Saturday, May 24, 2008

Body Casting For The Simple Man

I've been playing around a bit with costume creation recently. Reading various tutorials on the net, I had a go at doing a bit of the Guyver suit, purely as an experiment to see how it all worked. For a first attempt, having never sculpted with clay, or cast a plaster mould or anything, it came out ok. I just did the forearm gauntlet.

I'm not a big fan of working with harmful chemicals, so I cast it using hot glue rather than fibreglass. Obviously it will require some practise to refine the casting method, but I've seen results on the net that show it's feasable.

I had been planning to post pics of the process I used, but I didn't take any as I went, and I had to destroy the sculpt in order to demould it (the cured (and varnished) clay softened while it was in plaster over night, apparently I did something wrong), so that was that. But, I've started another project, and this time my camera was close by.

For a part to be wearable, you need a cast taken from your body. Every tutorial I read involved using resin bandaging. Problem: toxic vapor. Solution: paper and packing tape instead. I had no idea if it was feasable before I tried it, but it works, and here's how.

The basic idea is to wrap a limb in paper and then reinforce it with packing and duct tape. You need to tape the edges to your skin initially, to stop the paper moving as you apply the packing tape. I don't use any special sort of paper, just some ancient computer rolls I've had lying around for a good 20 years. One layer of paper is enough.

Round and round we go- it's as simple as that. I use duct tape for extra support around critical areas (eg kneecap), and any places that feel like they might be a bit weak. Use plenty of tape, it's all that will be holding the form once it's taken off the limb.

Time to cut it off. I put a strip of duct tape along the line I'll be cutting, to strengthen the edge.

It pays to draw some horizontal lines across the tape, to make it easier to match the pieces up to reasemble the cast. Cut it off, and be careful!

When it's off, you'll be left with this (hopefully blood free):

Then it's just a matter of using the lines to reassemble it.

I made all this up as I went along, so maybe there's a better way to do it, but I think it's a good idea to also duct tape around the ends, and along the join. And there we have it:

It's not perfect, but good enough for the job. The only thing left to do is fill it with something so that you can work with it without it turning to a crumpled mess. After some thought, I came up with the idea of expanding foam (sold in spray cans at hardware shops). It works pretty well, much less time consuming (and cheaper) than trying to use plaster or something. Once cured, it's strong enough to handle pretty much anything.

Continued here.

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