Giant fully motorized Aether Wing Kayle (WIP)


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Hi everyone,

First time posting here, so forgive me if I've done this wrong. Close to a year ago I started on my very first cosplay. It started out as almost a joke since I played Kayle so much in League of Legends, but after a while I started researching the real possibility of making it. As many probably probably do, I quickly found the RPF since not only does it have some of the best cosplays I've seen, it also has more info and a wide range of techniques. It was extremely helpful with some of the aspects and really inspired me. Also why this is the only place outside FB I've thought to share it. I tend to have a bad habit of aiming for end-game projects and here's some info on this one...

I'll link my FB page here since it's a long post (There's another FAQ on the pinned post, but I didn't want to copy/paste it here):
My video demoing it I posted a few days ago has several million views at this point (TheRPF already posted it to their FB page, so some of you might have seen it), but you can also see it here (Please watch as it gives a much better idea than photos. Although it doesn't show everything, see below for why):
edit: Video also rehosted here:
(Note: if I'm linking this wrong or if I should post differently, can a mod contact me)

It took over 1000 hours, largely due to the shear volume of information I had to go through (Hundreds of tutorials/guides/methods/etc, and evaluating/comparing all of them for pros/cons/suitability/result/etc) and the basic tools I had to work with. In the process I had to learn almost everything from scratch. I didn't even know what costumes were made of, let alone what EVA was and how it worked. Mechanical and electrical engineering, 3D modeling, metalworking, microcontroller programming, materials, painting techniques, and even physically trained to wear it. The only thing that I had most of the knowledge about before I started was coding, even then it's not as similar as what I'm used it.

The main goal of the costume was accuracy, so the costume proportions were scaled to my size directly from the model, made buildable (large number of intersecting surfaces), and designed around that. This turned out to be a full wingspan of over 4m. The sword was scaled down slightly from 185cm to 155cm, which was the biggest change. The actual game model is basic colouring without huge amounts of detail, so it's plain because that, not because I wouldn't have made it more. For future projects I'll take more of my own artistic input.

The limitations due to this were extreme, where I quickly found out that even non-mechanical wings under half the size had backpack/harness sections of double the size. The actual section that connects to my back is only 18x24cm the wings extend out over 200cm, generating forces on sections equal to my body weight. The costume has a large number of compound curves and no easy way to transpose to 2d that can be made into 3d. For some parts I ended up measuring the displacement from basic 2d/3d shapes as segments in Sketchup in order to correctly take it to 2d foam. This made up hundreds, if not over 1000, of measurements as every single straight line was measured at least twice and curves measured in multiple locations.

The acrylic sections on the costume were up to a meter in length making it hard to find ways of forming the whole things at once (Even workshops don't normally have molding things for >1m). I wanted acrylic for the organic compound curves in the lighting sections, which other attempts never achieved. Even if I could, building the molds and managing to get it to conform to them was going to be hard as it is. I ended up heat molding them by hand with a heat gun and gloved hands. I burnt out 2 heat guns due to overuse this way. On average it took 6 passes to account for overall shape, warping, unevenness, twisting due to uneven cooling, etc. That make it multiple hours per piece and there's 18 in total.

The wings were designed from scratch with 26 visible mechanical motions, 6 'types' of visible motions, that would require a bare minimum of 15 motors/servos. So far the 'feathers' raise (done), top sections rotate (done), small feathers rotate (done, but needs to be more precise to be reliable), the wings rotate backwards behind me (done, needs a different motor though), the large feathers extend outwards from the mid section (partly finished, but quite a bit more work needed), the entire wings raise/lower pivoting from the same hinge point (partly done, more work needed).

The frame is largely the aircraft grade aluminium square tubing kinda thing, it's bolted together since I didn't want to also learn how to weld alu (Apparently one of the harder things to weld) with over 100 bolts. Rather than thrust bearings since I couldn't get the precision by hand to effectively use them, I used teflon (UHMWPE is better for this) as bearing material on the wing rotation joint (Worked out rather well). It has linear bearings installed for the mentioned wing extension, so they already slide in/out just no motors yet (Magnetic latch system holding it there atm). Being this large, the wings alone weigh 16-17kg, but it proved to be reasonably comfortable to wear for me, and wore it 6-7hours on multiple days.

The 'feathers' are lifted via a carefully calculated and calibrated winch system (The angle of rotation per feather varies and is proportional). It's controlled by an arduino mega with around 1000 lines of code in it mostly for management and sequencing, but also for Bluetooth controls via android app (can be done via a KeyPad). Since I wanted to optimize weight distribution the motor is only a few CM from my back and the control wires had to run through the center of 2 way hinging joints that couldn't be larger than about 13x13, yet support 2m long wings. If you're an engineer, you can kind of see how hard this is, let alone to do it cheaply, and with tools like a £15 handdrill, cheap jigsaw, hacksaw (I went through 8 hacksaw blades) some metal files and almost no knowledge of it previously.

It has about 8m of LED strips (Enough to light a room) behind the acrylic, with a tracing paper diffuser, these can be directly powered or pulsed by a MOSFET I pulled from an old PSU, controlled by the microcontroller.

After all of it though, I feel the quality of it so far is only 7/10 of what I was aiming for in terms of result. Despite comments from cosplayers who've already won world-class competitions being hugely positive, I can't help but feel a little disappointed that with the right tools and a bit more experience I would've truly fulfilled my vision.

I've quite a range of requests for commissions already and I'd love to make more, but I'm clueless. Even if optimized, this simply isn't possible to build one-off's quickly/cheaply. At the moment I'm in London, UK and going to look at some "makerspace" kinda places for a workshop to potentially build one. I'd be grateful to anyone who could get me in touch with solid advice. Given people's reaction to my first project, I feel I could do a lot more.

I'll answer any questions I can, but have been busy so might not answer straight away.
Some might be answered on my FB page FAQ post.

Some of pics of mine:

Game art (For reference):
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This. Is. Amazing! Super interesting read! That sounds like an insane amount of work, learning, and problem solving you did. I can relate to wanting to do a project that's way too big for your current experience, but doing it anyway because it's fun to learn how to do so many new things. I wouldn't feel bad that your first attempt wasn't perfect. It was your first attempt. You learned so much from this and now your next project can be even better! My first cosplay looks great on the surface but...I can't even walk around in it. On top of that there are so many things about it that I wish I had done better. I'm going to fix it so I can actually wear it, but I'm not going to continue to improve all the parts that bug me because if I keep doing that the project will never end. There's a point where you just have to stop yourself and be able to look at your project as a learning process and not something that has to be perfected.

What are your plans now? Going to keep making improvements or start a new project? I'm really excited to see what else you can do!
Glad you liked it!
What are your plans now? Going to keep making improvements or start a new project? I'm really excited to see what else you can do!
I'm not sure, there's a lot of things to consider.
I might carry on doing some of the improvements, although at this point it's kind of been shown to several million before the video. So even if I get everything nailed, it's kind of... old?
I could start on a commissioned piece since I've had a number of requests, but I don't know how well I could do it and could I make it worth my time.
I could just make another smaller one in a different style being better in every respect, then auctioned it off so I get the experience, some time for my money, and people get to see what I can really do.
I might just do an entirely different costume, Infernal Nasus from LoL was another option. Although that would be lots of animatronics, with artificial smoke, voice modulation, and stuff.

I'd love to start doing commissioned pieces, but I don't want to sell people low quality stuff. I'm essentially one of my own harshest critics and I'd feel bad selling something that isn't to my own standards. The inner perfectionist in me is rarely satisfied. I really like working on the mechanical aspects, novel things that people haven't done before. So if I'm going to do anything it's going to have something unique to it, not just more detail... at a certain point adding detail is simply more of the same thing, just takes more time.

Everything is a bit up in the air at the moment. Something big came up just today and new opportunities might arise in the next few weeks, so things are kind of on-hold till then.

Here's a pic of the model I'm working from. Never learnt to properly use more advanced stuff, so sketchup does the job. :

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