3D printing is a wonderful tool when it comes to making elaborate costumes and props – for both professional movie studios and cosplayers alike. When Thor: Ragnarok came out last year, it owed a lot to 3D printing, in that the glorious headdress worn by the wicked Hela was created using the technology. As it turns out, that particular piece of costuming just lends itself to 3D printing, because influential designer Melissa Ng of Lumecluster was asked to recreate it by Marvel for an episode of Marvel Becoming.
Ng is not a cosplayer herself, but she has done some amazing work for cosplayers, including a stunning set of armor designed for Felicia Day. She has made other sets of armor as well, plus gorgeous masks and a lot more. She has worked with Marvel before, 3D printing Ironheart’s armor for another episode of Marvel Becoming, although usually she makes only original work.
“If I take on any kind of commission that is based on pre-existing IP, it’s because I’ve been given permission to offer my own spin on it while still honoring as much of the original design as possible,” she says. “And while the thought of sharing my own take on Hela was exciting, I was also feeling a bit nervous…There’s still pressure when coming up with original designs that both viewers and I will enjoy, but when it’s based off of a pre-existing IP, there seems to be a lot less room for you to make mistakes or alterations that fans will be happy with.”
The headdress needed to be custom fit to cosplayer Jessica Dru Johnson. It had to be lightweight and well-balanced with detachable antlers, and had to fit easily in a carry-on suitcase. It would be at a slightly smaller scale, and needed to be semi-rigid and impact-resistant. Ng also wanted to make the antlers glow, as she’s done with other pieces, but unfortunately couldn’t stray that far from the original design.
First Ng used photogrammetry to scan a bust of Johnson’s head. Then she began modeling her design, using Hela’s suit from the film trailer as inspiration to create some new details.
“Ironhead Studio’s original Hela headdress design had antlers that had a smooth surface, but I wanted the antlers to have patterns that matched the ones detailed on her suit,” Ng says. “I wanted the patterns to be visible without being overwhelming.”
The headdress had to be broken into detachable smaller pieces for travel purposes, and Ng cleverly made the detachable pieces part of the designs that she added, creating subtle inset details. Once she got the OK from Marvel, she started 3D printing. The headdress was 3D printed entirely on a Lulzbot TAZ 6, using Taulman 3D’s PCTPE material. PCTPE is flexible yet rigid, so it keeps its shape yet doesn’t break easily. The material’s strength and flexibility also enabled Ng to 3D print the antlers hollow, which made the piece lightweight and durable.
Then it was time for post-processing. Ng cleaned up the details of the antlers using a Dremel with a diamond coated rotary burr to cut through the tough material. She then filled in problem spots with flexible filler, sanded, and primed the entire headdress with a high build flexible primer – then sanded some more, and finally assembled the whole headdress. She attached the antlers to the cap (which fit perfectly on the bust of Johnson’s head) and airbrushed it in pearlescent green. She then sealed the entire piece.
“I honestly had a lot of fun sharing my own spin on Hela’s headdress,” Ng says. “It was also a great challenge to see how I could re-imagine an already gorgeous piece. Overall, I hope viewers enjoy this as much as I enjoyed creating it.”
She adds, however, that she still wants to make the antlers glow.
Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.[Source/Images: Lumecluster]