Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tali Helmet

The most challenging part of the costume build will be this helmet. It's unique design and large visor space are challenging to make look right without sacrificing quality. So most likely it will be the most expensive portion of the costume. It's also kind of an odd shape.

Here is one of my first sketches trying to figure out what the heck I wanted to do under the helmet. It's kind of tricky to see where things sit inside the helmet and if I have room for all the fun doo-dads I want to put in.
It's probably hard to see in this picture but I've taken into account that I will have the possibility of multiple battery packs in my face or in the costume somewhere. (Potentially 3 or 4 if I decide I need a fan).

I've seen helmets made with the Pepakura files and I may do the same but it will also be a chance to figure out how to make better patterns for myself. I really wanted to understand how the helmet fit and what did it look like without the hood on. Lucky me, I have the Mass Effect Art Book and good concept references. From these I made the color coded sketch. This time I had a better idea of where all my features where suppose to be. From this sketch, I made pattern pieces.
It's not perfect but it's a start. But it's something to work from. The material I will actually use is much thicker. So it won't look so floppy.
It's a little big I think...

Thick craft foam (3 mm - quarter inch) (own)
Corrugated pipe
Styrene (own)
Foam (for padding and stability) Own

Face Shield (own)
Tamiya purple tint paint (own)
Zip Ties (own)

Special Effects:
EL Wire, sound activated (ordered)
Voice changer (own)
Black light ?

Heat gun (own)
Hot Glue gun (own)
Electrical Tape (own)

Part 1: Visor

So much hate for the visor right now.  In my previous post, I detailed my struggle with the visor.

Part 2: Frame

A cap frame will allow me to craft the helmet's odd shape and still keep it on my noggin'. I used some of my practice styrene and taped them together. I also glued some poly form foam to add some padding.

Part 3: Mouth Piece

This is a part I can work on without the visor. Huzzah. I've already made a resin cast for the mouth piece. It still needs to be set in foam somehow. I may swap out the resin cast for the mold I used. It's a bit more transparent than the resin.

Visor Hate

So most of this memorial day weekend was spent on parts of the Tali Costume. There were many ups and downs...but mostly downs.

So I had two options I could see for the visor:

1) Use a safety mask and tint it.
2) Somehow find a way to vacuum form.
 this vs this

To be honest, the safety mask, while the more economical option does not quite give me the same shape as the more accurate vacuum form does. Still, as someone determined to stay on a budget I was going the route of tint paint and a well formed safety mask.

This weekend I tried. First I tried rounding out the flat mask so it would hold a curve more naturally. That is to say, I did not want/trust the force of foam to be able to hold the flat plastic in the correct shape. So I used a heat gun to try and get it to curve. This method worked for awhile, until I inevitably became impatient and applied too much pressure and heat on one side causing it to turn to a near right angle.

Well, it wasn't flat anymore and I could trust it to keep this shape and not spring out of the helmet. It was time for tint. I used Tamiya Color for Polycarbonate models. It worked like a charm...except I put on too many layers. Now I can't really see out of the mask. This makes the visor unusable at this point.

The failure of the visor made me turn into an aggressive researcher. While working on the visor, I also played with PETG plastic...aka empty 2 liter soda bottle. I managed to get a semi-mask shape out of it which lead me to think...yeah...maybe I CAN vacuum form cheaply...somehow. (btw, heat gun doesn't work as a good heat source for plastic.) It also took the tint better. ;)

SO now it looks like I wanted to do the more expensive vacuum forming technique, but I still want to be economical about it. I did some research in DIY vacuum forming, but all options were not feasible with my limited space and supplies. So more experiments will take place.

Currently, I'm jerry-rigging an aluminum turkey pan to be a vacuum forming surface. I'll test with a soda bottle.
Instead of carving the positive form, I'm using a Styrofoam head wrapped in duct tape with smooth mirror mask over it. I'm using another empty soda bottle to test with.

Results will be posted and probably lamented.

On the plus side I was able to finish one foot and the jumpsuit pattern. :) I also made a pepkura version of the visor for reference/sizing when I actually do buckle down and make the helmet.  I'm still debating whether I should wait until I finish the visor and build around that or put the visor in after. Probably could make the mouth pieces while I wait for visor stuff.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Ermagerd Sherping

I got stuff for costumes. ^^ This means I can work on the helmet this weekend.

The other day I got several packages including:

  • Practice Styrene
  • Polycarbonate Facemask
  • Vinyl
  • Spandex
  • Netting
  • Heat Gun (Yay!)
  • Voice Changer
  • Styrene
Still Waiting on:
  • Makeup
  • EL wire
  • Styrene Roll
Store Bought:
  • Jewelry Mold
  • Thicker Foamies
  • Elastic
  • Poly Foam
  • Ribbon
  • Tamiya Tint Paint
  • Varnish
  • Purple Eyeliner
The only things I have left to buy for Tali are the patterned fabric and PVC pipe. Then I can start thinking about props. BUT ONLY THINKING.
More on the helmet to come!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Mini-Progress Report + Research

My bank account is now in double digits, bills are high and I'm barely making enough at work, but I wanted to move forward with my costumes and I could not due to the finances. I got a little help from my parents to cover some bills and so I treated myself.

 I recently purchased the face mask, the heat gun, styrene, lycra fabric, netting, and black vinyl.

 I can actually progress on parts of the costumes that have been put on hold: namely helmets, certain pieces of the Warden Armor, Tali's arm armor.

Yesterday I did a practice run with one of my ideas for the Tali costume: make up. It turned out pretty good. Still needs some tweaking though. I have to get better at contouring my face. :B

Going for a mix of this:
and this:

And a bit of my own flair.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Tali's Feet

So I've constructed the feet already and it went a little differently than planned, but they still look and feel great!


Cheap, cloth based flats (in the Vans Skater shoe style). I got these for $5 at Walmart or maybe Payless.
3 mm Craft foam
Cotton Balls
Scotch Tape and masking tape


  1. I put on the shoes and stepped onto the craft foam about half-way and traced both feet. 
  2. Then I drew the shape of Tali's foot around the shoe shape. This became the bottom of the foot.
  3. Cut out the foot and retrace it with some "seam allowance". 
  4. Cut out the top and separate the toes from the top of the foot. 
  5. With masking tape, tape down along the edge of one long toe. 
  6. Curl the foam into a toe shape, trimming where necessary and taping it down. 
  7. Stuff the toe with cotton balls so it's not so hollow and bendy. 
  8. Wrap the toe in masking tape. 
  9. Do the same for the other long toe. 
  10. The small side toe is a little easier to do once the main body of the foot is put on. 
  11. Put on the shoe and hold it in place on the sole of the foot. Measure some craft foam like a sandal.
  12. Tape it down along the small toe, then wrap around the shoe with your foot still in it!
  13. Continue to wrap with masking tape to reinforce the body of the foot. 
Attempt #1...I later changed the top part of the foot to be one piece.

Now the shoe can slide in and out of the foot cover. 
Tips: Use scotch tape instead of masking tape for smoother outer coat. I use scotch tape in some parts. 
If your toes don't look even, use cotton ball pieces wrapped in tape to extend the toe. 
You'll notice that my toes and the edge of the shoe are curved. This allows me to stand on the balls of my feet to give the tip-toe effect without it looking too unnatural. 


I have tiny feet so the extra length takes some getting used to when flat footed. It is easier to walk on the balls of my feet. 

Next step will be to cover the foot and shoe in black lycra.