Tag: comics

Straight Line Sewing Skills

Straight Line Sewing Skills

Sunday, August 7, 2016 | By | Add a Comment

Straight Line Sewing Skills

Hello everybody, I hope you have all read my previous post on purchasing a sewing machine for your cosplaying needs.  Today, we are going to learn our first fundamental lesson in sewing:  Sewing Straight Lines, and how to sew our first straight line!  So, let’s begin, shall we?

First, we need to get a piece of fabric ready to practice with…just a scrap of something will do. Preferably just a basic cotton piece of fabric, not anything knit or stretchy. It’s going to be easiest if you fold it so that you are sewing through 2 layers of fabric while you practice.

Next, you need to thread your machine (including the bobbin of course). Make sure you have your machine set to sew at an average stitch length (your manual will probably tell you what that is). You can take some time to play around with this-testing shorter stitches and longer stitches.

Now, take your piece of fabric and place it under the presser foot. For starters I want you to line your fabric up so that the right edge of your fabric matches up with the right edge of your presser foot as you look at it like I have done in this picture below. Lower the presser foot so that it is holding your fabric in place.

Before you start to sew, use your hand wheel (or up/down button if you have a computerized machine) to lower the needle so that it is all the way down into your fabric (always do this when you begin to sew).

Now, slowly press your foot pedal down to begin to sew. Stitch forward for 1 inch.

Then push the reverse button or lever to back stitch for 1 inch (sew backwards over what you just sewed).

After you have back stitched over that 1 inch, proceed with a forward stitch again. You have just created a knot so that your stitches won’t come loose. You will do this whenever you sew unless otherwise specified.

Continue to sew forward. As you do, try to keep the edge of the fabric lined up with the edge of your presser foot. This will help you maintain a straight line. Also, try to keep a nice steady pace. You can also put a piece of tape on your fabric to use as a guide to practice getting a straight line.

Once you reach the end of your fabric, knot it again. (Sew to the end, back stitch for about 1 inch, then sew forward again).

Raise your presser foot and gently remove your fabric. Snip the threads that are attached to your fabric. Guess what? You just sewed your first straight line!

But wait, there’s more to learn.

What if you are sewing a straight line and you come to a corner (like if you are sewing a rectangle or square) that you need to turn to continue sewing. What do you do?

Sew almost all the way to the corner, but leave yourself about 1/4″-1/2″ of space between your needle and the very edge of the fabric. Making sure to lower your needle all the way into the fabric (this is very important), then lift your presser foot. Your fabric will stay in place because the needle is holding it, but you can now pivot it so that it is positioned to keep sewing, now in the new direction. Lower your presser foot and continue to sew.

Sometimes you will be asked to baste. A baste is a long stitch that is much looser than a typical stitch. When you baste you do not knot at the beginning and the end. This is because you will probably be picking the baste stitch out (if it is just there to hold your fabric in place for the time being) or you will be using it to gather. I will teach you what that is later in another post.

A hem is when you fold under the fabric twice and sew it in place to create a nice finished edge (like at the bottom of your pants). To hem you will first fold the fabric under about 1/2″ and press or iron it into place. Then fold it the same amount again, press it again and then do a straight stitch along it.

Here’s an important thing to know when sewing a hem or at other times. If you are sewing a small area, like a pant leg, guess what? You can take off part of your machine to make it easier. See how I can sew that complete loop so easily because the fabric fits all the way around? Give it a try-that part of your machine will come right off and then go back on when you need it back on.

I told you to use the presser foot edge and match it up with your fabric edge to sew a straight line. This is what I do at least 90% of the time when I am sewing, because it creates such an easy guide. But occasionally you will be asked to sew a certain seam allowance. When that happens you need to use your seam guides to guide you instead of the presser foot. In that case you will line up the edge of your fabric with the seam guide you need and try to keep it steady with that line as you sew.

So, there you have it! Now, go and sew, sew, sew away! This is just your first step into an exciting world of creating your own cosplay costumes and so practice makes perfect! Of course, your friends may think of you as an old granny that sits in the corner of her house and never leaves, but hey, that never hurt anybody, right? And you are learning something fun, and will make you wonderful, unique costumes and maybe even pay off in the future. So, my fellow cosplayers, stop reading and get at it!

The Canons in Figure Drawing

The Canons in Figure Drawing

Friday, June 3, 2016 | By | Add a Comment
So-called “Apoxyomenos” (“the Scraper”). Marbl...

So-called “Apoxyomenos” (“the Scraper”). Marble, Roman copy of the 1st century AD after a Greek bronze original ca. 320 BC. From the Trastevere in Roma. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Polykleitos' Doryphoros (Spear-Bearer), an ear...

Polykleitos’ Doryphoros (Spear-Bearer), an early example of classical contrapposto. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Canons in Figure Drawing

Classical artists made it their business to apply established anthropometric systems of measurement, or canons, when depicting the human form.  The ancient Greek and Roman artists, as well as Renaissance artists, depended on such canons to determine the proportions and dimensions of the human figure.  In a canon, each unit of measurement is called a module.

Two of the most famous canons, the canon of Polykleitos (circa 450-420 B.C.) and the Apoxyomenos of Lysippos (circa 370-330 B.C.), used the head as the unit of measurement, or module.  In the canon of Polykleitos, the ratio of the head to the body was 1:7, so the body was seven heads tall.

Various canons were used through the Renaissance and later to depict people in different perspectives.  The three most frequently used canons were the heroic canon, the ideal canon, and the ordinary canon.

In the heroic canon, the human figure is eight and a half heads tall.  To this day, this canon is often used by comic illustrators to create “larger than life” superheroes.

The ideal canon was often used by painters creating allegorical works or commissioned portraits of powerful people.  This canon shows people as eight heads high.

The ordinary canon, which is seven and a half heads high, is used for lifelike portraits of real people and is the preferred approach used by realists drawing in a naturalistic way.  The early Realists popularized this canon in the eighteenth century as a reaction against the formulaic, idealized canons used at European academies.

Please return again soon for more posts about portrait and figure drawing techniques, tools, and standards.

Making an Iron Man Suit

Making an Iron Man Suit

Saturday, April 30, 2016 | By | Add a Comment

Making an Iron Man Suit

Cosplay and semi-cosplay costumes can sometimes take a large amount of creative processes in order to achieve the desired end results of the designer.  3D printing is the favored process, since it is usually the most inexpensive and quickest way to create custom designed pieces.  Other processes, such as molding and casting can get to be somewhat pricey and time consuming, but they may also be necessary depending on the level of detail and expectations of the cosplayer.

The more complicated the costume is, the more detail and planning is necessary to create the costume in its entirity.  This often involves sketching the costume out to get a visualization of how the costume will look in different views on paper as well as creating scaled models of the completed costume design using a variety of materials such as wire frames, sculpting clay, manequins, plastics and many other materials to create your models.

If the costume involves moving parts or electrical configurations, then the designer must consider doing engineering tests and electrical layouts and testing as well.  Proper materials should be tested and used for different weight ratios and strength and durability depending on where each piece will be placed and the functionality of the piece.

These are just a couple of considerations to think about when creating a highly detailed and complicated costume.  Among those who create these cosplay costumes is James Bruton, a sci-fi and superhero fan who uses his Lulzbot TAZ dual-extruder 3D printer to create some very complex costumes ranging from an Iron Man suit to Android bipedal legs and even Star Wars replica parts.

In his free time, Bruton helps run the Southampton Makerspace and shares his builds on his website XRobots.  While he builds his complicated costumes using a variety of material types ranging from wood to plastic, the majority of the 3D printed parts used in his designs consist of ABS plastic and Ninjaflex.

The video above shows the processes involved in making an Iron Man suit with lighted configurations and engineered parts.  Many of the designer’s other costumes have much more complicated and technologically advanced components.

I hope this video gives you some inspiration on designing your own cosplay costume.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Making Casted Helmet Designs

Making Casted Helmet Designs

Monday, April 25, 2016 | By | Add a Comment

Making Casted Helmet Designs

Well hello again my super-stupendously, out-of-this-world cosplayers and cosplayerettes.  I have returned to talk about casting your helmet design out of the molding that I know you all read over and followed closely before viewing this post on your next steps, right?  Of course you did!  So, get your bat heads out of your bat caves and let’s make something to protect your batty noggins from the next batty, bang-up job.

The process we will use to create our casted helmet is called either slush casting or rotocasting and it involves using the molded design we created in the previous post and video.  Smooth Cast 65D is the type of plastic that is used in the video, and it is a very good plastic that is impact resistant, very durable, and is made specifically for rotocasting.  Other plastics that can also be used are Smooth Cast 300 or 320, which also work well too.  The purpose of this type of casting is that the helmet needs to be hollow in the middle and be able to fit on your head, so you can’t just make an entire block of plastic out of a mold.

So, the first steps are to make sure your silicon jackets for the inner portion of the mold where the plastic will be poured into are immaculately clean, so that no dirt or grime will transfer into the casting and ruin it.

The next step is to assemble the mold shell and insert the jackets inside the mold shell and make sure the registration keys on the jackets and shell align.  Take time to line up the silicon jackets and shells accurately so the seam line between them almost disappears.

Next, it is time to mix your plastic resins to prepare for pouring.  Pour equal amounts of the resin materials into plastic disposable cups and then combine those into one large cup.  Add liquid dyes to the resin material to add color to the final product.

After preparing the resin liquid, pour the liquid into your mold and rotate the mold to make sure all surfaces are evenly coated.  The liquid hardens quickly, so you want to continually rotate the mold so the liquid coats and dries evenly.  The drying time depends on the amount of liquid used and the liquid changes shades of color as it dries in order to tell if it is complete.  Continue adding layers in order to increase the thickness of the helmet or finished product.

After adding the desired amount of plastic layers and allowing a substantial amount of time to cure the casting, it is time to demold your casting.  Be careful when removing the silicon jackets from the casting, so they don’t rip or get destroyed in the process.  Most molds produce flashing and lips around the casting which can be removed with your hands, a Dremel tool, and sandpaper or sanding materials.

With the right amount of detail, your end product should be astounding enough to make even Batman proud.  Evil-doers beware!

Creating a Sense of Dread

Creating a Sense of Dread

Monday, April 4, 2016 | By | Add a Comment

Creating a Sense of Dread

When sketching dark art, sometimes it is good to not sketch out a fully macabre, gruesome scene, but instead set the tone with an emotion of dread or uncertainty of what is to come.  Using erratic linework can really create a sense of foreboding along with exaggerated body parts and extreme dark shading in just the right areas.  This fear developing type of artwork can be used to tell a story, possibly along with a series of other sketches or artwork, or it could be used as subconscious setting for a much larger masterpiece.  So, lets examine two interesting pieces of sketch art that involve giving the viewer a sense of unknown dread, or uncertainty of future events.

The sketch on the left is a facial sketch that I, myself created of a bad guy who looks like he is just about up to doing something of a criminal nature.  The shading around the eyes, or the raccoon eyes, really gives the person more of an ominous look.  Looking at them, you may even subconsciously be thinking of the wrap around eye covers with holes that you sometimes see of cartoon burglars in past comic strips or animation.  This kind of subconscious thinking is what drives the imagination into creating sort of story for the piece, and maybe one might choose to add in more details along the way, such as a hand holding a knife or a gun up to the viewer.

The sketch on the left is a sketch by an artist by the name of Maryam Savoji.  It shows a person who seems to be running through what seems to be an everlasting dark tunnel towards the faint lights at the end.  In this picture we have sort of an off-center perspective which I think adds to the feeling of uncertainty, along with some ominous linework in the foreground which seems to magnify the emotion.  I also want to mention that the size of the individual running is very small, which to me sort of gives the person a sense of being small or vulnerable in relation to the darkness or dread which is following.  This sketch makes the viewer ask the question, “what is it that is following that person?”.  So the story seem to be a mystery in this case.

Maybe you can come up with some stories of your own based on these two pictures, and be inspired to create your own path of how these stories might proceed.

Making Molded Helmet Designs

Making Molded Helmet Designs

Sunday, April 3, 2016 | By | Add a Comment

 

Making Molded Helmet Designs

Another recommended accessory for the cosplayer or semi-cosplayer at heart, is, of course, the helmet or head wear.  This often requires making molded helmet designs of your own creation in order to fit your unique alter ego.  Maybe Bruce Wayne wouldn’t care if he were to reveal his identity as Batman as long as his job get’s done, but for the sake of his protection, along with some cool gadgets in his helmet, it is safer for him to don the bat helm.

So, how does the helmet wearing cosplayer or semi-cosplayer go about creating their own headpiece.  Well, there are several ways of doing this, such as creating a CNC manufactured or 3D printed helmet of course.  I am not going to go into great detail about the processes, but I will talk about a process which I am familiar with which involves creating a clay molding for preparation of creating a casted helmet, much like the helmet in the video above.  This way involves hardening clay around a replica of your own head which can be a lifecasting of your head or something that could be used in place which is the same size and formation of your head.

When purchasing a clay for the mold, it is wise to go with NSP clay which is sulfur free clay, since sulfur will react with the curing chemicals in the rubber that is used for the mold, causing the clay to warp and the silicone not to cure properly.  Other clays that may be considered are oil based clays as well.  Always make sure that your floor is protected with some type of floor cover to prevent stains or ruining any carpeted area.

Once you have the clay, then you can start builiding it up in block like formations on the head replica.

Once you have built the clay up to represent the basic blocking of the subject, you can start sculpting it down to get more accurate shapes, contours, and details using finer and more precise tools.

Symmetry on both sides of the helmet is very important for a good looking helmet, just like a good looking head in real life, and I’m sure all the ladies would agree with me there, right?  You can use mineral spirits and a paint brush to smooth out areas and make sculpting easier and cut down on sanding time at the end of the project.

Once you’re satisfied, what you want to do is prep the sculpture for the molding process.  It is good to go over the entire sculpt with a few layers of primer to seal up the clay really good.  It will also take out any small scratches that the brush may have left.  So, now you should have a wonderfully symmetrical molding prepared for the casting process.

I hope you enjoyed learning more about creating a sculpted helmet design, and for more information on casting and casted designs, please take a look at the video above and stay tuned to the same bat website for more blogging on helmet creation in the future!