Injustice: Gods Among Us Aquaman

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Hi everyone. I've been stalking for a while and decided to finally start posting my work on Aquaman from the video game Injustice: Gods Among Us. I'll be posting the build work over several posts, based on the part of the costume.

This version of the character is an update of the traditional Aquaman outfit, adding various pieces of armor to the existing scale mail shirt. In addition, this version exchanges the traditional green tights for leather pants.

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Part I: Scale Armor

My Aquaman build started with the decision to make an authentic top out of metal scale mail. I felt that the metal would give a more eye-catching look and would be more visually accurate.
After much searching, I found the raw materials from The Ring Lord out of Canada. They are one of the only distributers of the material online. In late October I placed my order.
I chose a bronze color aluminum scale and steel jump rings. I felt that the bronze color would lend better to a real-life interpretation of the character, as opposed to the more traditional orange.
With no prior experience working with scales mail or chain mail I began by reading a few tutorials before deciding to jump right in.
The process seemed pretty basic: you start by opening a ring with two pair of pliers, putting two scales together back to back, and then closing the ring. After that you attach another scale to the first ring and begin working down in a triangular pattern. Every inner scale ends up with four rings total in the little hole.
Each row of this design has an additional scale then the last, which creates a larger piece as you work your way down.

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This was the longest portion of the build, as I learned to weave the scales together to create sheets of scale “fabric”.

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After making a few of these larger sections I decided to start patterning my shirt. I used a basic t-shirt for inspiration and, beginning at the shoulders, working my way down from there.

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Once I had buildt the majority of the front torso, I realized that the original idea of a t-shirt style would not be the most effective. The tops of the shoulders were not producing the clean lines that I wanted, the scales there were sticking up, and there were gaps at the sleeves.

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I decided to deconstruct the shirt back to the individual panels and remove the shoulder area. I found an orange running shirt during this time as a back-up in case my scales were not ready for the convention. I realized that I could use this shirt as the inspiration for a new pattern, with a back and torso built in a more of a triangular shape that pointed towards the neck.

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This change in shape would allow for the shoulder scales to be built as a separate piece from the rest of the shirt that pointed down towards my hands. By changing the direction that the shoulders pointed, it would allow the upper-most scales to lay flatter at the top when reassembled.

During this time I also realized that I needed to be able to get the shirt on and off, which could be a challenge.

Traditional scale mail armor is was either built to pull over like a t-shirt and hang loose or had leather straps to allow the piece to be pulled tight.

I knew that I wanted to shirt to fit snug, so I added a zipper in the back (see the edges of the picture below). The zipper is a heavy weight jacket grade and has a bronze metal look to it. In order to help hide the zipper, I added an extra row of scales over the top. Unless you are looking close you typically cannot see it when I am wearing the suit.

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The final build of the scale shirt ended up being short sleeved, due to the restrictions on movement from the original sleeves, but I still wanted to have long sleeves as an option.
My solution was to make fabric sleeves from a bronze-gold lame and cover them with fishnet. From the typical 10 foot picture range the shininess of the fabric gives the illusion of a full top.

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In total, this portion of the build took almost three months of consistent work during the evenings, weekends, and throughout my Christmas vacation.

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Part II: Trident
While working on my scales I also designed and built my trident. Although the Injustice version of the trident seemed more ornate, I preferred the clean lines and overall design of the New 52 version seen in the comic books.

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My trident was constructed from two basic materials, two layers of PVC/CPVC pipe and kunai from the anime Naruto. I began by using one layer of PVC pipe and a series of joint connectors to construct the shape of the trident head. I removed the circle end of the kunai and slid it into the end of the pipe.

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The original design did not factor enough length into each tine of the trident. In addition, I felt that the center tine needed more girth and that the outermost tines felt disjointed from the rest of the piece. I scraped most of the original design and made the adjustments. I also added cardboard to each of the smaller points to create hooks.

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Next I added rubber O rings and a rubber furniture foot to create the details to the pole portion of the trident. I then used wood putty to smooth out the joints and sanded the entire piece.

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After several layers of putty, I Plastidipped the entire trident before spray painting everything a shiny gold.

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This is the version of the trident that I carried for several conventions in the Dallas TX area earlier this year.


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Part II: Trident (continued)

After taking my trident to a couple of conventions and having it quickly pointed out that the end was made from PVC pipes, I decided to rework the piece to make it look more authentic. I realized that the shiny gold finish made the trident look too “new”, so I planned to antique the entire thing and make it look like it came from the bottom of the ocean.

I began by using silicone caulk to add more body to the joints, sanding it smooth between each layer.
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I then began adding thick layers of caulk to the entire piece to provide texture and more depth, again sanding between layers.

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When I had a finish that I was satisfied with I spray painted the entire trident with several layers of flat black. This would give the recessed areas more shadow and depth when I moved on to my final painting.

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Next I hand painted the entire trident with several layers of different colored gold acrylic and applied three layers of high gloss clear coat.

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Finally I used a piece of snake-skin faux-leather from a purse I found at the local thrift shop to create a handle. This would help protect the finish as I walked around during a convention, as well as provide another texture to the overall piece.

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- - - Updated - - -

Part III: Armor

The next task before me was to recreate the armored pieces that set the Injustice version of Aquaman apart from the more traditional styles. For this I decided to use EVA foam, another material that I had no prior experience in using.

I began the process by creating patterns for the armor from poster board and using the patterns to rough out a basic design from the foam.

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I then carved out details with my utility knife and heat gunned the entire piece. The heat applied to the carvings helped the etchings to stand out.

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Next I built the spiked shoulder ridges and the tentacles and attached them to the piece. I applied several layers of mod podge, sanding lightly between layers, and let the entire thing dry.

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Part III: Armor (continued)

Next I built the leg armor. I started with an existing pair of soccer shin guards as the base. I added the inner layer of foam first, which would be the purple area of the final piece. This was made from thinner craft foam instead of the EVA foam.

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I then added the “metal” portions and the ridges, both crafted from EVA foam.

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Next I created the arm bracers by using a similar technique to the leg armor. Instead of the soccer shin guards a pair of football arm guards served as the base for adding the sculpted EVA foam.

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For the belt I used a faux-leather backing and built the foam detail directly on top. I wanted to make sure that the belt was large enough to cover the bottom of the scales, to help with bunching.

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I then hand painted all of the armor using various gold acrylics and purple, before applying a high gloss clear coat over each piece.

After my first outing with the armor at Comicpalooza, I realized that there were three areas I wanted to improve on, such as removing portions of the armor in the front to allow the scales to show through, repainting the piece to a shinier gold to allow it to stand out from the scales, and replacing the tentacles with something that would look more realistic and move when I walked. I accomplished this by using rubber lizards from the toy department. I sliced each one open and laid them out on the existing foam tentacles, cutting off sections as needed to make them fit. I then filled the gaps with hot glue before repainting the entire piece.

Here is a before and after to show the difference in the initial and final builds:

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Part IV: Pants

The final task to undertake was building the intricate pants that Aquaman wears in the game. This was one of the most intimidating steps to tackle, as I had not used a sewing machine since I was a teenager. After months of searching I was able to find a soft black pleather for the bulk of the pants, and a dark green vinyl for the thigh area. I also knew that I wanted to accentuate the raised portions of the black area, so I got some thin batting to place between the seams.

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I knew that the Texas heat would cause the pants to be extremely hot, so my plan was to start with a fabric base to keep the pleather and vinyl from being in direct contact with my skin. I decided on a light, breathable black cotton as the base. I used a basic pant pattern and cut the cotton, batting, and pleather out and layered them on top of each other. After patterning the overall design, I stitched the angled lines onto each leg of the pants.

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Next I cut out the green vinyl based on my custom pattern. I would be adding the vinyl as the outer-most layer of the pants.

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I used a gold bias tape to trim the edges of the green vinyl. This provided a good shine to the material that matched overall look of the armor and scales.

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Here is a picture of the pants in progress. You can see the lines on the black pleather and the details of the trim work.

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After accidentally sewing the pant legs together to for a giant tube, I unstitched them and sewed the together correctly. I sewed in two long strips of Velcro in the fly and added a snap closure to the waist.

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Part V: Results

It has been a labor of time and commitment to complete this version of Aquaman. When I first started with the scale mail last year I never imagined that I would take the costume this far. There are still small details that I am planning before I call this piece complete, but for now I am still proud to show it off.

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So, what are everyone's thoughts? How can I make this better?
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