Mass Effect 3 : Ashley Williams and M8 Avenger finished (pics on page 2)

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Laika

Active Member
2nd go at posting this, I tried once but put it in the wrong forum, doh! Decided to do a bit more work on it before trying to post again.

Anyway, hello TRPF, I'm a particularly clueless noob with an ambitious plan to Cosplay Ashley Williams from the Mass Effect Games (well it makes a change from Commander Shepard), specifically one particular armour from Mass Effect 3.


Briefish background, I'm kinda old, kinda large and kinda odd, but after spending far to much time in the digital realm I started venturing to the strange outside world a few years ago, and actually started going clubbing, often to clubs where dressing up was encouraged or in fact mandatory. I started with assembling odd outfits from shop bought stuff but started modifying things, mostly accessories, small things mostly, but got to the point where I steampunked a nerf gun to go with an outfit for a steampunk cabaret night.


I'm also a huge nerd, and have been reading/watching SF since, well, before most of you where born :p also been playing video games since Space Invaders was cutting edge, so I started going to Cons/Festivals etc here in London (London England, yes I'm from the UK and spell armour with a u) after several years of absence. Wow don't loads of people cosplay these days and since I'd gotten into dressing up and modifying stuff I started to join in, with shop bought outfits to start with, but then I started modifying them and finally last MCM Expo in October I debuted my first home made outfit, I went as the Black Canary, it wasn't all home made, I just really sewed the body suit and made armoured bits for the gloves and boots, but I liked it and enjoyed the process of making it all, its satisfying (plus I'm a tart and like all the attention a good costume gets :p )


So I was thinking about what I was going to do for May 2013 MCM expo and Sci Fi London Easter Parade 2013, hrrmmmm, I'd been swapping a few messages from a Mass Effect Cosplayers I'd photographed (I'm also into photography) at MCM expo, I was very impressed by by the ME cosplayers there and thought, could I do Mass Effect Armour?


I'd played all the games, but do the costumes, nah, way to complicated. But then I started reading up on it, You Tube, various blogs, the 405th and TRPF forums, and thinking hrm, perhaps its not impossible after all and then one day found my self walking out of Argos with a some EVA foam mats, a Dremel and a heat gun. Guess I'm doing this then.

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(Just to reiterate that's not me nor my costume at the bottom right of the above picture, that's Ashley Williams done properly but someone who is young and pretty and knows what they are doing, I'm using her pics as a goal of the standard I want to try to achieve)

I started with Mass Effect 2 templates from Julian Beek Blog | julianbeek , Ashley William's armour in ME3 is very similar to Fem Shep in ME2 so I thought I was off to a great start. Except when I looked at the templates and this reference Named Characters by Troodon80 on deviantART I started noticing differences and I had my own idea's how to put the suit together anyway (I wanted to minimise joins between sections of foam), that plus the fact I'm rather large and needed to rescale everything meant I ended up redrawing most of them. After that I printed them out, cut them and started taping them to me and walking around my flat to make sure they fitted properly (is this odd? I guess not that odd around here), they went though several iterations before I was happy.


So then to building, So far the foam (I'm using several different bits of foam, thick 12mm floor mats from Argos, 8mm floor mats from Ebay, a 6mm exercise mat I got from a sports shop having a sale and 2mm craft foam from hobbycraft) is proving harder than it looks, there's a steep learning curve here. Mostly I'm prefer the 6 am 8mm stuff, the 12mm feels to thick and I probably won't use much of it. Cutting is going OK, but I'm going through a lot of knife blades and most pieces need a bit of a Dremel on the edges afterward. Also I'm using mostly gap filling super glue (ZAP ZAP-A-GAP) to build it, I tried using hot glue but prefer the super glue, it give me a little bit of working time, glues VERY strongly and seems to be less messy. Female Mass Effect armour is very curvy and most pieces need bending into shape after some heat gunning, so far that's being going OK, but the chest piece was a total PITA to do. Have been using the 2mm craft foam and 6mm strip styrene I got from a model shop for detailing and for panel lines etc, I've found if I just score the foam with a knife just enough to break the surface then run it under a heat gun for 30 secs it opens up to about 1 or 2 mm wide giving me a neat line, well much neater than I could with a dremel anyway.

Unfortunately due to my noobishness each bit has taken 2 attempts to build as I fluffed up cuts or assembly or got the sizing wrong :( I'm going to need a lot of foam/knife blades and glue

These are some of the reject parts
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And these are the ones that are less fail I'll use. Think I might redo the forearm though
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Another problem I have is that I live in a very small flat in London (have no shed or garage) and so can't really be doing noxious/bad smelling/toxic chemicals, so Resin or plastidip or anything like that is a non starter, so have to use cheap safe PVA glue to seal the foam. It will have to be sprayed blue after is built though, think I'm going to use Tamyia Racing blue acrylic spray as its the best match to the colour I've seen, with that and the white stripes and the curves Its going to look like a sports car when its finished ;) might be tricky to spray in my little flat though. I am slightly worried about the loss inflexibility of the foam after I've PVA'd it and painted it, I was counting on it being still a bit flexible so I can get it on me (the shin and wrist need to flex for me to get in them).

So far have done 7 sections (Right boot, shin, thigh, glove, forearm, upper arm, shoulder and the front of the chest), 6 of which are now PVA'd . Hopefully the left hand side will prove easier than the right as I've got the templates adjusted now .

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(Yes that's me this time)

Some bits in the pic above are held on with masking tape, proper strapping etc will be done after painting, they are bit more complicated than Shepherds and my shin guard isn't straight. Plus that under suit is temporary, I've got a spandex catsuit on order to replace it and I need to find the right wig. And after its done I'm going to need to build a rifle to go with it aren't I.

Anyway I'm posting the here cause I've picked up lots of tips on how to use foam from this site and have seen a couple of Mass Effect Threads as well. But I feel this build is going to take a while, and updates will be few, but I've started so I'll finish, but updates will be few and far between, esp for the next couple of weeks as I'm going on holiday soon).


Oh and UK people, the Sports Direct chain is having a huge sale on at the moment, and one item they have on sale is a Lonsdale brand exercise mat, reduced to £8.99 http://www.sportsdirect.com/lonsdale-fitness-mat-761112 this is a 180x60 cm, you have to remove the fabric top (it just pulls off) and edges, but under all that is 6mm good quality very dense EVA foam that cuts and shapes nicely, certainly better than the interlocking floor mats I've got, I'm using it a lot, only problem is after you remove the fabric one side stays a little bit sticky, but that will be the back anyway. Oh and the Hobbycraft chain where (maybe still are) selling 30x45cm sheets of 2mm craft foam for 79p, with a 3 for 2 offer.

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cannibal869

Well-Known Member
Re: Mass Effect Ashley Williams WIP

I'm guessing the shin piece is a little angled in that picture?

2 questions/comments:

1) planning on dyeing your hair or wig?
2) it might just be the photo angle, but the breastplate seems to be sitting a little... low? I realize the breastplate is one piece at the moment, but I sort of wonder - cause in the game it looks like it should be two pieces (i.e. kinda like IM armor where the upper breastplate can sort of slide over the lower torso "V"). In practice that might not really be possible, but I would imagine two pieces might be better for mobility?

Either way, it looks fantastic so far! Strong work!
 

Laika

Active Member
Re: Mass Effect Ashley Williams WIP

Yes the breast plate is a little too low, but thats mainly because its was only held on with a strip of masking tape around the back, it will sit higher when its all finished and strapped, saying that am am physically rather long in the body. I've done it as one piece, like a lot of ME builds, but I'm thinking it would give more mobility if it was two and joined with elastic or something, even with it being only a front piece and only taped to me, bending down or sitting is very difficult as it is now.

The shin piece got turned around, sorry, its got a gap down the inside leg so I can get it on and is currently a little loose, I'm going to to install a zip in it after I've painted it.

As for the hair, mine isn't right and I am looking for a suitable wig, but I haven't found it yet.
 
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Fly4v

Sr Member
Re: Mass Effect Ashley Williams WIP

For only having your flat as a workshop, this is some great looking armor.... or should I say armour. :thumbsup

Also, excellent use of the base color of the foam since you can't paint or dip.
 

Laika

Active Member
Re: Mass Effect Ashley Williams WIP

Can't plastidip it, but it will be painted, if I can't do it in my flat I should be able to access a garden to do it in, if it doesn't get to cold (currently we are having a very mild winter though)
 

Freya Willia

Well-Known Member
Re: Mass Effect Ashley Williams WIP

I've done it as one piece, like a lot of ME builds, but I'm thinking it would give more mobility if it was two and joined with elastic or something, even with it being only a front piece and only taped to me, bending down or sitting is very difficult as it is now.

As for the hair, mine isn't right and I am looking for a suitable wig, but I haven't found it yet.

I think the nice thing about the Mass Effect series and the people who costume from it is - there's a much wider age variety than other video games. People are used to seeing individuals who may or may not resemble the characters in the iconic gear, so that shouldn't distract from your hard work.

Plus, I just realized how weird it was to see my own face in a photo wearing the armor. I think if you find a wig and experiment with makeup (if you're into that), blondes can change appearance more dramatically than other complexions. You may end up looking more like the character than you think.
 

Shatterpoint25

Active Member
Re: Mass Effect Ashley Williams WIP

Looks very nice. I've been wanting to make some ME armor for a long time. Now I want to go buy some material and start right now. Nice work though, I will for sure be following this thread :)
 

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electraflier

Well-Known Member
Re: Mass Effect Ashley Williams WIP

I have had some great succes with 20 minute finishing epoxy for skinning foam. We used it for R/C aircraft, but it is a great crossover item for various builds.

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It is a little tricksome at first, as it is very liquid for a very long time...20 - 60 minutes. Very liquid for 20 min, very viscous for another 20 then sticky for an hour or so. The really cool thing is a glossy, flexible, yet strong coat over foam that looks very slick and shiny. It accepts most paints... For these gloves, I painted the foam flat black, applied the resin over that, then when it cured, I dry brushed on silver...a little too heavy, but they are my first...

It has a slight odor but I wore a mask any how... I brought it into the house (over paper) within a few minutes of being thicker and recieved no complaints about odor...I brought it in to cure in warmer, drier house.

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As I said it is a little tricky as it cures slow..I had to wear gloves, hold it from the inside and rotate it constantly to keep it from pooling and dripping! The results were good and worth the struggle.I have a skinned, fexible, low tear cover on my glove.. I may coat the inside for extra strength..
My cure time may have been slower due to the cooler damp weather we are having. in Florida. (Our version of winter lol!) I am doing the second glove, but will epoxy when it is warmer!
I hope this helps! If I can be of any help, please let me know... I'd be glad to share the entire agonizing details, if you want them LOL!
M
 
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Laika

Active Member
Re: Mass Effect Ashley Williams WIP

Thanks for the tip on the finishing Epoxy, I've never heard anyone mention it before, but I've already PVA'd half of my armour, so I will keep doing that on the rest for consistency (also PVA is cheap and there's a lot of armour to cover). But I am planning to build an M8 rifle out of foam to go with it, I'll look around my local model shops to see if they have something similar and maybe give it a go on the rifle.
 

firebapx

Well-Known Member
Re: Mass Effect Ashley Williams WIP

for foam mats if you have an argos over there then they sell them as camping mats for £7 and they do 16 square ft of the interlocking floor matts for £15 at the min
 

sq10e

Active Member
Re: Mass Effect Ashley Williams WIP

You say in first post that someone else knew what they were doing, implying that you don't. Well call youself a liar because that is a brilliant job so far
 

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SpaceClown

New Member
Re: Mass Effect Ashley Williams WIP

Great work so far! I'm also new to EVA foam as a building material. So far I've made and scrapped 4 breastplates for my wife's N7 armor. I always find something wrong with them.

Keep up the solid work, and keep up posting your progress. It'll help keep me from throwing in the towel on my own build.

SC
 

Laika

Active Member
Re: Mass Effect Ashley Williams WIP

Decided to lay off more construction until after my holiday, so decided to do get the parts I had done ready to paint.

Very lightly sanded them down after PVA’ing lightly and tried to fill in any small defects with modelling filler (smelly stuff that comes out of a little tube I got from a model shop). Found the filler only really works on SMALL defects, any thing bigger than a couple of mm and it just collapses. Then I primed it, then lightly sanded again, filled and put on a 2nd coat of grey primer.



It looks OKish in the photo, but that is lowres, up close there’s still loads of defects and the flat grey has made it easier to see all the bits I didn’t manage to get straight when building. I’m not going to get a car body panel type finish, so the flaws are going to written off as weathering/battle damage and must try harder next time. its all a learning experience.

Also have been deciding on the final colours, when I was priming I found just how much paint I’m going to need (i.e. lots), 100ml cans of model paint won’t go far and at nearly a fiver a go, will prove rather expensive. Plus I didn’t think the colour I chose initially was right anyway, to dark.

After some tests I’ve decided on Rust-oleom Painters Touch General purpose paint in Deep Blue Gloss, its not a perfect match but is close enough and is at lot more cost effective and easier to get (B&Q stock it) than the Tamiya model paint, I’ve tested on the foam and it works OK and it stays a little bit flexible after drying. Other colours are going to be white, yellow and dark and light metallic grey (going to use a mix of silver, black, burnished steel and gunmetal for those bits). I’m going to attempt to weather it a bit and try that scratched off paint effect in a few small places, but I don’t want it do dirty looking.

Also have been searching for a wig, but like the perfect paint its proving elusive. This is the nearest I’ve found so far
Zeenat - Dark brown straight mid length wig - Wonderland Wigs
 

firefly827347

Well-Known Member
Re: Mass Effect Ashley Williams WIP

Looks great son far! I'm also a noob at any type of prop or armour building but I really want to give foam ME armour a go. What primer did you use? I can't find EVA mats of any kind on B&Q's website but Argos does have "interlocking floor guards" that I might have a nose at.
 

Laika

Active Member
Re: Mass Effect Ashley Williams WIP

Argos (and John Lewis) does have grey EVA floor mats, they are kinda expensive at 20 quid for 4x 60cm60cm and are quite thick at 12mm but they have the carbon fibre weave effect on one side which is useful if you are doing Shepard. I did buy some of then and have used them in for a few bits of my armour, but I think these Big 3.5 sq ft EVA Exercise Safety Play Cushion Foam Floor Interlock Puzzle Mats | eBay are better value for money plus they are 8mm thick which I think is easier to work with than the 12mm. I've used several different grey acrylic primers, most seem pretty similar, I like Humbrol primer the best but its quite expensive and only comes in little cans so I've been using cheaper stuff from B&Q that comes in big cans.

After a break for a holiday I'm back working on my armour now, built most of the back today but have now run out of glue. I'll take some more photo's when I have progressed some more (and bought some more glue).
 

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