Friday, September 11, 2015

Dragon Con 2015 Wrap-Up

Another Dragon Con has come and past and I was extremely busy this time around! I'll be posting more in-depth recaps and build logs, but for now I just want to say thanks to everyone I had a good time with and that it was a great weekend for me.

The Colonial Marines & Xenos project was finished and I'm very happy with how our costumes turned out.

A photo posted by Overworld Designs (@overworlddesigns) on

 Thanks to Norman Chan at for these photos.

The Furiosa prosthetic was a big hit as well. I'll be posting up more about this later, but for now enjoy these photos!

I didn't finish my Vi costume in time, but I did manage to meet Frank Ippolito!

Check back soon for more! In the meantime, follow me on Instagram or Facebook:

Monday, July 6, 2015

Group Project: Colonial Marines (Aliens)

Alternate title: What I Learned While Managing A Group Cosplay

A few weeks after Dragon Con 2014, I was talking with Adam Greene of Pixelbash Props about what the "cosplay community" really was, and how people connected - or didn't connect - outside of conventions. Specifically, we got on the subject of how Dragon Con can attract tens of thousands of people - many from the Atlanta area - and yet there doesn't seem to be any large group or gathering of cosplayers out in the real world. I assumed that either A.) there was an existing group / meetup and we weren't aware of it, or B.) it didn't exist. Being optimistic, I believed the second option and we created a monthly social event at Freeside, creatively called the Atlanta Cosplay Meetup.

After meeting for a few months and making a lot of new friends, we started talking about the possibility of doing a group cosplay. A project we could all work on together! I'd never done a large scale group project like that before and it seemed like a great challenge and a lot of fun. After some debate, we settled on what seems like an obvious choice - Colonial Marines from the Aliens franchise.

The plan was to break the costume down into manageable chunks and spread the work out amongst the group. We decided to use Pepakura for the majority of the armor segments, with some sections 3D printed to be molded and cast. There is an open door policy at the public events at Freeside, so we anticipated a lot of people who would come to learn who would have little or no experience using these techniques. It would take us a while to really form a core group of people who were apart of the project, but we quickly moved right into building.

In order to speed up the tedious pep process, we utilized Freeside's laser cutter and went with cardboard rather than card stock. This made it a lot easier to get the basic shapes down and assembled, which was good because at the start of this project, no one had ever used Pepakura before! The first few build sessions consisted of cutting out the cardboard pep pieces, gluing them together with hot glue, then coating them with fiberglass resin for strength. Once everyone got their hands dirty putting together the Pepakura pieces, the process went really quickly.

From here we applied bondo body filler to the surface of the parts to smooth them out and sculpt them into shape. This is by far the most tedious part of the build, and we spent most of our build days working the bondo into the correct shapes. The "bondo minions" made quick work of everything and the armor masters looked really great.

One of the machinists at Freeside helped by lathing up some grenades. We'll eventually mold these and pour cast copies.

Meanwhile, Adam was working on 3D printing the Pulse Rifle and some of the armor bits. The Pulse Rifle was taken from the Aliens: Colonial Marines game and put through a process (which I will detail more soon!) to increase the detail level. It was then sliced into sections to fit into the various 3D printers we have access to, and printed in parts. Once it was fully printed out, it was assembled and several work days spent cleaning up the print lines so it wouldn't look like a 3D printed gun.

We were also working on a couple Xeno costumes as well. Kevin was working on the Xeno head sculpt.

Valentin worked on a mechanism to make the Xeno tongue action work in a really dynamic way. The tongue mechanisms were laser cut out of acrylic with a few 3D printed bits, all driven by a geared DC motor and controlled by an Arduino.

Going back to the Marine armor, once we had our masters finished and ready, we were going to vacuum form several of them and slush cast others in resin. Molds were made of all of the parts, and for the vacuum forming we poured plaster into the molds to create the forming bucks. Here, Adam is working on pulling copies of a few parts of armor.

Other molds had Smooth Cast 65D resin slush cast in them in several coats, to create the armor bits. We had a few duds due to some incorrect resin measuring, but that's the price of learning!

Meanwhile we cleaned up the vacformed parts. We had to cut off the flashing and trim up the edges, and set them all aside to get ready for paint.

The Pulse Rifle was also molded up in probably the biggest 2 piece block mold I've ever seen. This was used to rotocast and back fill with expanding foam to create a light weight, rigid prop. We actually wound up taking the mold to MomoCon and did a live casting demo at the booth!


We were down to the wire building and painting armor. About a dozen of us worked in teams painting on base coats, then doing the camo patterns. Each set of armor consists of about 15 pieces and each had to be painted.

The last 2 days before the con, we got very little sleep! Here, Adam and Elliott passed out in the living room.

Wednesday came and went, and unfortunately we simply ran out of both time and steam. There were some issues with the Xeno head sculpt as well, causing it to crack before we could get it molded. Thankfully this was found before we spent the time (and materials!) molding it.

The good news is that MomoCon was a huge success. We had a lot of fun at our booth and we met a ton of people. We got to show off our work and Freeside, and introduce a lot of people to the idea of a hackerspace!

It was a really long weekend.

As it stands, the project is nearly complete. We need to fabricate a few more sets of armor and do some painting, then put everything together. We'll be together at Dragon Con, so be sure to check back for photos in September!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

June Project Updates

With less than 70 days left to Dragon Con, I wanted to post up an update on my current works in progress before I don't have any free time!

The main event this year is Vi. I feel like I've been working on her for months and months now, but the reality is that other projects got way in the way and had to put it on hold for a while. Thankfully I'm back in full swing now! The goggles are finished and ready. The legs are fully 3D printed and currently being cleaned up. The backpack and shoulder armor is being 3D printed at this time and will be finished in a few weeks. I've commissioned Katja Von Designs, the woman who made my Princess Peach dress last year, to make the jacket and corset.

My custom built 3D printer is very nearly finished. At this point I have everything I need, and I just need to machine some of the aluminum parts before it's ready to start being used. Finally!

In my spare time, I've been slowly chipping away at a handful of helmets I have from Shawn Thorrson - the Iron Man Mk 3, the War Machine, and the Iron Man Godkiller. I've had these for a while and I really should finish them and have them available to display!

I'm also trying to get a couple new Ultron 5 helmets out the door!

I also recently picked up an Ant-Man helmet from a friend and I'm trying to get that ready to wear to the Ant-Man premiere next month.

Very shortly I'll be starting on Furiosa's bionic arm for my friend Laura. As you can see, she's already really excited to get started!

A photo posted by Laura (@vauuughn) on

Someone asked me recently how I achieved the metal look in some of the things I've built, so I wanted to share that here. I use these three Rust-Oleum paints for the base of any grey / silver metallic paint job that I do:


The Aluminum is used as a base coat, and the Matte Nickel and Charcoal are applied in varying layers to give different looks. For example with the Gravity Gun, I alternated light coats of each color to give a worn metal look.

More soon.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Hiatus, Updates, and Works in Progress

Hello internet! Long time no chat.

I've been fairly quiet on here for some time now, and I'm very sorry about that. Things have been very busy for me the past several months and I feel like I am only just now able to start doing prop making seriously again.

Dragon Con was amazing and I loved building the new Ultron helmet. I'm very happy with how the sculpt and electronics came out with that, and it's given me a lot of ideas for some projects for the future.

This past November, I decided to join the board of directors at Freeside Atlanta, the hackerspace that I do my prop work out of. I've been a member since about mid 2013 and I have very much enjoyed the space and the community. There are a lot of awesome people there and I've loved meeting them and sharing knowledge an experience! I wanted to get more involved and do what I can to help the organization grow, and I've been involved in other communities in the past and knew I had experience and talent to bring to the table.

What I didn't expect was exactly how much of my time doing so would take up. Pretty much from the start I've had a lot of my already limited free time taken up with various tasks and projects in the shop itself. Instead of going to the space to work on projects, the space became my project. Not that I'm complaining - I've been enjoying the experience and I think I've helped accomplish some awesome things! - but learning to balance it has been tricky.

At Freeside I've been shepherding the 3D printers there and making sure they stay in working order. It's been a bit of a tall order, but the process has been a good learning experience! I've also started teaching classes on 3D printing and laser cutting, two of my favorite methods for building things. While this does take up a bit more of my free time, the upside is that I've essentially been able to build my 3D printer for free.

Oh yeah, I've also started to build my own personal 3D printer. It's a mish-mash of ideas from printers I like - the Prisa i3, the MendelMax 2, the LulzBot TAZ - all coming together to build a large area printer for prop making purposes. As of this post I have the chassis designed and assembled, and all but the last few bits purchased. I'm hoping to have it in operation by the end of March.

Until then, my prop work continues! I have a few irons in the fire right now, all of which are very exciting.

I am slowly plugging away at my Vi from League of Legends build. I'm using some new 3D modeling and printing techniques on her, we'll see how it goes. So far I'm very happy!

I've taken a very special commission that I don't want to spoil just yet. Let's just say it's definitely going to grab your attention!

Then lastly, I am working with the Atlanta Cosplay Meetup to build Colonial Marines and Xenos! We are meeting several times a month to build costumes and so far our builds have been going incredibly well.

I'm going to try and stay on top of this blog a bit better now that I am more regularly building things. Next post will likely be a build write-up!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Upgrading the Ultron 5 Helmet - Part 1

This blog post originally appeared on the blog for Freeside Atlanta, a hackerspace located in Atlanta, GA where I do the majority of my work.

My most recent major project was to upgrade a costume I built last year of the Marvel comic's character, Ultron. The costume owner wanted a new and improved helmet, made of cast resin and full of all sorts of lights. It was a big and ambitious project, and I was very excited to get started.

Here's how we got there.