Sunday, April 15, 2018

The More Obscure The Costume The Better!

Gotta be honest, I was not expecting 3D printing to be as frustrating as it has been. I chalk that up to naivety on my part, but I did go out of my way to spend more on a printer that looked easier to use. Anyway, this was arguably the first real test: printing some accessories for a costume for Comicon.

My original plan was to go as Jericho Cross from the old videogame Darkwatch; I figured the game was sufficiently obscure to establish my geek/hipster cred. I was of course very fond of the game when it came out all those years ago, even going so far as to puchase a replica of the main revolver from the game. Well, I say "replica"; a more appropriate phrase would be "crappy garbage costume prop". Seriously, the damned thing was so disappointing that I never even bothered to pull it off the cardboard backing. It sat forgotten in the back of a drawer in my room for many years. I don't even remember what brought it to mind; McCree's "Van Helsing" skin in Overwatch maybe?

I figured I could probably repaint it, and I saw a costume kit online, so I thought it might be an easy costume to put together. Once I had the kit in my hands I realised there would be more work than I had expected to make an accurate Jericho Cross as some pieces (such as the gloves) were not included, and some were just crappy (like the ammo belt, and the knee pads that I had to purchase separately).

But I eventually decided that I didn't really want to be that accurate: no way I was walking around a crowded convention with an eyepatch robbing me of my depth perception! So instead I decided to simply go as an unnamed Darkwatch agent. This way I could tailor the costume to my tastes.

It turns out that a printable Darkwatch logo was already available online. I used this one by lostinlimbo, scaled to my required size. It printed up quite nicely, and once it was sanded, painted, and stuck to a cowboy hat I was quite happy with it:

A recurring theme in the Darkwatch character design was that they carry entire spare revolver cylinders. The piece that came with the costume was pure trash, so I set about designing some spare cylinders in Blender to wear on my belt. I decided to simply print them with belt clips attached rather than try to put together some sort of holder (I would just add some black tape to simulate belt loops). After a LOT of time, effort, and frustration, I eventually had something I was happy with:
No-one would ever see the bullet tips, but it didn't really take much effort to add them.
The final prototype with clip attached next to the painted pieces. Belt clips on the top left.

At the last minute I realised that I would need to wear some sort of a tie. A Texas-style bolo tie was obviously the way to go, but I wasn't going to be able to buy one in time as I'm pretty sure they don't sell them around here, so I quickly printed one out. I used a Celtic knot pattern from retroviral and modified it to my needs. I also put together two quick "vampire teeth" to go on the ends of the strings. The first attempt was too small and I thought it would look better with raised detail and a rim so I added that for my second version (on the right):

It's been a while, but I believe the photo of the revolver that I saw online looked like something like this:
 Sadly I didn't take a photo before I started working on it, but I can tell you that it didn't look nearly as good as it does in that photo. The paint was very messy and it didn't even look metallic, there were serious mold lines and a bit of what I guess is mold slippage, and on top of it all there was a giant red "plug" that covered the entire front, something like this:

Sorry for the crappy photo, that's the only one I could find online. I did take a photo in which you can see a couple of spots of what looks like the intended finish:

The photos don't show it off very well, but the actual finish was just a light grey that didn't look very metallic, while those two spots looked much better. At any rate you can see how messy the painted boundries were. This was taken in the middle of my cutting and sanding off mold lines and imperfections, so I think the black dots there are my fault, for what that's worth. BTW, it's not in the original publicity photo, but MADE IN CHINA was written on the right side in raised text, so I tried to sand that out:

I couldn't quite get it all out, but it was far less visible when I was done. After some debate I finally decided to cut off the hideous red bit at the end of the barrel and try to rebuild it. I added a smaller barrel emerging from the end to paint red, so it would still indicate that it was toy, but in a less ugly way. I used an acrylic rod and some discs cut from plasticard, smoothing over everything with greenstuff:

Finally I spray painted it silver and hand-panted the brown and black areas and the red barrel. After some debate I decided to paint a black was directly into the recesses; it's not very realistic but I decided I was OK with a bit of a cartoony look. I was rushed and careless so the wash ended up being quite messy, but I still liked how it turned out. I varnished the whole thing so it could survive being handled.

Now, I had glued a smaller acrylic rod into the hole I had drilled into the acrylic rod I was using as a barrel so I could easily hold and spray the entire gun in one go. I figured I would be able to break it off later and fix the area back up, but instead the entire rebuilt front broke off. So I had to cut off the rod, re-drill the hole, reattach the front, smooth out the boundry, wrap the rest of the gun up while I spray painted over the break, re-apply the red and the black wash, then varnish it again (otherwise the finish would not match).

Meanwhile I had some help putting together a simple holster and some "boot toppers" that matched the rest of the costume. Luckily the kit I had bought came with a very nice prop jacket and Darkwatch badge, and I was able to pick up a couple of other pieces online to complete the costume.

Things were very rushed at the end, especially since I ended up traveling just before Comicon for some unexpected training for work, but luckily I managed to put it all together in time. The final printed and painted parts:

And here's how it all looked on the big day:

Despite a lot of aggravation and stress, I had fun in the end, and I received a few compliments on the costume, which was nice. I plan on doing more 3D printing for my costume next year, but I think I'll need to get started much earlier!

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