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Unread 07-08-2013, 11:05 PM   #1
ShadowCharizard
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Upholstery Foam & Fibreglass...

I'm not totally sure if this question belongs here, but I'm sort of treating it as an "armour" question because of the character's design.

I'm thinking about making a Haxorus costume, and I want to give it that kind of shiny / armour-esque texture without essentially making a suit of armour out of Bondo and all that. I figure that I can make the costume the same as any regular mascot suit, and then use some sort of material other than fleece for the texture. Would using fibreglass on the surface of upholstery foam work? I'm having a lot of doubts. What about liquid latex to give it that shine?

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Unread 07-09-2013, 10:39 AM   #2
verdatum
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You're in the right place

I'd urge you to go with either liquid latex or exterior house paint. Paint the first few layers on very lightly. Otherwise, it just absorbs into the foam like a sponge and goes to waste. It takes 10-20 layers to get a smooth surface. Let each layer fully dry before proceeding or the surface will stay mushy for ages. If you go with liquid latex, apply paint over the final layer before moving the prop around; dried liquid latex really likes to stick to itself. Either way, the result is smooth, glossy, flexible, and durable.

Fiberglass resin technically works, but it is more expensive, much messier to work with, smellier, more temperamental, and you just don't need something that rigid unless you actually need functional armor for sparring.
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Unread 07-09-2013, 01:00 PM   #3
ShadowCharizard
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Damn, that was a lot of seriously good info in one post. I was thinking that the foam might absorb latex, but do layers, you say? I can see how that would work.

In terms of colouring, if I paint over the latex, I shouldn't have to worry about adding colour to the latex, right? But wouldn't painting it take away from the shine? Another way I was thinking was to colour the latex before applying it, then using talcum powder to keep it from sticking to itself. Would one method be significantly better than the other?
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Unread 07-09-2013, 03:43 PM   #4
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The foam will invariably absorb some of whatever product you use. To a small extent, this is a good thing, because it forms a nice strong bond. You just don't want it to travel too deep in, hence the light layers at the beginning.

Is one method significantly better? Not exactly. A lot of it depends on the effect you're trying to replicate. I haven't bothered to pull up ref photos for this character. Surface effects, light highlights, shadows, metallics, opalescents, and weathering are best done extrinsically. Base colors can be done intrinsically.

Powdering the latex takes away a good deal of the shine. You can restore the shine by applying a small amount of silicone oil or castor oil, but this does give it an oily texture. Paint can both maintain shine and even increase shine so long as it is the glossy variety. You can further enhance glossiness using clearcoats overtop.

Intrinsically tinting the latex directly certainly makes the color more durable; you don't have to worry about cracks or flakes. But it is a bit of a pain to mix the stuff up. If you go with house paint, you can have them tint it any color you present them with at the store. But house paint often has additives making the surface matte.

To tint latex, mixing up those same universal pigments they use at the paint store is the best way to go, but they often don't have a mechanism to sell them. Universal powdered pigments are your next bet. You get those online. They are an extra pain in the butt to mix. the third choice is to mix in artist's acrylic paint. If you overmix the acrylic paint, it extends drying time and softens the latex.

The process is about the same for anything start with a small portion of your tint in a large container, add a few drops of latex and mix thoroughly with a popsicle stick. Slowly add more latex as you continue mixing. Trying instead to add the tint into a volume of latex causes it to not mix evenly. Especially with powder, it just forms into a blob the same way lumps form in gravy.

Color matching when intrinsically tinting latex can be a big pain. Something liek Jet black is easy, but lighter colors can be altered by the natural tan color of latex. You can't just look at the wet latex and figure out the color. The color changes drastically as it dries. This often means you've got to do test after test of brushing down a bit of latex on a piece of glass and waiting for it to dry. If you go the wrong way with a particularly large sample, you can waste a lot of latex (or just give up, use it anyway, and paint over it).
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