Tuesday 31 October 2017

The Shattered Gate

In the marshy lowlands of the Grinvolt, there once stood a mansion, home to sorcerers. So perverse were their bargains that the earth itself opened up to meet them, and the yawning Ur-Menig rose up from the depths to whisper its secrets. Although the mansion is gone now, once-hallowed ground rarely loses its power, and a bestial mockery of the sorcerers' faith is still practiced in the darkness.

This month's adventure is a collaboration with Sean Winslow. I've been gaming face-to-face with Sean for six years now, but sadly he's headed off to central Europe. Here's his parting gift!

Monday 30 October 2017

Narwhal Part 3

Next step, making the harness. As with the centaur, I used aluminum straps. You can bend them by hand, and with self-tapping screws, they're very easy to join with one another.

Getting the shape of the shoulder strap is surprisingly hard, and requires a very patient wearer.

Note of caution: big suits like this that are held up by small harnesses can produce a lot of leverage. If a boisterous kid slams the wearer, or if the wearer falls down (e.g. some porch steps while trick or treating), the full force is going to jab them with the harness.

If you look carefully, there's a really dangerous design element in this harness: the bottom tip, which has the potential to dig in like a can opener, if (for example) the narwhal takes a blow to the forehead. I addressed this by adding a long strap vertically, which holds the tail.

Still, a better design would be to add a horizontal piece across the buttocks to prevent any force hitting the spine at all.

Once the harness is in place, I add another bent piece of metal for the lower 'jaw bone'.

Next step is to start draping. You can more or less take fabric, drape it over the foam body, and cut it along the seams.

Here I'm cutting out a 'dart' from end of the tail so it will join up nicely without wrinkling, as shown in the next image:

This takes a while for something this large, but I used the same technique everywhere. When you sew it together, it's inside-out (so the seams wind up inside). This makes it almost impossible to keep track of where you are. I find I have to label it with bits of tape so I can make sense of the limp octopus-like tangle of fabric at the sewing table.

Here it is, with all the main body drapery done! We're going to make the eyes black, but it's just pinned in place for now to get the placement.

L is determined to trick-or-treat for hours and hours, so I've cut arm holes in the front, along with little sleeves cinched with elastic:

Once L mastered the glue gun, she wanted to do all the gluing. Here she is working on attaching the front fins.

This is the current state. Lots more to do, especially around the mouth and flippers!

Saturday 7 October 2017

Narwhal Part 2

Cutting into fresh foam is such a delicious feeling. Hope I don't mess it up!

As I mentioned previously, I've cut the foam block into three pieces on diagonal lines in order to allow for a gentle S-curve in the body shape.

Cat for scale. (She's 1.8 bananas long.)

The box cutter is so much sharper than the kitchen knife, but it's short. Here I'm turning the three big blocks into cylinders.

Once that's done, I started carving down the top block into a dome for the narwhal's head.

Here's the final outer body shape. The foam shape is very faceted - I can't do any better with the tools I'm using, but when I did the centaur, the cloth covering obscured all of this.

I've carved a spiral horn out of foam, too. Here it is, with L inside holding it up from the bottom. (Nothing's attached, except the horn being held on with a pin, so this is a wobbly stack.)

I can't shake the impression that it looks like a Dalek made from meringue!

Now I need to start figuring out how the jaw is going to look - there are lots of little problems. Just the sculpt is one task, but then - how to join the lower lip (which is a tube of pipe insulation) at the corners of the mouth? How will I cover it with fabric in a way that doesn't make it look like a terrifying wrinked-up skin. Who knows..

Monday 2 October 2017

Narwhal Part 1

Halloween approaches, and with no time to spare we've started on L's costume. This time it's her turn to have an elaborate costume, after the centaur and giant that E got years ago.

She's gonna be a narwhal! Here it is, freshly delivered from the foam store!

It's hard to tell that it's actually a narwhal, but we still need to extract it from the foam block. Shouldn't be too hard, right?

It takes years of practice and planning to get the perfect amount of derp.

I'm using scale cutouts to plan the carving. The current thinking is an articulated jaw, possibly using bungee cord to spring-load it so it stays half open, but L can make it move up and down.

Because the narwhal has something of an S-curve to its body shape, I'm going to be cutting the foam block into three sections with diagonal cuts, and reassembling it so the block has a slight zig-zag shape to it.

A scale cut-out of L helps verify that she'll still be able to fit inside. In later postings I'll show the plans for how her arms will attach to the flippers, the harness that holds it off her head, and the jaw assembly.

Stay tuned!