Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Webcomics We Like: Dr. McNinja

      Dr. Mc Ninja is truly an insane webcomic.  But for some strange reason it all seems to make sense.  McNinja is from a long line of Irish Ninja's, and his parents are very disappointed with his choice to become a doctor.  Even though he is actually still one of the greatest ninja.  From this premise things get much, much weirder.  His side kick is a 12 year old bandito who rides a velociraptor, and grew a mustache through sheer force of will.  This all still makes sense.  If you don't already, you should read Dr. McNinja.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Project: Basic Cosplay Weapons: Mai's Daggers

      Mai from Avatar has quite an array of weapons.  I already made a set of her simple stillettos, now I'm making the more difficult, but still relatively simple daggers.  I do a lot of work like this out of cedar, but for this project I'm using poplar.  This is because I want these to be pretty thin and half inch poplar is readily available at hardware stores.  So I started out with a 4' x 1/2" x 3 1/2 " piece of poplar.  I cut it into 4 pieces of about a foot each.  Ah, but wait, I need a pattern.  I took the Mai's weapons schematic, and blew up the picture to make the dagger the size I wanted.
Great Mai weapons schematic.
The 4 blocks with the pattern on top.
I printed out the picture and used spray contact cement, a really useful product, to stick it to a file folder, then cut it out.  To make it easier to cut I took two of the blocks and used contact cement again to glue them together. That way I only have to cut twice to get four pieces. Of course I took my pattern and traced it on to the wood, then cut it out with a jig saw.
And here's 4 blanks ready to carve and sand.
If your'e ever making blades it is very handy to mark the center of the blade all the way down the piece. I do this with my center marking gauge which is very useful if you'll be doing this sort of thing a number of times.  Of course, if you don't have one, and who does, I made a simple substitute with two popsicle  sticks, a pencil and tape. I cut a notch out of one of the sticks, marked the center and taped a pencil on the center line, see picture.
At right a center marking gauge, at left my makeshift one and in back the blanks with the center line marked.
Now it's time to start carving.  You don't need to carve the whole blade, your'e just removing some stock to make your sanding easier.  With wood there is a definite direction to carve in.  Generally with these you want to carve from the tip down to the middle of the curve and then stop and start from the other tip to the middle.
Carve to the middle then stop and start again from the other tip. Keep your hand behind the blade.
As I said you don't need to take a lot off, just enough to establish an edge, most of the work is with a sander. About that, if you are going to do more than one project like this, you will want to get a Random Orbit Sander. Not a 1/4 sheet sander, not a belt sander a Random Orbit Sander. I saw a ton on eBay for 25 to 50 dollars brand new and used ones from 10 bucks. This sander will open up a lot of cosplay possibilities for you. O.K, you need to work your way around the whole piece with a knife. Now it's time to sand.
This is how little I carved the edges.
So know I hit the edges with the sander working all the way around. The sander really works fast. Use maybe an 80 grit or 100 grit at first then change to a 120 to150 grit. you can experiment and use what works best for you.
Working with the sander.
I kept going until I get pretty good edges. Fro there I finish up with sandpaper. I really like sanding sponges, you can get them at any hardware store and they are great for edges and detail.
After some good sanding.
So after a bit of hand sanding I finally like the overall look. Time to think paint. I did some tests on a piece of scrap wood with a bunch of colors and I could not find one I really liked. So I'm going to mix some. If you do this you need to stick to a formula, hopefully 50/50 cause that is easy to replicate. So I mix 1/2 golden brown with 1/2 brown and I think that's about right.
The sample is brown on right, Golden in middle, and custom on left.
When you have a good blade edge it's pretty easy to see what you need to paint what color. Start with the brown mix and paint the inside. I found a few chips on the edge so before I paint I will fill them with spackle and sand it before I paint.
A couple nicks get repaired.
Now to paint the edge with some metallic silver craft paint. Metallic paint seems to cover other paints a little better, so this is best used last.
I like to paint on a new paper towel cause it's such a clean surface.
Here's the lot of them.
Now we have to wrap the handles with leather like Mai's daggers are. At the fabric store it is pretty easy to find a fake leather 1/2 inch trim. This project requires one yard, $3 a yard. I cut one end straight and hot glued it to the edge like so.
Hot glued to the top of the wrap.
 Next you wrap it around a few times, this requires some experimentation. You are going from the top bend to the lower bend. At the bottom I made a slightly angled cut and glued it down.
Cutting the end at an angle and gluing it down.
So after a bit of work here's how it ended up.
Not bad
The wrap is a bit tricky you have to play with it. I think it came out very well though.