Andrew Armstrong

Taric the Gem Knight - League Of Legends

Status :In Progress
Worn At :AyaCon 2013


Gem Prototype

Shield in Progress

Source Images



This is Taric the Gem Knight! I mean look at him, so fabulous! How could I resist? I play LoL a lot, and finally reached solo queue ranked Gold, by playing...a ton of games as Taric. He's a wonderful support; perhaps not too complex, but reliable and also really fun to play as.

He's also a guy, which helps considering all other standard supports apart from Zilean are girls (Thresh was released after I started this. Anyway he's dead!).

The main other reason to do him, compared to another champion in the game, is that I can work some magic with lighting. I needed a project to push further what I did before, and lights just are really fun to work with.

The lights therefore are going to go behind every gem, making them clear with frosting so they can light up in pretty patterns. I'm working on a simple design for this, using arduino's and RGB LED controllers, setting up 3 separate circuits (armour, hammer, shield) with 3 different RGB outputs. This should be controllable by buttons on one or more of the items - if I can hook in an RF controller it might be one button can switch between things for all 3 of the devices at once.

Note the design I am basing it off is generally the original model - the gemstones in the newer source art do look kinda cool, but are much harder to make (moulding/resin) which would restrict the use of lights too.

The plan is to do the hammer and shield in more heavy-duty hardboard wood (metal pole for the hammer too) making them not great for most cons rules for weapons, but reliable when transported and simply to stay together when knocked. The shield was designed in Google Sketchup, which dramatically lowered the difficultly of getting the sloped non-standard sized sides done. These are notably heavy. They'll be coated in plasticard/foam for design styling and spray painted silver.

Plastic acrylic 2mm from B&Q for the gems - designed in sketchup, printed out on paper after taking a screenshot and altering to size in GIMP or Inkskape.

The armour is going to be foam/plasticard designs made in Inkscape and printed out on A3. Hopefully attached using webbing/Velcro, depending on how strong it is.

Shoulders are a PITA, due to shape/complexity (no easy flat edges there) so is still up in the air. Collar too is a pain.

Cloak is velvet, similar colour blue, will try bleach for the pattern. The trim is undecided white fabric, and need some grey to cover the interior side, which may also cover up the unsightly interior of the shield.

The scale mail parts of the armour will be (likely) lycra base, with laser cut plastic scales sewn on manually in the areas where the armour does not cover. The gloves should be lycra base, with thinner foam/plasticard cut to fit as a glove would and sewn onto the fabric most likely. Making gloves from scratch is hard!

This is still in progress. It was planned for April's Gemucon but delays due to being ill and other factors (like things just not working properly) have pushed it back to May MCM Expo.


Leolarua posted on 13 March, 2013 - 16:00
outrageous. truly, truly, truly outrageous. looking forward to seeing this!

White Tigress posted on 13 March, 2013 - 16:49
Absolutely fantastic so far! Looking forward to seeing it! :D

xCrimsonXero posted on 13 March, 2013 - 18:41
Fabulous, looking forward to seeing it finished.

Andrew Armstrong posted on 13 March, 2013 - 22:40
Thanks for the support, will keep me sane while ploughing through it!

SarahSaiyan posted on 25 March, 2013 - 13:23
Looking forward to seeing this! the shield looks proper nice :D

Andrew Armstrong posted on 25 March, 2013 - 14:19
Wow, thanks! From someone who has done LoL cosplay no less! (I obviously missed you at Expo and Kitacon, will have to watch out for you at other Expos!)

Ros3ify posted on 25 March, 2013 - 17:05
I can't wait to see this at gemucon. Imw earing my Annie-lol-cosplay for the saturday & the sunday so I hope to see you there :)

madmazda86 posted on 2 April, 2013 - 18:18
Truly truly awesome! Btw, keep an eye on DDR UK's website this evening at 8pm BST, there may be something of interest to you if you play with a team/friends as well as solo queue, especially if you're planning to attend May MCM anyway :)

Andrew Armstrong posted on 2 April, 2013 - 20:37
Ooh, neato! Will have to attend this new fangled area, always had some fun in the DDR area in past MCM's :) thanks for telling me about it!

HatsuneHawke posted on 8 April, 2013 - 11:40
Looking forward To seeing this in May!!1 (ill be cosplaying Sona with the LoL at some point over the weekend) Loving the shield! I hope it wont be too heavy lol. Keep it Fabulous ;D

awesomeblossom posted on 13 April, 2013 - 12:31
This is looking so awesome!!

ST212 posted on 8 May, 2013 - 11:10
Coming together very nicely, cant wait to see this in person! Looks great!

Andrew Armstrong posted on 8 May, 2013 - 15:44
Thanks, means a lot! I'm still no where near done though :(

Emzone posted on 17 May, 2013 - 18:53
This is looking amazing! I can't seriously wait to see this complete, progress looks brilliant

Andrew Armstrong posted on 21 May, 2013 - 14:04
Sadly seems I can't finish it in time, not enough hours and too many issues to resolve, urg. I hate myself for saying I'd try and get it done for May MCM though! Ahh well!

To-Do List

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Progress Journal

More wiring in this heat -_- (Posted 16th July 2013)

Hot hot hot.

Hard to do wiring with the soldering iron. I haven't made many mistakes at least. The picture shows one bit going in the hammer. I'll be doing the hammer wiring then I can do the bits that go on top of any lighting.

Slow going but the slog may be worth it. I have my sights set on Ayacon but if I miss that, there are always other events - and I have some ideas for quick costumes otherwise.

Finally back to work (Posted 8th July 2013)

So a hiatus of a MASSIVE LENGTH has happened. I was, and still am, tepid about the armour. I need a better technique or some better tape. Anyway, I'll do other things first and leave it until last.

Added to the hammer the board holding the electronics goodness :) small steps.

Not done, sadly! (Posted 21st May 2013)

I've had too many fiddly issues to solve which I thought would take a lot longer over the last week; this means in spite of progress I will not get it to a complete state, sadly!

I've cancelled my MCM performance, maybe be there in October though :D

Finished Cloak (Posted 17th May 2013)

Done yesterday, cloak completed. Less progress pics and more just a final one. Bondaweb is king! My accuracy leaves something to be desired, and I probably could have got away with the pattern being cut from fabric, if only I had found a suitable pale blue-white fabric.

Onwards to more armour and stuff before I restart my hammer work.

Cloak work (Posted 14th May 2013)

Sorted some cloak work. I've designed the trim, cut the main sized parts out, and have plans for attaching the trim (waiting on something off ebay).

I also got around to doing the pattern - I did it a horribly complex way by having double sided tape which I stuck on, I probably could have done it without so much tape (which was on each edge) but at least it provided a very clean design.

I used base white acrylic paint. None of the other previous attempts with things worked so this may well come off easily, but battle damage should be fine ;) the only problem is if it is too hard and won't bend but my test pieces were generally fine. It also shows through the blue rather than being just white - which is why I'm not just using fabric (Although I can always get more fabric to do that if I want to revise it).

More hammer deconstruction (Posted 12th May 2013)

Taken more out of the hammer...whew! This now finally has made it possible to wield somewhat successfully. It still is obviously not complete. Damn. Not a total success this weekend.

I've also gone back to frosting the gems. This will save me time, and looks better given they are light up and not to be inspected too closely (gaps are a pain covered by PVA and tissue paper but oh well).

I might skip the hammer over the next few evenings and do the cloak and some armour pieces to convince myself I can finish it all! I need to also finish the programming and sort what I am doing for the actual performance, I have some ideas but need to figure out if it is possible to do something more interesting then standing there and still be fun.

Shield basically complete (Posted 10th May 2013)

Okay I've finally finish the shield - the back is done, sprayed and basically done. There are some niggling finishing touches (some tiny gaps between pieces of plastic, the handle also needs a better finish) and I could do with spraying the front again, and possibly redoing the gem, but at this time I'd wear it!

I'll test it out tonight, then start working more on the hammer. Whew, possibly getting there a bit more now.

Shield back, deweight hammer (Posted 6th May 2013)

Not great progress today; only got to de-weight the hammer a bit (the middle bar is now out), and do some work on the rear of the shield - including putting in the button bolts (that hold it in, not pictured).

A lot of thought was put into the back of the shield, too much to be honest. Velcro will mean I can get to the electronics, and it should look good when spray painted. I also fixed a bit of the exterior with a new piece so it was more consistent.

Picture is not from the end of the night but in progress :) tomorrow I hope to finish this off and spray it then get back to making gems - I'm still not happy with the finish currently of them (PVA/tissue paper) so will have to see - perhaps varnish. Satin gloss I now know is not see through at all :(

Hammer Weight and Shield Lighting (Posted 1st May 2013)

So my hammer is pretty heavy, now I've marked out where I am holding it and trying some counterweight material.

I'm going to lighten it using some techniques from Martin Raynsford who suggested 2CM holes every 4CM along the beams. I may also remove the middle beam if it seems strong enough (it should be).

The shield is nearly in a complete enough state. I'm adding the LED's underneath the gem, as pictured, and will finish this off on Friday and maybe do the back too if I find time, with velcro attached pieces of plastic (easy removal so I can get to the electronics).

It feels good to at least get the shield nearly done - if nothing else I can redo some of the parts with glue, milliput and more spray paint and later perhaps drybrushing. :)

(I also tested silicon spray for a finish on the gems to make them shiny...still drying right now).

Prep work for hammer and gem making (Posted 30th April 2013)

Just a small update; been away last weekend. Got the base for the first hammer end complete; this uses velcro (thanks to Adam for the idea) to make it easy-ish to remove. It means I can sort any dead LED strips, and also transport it more easily I hope!

Tomorrow I construct the gems and start doing the tissue paper and PVA overlay.

I have also sorted (not pictured) the main gem again for the shield - 3 layers of tissue paper and watered down PVA seem to have a good, if matt, finish. Will be trying to finish the shield fully before I complete the hammer second.

I'll try a PVA or possibly Resin finish, so it is shiny. I'm tending towards Resin since it came out shiny before and PVA may cause issues.

Transparency Film to the rescue! (Posted 22nd April 2013)

A breakthrough of moderate-but-important proportions!

I've been obviously hitting my head against a brick wall on how to do the gems with these characteristics:
- Light can pass through (so not opaque, sadly!)
- Not totally transparent (so diffusion works)
- Allows concave shapes (out goes most moulding types)
- Allows multiple different designs (definitely no moulding!)
- Large sizes of 20CM+ height (no vacuum forming)

This has left me with some options which I went through of varying complexity and workability:


Cut pieces, glued together, insides painted with frosting.

Pros: Pretty strong (depending on glue), very shiny plastic finish. Near perfect shapes

Cons: Takes forever to sand down, impossible to sand down accurately. Glue area is not large enough so can be weak at edges. Glue looks messy anyway. Accuracy of pieces at points very difficult.

Card Interior + Cover

So a 3d paper model made of card for strength, then covered in something (such as cling film, baking grease proof paper) and then tissue paper + glue make the actual construction.

Pros: Glue alone would be consistent, matches model more accurately, 3d card models are very easy to construct.

Cons: Grease proof paper is only reasonable non-stick surface, and is hard to work with for that very reason. Still quite hard to remove interior if any of it has stuck to the glue.

Transparency Film + Cover

The winner; 3d model is cut out of transparency film. This is taped together from the inside using normal tape (So the outer side is consistently flat). Then it can be covered in tissue paper and glue.

Pros: No need to remove interior, reasonably strong since not relying just on layers of glue and tissue paper. Glue sticks to film and thus is not just relying on the tape.

Cons: Tape may be still partially visible (is on test model). Tissue paper application as in card inside method is not perfect - although can be used to create more interesting shapes. Also only have A4 transparency, so need to keep any sides of gems below A4 size (already done basically).

So the winner as the picture shows is transparency film. The tissue paper application is the main issue and I'll be testing this further tonight before fully doing it so I have the technique correct. It might also be that I add multiple layers of tissue paper and PVA (one at a time so it is reasonably transparent) and maybe gloss finish it with resin and/or a thin PVA only coat.

Whew! Lots of testing but finally some success. A lot of learning to get this far, and it is a reasonably simple solution, that should fit doing the bigger and smaller gems. At least I can reuse any raw materials or donate them to Nottinghack if I don't use them.

Resin and Resin and Resin (Posted 20th April 2013)

So resin might or might not be my godsend for this project. I've now learnt a lot about it though! I hope it's all worth it. Still got to try PVA.

So 4 photos in 1, I'll go through them:

1. I'm now making card bases for the crystals/gems - this is great using Peapkura, and is a lot more rigid.

2. The last test dried out enough - a few things:

- Resin sticks to cling film (but appears not to go through it really) but for my purposes this isn't too useful (makes it not an even coat)
- Tissue Paper soaks it up really well even on multiple layers; seems to add strength, but it can be inconsistent
- Grease proof paper doesn't stick to it at all - more on picture 4

So good and bad from the test! Also crinkled up tissue paper painted with resin looks nice and crinkly which is one perfect thing from it.

Also the strength - reasonably poor but expected since usually you need a few coats (2 or 3 minimum) for it to be thick enough. Might be less with tissue paper.

3. I can't just paint the resin or glue on card anyway - so this is my (rather sloppy) test at using the grease proof paper over the top of it.

I've learnt a lot on how not to do it now. This however is a damn sight faster then making one-use 3d moulds!

4. I tried resin again on my new creation, some things from this in the order they happened:

- Grease proof paper is REALLY resistant to glue - sticky tape will work temporarily but for the resin it just simply pooled and didn't stick together. This is probably because unlike PVA and other glues it isn't sticky to start with, it is actually runny

- This mean a lot of it came off and simply pooled at the bottom of the sides, sadly!

- I rushed off to get some tissue paper and applied it, rather poorly - it's obviously drying as of writing this but I don't expect the best.

So to sum up:

- Resin may work well with tissue paper as a "base" over the top of grease proof paper on a card structure
- Don't just apply resin to grease proof paper
- Need to try PVA glue since I don't need complete transparency anyway

Resin! (Posted 17th April 2013)

Trying some resin - a lot of tissue paper, clingfilm and baking paper to see:

1. What sticks to what permanently
2. What things look like when dry
3. What it was like to paint it on

For 3. I can confirm the damn thing ruined my brush and mixing jug - will be using something else now. The actual painting on clingfilm was NOT great, it simply moved the clingfilm since I didn't secure it down (I'm stupid like that). If it still comes off well then I can probably double side tape the clingfilm down.

The baking paper also is a possibility - making the card gems covered with it might be an option that is also flatter.

Gems from Pepakura (Posted 16th April 2013)

I've been using more Sketchup to design gems - this time a whole mass for the first hammer head, laid out as it might appear in the final layout so including altering the directions so they fit together well.

I'm going to be testing resin tomorrow evening on the clingfilm covering, but I am pretty happy with the effect and even having a "bumpy" gem might actually be "more accurate" to the newer game source art. I'll see how it turns out though!

Cloak Fabric Painting (Posted 15th April 2013)

I'm just trying a few different combinations of fabric paint (white, light blue) and water/thickener. Since I need to see the effect when dried I'll be leaving it overnight and checking back tomorrow.

Also some tips I need to try, especially the dampening of the fabric first (I think I watered down my samples too much):

Planning hammer eletronics (Posted 12th April 2013)

I've got around 75 strips of 3 LED's to add to the hammer with my initial plan, this is, well, 75% of my strips. That's probably too much but we'll see. It's 225 individual LED's so I'm not sure the battery can power that properly!

I've drilled the holes in the hammer head (marked in the photo) and need to do the gemwork for the heads and middle to properly add the actual LED strips.

Not much progress but a lot of planning. Next I need to plan the armour and shoulders LED layouts.

Bleach a letdown (Posted 12th April 2013)

So it's not done amazing work (this is typical cleaning bleach). I'll be looking at fabric paint on top of the idea to cut out the pattern now - decent enough stuff should soak in instead of being just a layer of paint on top (which might come off since it is velvet).

We'll see how that goes next week.

I have plans for how to do the gems/crystals on areas now; two potential ways:

* Paper crafted gems covered in cling film, then painted with resin (or PVA if needed)
* Tissue paper crafted gems, immediately covered in resin.

The second idea only occured to me since while I need it clear, I also need it diffused.

I might also mix the methods; the crystals themselves may be clear (and sprayed inside) while the layer of gems at the base (and covering the entire shoulder pad!) could be simpler and be tissue paper warped with glue.

One problem to consider is still the diffusion when material is very near an LED. I managed in the headband to get it to work a minimum of 1CM or so away (maybe 1.5CM). This means for the shoulder pad and the hammer ends I'll need to construct the base gem layer that covers them further away.

Another issue is the construction so I can take it apart if needed (to fix the lights for instance). The best method I can think of is including bolts simply embedded (and covered by tissue paper) into the resin itself - some mini-mould might suffice for this, I'm not entirely sure. Then once it is in, the bolt can be attached to whatever it will end up on top of.

Gems on the armour might be easier or harder, depending on the method with tissue paper that works or not!

Bleach attempts (Posted 10th April 2013)

Started some bleaching tests on the crushed velvet for my cape. This was done by painting on two strips of it watered down in (one strip being a lot more applied) and a third strip which was simply a full lot of "thin bleach" according to the container. Finally I also submerged a piece of velvet.

No photo, because I forgot, eek!

Some alternatives if this fails:

Rubber stamp to remove the top layer (might not even look good on the velvet I have however and may be fiddly), I want to try this anyway, looks cool:

Second one is to simply cut the pattern out of the main velvet. From here there are three main options:

1. Put some new fabric behind it, likely a simple lighter blue of some kind, shiny but not velvet itself (since it was hard enough finding a cyan blue in the first place!).
2. Put the same velvet behind it, but bleached (if that works only by soaking or something).
3. Put the reverse of the velvet behind it; that side is not as nice but it is consistent and may be considered "lighter".

Finally, I am also planning a lot of "not at hackspace" work to do. I need to catch up on things and I didn't get much at all done tonight!

Acrylic (Posted 10th April 2013)

It's not working too well; I'll admit defeat once I've tried resin coating in the previous entry.

Essentially the main problem with separate bits, apart from the glue being a nightmare, is that sanding down the sides never seems to make it exactly correct. Spending hours making one gem isn't a great idea when I have so many to make.

Hmmmmmmm, much to think about, and more things to buy now!

Gemucon and Gems (Posted 9th April 2013)

Gemucon interrupted my progress (of course!) but I got some ideas but nothing that will hugely change what I'll do; the problem I think is mainly the gems since I've already basically completed the wood/metal build of the hammer - and I still suspect a shaft of non-metal would be prone to snapping.

Gems I've had suggested be made by coating resin over a polystyrene base mould when it is covered in sandwich wrapper. I think he meant clingfilm, I'll need to figure it out :)

The problem with this I'll need to make these gems, totally uniquely, to complete the costume:

* 19 Gems on the hammer (9 are on each end, goes up to 23 if you include some on the shaft).
* 1 shield gem (It would need to be redone to match!)
* 26 gems on the shoulders (13 per side!)
* 17 medium gems on the rest of the armour
* 8 mini gems on gauntlets
* 12 mini gems on the front breastplate and collar

This is a total of 46 large (unique, due to the way they're done) gems, 17 medium and 20 small gems. Ouch!

Sadly also these gems are probably too large for most vacuum forming - and also since I need clear-ish plastic (preferably shiny) the material used might not necessarily work in any case. Depending on how MCM goes I might well build a quick vacuum forming machine simply to try it. :)

I'll be trying my original idea of acrylic glued together this week to test it properly and run a "production line" when I am able.

Painting Shield (Posted 3rd April 2013)

Spray paint is a lifesaver. I'm trying undercoat now to hide blemishes induced by a mix of poor milliput usage (I'm learning, might apply more later!) and glue (urg, see other entry).

The silver is applying okay; I want to to be if anything "more shiny" and need to figure out some good techniques in the future to apply leaf or proper metal (maybe a thin aluminium?) to get a real metal effect.

This should do for now though!

Headband and lighting tiny gems (Posted 2nd April 2013)

So finally some outfit progress; the headband is near complete (milliput might be needed to fill some gaps, and it then needs painting). I made a balls up of the wiring so had to redo it delaying this a lot!

See my ugly mug to the left, haircut is needed - tomorrow or Thursday - for a better effect. Also evil eybrows, I probably need them trimming a bit. After all this is Taric!

All in all looks great, especially in photos; you can't see the location of the 3 LED's in the photo. Originally they were pressed up more against the plastic gem making them pin-points of light, which since I had tapes and glued it up by that point like a dunderhead was really hard to sort. I now have a technique though, involving a little door thing I can get into if I need to sort it further (I may do, the connection isn't great).

It's also not too comfortable, so I need to tape padding to it a bit I think, but that can wait until after painting.

Whew, first bit of armor completed - other bits are somewhat prototyped but not to this level.

Also I have now properly used Pepakura! Found a better way to export from Sketckup. Gems ho!

Glue is the worst (Posted 1st April 2013)

First up: I despise glue.

I got some evostick glue, heavy duty stuff - seemingly too much so for my poor plasticard, near destroyed by it! Great, well, kinda useless to me. It is also yellow so not good for gem making.

Glue guns; terrible at sticking together plastic it seems. I'm still using them as a applier in most situations though.

Araldite; best of the bunch but rather expensive. Some of them you really have to rush using what you mix to make use of it meaning sloppy applications. A pain in the arse!

All in all I don't like glue - it is temperamental, tricky stuff and the less I use the better IMO!

Bits of Progress (Posted 30th March 2013)

So today I got up to lots of little things. I've managed to finally start the hammer façade and also have done the base for the shoulder pads (I'll cover it once lighting and gems are added).

Annoyingly I need to still do a fair bit of the basics now I have lighting available (although one board doesn't seem to be working again, bugger!), in a sort of priority order:

* Finish hammer façade and paint silver, line with lights.
* Add gem areas to hammer (bits near the heads).
* Finish shield façade and paint silver, line with lights, attach gem, finished (?)
* Armour pieces (may run out of covering plastic! eek! ordered some more but bank holidays :( )
* Gauntlets out of foam, sew onto gloves, paint.
* Make a ton of gems. I mean around 30 or 40 of the damn things. Need to do reasonably late...
* Sew on scale mail onto suit (and make/spray more if necessary)
* Headband (pretty simple)
* Cloak construction (need to still try bleach, or more likely, cut the pattern on the back out and line it with something nice looking). Last just because it's sewing.

Luckily I have all the bits, 6 mostly totally free days and some elbow grease left.

Woes of Electronics (Posted 28th March 2013)

I've got 7 of the 10 LED boards working and enough equipment now to lay out LED's in the props/armour (the armour I might add I am still planning, eek!).

The problem with the 3 others are one or more channels are not working. I will wire up enough for each prop/piece and plan for only 2 or 3 channels, and if the 3 get fixed (by me or with help diagnosing it) then all the better, but no worries.

Took ages to do soldering it all together! Got a few more things to do (RF communications, buttons) which I plan to finish today.

Hammer base finished (Posted 26th March 2013)

Finished the hammer base (sans a few longer bolts so not "fully constructed" yet); lots and LOTS of drilling to make the secure blocks for the mid sections; this was worth it to mean I can work on the internals and external fascade as it would be rather then as I guess it might be - calculations and angles never work out from planning to final in my experience :D

Base Lycra (Posted 26th March 2013)

Sorted, finally; base lycra to sew on scales! (and also better then a normal set of clothes underneath the armor due to cracks etc.).

Not sure I'll have time for the bit at the back of his legs, which will be covered by the cloak anyway, but this is good for doing the scales on the arms and stomach.

Gloves and Collars (Posted 25th March 2013)

Just a quick update; Sunday was spent working on the undersuit for the scale mail (lycra, not finished yet) as well as gloves (gauntlets base) and collar.

The gloves turned out really well! I followed the tutorial here: :D

The only thing was the stitch I used (which had some stretch) sadly made the paper stick down a little too well in the gaps. Still got to get the tweezers to the rest of it! It is easy to alter once done as well. The freezer paper will help with any future bits I think!

The collar is finally a success more or less, more of a structural thing - it will hopefully provide full support to the shoulder pads weight, which I am still finally designing; there needs to be a fair bit of integrity so it doesn't simply slide off!

Coding (Posted 24th March 2013)

I am using a set of Arduino systems to say what should be going on the LED's. The LED controllers merely pass the message on at the right voltage.

The coding is pretty simple overall for me (I got the major things done all basically today), but it is the little things that sometimes are the hardest like figuring out why a certain function decides not to call all the time.

I have added (on top of the sample code) fades, minor (and major) randomisation of colours/intensities, the ability for multiple sets of lights to change colour independently (rather than one set of lights at a time), and with button interaction - which means programmable sets of patterns instead of just one generic one.

RF communication between boards will be a must and I'm getting the parts in hopefully in time. I can't press 3 buttons at once to control each circuit :) I also need batteries, which may well be harder to use LiPo ones and need some coding to control testing the levels.

I will be adding a performance mode - you turn it on, it waits for a button press, whereupon it will cycle through the lights automatically according to the music I've chosen (IE: It will be timed directly in the code against the timing of the music). Give or take this is the best solution I can think of beyond trying to press buttons all the time in a performance which may well go wrong! For Gemucon I am keeping this part pretty darn simple, just using his voice clips to signal changes.

All in all pretty nifty coding, although I won't release it immediately (it is a mess of repetition right now and is missing key things) anyone can contact me if they are interested; I might well use it in future projects too :)

Scales (Posted 22nd March 2013)

Laser cutting more scales, took a while. Will need to spray them (might do some of that tonight) - spray paint reputedly doesn't like polypropylene but since I'm not bending or curving this plastic it should stay on fine with a good undercoat, but I am prepared to cover them in paper as a last resort...

LED stacked boards (Posted 22nd March 2013)

Quick update; got some help making the board stack (picture; 2 different strips of LED's doing different colours!), I'll complete the rest and so now I can finally test the LED layouts and start to finish props and armour pieces I hope!

Lots of LED Boards (Posted 19th March 2013)

Just a quick update; 5 hours after starting and I have the LED controller boards (mostly) finished. I still have 2 Arduinos to build, and then wiring everything up, but look! solid progress! :) hopefully with them made up it'll speed along the lighting all round and get me in a position to wire up at least the shield to finish the damn thing.

Starting the Hammer (Posted 17th March 2013)

The Hammer. It's huge.

I realised this when I started the costume but the dimensions are still staggering now when I am planning it further. The shaft I got is a metal rod, 1M long, and that won't even go the entire height of the shaft!

In total I expect it to be 80CM (plus gems on top) from front to back (the front "head" of the hammer to the other side). The height will be around 160CM or so from tip of the top gem to the bottom decoration on the shaft.

This is to put it in the same scale/dimensions as the shield - which is comparably small!

The method I've taken is to use the versatile hardboard to have a set of interior walls made in circle form. Then I will be having the shaft support these with some beams of wood between them.

The actual decoration and exterior will mainly be plasticard or the acrylic gems, which is good to keep the weight down.

Only problem is Nottinghack hasn't got a 30MM drill bit for making the hole for the shaft to fit in and later be bolted onto. This is...annoying to say the least and I'll have to pick up one maybe tomorrow (damn Sunday opening hours!)

Final thing is the actual hammer has is green lines on it; this I hope to achieve with a mix of foam raising up acrylic with LED's underneath. I'll have to figure this out as I go along though!

More Spray Painting (Posted 15th March 2013)

Just a small update; it appears spray paint works okay (one coat, two will likely be better) on the scales I've done. Pretty!

Now to order the plastic...

Controlling RGB LEDs with Arduinos (Posted 13th March 2013)

So RGB LEDs can light up in multiple colours; red green and blue in various amounts - you can do in between colours as per the light spectrum (pink, violet, aqua, purple, lighter blue/green/red, and white are the main ones I think are recognisable). Of course you can't do black, or darker colours - those are best done with tinted lenses. For me these are fine colours to work with though!

So to do this it needs a program to be run on essentially a dead cheap tiny mini-computer. This program run on the computer sends a signal to a more complicated board which then sends the signal around the RGB LED's.

The reason I am not doing this with a more complex setup (eg; every single RGB LED being controllable) is because I've not done much in the way of electronics, and don't have time to tailor a plan. I will be building all the boards myself (the ones in the picture I soldered myself) and is a respectable way towards doing it all myself anyway!

My plan is to do 3 RGB controllers on a single Arduino. These would then control different colours. For instance my main one will aim to be a base of blue (set out everywhere) then the two others being alternative shining to white to "sparkle" or at least alternate what is going on with different shades.

(I also plan something fancier and sillier along with some basics like blue, green...and pink. Disco Taric anyone? There is also a need to do something more complicated for any demonstrations).

There will be 3 of these (Shield, Hammer, Armor) and have batteries and buttons in them. I am going to see if I can get RF connectors so I only need to click one button to change the pattern.

This is a rather expensive endevour; the RGB LED strips were £20 each (hopefully enough!), the Arduino clones were around £8 each, the batteries will be around £12 each, the wire and connectors will be another tenner-ish I hope, and the RGB controller boards of which I'll get 10 are £10 each (worth it from a friend, designing them myself would have been impossible). I don't know about the addons to do buttons/RF things yet though. £150+ for it all is a lot but it should look good in the end!

(Posted because finally I have a working board, powered, running the RGB LED's with a program I can edit! whew, took a while to get it all sorted!)

Scale Mail (Posted 13th March 2013)

Scale Mail is going to the most time consuming part to physically put together! Not done yet, but planned and prototyped...

I have designed the actual scales to be cut out on the laser cutter at my local hackspace (Nottinghack), on polypropylene sheets (vi print, A4 size). The design I finally chose was the larger, longer one (second from left in the picture).

The good and bad things about this:

- Good: It will be light (this plastic is very thin and bendy)
- Good: It will look visually like scale mail and be movable (so my body won't go rigid!)
- Meh: It likely won't be metallic unless painted. I'll probably do it on grey, and see if it needs painting for the effect after - maybe just brushed on lightly.
- Bad: It is a manual solution rather then, say, using a pattern on fabric or something.
- Very bad: It is going to take me forever to sew them on!

Pros and cons all round. The laser cutter saves me countless hours manually cutting out plastic shapes and keeps me sane, although sewing it in will take ages (did I mention it'll take ages?). The pieces will be overlapped, although on the costume luckily I am not making an entire suit of it, only covering the bits I don't have armour on.

I'll get the sheets I need ordered and then cut out, but wait until I have my lycra "undersuit" and the armor more or less finished to know what areas to cover.

I also hope I can sit down in this lot, if not, there will be a necessary pillow accessory...

Gem Designing (Posted 13th March 2013)

Gems are a large part of this project; there are various methods I tried and thought about but my design requirements are very specific:

- Must show light through
- Must be reasonably lightweight (shoulders, hammer!)
- Must be easy to make lots of different unique designs with (sadly, no one gem to rule them all)

So the methods from worst to best for me:

- Paper/card/craft - Cheap and easy in a pinch. Not see through which is top priority! (a shame, I've seen some really well made and painted versions of gems). Crete paper is an option but it is hard to make that see through, flat and shiny (Glue tends to indent it).

- Resin casting - Moulds are unique so too hard for all the large gems. Resin is heavy even if hollowed out. Not very see through too (nb; is great for smaller repetitive items though). I'd loved to have used this for the more rough-cut look if I was up for moulding all of them though. Expensive too if you're making a lot of things.

- Fibreglass - Thin, but the methodology means it usually is painted due to the fibre needed to strengthen it. Also requires unique moulds, again time consuming for so many gems.

- Acrylic Plastic - Cheap(ish), got 2mm to test and worked great from a design I printed and cut. See through and inside can be covered in paper/frosting to hide the interior/diffuse light while the outside stays shiny. No moulds needed so unique gems easier to do.

Note that sanding plastic is a PITA and I hurt both thumbs when making some parts of a large gem; be warned, sanded plastic gets hot!

Using acrylic means also designing the gems somehow. You could rough guess easy ones (like square/hexagon ones) but generally it is easier to go off a design you print out.

Tools of the trade for me:

- Sketchup 3D (was Google):
- Sketchup Unfold Tool: (also there is Flattery that I've not tried or needed: )
- GIMP or Inkscape to edit the size of the resulting captured picture

These are combined using a tutorial which I could write here but is very long, and probably needs a lot more pictures so I might do it entirely somewhere else or under the Articles section here! I've added a picture of a gem I quickly designed which would be flattened using the tool and printed on an A4 or A3 sheet to the right size (scaling the pieces up and down and moving them around to fit).

Harness and Collar (Posted 13th March 2013)

So I have worked on the basic harness and collar; the collar is needed else the shoulder pads will literally just slide off my shoulders being so heavy!

This also introduces several issues on how to attach the wood-based collar to the harness/shoulder pads to hold them. Webbing has issues; but might be I can screw a bolt on with a large enough washer if I carefully cut a hole. Bendable plastic might be another nut-based option, or making a loop of metal or plastic would allow the webbing to be looped on and sewn hard.

Ideas ideas...will try and fix it tonight. Also coming along is the scale mail in a sense I've got the patterns cut for the base costume to attach scales to, and scales will be tested tonight on the laser cutter!

Spray Painting (Posted 5th March 2013)

Testing spray painting before I make the leap into doing all the paint on the plastic/foam. Brilliant Metallic looks like the best (most shiny).

BTW: I might add backdated entries but probably not. Most are mainly on the design and testing of various things rather then full on progress of completed things.

(EDIT: The main backdated one I should do is the shield which was a complicated design in wood, and completed a while back before March, I also purchased a lot of things like fabrics and so forth).