is going to prove to be the most time consuming piece to do, as there is a lot of stuff going on with it, and a lot of holes that needed to be cleaned out. You are looking at about 2 hours of work. I have no idea what this means for the rest of the armor, though I fear that it will take at least an entire day to dremel off the backs of the remaining pieces. I think this is what I will end up spending tomorrow doing.

I know... I live the life!

In thinking about schedule, I have pretty much one week left to finish this. I need to have the whole thing wrapped up by thursday night of next week. After that, my schedule is absolutely booked solid with work, and I will be unable to do ANY costuming fun stuff. I have some time set aside on the day before halloween weekend to pack eveything up, but I don't imagine there will be any timet to do any actual work on the thing.

I'm in a bit of a panic, but as long as the glue doesn't require like a week to dry, I think I will be ok.

Until next time!