My circle of friends is full of nerdy, artistic and theatrical types, which means I’ve seen a lot of brilliant costumes over the years: for productions, for Halloween, and just for the sake of looking fantastic at a convention. (I’ve also created a few, not to brag.) I’ve worked at Renaissance faires and have been to a few conventions, both of which are great for people-watching, and I’m amazed at the creativity, ingenuity and talent that I’ve seen from cosplayers. 3D printing has given cosplayers an entirely new tool of creation, and we’ve written about a lot of remarkable artists and hobbyists who have used the technology to design incredible costumes and props.
There’s no shortage of venues for cosplayers to display their costuming talent – or for us to find awesome 3D printed costumes to write about. Recently, Boston hosted the annual PAX East convention, an event dedicated to the gaming community. Plenty of photos have emerged from the convention, which took place from April 22-24, and while a lot of impressive work was displayed, one of the most stunning came from Bindi Smalls, aka Natasha Spokish, whose 3D printed costuming work we have written about before. Smalls’ amazing designs, which she has displayed at several conventions across the US, apparently caught the eye of Dark Rift Entertainment, which commissioned her and a fellow designer to 3D print a costume from their recently-released Embers of War game for PAX East.
Because Embers of War was announced only a few days before PAX East, Smalls and her fellow designer (Sox of Sox Cosplay and Props) were given only a month to develop the costume – which, incredibly, they pulled off, thanks to a total of 11 3D printers – nine LulzBot TAZ 5 printers, a LulzBot Mini, and a Form 2. After a total of 1700 print hours, they had a phenomenal suit of armor, complete with rocket boots and jet pack, printed in eSUN PLA.
Then came the finishing and assembly of the 80-something parts, which was a massive undertaking in itself. According to Smalls, the sanding alone took about 20 hours, after which the pieces were spray-painted in multiple layers. Bright silver-gray paint was covered with a darker shade, which was then rubbed away with mineral spirits for a weathered look.
“I really like this method of weathering, it appears much more natural and there are no brush strokes!” says Smalls.
The huge rocket boots required an interior structure of steel bars, and the whole thing was rigged together with a combination of straps, wires and foam. A non-disclosure agreement required that the game and studio be kept secret until the game’s release, so the big reveal happened at the convention – Smalls was dressed as Gwen, Embers of War’s Grand Marshall, and she looked nothing short of incredible.
I’m amazed that these two talented designers were able to complete such an ambitious project in only a month’s time, but the sheer amount of printers and supplies that the two have invested in shows that they’re very dedicated to and serious about their work. Smalls, whose work you can see more of at her Facebook and Instagram pages, states that she had a complete 3D scan of herself taken at a Shapify booth at last year’s CES event, which has been a huge help in designing new costumes. She and Sox have started up a cosplay business, GeekFabLab – right now the link goes to an Etsy shop, but a full website will be coming soon. You can read more detail about this particular project here. Discuss further in the 3D Printed Cosplay forum over at 3DPB.com.