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Arts and Crafts with Tats part a zillion - Tactical Ninja

Jul. 10th, 2013

12:32 pm - Arts and Crafts with Tats part a zillion

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It's finally finished! That is, the third instalment of Tats' Staff Making Obsession. This time, Cold Blooded. I wanted to make this one because I thought doing the ice would be a challenge and, well, it was. Here is the picture I worked from, with added notations that are basically measurements to get the scale right:




I cut the vanes out of some bits of hardboard that I had lying around, and kind of cheated by clamping them all together and using a coping saw, so I only had to cut them once and they came out looking more or less the same:



Then I scrounged up some polystyrene to make the large crystal. This stuff is from the box our TV came in. It wasn't thick enough so I had to glue this together and clamp it to get it the right size. Turns out you can glue polystyrene with PVA. Who knew?



Also in the background of that shot, you can see the vanes getting their first coat of silvery paint. I ended up going with a mix of iridescent silver, bronze and a touch of green to get the right shade.

Then the fun part - making the crystals. There's a small one and a large one, and two large areas on the staff that also needed to be ice-ified. First I put a layer of this stuff called crystal mortar, which I hoped would create a glittery effect. It kind of did, but mixing paint in with it to get the right blues and whites to replicate the staff colouring sort of killed that. However, it did add texture:



And thus I went ahead and put it on all the ice bits. It was good for getting a depth of colour I wouldn't have got with just paint.



The next bit was to create an ice-like coating. I originally thought to use thick varnish, but that a) ran off and b) melted my wee polystyrene crystal within an inch of its life, so it was back to the drawing board.

Eventually I found some super heavy gel, which is a medium normally used by painters to get texture in their paintings. One thing about this sort of modelling is that there's never a product made specifically for what you're trying to do - you have to work out what might do the job and source it from art supply shops where the shop assistants look at you funny when you say "I'm making a large crystal for a magic staff and I need it to look like ice." But anyway, I had no idea if this would work when I started so I tested it on the little one first.



It looked a bit ARGH at this stage, but after a couple of days, this was the result:



Yay! Now to apply it to all the other ice-bits on the staff...



*insert elevator music while we fast forward through the endless layers and drying processes for the super heavy gel*

Once the ice was sorted, it was time to put on the 'metal' clasps that appear to hold the ice in place. These are made of neoprene:



Cut to shape and glued on using hot glue. I pre-painted them on the bits that'd be touching the staff because I learned from the Enchanter's Staff that it's bloody hard to paint in behind things once they are glued on, and that yellow would stick out like dog's balls.

*insert interlude here where i didn't take any pictures but mounted the head of the staff using glue and clamps, then cemented it with a ball of plaster mache, added the binding to the handle section, and got to the smoothing with clay bit.



The modelling clay is air-drying and works to smooth out bumps, add shape, and create a nice surface for painting. It's worth putting a layer on even if the plaster mache comes out good, because it just finishes things nicely.

Then it's painting time. The staff is supposed to be made of red steel, but I've learned that that means nothing in the grand scheme of things, especially not in relation to colour. This one is supposed to be 60ish years old, and it has a vague impression of light verdigris going on, and it's a bit patchy. To achieve this, I tried dabbing a variety of different colours over the bronze base coat, including green, burnt umber and iridescent silver:



And then dabbing with a paper towel so they'd blend into each other but not completely. The photo doesn't really show it, but I'm quite pleased with the patch effect.



After that, weathering in the corners with a burnt umber wash to make it look a bit grubby and old, and the painting's done.

This staff also has a codex entry. Apparently it was owned by an apostate from the Circle, who managed to kill a bunch of templars and destroy his phylactery and therefore remain free for the rest of his life. He put a notch on the staff for every templar he killed with it. There's no indication how many this is, so I arbitrarily decided that Adain of Starkhaven killed 9 templars. Mostly because that's how many notches would fit in the space I had:



The final touch was to put some frosting on the vanes around the business end. I tried to use sponging but the undercoat wasn't having that, so I ended up doing it with a sable brush and a lot of breath-holding..



And here is a picture of the finished article. Click to embiggen:



And here, because it's now tradition, is a really crappy shot of me doing a silly pose like the one in the picture I worked off:




So now I have three staffs. While Freedom's Call is still my favourite, I think this one is probably the most robust. It's also a bit shorter and reasonably light and well balanced, so if I were to cosplay (or do anthing else) I could carry this one without doing damage to other people, and it would probably stand a fair bit of knocking around before it broke.

Part of me wants to be a cheeky fucker and send pictures to Bioware and go "Hey look aren't I clever?" but part of me is also freaking out at the prospect of having my work judged by the people who had the original ideas. Here are links to the other two: Freedom's Call, and Enchanter's Staff Tier 7.

Still, I'll have a nice rack of staffs .. umm.. somewhere in the house.. when I get around to making one. Yep.

Comments:

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From:tatjna
Date:July 10th, 2013 04:08 am (UTC)
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Ugg boots and bedroom are warmer.

Also, yes, I know. I have lately been tempted to make Actually Tasteful mage robes. Which might require some modification from the standard issue ones because fuck are they ugly. I could probably pull off Wynne or Flemeth quite well too.

Shame about the almost complete lack of cosplay opportunities in Wellington.
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From:tatjna
Date:July 10th, 2013 06:12 am (UTC)
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Her latest armour is quite a lot less hypothermia-inducing, and she's also as bit older now. Hmm...
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From:meathiel
Date:July 10th, 2013 07:09 am (UTC)
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Awesome ... I admire how much work you put into something like this.
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From:nessaneko
Date:July 10th, 2013 10:26 am (UTC)
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That's so fucking awesome. If you're ever interested in making stuff like this for cosplayers or to sell, you should look my friend up at http://little-noise.com/. She does a bunch of custom costumery, works at Costume Cave, and might be really keen to have someone who can do awesome weaponry like this.
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From:tatjna
Date:July 25th, 2013 01:56 am (UTC)
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I just had a look at her site, and I see she's done a couple of Dragon Age costumes.

*cue jumping up and down with excitment*

;-)
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From:goddessofchaos
Date:July 10th, 2013 10:56 am (UTC)
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That looks pretty awesome! Nice work!
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From:ivonava
Date:July 10th, 2013 11:24 am (UTC)
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That looks fantastic!
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From:neverminetohold
Date:July 12th, 2013 03:08 pm (UTC)
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That looks really awesome! :)
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