Medic427's 2013 Halloween Costume Contest Entry

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I hope I put this post in the right place.
This is my 2013 halloween costume contest entry for the kids category.
My son is 5 and loves Star Wars. His favorite character is Jango Fett and when asked what he wanted to be for halloween that came up right away. I was looking around at costume on the net to buy but was disappointed with the quality and the look of everything I saw. I have been following Bill Doran from Punished Props as well as Harrison Krix from Volpin Props and was inspired to try to build a costume for my son.
I am a new builder. I used to do plastic models when I was a kid but haven't made props or costumes before. I have limited construction skills and a few tools in my garage but I am not afraid to learn new skills. I have 2 full time jobs (one is a real one I am a paramedic, the other is my small photography business) so I new time was going to be a problem. To start the project I pored over reference photos and relied very heavy on the RPF as well as the Dented Helmet for construction tips and material ideas.
For me this project was a 10/10 in difficulty. I had to learn all the skills to complete it. I have never worked with fiberglass or bondo prior to this and my painting skills were nominal to say the least. I talked to allot of people and got their opinions on mixing bondo and learning tricks to using fiberglass. You Tube is a great place to learn something as well.

The helmet was done with the Pep technique using 100 weight cardstock for the basic model. After scaling the model to my sons head size and making 3 helmets shells until I was happy with the model I then used resin to strengthen the shell and followed that up with 2 layers of fiber glass on the inside. After the fiber glass was the bondo to smooth out the shape. ( I learned allot of lessons doing this. In the future I will sand down the facets to a smooth shape. i had enough fiberglass on the inside and it would of saved a lot of bondo.) After many layer and countless hours of sanding It was ready for glazing putty and wet sanding. Primed and then painted with enamel rattle can paint. I wanted to go for a non traditional clean look for this Jango armor. I wanted it to look really used so I weathered it quite heavy. I scuffed it up a bit and dry brushed rub and buff on to look like the paint was coming off. I used black and brown acrylics for the grim. The inside has foam for comfort. No visor present in these photos.

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The jetpack was a big challenge for me. There are allot of curves and tapers that I was unsure how to do. I used EVA foam for the flat surfaces with a square piece of MDF for strength on the back. The cylinders were objects that I had on hand. The main "gas tank" was from a tall beer that i had "on hand". For the tapered sections I scrounged up a McDonalds cup and a couple of rattle can lids. They all fit together so they made it into the model. The thruster tubes were paper towel rolls that I strengthened with resin. I wanted to use PVC but I had to save weight. I ran a long piece of PVC for the missile on top was made with 2 dixie cups glued together with an easter egg on top to make a point. The thrusters were from dixie cups and PVC. I used hot glue to hold everything together. To seal up all the foam I covered it in mog podge and then used bondo to fill the gaps and make flat smooth surfaces. Details were done with styrene. Painted it with rattle cans and weathered with acrylics and rub and buff. I wish I would have taken a picture of it before the primer because it looked hilarious. I screwed some snaps on the back to attach it to a harness under his flack vest. The jetpack weighs in at just over 1 1/2 pounds. Now I know that this version of Jango's jetpack does not have this type of missile on it but the boy insisted on having one and I liked the color of this version.
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For the Flack vest I found some clearance textured black vinyl . I made a paper pattern on him and then sewed the vest together. There is a seam on the back with velcro to get him in it. I scuffed up and weathered the vest to make it look use. The armor was done with styrene. I started out with paper pinned to the vest for size and then transferred to the styrene. A heat gun was used to form it to the correct contour. They were primed and then painted with a brushed nickel. I didn't really like the look so I used rub and buff to make them look a little more like metal. Again they were weathered with black and brown acrylics and scuffed up to look used. Velcro holds them to the vest.
At this point i learned that a 5 year old does not like standing there to size things so I took a bunch of measurements of him and built a fitting mannequin out of insulation foam. It has way more patience than him but really helped out in the construction.
I didn't have the time to sew a jumpsuit for him so I went to the net and found a child's size boiler suit. I washed it about a dozen times to fade it a little and weathered it with spray paint.
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The girth belt was made with some cheep nylon rope that was glued to some brown vinyl and then painted with browns to look like leather.
The pouches and holsters were made from some brown vinyl head liner that I found on a clearance rack. I used hot glue and pop rivets to hold everything together. The original color and texture of the vinyl was bad so I spent a lot of time wrinkling and beating up the pouches to make them look more like used leather and then painted them with layers of acrylic paint for the right color. I sanded the edges to lighten the color and they ended up with a used. look. Also pop rivets are amazing for holding this type of material together. Thanks to Adam Savage for that tip from an interview he gave.
Here is a pic of the harness, holster, straps, and pouches. Didn't take any before painting pics.
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I scaled the blasters to fit his body size. I used PVC and styrene for the cylinder and details. The handles were carved from MDF.
the muzzle break was sculpted from plumbers putty. Primed and used rub and buff for a shiny metal look. Weathered with acrylics to make them dirty. I still need to photograph the finished blasters so this is one with it half done.
The arm gauntlets were made from carboard, EVA foam and styrene. The missle on his left one was pvc with styrene and some plubing parts for the end cap and tip. I coated them with bondo sanded and painted them the same as previous parts. I added some electronic parts for details just for fun.
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At this point I was just about done with the costume. I had my studio set up for a client so I had my boy suit up for some pics. I am very happy with the end result. I still cant believe I finished this project and everyone who has seen it loves it and want to place an order for next year (LOL). I still need to connect his fuel lines better they keep pulling out of the suit. I learned a lot about building props and costumes and cant wait to start the next project. Below are the studio pics I did of him. I need to do one more with an RPF sign in it for the contest. The photos with out the smoke from the blasters have light adjustments made in adobe lightroom. I used alot of lighting to het this look.
Proof pic for contest below


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Got the proof pic at the bottom of the post. It hope it works i had no help when I took it so it is hands down the worst pic i have ever taken. Thanks for the heads up on the proper category

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Well Halloween is over and my boy had a great time in his costume. Thought I would follow up with some things I learned from this project.
First: If you are new to this kind of hobby ( such as me) Make sure you have enough time for the project. I had a great time doing this but it required allot of very late nights. I was working on it right up until the big day with some of the small details.

2nd: Make sure you have a good set of designs. I made it up as I went and looking back at some of the details I really wish I drew up some good blueprints to work off of. I think I could have saved allot of time on the jetpack if I had a good plan going in. Made a lot of mistakes that I had to redo.

3rd. If it is for a child and you plan on traveling by auto during the trick or treating. Make sure you design it so it fits properly in a car seat if your child requires one. I did think of this ahead of time but it was time consuming to take off and put back his girth belt and holsters. He did fit nicely in his car seat with all the armor and we had no problems. (i am considering halo armor next year and need to figure out how to fit it in the car, Safety first!!!)

4th. When designing and building, if you think something is weak and might break, it will. I wasn't concerned with the helmet or jetpack. I built them very tough. The parts I had problems with were the belt, holsters, and straps. I used hot glue, epoxy, and pop rivets to hold them together. It stayed to together fairly well but I did have to make some repairs through out the day and evening. Some of the rivets pulled through the material and the glue was pulling off the material. I learned that I need to re-enforce any part that will bend and be stretched. Good thing I brought tape with to do quick fixes.
I also learned that velcro is great for holding on the armor but I should have sewed it in place instead of relying on the adhesive that is on the back. It worked for a while but when the temp started to drop his leg armor started to come off. I am now looking for a sewing machine for my future project.

5th. Costumes can be warm. He was able to where if for his school party and we went to our local mall for trick or treating. He got quite warm while walking around and spent most of the time inside with out his helmet. For next year I will consider materials that breath better. I went with cheap vinyl to mimic leather but the down side is that it does not breath. He was fine outside ( we are up north so it gets cold in October).

6th: What to do with it when you are done. I would like to display this costume and let him mess around in it from time to time. I decided to build a stand for it and display it in his room but it takes up allot of space. I am going to hold on to it for a few years and hope it will fit my youngest son in 5 years or so. ( I hope he is into Star Wars)

Thanks to everyone who made comments on the costume. This is a great community to be part of, so much talent out there to aspire to. He turned allot of heads while we were out and he was asked to take allot of pictures. He was loving it. Nice to see all the other kids in Star Wars costumes. I had to answer allot of questions about how it was done. I had a great time building it and now have the building bug. I would grade it at a C+. I would do things different next time but for my first project I am very happy with it. I am now designing my own costume for next year and cant wait to start the construction. I would like to start on the kids costumes but I don't know how much they will grow through out the year. I will make sure to make a post with my next project.
Here is a pic of the costume on the stand I built for display.
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New Member
I love these pictures. You mentioned that you used a lot of light and Adobe Light Room.
Can you elaborate on the type of lights you used and did you use one spot or multiple sources?


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I am glad that you like the pics. Below is a lighting set up for the images. The light set up was designed for drama. To achieve this I placed one 500 watt second on either side of the subject. On this light I placed a strip bank with an egg crate grid on the front to tighten up the light. With out the grid I get a lot of light hitting my lens because they are behind the subject just out of the frame and facing toward the camera. If you dont use the crates you tend to get allot of flair in the lens (not always a bad thing but it didn't go with this image set). These 2 lights put light on the edges of his body spilling on to his face. It makes it look like there is a strong light source behind him like the moon or sun. It gives the pic allot of punch and separates him from the black backdrop. To put some light on his front I used a 500 Watt second light with a 21" beauty dish with and a 30 degree grid on it. This put some bright contrasty light on his face and made his eyes sparkle. The grid was used to make the beam of light very tight falling off fast as it made it to his feet. I had the power on the lights cranked up fairly high so I could shoot at something like f18 or so. I wanted everything in focus and I was shooting from 10-15 feet away with a telephoto. I could have used something wider but I like the compression you get with a telephoto. I used a black backdrop behind him to hide all the junk in my living room.

For the retouching I used a fairly light touch. I first selected the ones I liked in Adobe Lightroom. I did the bulk of the retouch here. First was to correct any exposure problems. I got it mainly right in the camera. I did have to reduce the highlights a little. His shiny armor was kind of a pain to photograph. ( this is where softboxes come in handy it reduces the bright highlights you get when you photograph shiny objects)
After that I played with the color temp of the photo. I shoot in RAW so I can adjust the color temp of the photo in post. I went for a cool look for the photo. This man is a trained killer after all and a cold tone to the photo worked for me. I also added a touch of green but its very hard to really see unless you know what you are looking for.
With the color the way I like it I cleaned up some of the junk I saw on my backdrop (cat hair and some other grime, I really need to wash it). His armor was supposed to look dirty so thankfully I didn't have to touch the costume.
Shadow control was next. I lightened up the shadows a little to soften up the contrast a little. It's something I find I have to always do with this kind of lighting setup.
I pushed the Clarity up by a couple of steps to make the grim on him show up a little more. It also gives a little more contrast to sharp edges making things like wrinkles and fine details "pop"
After all of this I took the image into photoshop to put some smoke on some of the blaster images. I found some smoke assets I have that are on a black backdrop. I dropped them in the image. I scaled them and blended them in to the shot. I did a little sharpening and exported them as JPEGs.
I scaled them down for the web in lightroom
This kind of lighting is kind of expensive. I do this semi pro so I have some powerful lights and modifiers to shape the light just the way I want to. You can achieve a look like this with smaller lights or even really powerful shop lights if you have them. Just make sure that you account for the color of the lights. Daylight color are the best for making sure your costume colors stay true. Also you are going to have to get them really close, even a 1000 watt shop light really isn't that bright through a camera and a stopped down lens.

I hope this post isn't too long and confusing. If you have anymore questions please let me know. Photography is my passion I learned by asking allot of questions so I am happy to help. Make sure you just take alot of photos and play with the light.
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