Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Tutorial: Dwarf boot covers

Someone asked me about how I'd made my dwarf lady boots, so I documented the process when I made new show covers. The construction is super easy, but I'll explain everything in case there is anyone who haven't worked with foam before.

This is the second time I'm making new covers, so be aware that since they are made from foam, they won't last forever. But they are cheap and pretty easy to make. My last pair lasted four days through intense wear and tear, and if you're careful with them, they'll last longer.

I found my base shoes second hand, so I can't tell you where to get them, sorry.

Before you start, stuff your boots with newspaper or something so they keep their shape while you're working. Put masking tape where you want the cover to go. Draw your design (or just copy mine). Try to get it symmetrical.

This is my pattern. You can cut it out in paper or cardboard if you know you are going to make them more than once. As for me, I appreciate the masking tape pattern that sticks to the foam while I'm cutting it.

Cut out your pattern in foam. You might want to add some "seam allowance" to the parts that will overlap. You can always trim it later. Try your pattern on the shoe to make sure it fits.

This was my first pair that died really quickly. Boo, pink foam.
Notice that I am using BLACK FOAM. I am a clutz and I know that I will mange to scuff the paint off them no matter what. But when the foam is black, the scuff marks show less and the shoes just look like they've been trekking through Middle-Earth (authentic!) and I don't get bullied by nasty Elves for having neon pink spots on my shoes. 

Dwarves seem to like geometrical details. Create interest with texture and patterns. I have carved details into the foam with a pen. It's also possible to add raised detail with puffy paint or extra foam parts.

The pattern I've used on top of the shoe is from Thorin's dwarven sword. The sides are decorated with norse bindrunes. There are loads of Dwarven patterns to take inspiration from.

Glue on a clean surface - clean the shoes if they've been used outside. Scratch the surface of the shoes with f. ex. sanding paper to give the glue extra purchase. There are loads of different glues to choose from - if you're using contact adhesive, do yourself a favour and choose the less toxic kind that doesn't give you cancer. If you're using hot glue, make sure to use only a thin layer of glue so that it doesn't show through the foam. Here I've used school glue 'cause that was all I had lying around.

Foam is too porous to paint, so you'll have to seal it with watered down glue.

If you haven't used black foam, now is a good time to paint the whole thing black, just to have an even primer. Dwarf-boots usually have covers in metal or leather, so that's what you want to mimic. When painting props I usually paint the whole thing in a base colour and add shadows around raised details before I distress/age it.

And this is what they look like after a day at con.
(Exhausted dwarf cosplayer not shown.)
Paint until you're satisfied, let dry and then you're ready to kick some Elf butt! (Though, be ready to run away from offended Elves. Mahal, it's a good thing we Dwarves are natural sprinters.)


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