Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Making Stormtrooper Cover Strips

Oh, well I can't mess up cover strips too much, can I?  These are all for my legs since the cover strips for the arms are done.  I've got enough to do the insides and outsides.


Since I was scoring and snapping, I thought I would make some bicep hooks from the other ABS I picked up from Amazon.  I used the method as outlined in Ukswrath's tutorial for these.


I think I need a new pair of gloves...


They're not as pretty as his, but they'll do the job.



Messed Up the Stormtrooper Forearm! Gah!

Ugh.  Hit a bump on my left forearm.

The top of the forearm has ridges that can't be altered due to my 15mm cover strips.  Nothing was cut there.  In fitting to my skinny arm, I was able to only adjust the pieces on the bottom of the forearm.

Regarding length of the forearm, I only trimmed one notch at the wrist, and there is still more that needs to be removed.  I'm waiting to trim all of it until later.  The only part of the top of the forearm that was removed was the flashing.  (I did not overtrim any of it.)   I could have avoided this problem by trimming from the top.  But I didn't want to lose any of the detail at the top of the forearm, so top trimming for me was not an option.

Upon making the cuts and fitting the forearm, I have discovered that there is a big difference between the forearm pieces where they meet at the butt joint.  This only occurs on my left arm, not my right.


I could abs paste a piece of scrap to the arm (imagine a piece of ABS filling in on the arm to the dotted line), clean it up and refinish the edge.  The repaired area wouldn't even be visible, and the arm would look more even.  What do you think?

Here is a comparison between my left (on the left) forearm and the right.  Please ignore the glue catastrophe (I've since cleaned it up, I swear!).  This is as viewed from the bottom of the forearms at the butt joint.

I'll need a new inside forearm to fix this mess.  I know that there should be some "swoop" (haha, I'll always think of my swooping forearms when I wear my TK now, thanks..."Swoop!  Swoop!"), but the difference on the left seems so jarring between pieces.  I wish that there was more of a gradual transition between them, rather than it looking like a piece was sliced out by Kylo Ren.  

Gah.  The pitfalls of being small in a big trooper world. 

Gluing the Stormtrooper Arms

My left forearm fits!


Well, it fits width-wise.  (I'm bending my wrist a bit in this pic, so the forearm looks a little looser than it really is)  I'm holding off on trimming the length down too much until everything is glued up.  I've taken off one notch off the forearms at this point, and I still need to take off a bit more.  I don't want to rush the fine-tuning of the fit just yet.

I feel like I've got the messiest build EVAH.  Watching the Youtube build videos, they make it all look so easy and clean to attach cover strips.  Me?  I glue things down, and it's a complete mess of e6000, and I mean everywhere.  Stuck to my fingers, on my arms, my shirt, in spots and areas all over the armor... I've even managed to get it in my hair.  I know it will all come off with enough elbow grease, but still.  Can't wait for the Gluing phase of this build to be done.


See in the pic above?  Ugh.  It looks so dirty at this point.  I'll clean up everything once all my cover strips are on.  I keep telling myself that Novus will come to my rescue at the end of the build and make it all okay!

Gluing, Clamping Stormtrooper Arms, Painting Ab Detail

Here's a pic of today's progress:


Lovely mess o' magnets and clamps.

Just adding my inner cover strips first before starting with the outer ones.  I felt like adding the outer cover strip to my right bicep today, even though the other side isn't secured yet.  Couldn't be helped.  I was just too excited to see a tiny part of my armor look 'proper', even if it's covered with clamps and magnets for now.

And I painted these:


I still have to do some clean up around the edges, but it's coming along.  I really like the painting part of this kit.

The nice thing about working with the Testor's paint is that it's really forgiving.  It allows for lots of time to undo mistakes with some thinner.  I even made a mistake of painting one of the buttons gray that was supposed to be blue.  I easily wiped it all off with an old towel and some thinner.

For me, the best brush to use for the buttons is a small thin curved brush.  Painting on the buttons is kind of like painting nail polish on your nails.  With nail polish, you put a dab of polish in the middle of your nail, and push it down toward the cuticle.  For the buttons, I put some in the middle, and pushed it gently outward to the edges.  Any mistakes can be cleaned up after with a tiny bit of thinner on a very small brush.  Besides, the button circles aren't supposed to be perfectly round if you're going for the screen authentic look.  ;)

Here's my setup for painting (and cleaned up buttons).  These plastic palettes are awesome!


Stormtrooper Cover Strip Sizes


Here's my reference list for cover strip sizes.  I found this in the FISD, but I don't remember exactly where I saw it posted.  I'm putting this here for my own reference... I keep misplacing the printed page where I've got this info, and I keep forgetting what file I put this in on my computer.  Not feeling very organized lately!

Cover Strip Sizes
  • Thighs (front and back)- 20mm
  • Shins- 20mm
  • Calves- 25mm
  • Arms- 15mm
I've decided to install inner cover strips on my kit, so that's where I'm starting with the strips.  I purchased a pack of white ABS on Amazon to use for this purpose.  The white doesn't match exactly, but I don't care because it's not visible outside of the kit.  I managed to glue one strip to my right bicep, and it felt like a small victory.  It's one thing to cut and sand down the pieces, but it feels very different to actually get something assembled together.  Or maybe I was a little loopy because of the e6000.  Either way, it's all good, right?  ;)

Got some elastic glued to the shoulder bells, too.

And trimmed down the left bicep.  Both of my biceps are in need of some serious reshaping to fit properly.  I'll tackle this after they're completely glued together.  Here's a group photo of yesterday's progress.  I didn't skimp on the magnets- I've got thirty sets-  but I feel like I need more.  I would have made more progress if I had more magnets!  It's probably best for me to have taken a break while I was ahead anyhow.


Today I will be assembling the forearms.  Feeling a bit more confident now that I've had some success in getting the biceps to fit my size.

Sizing Down the Stormtrooper Biceps

So I've been working on my biceps today.  Little by little with tape.

Before I began, though, I did some measurements of the bicep pieces.  My flexed bicep is 10.5" (don't laugh, I told you I'm tiny).  At the armor party, the consensus was that you should have about 1/2" of space around the armor and the arm when it's on.  So I added an inch to my bicep measurement, which made the internal circumference of my bicep a total of 11.5".  Using a handy Google calculator (because I never paid much attention to algebra in school TBH!), I figured out the diameter of the inside of the bicep piece for my arm.   That came to 3.66".  So that was the approximate diameter I was aiming for when reducing my bicep pieces.

I did some more calculations, and figured that I would need to remove approximately .8" from each of the bicep pieces.  Since the pieces aren't symmetrical, I had to scientifically eyeball how much to take off of each side (I'm a fan of the Scientific Eyeball method).  I squeezed the parts together, taping the right bicep pieces together, so it would match my calculated measurements.  Sliding it on, it fit pretty well over my compression shirt.  Yay!

So I clamped the bicep halves to my table and removed a little material at a time.


And then look at how much I removed!  Trimmed down to my size on the left, untrimmed on the right.  This looks so flippin' scary, doesn't it?!   :blink:


But then when you consider that the original untrimmed bicep has a 16.5" circumference (5.25" diameter), and my scrawny arms are just a 10.5" circumference, you can see why so much needed to be removed.   Take a look at the size difference!


I will give my trimmed pieces their own little spa treatment in a hot bath later to give them a better shape once I'm certain with the final fit and glued them together.

I still may take a little more in, but I'm happy enough with it for now to move along.  Now to tackle the left bicep.  Wish me luck!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Armor Party Motivation

I had an amazing time at my very first armor party last night!  I was able to get some serious hands-on guidance about kit-building there.  And everyone was so nice, too!  The drive took a little less than an hour to the party, but it was totally worth it.  I loved seeing other people's armor and comparing the different maker's kits.  I was fairly motivated to complete my kit before, but after meeting with members of the 501st last night, it's like I'm on fire to get this thing done now!  And while I won't be able to participate in DragonCon in Atlanta this year (I don't want to rush completing my TK), but I think I'll be in it next year for sure.

So, if you're new to TK building like me, don't hesitate to get yourself and your kit to an armor party.  You'll learn a lot, and you'll have fun, too.  And with that, I'm going to get off the computer and get busy making cover strips.

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