After cosplaying Warden-Commander Mahariel for the fourth time last year, I realised my breastplate was starting to look a bit battered and the paint was beginning to flake on my scales, so I decided it was time for a rebuild.
I didn’t have a heatgun when I built my original breastplate and did the best I could with what I had available to me, but I always knew it was a part that I would want to make again later on.
I actually really liked the way it looked as plain, blue foam, and if it hadn’t been for my visible lines, I would have been sorely tempted to seal it and wear it like that! After sealing and priming, I could get on with my favourite part – painting and weathering.
I was so pleased with how my knitted scales turned out but, aside from cracking and flaking paint, they were bulky and not very comfortable to wear for long periods of time. The more I looked at them and the more photographs I saw, the more I kept thinking about getting some decent hardware and seeing how much maille weaving I could remember from my time in re-enactment. Not only was it a much easier process but I’m completely in love with how these scales look against the blue.
The only thing that I’m keeping from version one is my velvet jacket, which has had the straps added to the sleeves and the griffon sigil to the left arm. Next to finish – gauntlets and greaves.
Four months in, 2017 has thrown me some real curve balls so far, which has badly depleted a lot of my energy and motivation – but my cosplay builds are still miraculously crawling along. I am going to get around to full posts for each project but for now, here’s a quick update on how things are going.
Celene has fallen onto the back burner a bit recently, as I had to postpone my plans to go and make the ballgown. That said, she now has a mask and a wig is on its way, so I’m going to have to get myself sorted out for dress making and fittings in May, otherwise my brother isn’t going to have an outfit to wear to the ball when The Calling comes around in June!
The other big task is going to be the lion’s head for the back of the dress, so I’ve been doing a few experiments with resin casting and need to find the time to actually sit down and make a clay master.
My Emerald Knight is slowly but surely coming together. I’ve finalised the embroidery design and started drafting patterns for the sewn garments. Her foam armor pieces are pretty much ready for priming and painting – just the sabatons to build and a few tweaks to the breastplate, then I need to settle on which shades of paint I want to use. I decided that I wasn’t happy with the foam scalemaille that I made for Mahariel, so I’ve been busy weaving chainmaille for Lindiranae’s sleeves, which is almost finished, and to remake Mahariel’s Regalia of Weisshaupt.
Other DA-related Stuff
A while back I booked an appointment to get another geeky tattoo and decided to get the Inquisition sigil just above my ankle, to balance out the Stark direwolf on my other leg. I have a couple of other designs pretty much ready to go – I just need the funds and to decide exactly where I want to put them!
Last month we went to MCM Birmingham and (after a few trips back and forth waiting for a quieter moment to queue) I got Gareth David-Lloyd to sign my Inquisition art book. I’ve since started stalking the other voice actors’ Twitter and Facebook pages to see if we’re likely to get any of the others at relatively local conventions so that I can get the other character pages signed.
Our next scheduled event is The Calling in June (UK Dragon Age fans, go check it out!) so I badly need to crack on!
I was more than a little bit apprehensive about putting together Mahariel’s armour – other than the scale maille, I haven’t had very much experience crafting with and painting foam, so it’s something of a relief to now have the most complicated part finished.
The Regalia of Weisshaupt armour, from Dragon Age II, has three slightly different designs depending on Hawke’s class. A slightly updated version is seen in Inquisition – the armour worn by your Grey Warden contact looks like a cross between the rogue and warrior versions – but as my Mahariel is a rogue, I found it easier to screenshot reference pictures of the armour on Hawke.
The armour is listed as four separate components in game, which I broke down into the following pieces:
Since I’ve just finished painting the breastplate, that’s where we’ll start…
When I was putting together my references and writing up my shopping lists, I had planned to do all of the armoured pieces as Worbla over foam. As it happened, I’ve not had time to play with the pieces of Worbla I bought a few months back, and I ended up just bodging it together.
The first piece I actually made was the griffon insignia and built the rest of the breastplate around it. It wasn’t until I was ready to glue everything together that I found something I had missed in my reference pictures: the raised edge around the larger piece. After spending a good ten minutes cursing the pictures, the computer and myself, I cut the extra pieces and layered it all up to see whether I needed to either cut a smaller pair of griffons or a taller base. Then I decided I actually liked the effect of having the tips of the wings over the border, glued it all together and sealed it with a coat of clear glaze.
After gently heat-shaping the foam, I tied the corners together to support the shape and gave it another couple of coats of glaze. I have loads of silver PlatiKote left from the scales, so I decided to use the spray for the base colour.
Once it was dry I thought it was much too shiny and “new” looking, and all of the creases and marks on the foam were suddenly glaringly obvious. I made up a bucket of not-quite-gesso* and gave it two generous coats, which have left the breastplate pretty sturdy but it still has plenty of flex.
1 part casting powder (I use Scola, which sets really quickly so I recommend making lots of small batches rather than making a whole bowlful at once)
1 part PVA glue
1 part warm water
Once it had set, I sanded it down (I definitely need to get a rotary tool!) and painted the front with black acrylic and PVA…
Then layered on the first coat of silver acrylic.
I much preferred the acrylic paint to the PlastiKote. Yes, it took significantly longer than the spray but I think the matte finish really suits the piece and it made weathering much easier.
I may find myself adding a little to the weathering over the next couple of days, and I still can’t decide whether I want to risk going overboard on it to work in some darkspawn blood before I seal it. Other than that, the only job left for my breastplate is to fit all the straps and buckles!
I felt the need to take a night off from scales yesterday (38 days until the Calling!) so I decided to make a draft attempt at the Grey Wardens’ griffon insignia, which will go on Mahariel’s breastplate. It’s had a layer of glaze to give me a slightly firmer surface for scoring in the detail with my pyrography tool and then I’ll decide whether to build up a few more layers of glaze before painting it or whether to cover it in Worbla. I’m leaning towards Worbla at the moment but as I’ve not done much in the way of detailed work with it, I’m not too confident about how well it will turn out. But that’s the whole point of having a practise run – if it all goes horribly wrong, it’s not like I will have wasted a huge amount of resources on it.
I got a couple of pictures while the glaze was drying and I’m surprisingly pleased with how it looks. I’ve stocked up on old cardboard boxes from the stock room at work, so I can begin working up the pattern for the breastplate itself, so it’s full steam ahead on the Hero of Ferelden!