In Part II of the Asuka plugsuit tutorial, I will discuss all the HARD STUFF!! Basically, all the hard plastic pieces. Click here for Part 1.
The neckpiece, boob armor, shoulder pauldrons and backpack are all vacuum formed. I know vacuum forming isn’t a method everyone’s going to try, and there are many many other ways to make these pieces, BUT I will share what we did. My boyfriend built a vacuum form table for his own artwork, and was kind enough to share it with me and help me make things for my costume. 😀 Here are some photos of the set up we use. It actually wasn’t too bad to build. We use a $50 used oven from Craig’s List. DO NOT use the one you cook in at home! The fumes are awful and probably harmful in your food. Sam built a metal frame over the oven rack that we bold the sheet of plastic into. The vacuum form table itself is made from peg board. The vacuum connects underneath it. Yeah, that’s a lot of aluminum tape. It’s cheap, but it works!
We got our plastics from local shops. Google search your area for plastic shops – you may have to buy a minimum.
Shoulders – We started by making a plaster mold of my shoulder. Yuck this feels awful! But it’s short lived. Then you line it with something greasy and fill it with plaster to create a cast of your body. There is plenty of info on the internet – look up body casting or plaster casting! The nice thing is I have this durable cast of my shoulder that I can use for multiple costumes! I also used it for PS3 girl.
I did have to spend some time sanding it down smooth and adding on the screw-like details that the plugsuit shoulders have. I set in some screw-like buttons and rubber gaskets around them. You can even just temporarily glue it since it doesn’t have to be permanent.
These ones ended up going to my Rei. They are styrene. Mine are a different plastic.
This plastic on the final version I used is a thin ABS – 0.03 thickness – great because you want some flexibility in the shoulder. It is also thin enough to be cut with scissors, however I still sanded all the edges to make sure there are not sharp spots. I sprayed them red and just did the details with paint pens.
I didn’t want to make a full hard neck like the Cospa suits and some cosplayers use, just for the sake of comfort. I was hard set on having some hard piece on the neck as you can see the little nub that extends outward. The neck piece is formed off a piece of big cardboard tube. The little nub that sticks out was insulation foam (and then wood for the second pull because the foam melted…) Make note that with a hollow shape like this, the vacuum will flatten it! That’s why you’ll see it’s backed with a clay in the photos. This one was a heavier styrene, and I like the thickness it has for this part. I cut it carefully with a box cutter and a file.
The boobs were done so many times over until the right shape was obtained!! I tried forming some plastic with a heat gun, but wasn’t getting the round shape I really wanted. So, finally, we made a plaster cast of a dummy’s boobs and sanded those down since I’m only an A cup… finally got it right! Here is a picture of both plaster bucks on the table.
Again, these are made from the 0.03 ABS. It can be easily cut with scissors. Auto paint comes in the perfect metallic orange! I primed and sanded with 400-600 grit to get a smooth surface first.
Backpack, ooh boy this was a pain. First, I took an image of the Cospa backpack, scaled it to fit my back, grayscaled it, printed it out and cut it into pieces. This made my pattern, although it had to be translated into 3-D.
The backpack was Sam’s baby and he did all the buck shaping. First was MDF board, second one was insulation foam, and third was plaster! Insulation foam is awesome and easy to carve, but has some issues with melting and bonding to the plastic when you form it. Yikes! So basically when the shape was almost there, we went ahead and made a plaster cast of that, so it could be sanded and wouldn’t heat warp, and redid it. The backpack is made from a thicker ABS that doesn’t quite have the flexibility of the thinner variety used for the other parts. It is 0.069 thickness. I also had to cut it out carefully with a craft knife.
To paint it, I first sprayed the red. To make the 2, I actually again used the backpack image printout. I printed it on sticker paper, cut out the 2 with a craft knife, and centered it on the backpack. I also taped off the side pieces with masking tape, then I sprayed the black.
All the pieces attach to the suit with 5/8″ metal snaps. They are glued on to the pieces (caulk works best for the flexible pieces) with their counterparts sewn onto the outside of the suit. This leaves them removable for washing/storage/repair, but with no risk of falling off or sliding around.
Again, credit must go 10x over to my boyfriend, Sam, for coming up with ideas when mine fell short or I just hit a wall. He is amazing!
We used a handful of different plastics: the white is styrene, which is nice and complete smooth but inflexible and the shop didn’t have any thinner variety. My Lina Inverse pauldrons are also made from this stuff. It has more of a tendency to crack since it doesn’t flex as much. The black we picked up later is ABS and came in thinner versions – we used 0.03 and 0.069. It has a bit of of a texture on the top, but it’s not bad. It has a lot of texture on the underside! A few layers of primer and wet sanding and you really can’t even see it anyway. These plastics take paint really well and don’t need a bunch of work like say, Wonderflex or foam. The nice thing about the vacuum formed pieces is durabilility. I can literally just throw this stuff in my suitcase for a con, paint does not peel off or chip, and it’s not going to lose it’s shape if I leave it in the car. I love it!
Please feel free to e-mail me at nyunyuaz[at]gmail.com with any questions! 😀