I decided on this costume in late 2010, but most of the actual work (the non-research work) was done in the last six weeks before the convention, with the last two weeks being particularly busy. I donít want to think about how many hours Iíve spent on it, but Iím really happy with what Iíve achieved with limited resources (lack of time and money, and also a couple of major earthquakes that seriously screwed up the city and resulted in a lot of shops being closed. That was a bit lame.)
The jumpsuit pattern took me a while to piece together. The top half was originally made from a jacket pattern (New Look 6728), but I ended up modifying it so much that it doesnít really look like the jacket on the pattern envelope at all. I made the pants pattern by tracing a pair of jeans and adding extra seams, pockets and other details where necessary. I was particularly careful to get the placement of the seams, topstitching and other details as accurate as possible, although in some places the model texture was pretty blurry and I had to make an educated guess at how the garment is supposed to be constructed.
I used a slightly stretchy poly/cotton drill fabric for the jumpsuit. Unfortunately, the range of colours was rather limited and I ended up buying a sort of indigo colour - I figured I was going to need to do a lot of weathering anyway, and it didnít end up being a problem.
I considered using turquoise dye to get the fabric to the right colour, but I really wanted it to be a bit lighter than the original colour and when I bleached a scrap of the fabric it went a nasty pinkish colour, so I abandoned that idea.
I ended up using acrylic paint to get the fabric to the right colour. I started off with a light turquoise colour to make the indigo fabric more of a greyish blue colour, and added black paint for some of the dirt. I also wore the jumpsuit around the house for a few days to get an idea of where the creases would form while wearing it, and I used oil pastels to highlight these creases.
The yellow details on the front and the numbers on the back are cut out of plain cotton fabric which I stiffened with PVA glue - this helped stop it from fraying and warping when I was cutting it out and sewing it on. I used a small zigzag stitch to applique it onto the jumpsuit. The yellow numbers on the collar are painted with acrylic paint.
The most time-consuming part of the costume (not to mention the most challenging prop Iíve made so far) is the Pip-Boy 3000.
Itís a pretty significant part of the game and the character, thus it was the first thing I started working on and I spent a lot of time trying to make it as accurate and detailed as possible.
Since Fallout cosplays arenít very common I couldnít find very many examples of hand-made Pip-Boys - a lot of cosplayers use the commercially-produced replica. The hand-made ones that I did see were not really at the level of accuracy I was aiming for, so as you can probably guess there was a lot of trial and error involved in this particular prop.
After a little Googling I found a program to extract the 3D models from the game, and a model viewing program to open the extracted files. This proved to be incredibly useful, especially for the Pip-Boy, which has a lot of detail that is difficult to see in screenshots. (I also used this program for inspecting some of the details on the rest of the costume.)
I originally planned to make a papercraft base, but I discovered that the game developers took a few shortcuts with the model structure - things like painting on shadows to make 2D details look 3D, and leaving little gaps between parts of the model where it wasnít going to be seen anyway - all pretty standard stuff, but it meant that Iíd have to make quite a lot of changes to the papercraft model if I wanted it to all fit together properly. I also wasnít sure what would be the best way to strengthen the papercraft, and in the end I decided to abandon the papercraft idea and make the Pip-Boy structure out of plastic containers and cardboard. There are a few subtle inaccuracies (where I couldnít find a suitably-shaped piece of plastic etc) but overall Iím really pleased with it, and itís a lot sturdier than it would be had I used a papercraft model.
The basic gauntlet part is made from four different cylindrical plastic containers that I cut up and glued together to form a tube. I used a square plastic container for the box-shaped part containing the screen.
The control panel to the side of the screen is made of a lot of different pieces of plastic, held together with hot glue and then covered with craft foam to hide the seams. I cut the corners out of plastic containers to make some of the complex curves (like the top-left corner where the radiation gauge is.) For the other parts Iíd usually sketch out a mock-up on some cardboard and just trim it until it fitted properly, and then cut it out of plastic and hot-glue it in place. After I had the basic structure finished I added all the details, most of which are made of craft foam.
I painted the whole thing with PVA glue to seal and strengthen the craft foam, and then did a coat of acrylic paint. I noticed the paint had a tendency to get scratched off some of the plastic parts, so I did a layer of clear varnish in a few places (but all the craft foam parts seemed to be fine with just the acrylic paint, so I left them as is.)
For some of the small details (like the writing) I made some labels in Photoshop and glued them on; I then painted around the edges of the labels to blend them in with the rest of the paint.
The screws, rivets and other silver details are made from some very shiny silver paper (which I also used for the belt.) I coloured over them with a silver permanent marker to to make them a little less shiny (the silver paper originally looked something like chrome, which isnít quite post-apocalyptic enough for my liking.)
The glove piece with the knob on it is made from a slightly curved piece of plastic with layers of craft foam for the details - the same techniques I used for the Pip-Boy. I spent ages looking for something to use for the knob in the centre; I ended up just making one out of the end of a paint tube with some craft foam for the raised detail.
The glove itself actually consists of two gloves - thereís a leather glove worn over top of a black fabric glove, and the green glove piece is velcroed onto the inner glove through the gap in the back of the leather glove.
The belt is mostly from plastic containers, craft foam, various kinds of tape, and some shiny silver paper I had sitting around at home. It is comprised of various pieces threaded onto a strip of vinyl, so adjusting it is just a matter of adding/removing some of the small rectangular pieces.
I cut the basic shapes out of a plastic folder, and stuck craft foam on top to make the pieces a little thicker. Then I added a sort of belt loop (made of a few layers of electrical tape) onto the back of each piece so it can be threaded onto the belt. I then covered the pieces with the silver paper. I used acrylic paint and oil pastels to make the almost chrome-like shiny paper look like dirty tarnished metal.
The larger more detailed belt piece at the back took a while for me to figure out, mostly because the game developers got lazy and the texture on the model wasnít lined up correctly (this was evident where the screws on the belt were kind of distorted, and somehow attached to the very edge of the metal.) I drew up a design based on what I could decipher from the somewhat blurry texture on the model; hopefully itís pretty close to the pattern that the concept artist had originally drawn up.
The buckle on the front is attached to the rest of the belt with velcro.
The gun was admittedly a last-minute addition but Iím really pleased with how it turned out. After looking through multiple $2 shops I finally found a gun which looks very similar to the scoped .44 magnum revolver available in the game. I wasnít happy with how the grip looked though - it had a sort of criss-cross pattern on it, and really didnít look like wood - so I used some wall filler to smooth it out a bit and then sanded it down and painted it with acrylic paint.
The scope is made from an empty mascara bottle, various dismembered felt pens and glue sticks, electrical tape and craft foam, held together with hot glue and double sided tape.
Most of the rest of the gun is pretty much the same as it was when I bought it, I just sanded the plastic a bit and added some silver paint to make it look worn out.
I was lucky when it came to the shoes; I already had a pair that were very similar (not exactly the right shade of blue, but theyíre my favourite sneakers and I couldnít quite bring myself to dye them...) In this case, all the distressing/weathering is genuine (Iíve had them for seven years.) The patches and various other hand-sewn repairs were already present before I started working on the costume, and although they make the shoes a little less accurate, I think they make them look genuinely post-apocalyptic, so I left them intact. All I needed to do was add the white stars on the sides and add some grubby white shoelaces.
I didnít really need to modify the white singlet, sunglasses and bandanna - I just added a little bit of dirt in a few places.
Technical Award - Christchurch Armageddon Expo 2011