Germia - gaming world

How (not) to judge 3D printing in cosplay

This time it is not a tutorial based article. I just want to share my opinion with you and possibly find out your opinion too.
There is always some motivation behind each and every of my articles. And one of the motivations for this article was for example one comment I got when I shared my mini nuke prop. I wrote in the decription of the picture featuring the prop, that I made it and gave it to a fallout fan. And the comment was, that the prop was not made by me. After it I posted my work on birdskull, that I made for my Fury cosplay. This time also modelled and of course printed by me, awaiting the postporcessing. And some of the reaction were the same: "Can you go into a contest with 3D printed stuff? It is not your work." and some more...

my brid skull modelled and printed for Fury cosplay
You can clearly see the use of supports for the eyes and beak.
So I decided there is time to maybe educate people more about 3D printing a decribe every step you have to make to achieve good finished product, so everyone can understand it well and better understand the differences of 3d printed work with handmade stuff.

And to say I was the same like people writing me: When 3D print came into cosplay world I didn't think much about it. I thought, that you just put a model inside the printer and it prints that for you. You just sand it, paint it and wear it and that is just it. I've also heard opinions like "3D printing is cheating".
I think a lot of opinions would change with getting a 3D printer kit.

1) What is involved in making a 3D printed prop (for example mininuke)

how your failed print can look like
1) I got a 3D printer (kinda big investment for most of the ppl) + filaments, cabinet for it, smoothing and sanding stuff, ...
2) I had to assemble it and calibrate it (9 hours of assembling, 5 hours of calibrating)
3) I had to study a lot to know which filament to use, how to smooth your prints, how to calibrate the printer for each filament, which filaments are toxic, foodsafe, how they behave and what special needs they have, how to make you prints stick to the surface and how to make them not stick when they're done without destroying your printer, ... (several days of learning)
4) Right now - for each nicely printed thing I still got half of the filament as failed print, because I'm still learning and sh*t just happens.
Nukacola pencil/can holder progress was similar,
there was only no assembly needed and the painjob was easier.
You can still see some parts, that are really hard to sand,
that they have still visible lines from print.
5) Printing bigger stuff can take hours or days and you cannot just leave your printer working, since the prints tend to fail (filament stuck, bad adhesion of pieces, layer shifting, other printing fails) and some fails can even destroy your printer and in worst case - put it on fire (seen that too once). Some people solve this problem with installing camera devices to monitor their prints.
6a) I found the right model (no, I didn't model it - modelling will be an article on its own) and I had to make .gcode files from .stl files, so your printer can handle it - there you customize all the things the printer should do in matter of speed, quality, infill, supports, ... (more in 2nd chapter).
6b) Or you can make the model on your own. But 3d modelling is HARD if you don't have any courses behind you and don't know where to start. I started by editing existing models to learn how all the brushes work and since I have a lot of experience with vector graphic, where you have to work sith shapes as well, I was relatively fast learner. You basically go from making basic shapes or editing existing stuff (my lightsaberemitter guard) to using brushes form making organic stuff (my bird skull - 2 days of work on it) to making exact shapes with functional design (I'm still not that far and a long way awaits me), that is for example this mininuke.
7) The mininuke printed like 85/100 quality (there were some minor cosmetic issues - I used a cheaper filament), so I had to sand down the not so nice parts and fix failed parts with wood burning iron.
Every printer an filament prints in different quality adustments and sometimes it can have some uneven spaces, bulks or different "fails", that you have to fix in post processing. 
8) I made 3 coats of primer and filler (not cheap stuff), that I had to sand down after every coat - it took me the whole day. This part is the most important! I've seen a lot of cosplayers just take the 3D printed prop and paint it. There almost no work involved in making a 3d printed prop without modelling it yourself, printing it yourself and POSTPROCESSING it. That is what makes the difference between good and bad print - the lines from printer should be not visible at all and the surface of the print should be smooth!
Remember that because rought print is like foam armor with badly glued joints.
9) When I thought the surface was smooth enough, I sanded it down for the last time and then I spent 2-3 hours of assembling and painting. I used real iron nails for bottom part. Painting makes a big difference in what you can get from a 3d print!!!
You can watch me painting mininuke HERE.
DAT famous mininuke, 3D model by PowerHobo

So even my printer "made" the physical shapes of the mininuke, and I didn't even model it (I do not think i am able to 3D model functional or precise models yet)), I think there is still a lot of work involved!

This part of article was just a description of a working process. When I say "made" it means, nothing would exist without your work involved. You cannot just say my 3D printer made it for me, because it is not true, and you can give credit to the author of the file, which I am always giving in longer description, not in a first sentence, that explains what the thing is - but even the author did not make the physical thing for you.

In the following part of the article, I will describe the adjustments of your printer, that can severely influence your print. It may be a little boring for someone, but I think it is vital to understand, that printer does not make all the work for you. It is up to you to tell it what to do!
But still, if you are not interested, skip to part 3 - judging of a 3D printed part.

2) How hard printing actually is

I've already described, what you need to do to make your own prop like my mininuke. But what adjustements are you making actually on your printer? Why the printing fails so much? Why it is actually not that easy as it seems on a first glance? Why it takes so long to print?

3D printers work by melting a long string of (mainly plastic) filament and placing layers and layers of materials on each other in a desired shape.

a) printing quality

You can adjust your printing quality in the program you use for preparing the models for printing (Slic3r, Prusa control, ...) and it influences the layer visibility and the time of printing:

b) printing speed

You can adjust the printing speed in different stages of printing. The right/wrong speed can have a big impact on the printing quality in terms of shape and smoothness:

c) filament (= printing string)

Each and every filament and I mean not only the material or the company making it, but each and every color of filament can have different chracterstics and would most likely need you to change the adjustments of your printer regarding speed, nozzle temperature, sometimes layer height, heating bed temperature.
There are several different materials you can print with, but the most used are PLA and ABS. But you can even print with nylon, carbon fiber, flexible materials or wood, but each filament material has it's own spceifics and if you read carefully, you have noticed, that ot study those differences and choosing the best material for you can take several days of studying.

d) nozzle temperature

Nozzle temperature is the tempareature of the device melting the filament to be extruded and shaped. It changes with each and every material and most of the filaments have on their box, what temperature is best for them. But tbh - you have to try it by yourself. The temperature can have a big impact on the quality of the print:

e) heating bed temperature

Some better printer have something called heating bed. It is the part of the printer, where the printed part sits and some filaments need the printing bed to be heated in order to stick to it. Temperature of heating bed can influence, if your print sticks to the bed and will be a success or if the print sticks on the nozzle, will mess up your pinter and be totally destroyed. If you make your bed temp too high, it can shift some layers of your print and it will look bad.

f) taking care of your filament

Even the filament you have needs to be cared of and can influence the result of your print. Tangled filament can stuck and your print can go on printing without extruding any filament. Wet or moist filament can make your print look bulky or there could be holes in your print. That is why your filament comes with silica gel absorbent of mositure and that is why you should stock it on dry dark place.

g) infill

Infill is a way of sparing some of the filament, making the inner part of a model lightweight, but still pretty sturdy. On the pictures, you see some of the adjustments you can do with your infill, that can influence athe look and the charactersitics of your print:

h) supports, brim, raft, skirt ...

To make sure your print will be successful, sometimes you have to make supports for the parts, that "overhang", you have to make rafts and brims or skirts. But I won't describe it so much, since it is for longer time. If you are still interested in more, just read this article about it HERE.

i) the list never ends

I am sure I explained in a short way some of the adjustments of printing, but this is not all, there are many other different stuff you have to do before printing, that I did not mention, but I think this list is enought to have just a slight clue, how extensive the work with 3d printer actually is.

3) Judging a 3D print

The smoothness of the print is affected by printing quality
(for ex. how many layers are used) and the post-processing (smoothing)
⏩ How much work is involved in the print
1) Did the cosplayer model the prop?
2) Did the cosplayer controll (own) the 3D printer?
3) Did the cosplayer assembled, sanded (or postprocessed) and painted the print?
Controll questions:
- What modelling software/printing software/printer is she/he using?
- What techniques are used for smoothing and painting?
- What glue is used for assembly?
- What kind of filament is she/he using and why?

⏩ How advanced the print is
1) How skilled a cosplayer should be to model this?
2) Does it do anything special?
- movement, opening, turning, ...
I know it can sound maybe very challenging, to make props, that actually do something, but 3D printing has almost unlimited options in this kind of matter.
3) How many parts it has and (how much time and money is involved)

⏩ How does the print look like 
1) Are there any common print fails involved? Layer shifting, Overextrusion, Layer splitting, Oozing, bad supports, wet filament, ... Look HERE at most of the possible print failures.
2) Does the 3D print look smooth?
If you spend more time printing a prop on much detailed option, there are more layers used, so the printing layers are not so visible. But even your print goes very detailed right from the printer, you still have to smooth it, so no layers are visible. There are a lot of ways how to do it, which I will describe in another article, but the post-processing is really necessary and it is also VERY time consuming and hard. And I have to admit I have seen only a few cosplayers actually postprocesssing their prints well.
3) How does the paintjob looks like
- Does it look realistic?
- Are the colors good quality, or does the original print color peeks through?
- Are there highlights and shading involved?
- Is it weathered (if it should be)?
I took two Immortan Joe masks from Thingverse to show you the difference of the paintjob you can achieve on the same 3D model as an example:
Mask used for Halloween, so the painjob
is made fast and inaccurate
Very good and realistic paintjob of this mask

⏩ Other stuff
1) How creative the use of the print is
Even when someone did not modell something, but uses it creatively or in an uncommon way, I think it can earn him/her plus points!

I try to find creative and practical use of models all the time:

Dragons can fix anything
Using 4 different models to pimp up the respirator

3) Comparison with other techniques

Comparison of different techniques is always very hard - we know the struggle between judging the armors and dresses and 3D print comes to this enviroment of unsure point distribution in contests...

I think 3D printing is the VERY SIMILAR to other techniques - it can make your life easier in some ways and harder in other.

What is easier and what I like:
⏩You can buy or download models for free, you don't have to know how to 3D model to 3D print
⏩No pattern making, no foam cutting and gluing and shaping, ...
⏩No further thinking about shape, allignment, scale, assembly, you can wathc this all in the computer.
⏩Very sturdy outcome - no heat in car destroys your props, almost no damage caused by travelling
⏩ Very convincing outcome if postprocessed well
⏩ Even the learning curve is very slow from the start, you get to know your printer with time and choose your fav materials and adjustments and become a 3D printing fabric very soon ;)

What is harder:
⏩Initial investment is very high (3d printer, filament, 3D programs)
⏩Learning is very time consuming from the start and involves a lot of fails (and money for the filament or destroyed parts)
1 character - so many different signature styles
Demon Hunter from Diablo 3 by
Poodoki, Tasha, unknown :(, Germia
⏩ 3D modelling is not easy and involves in it a lot of learning struggles and sacrificed time. ⏩ 3D modelling of functional or precise parts is much harder and really advanced.
⏩Sanding and smoothing is very time (and money) consuming
⏩ Printing with new and different filaments ivolves a lot of fails and it's really time consuming.

What I dislike:
⏩ 3D prints do not involve your handmade touch/signature style - noone recognizes if you printed it or if your friend printed it. By normal foam armors or worbla, there are so many different styles - I have my own, everyone can recognize my work from others...

What I like:
⏩ 3D printing moves cosplayers on another level. Even worbla and foam are great materials, they have some limits and rying to make a convincing sniper rifle from those materials could be almost impossible. 3D printing also allows for better durability and it is yet another technique to show of with (If the technique wasn't by some people regarded as cheating :( ).

According to me, (we) cosplayers have problem with 3D printing in this matter:
You can make a 3D print even with only a little skill (if you download 3D modell, let it print by your friend) and there is smaller difference (or maybe just most people don't know) between bad 3D print and good 3D print (downloaded model, painting and layer visibility) than between good foam armor and bad foam armor (shapes, seams, painting, scale, decorations, material, typical handmade style of a cosplayer). That is why sometimes it seems much easier to make a 3D printed prop than a handmade prop.

And what do you think about 3D printing in cosplay? Do you still think it is easier or "cheating" to have stuff 3D printed? Don't worry, I won't judge ANY opinions, just make them well thinked and argumented ;) 

My Sith with 3D printed lightsaber emitter guards
This article was made with the support of my patreon followers and I'm really greateful to them!
If you want to take part in this and support me in making more of the content like this, you can join my patreon here :)
Thank you!


What are you doing wrong with your social site? Tips and tricks by Germia

I find your lack of engagement disturbing
Photo: Butrix production
If you are struggling with managing your social sites, don't worry, I'm going to show you some secrets about social sites, that I've learned just by my own experience.

This will not be a lecture for advanced social sites management or marketing. This is just a small tutorial for cosplayer showing them what behavior is welcome and how to work on your social sites portfolio to gain followers.
And I repeat - it is not a marketing guide, I won't show any advanced marketing tools for social sites management, or give advices, that can profit companies selling merchandise.

1) Senpai companies are (mostly) on twitter

Try to work on your twitter page - I know it is hard to orient in and that the tweet length is sometimes very limitative, BUT:
Most of the companies, especially american companies, are using Twitter, so if you have cosplay from certain game developers, they are more likely to retweet you (twitter) than share you (facebook). If you tag a celebrity in your post, the celebrity will react to it with a tweet (tw) more likely than with a comment (fb,ig). The same goes for all bigger companies, just look at screens, even I have very little following on twitter, the companies and celebrities still react on twitter much more likely.
For example: Payday 2, Overkill studio, Heroes of the Storm official, 3M, Valkia, Carolina Ravassa, Jen Cohn, Might and Magic official, ...
And from a simple comment, you can extend the communication with important people further and maybe get new contacts or cooperations.

2) Your followers need you to communicate with them

This is one of the most important things! Speak with your followers, engage in discussion or conversation!

I've spoken with a cosplayer, that was really sad/pissed about her follower count, she even said it is unfair, because she is making much higher quality cosplay then cosplayers with much higher follower count. So I looked at her page.

Even she was making content interesting enough for her followers to comment, she did not respond to anyone who commented, even when it was a clear question. She didn't even press the simple like to let them know she's read it.
It can be excused if you have thousands of people on your social site, but if you have one comment by each post, it can be managed pretty easily.

And guys, if you don't have time to answer everything or react to every post, just let your followers know you've noticed them by pressing a simple like or writing a general comment for everyone. Or just ask a friend if he/she can help you with management.

3) Post (not so) frequently

Finding the right time and amount of posts on each social site can be a difficult task, but I can tell you what works for me:
- Post once a day/two days/regularly - posting once a day keeps people informed about what you do and it does not spam them (facebook, instagram). If you have more content to share, make instagram stories (they work!) or post more on twitter or google+.
- Do not post more than two posts a day (on facebook) - Even you post something interesting, people get spammed by you and they unlike AND you kill the reach of your posts. Save it for later or make instagram stories.
- Plan in advance - If you are working on a project you are excited about, do not post only your project. Plan in advance, make your content diverse not to bore or spam your fans too much with the same content. I dislike when cosplayers post every centimeter of progress on their cosplay everyday, it is spamming people and we do not like spam.
- Post your content in time peaks of your audience - Each community has it's time peaks - it is the time when most people are online and can see your posts. Also, post approximatelly in the same time - people love regularity and they will start to get used to see your post everyday at the same time and maybe will be excited about it.

4) Use all the channels you can

Posting on your page is normal, but what about sharing your content to discussion sites, viral sites or facebook groups? You never know what can bring you more exposition!

5) Instagram stories

I know it can be just a popular thing, but a lot of people watch ONLY instagram stories. Make them interesting, informing, exciting, enjoyable and lure poeple to know more about you on your pages. Be like-worthy!
And of course, successful IG story brings a lot of messages - answer them! People took time to write a message to you, so you can take time to at least push the heart button.

6) Widen your audience by speaking english

I am so disappointed when I see a page of a cosplayer I like, but he/she speaks in language I don't understand.  By speaking english, you can reach much more people and be at once interesting for abroad companies and events.
I do not say you have to use english, but it is a possible way to widen your audience.
Don't be discouraged by naysayers looking for mistakes in your english or telling you you don't have right to use english on your page. It is your page and the language you're using is totally up to you!

7) Tagging, hashtags and post contents

There is a big difference in reach of content and it really matters HOW you present the content, so there are some tips and tricks for you:
- Short videos work
- Short decription = bigger reach
- Posts work better without links (and tags and hashtags on facebook)
- Picture makes any post better
- Important info should be inside the picture (ppl don't read description mostly)
- Tags make the reach worse
- Hashtags are good only for some sites - for example hashtags are great for IG, bad for FB, use them in limited numbers even on IG.


Be careful, that by quality content can different people see different things. Some see quality content as a post that has the most likes. I see the quality content as something, that present yourself in a good light and gives back something to the people following you.
If you want to know, how the content you make influences your social media - you can always look in you engagement, likes and clicks breakdown on your pages (be careful you have to have a business profile on some social sites).

What is a quality content:

- Bringing back something to your fans: 
Giveaways, knowledge sharing (including WIPs, progress, materials used, ...), simple thank you posts

- Good quality presentation of your work:
professional cosplay photos, quality progress pictures with described materials, HQ videos of your cosplay, showing off your contruction of the cosplay or WIPs on good and detailed pics

- Humorous/viral stuff:
funny stuff that happened to you, memes or parodies. Be careful, since the line between funny and awkward is very thin and also it should be something not very regular.

- Your ideas or experiences:
sharing your ideas, experience or opinions can be sometimes little tricky - especially if you have controversila opinion. But still it is a high quality content since it is your original idea

- Traditional cosplay things like:
Before and after, in and out of the cosplay, makeup tests, material reviews, cooperations with companies, merchandise info, event info, ...

What is not a quality content:

- Selfies with friends & famous people:

People are not interested in who did you met if you are not writing more about that meeting - it has to have a meaning or story behind it to be more interesting. Random selfies are usually not a high quality content for a social site and they tend to have low quality (more in the blurred event pics).

- Random or blurred pictures from events: 

People want to see higher quality pics, not a blurred something on a grained picture made by a low quality phone camera.

- Suggestive or untasteful pics

I have to say that again - there is a traditional connection of cosplay and sexuality, that I do not like and I do not support. A lot of cosplayers go the easy way in making cosplays thinking about gaining followers through sexuality and showing off their body. We all know cosplay is very often connected to sexual themes and a lot of famous cosplayers show a lot of their body, but it does not mean you have to do the same.
And there is another thing - doing for example budoir shoots tastefully is really hard. It is hard to capture the body in a feeling or mood. And I've already seen some revealing cosplay shoots, that went wrong in different ways - cosplayer looks like she/he doesn't wanna be photographed or is ashamed of herself (I've seen a christmas casual photoshoot, where the model had only panties and sweater on and the poses were so awkward it seemed like she didn't even wanted to be photographed like this - if you are not comfortable doing it, do not do it), or the mood of the shoot went completely wrong because the cosplay was too suggestive, or the posing was bad (pic)... There are so many things, that can go bad. To make that simple - a lot of cosplayers think they can show exposed body and get likes, but they end up disappointed, because they have shown everything with only a little outcome. Think only about Christmas lingerie photoshoots - how many cosplayers have you seen doing it, taht looked really well thinked through, prepared and well photographed?
Suggestive or untasteful content can be something that keeps away the people interested in your work and lures people interested to see more of your body naked. When I've seen a cosplayer showing off her cosplay by sitting with her legs opened and her tiny underpants showing, I was already not interested in more of her work and closed her page - and I do not even remember who it was, since I've seen it on some kind of cosplay repost page.

- Bitching, crybabying, being rude:
I'm sorry I had to say that like this, but this is just a reminder, that if you share your ideas or opinions, you can always do it tastefully and respectfully to others. You don't have to mention anyone doing something negative, you can always tell the sentence unoffensively.
I do not want you to not speak about your opinions, but find the way how to do it without hurting anyone in process.

- Be careful about doing awkward stuff when aspiring to make viral content:
You never know what goes viral, but do not do something you would never find funny just because you are dreaming about doing viral stuff.

- Repetitive posts
Repetitive posts (showing the same stuff from different angles, showing progress pictures, where you made only 5 cm of embroidery on each, showing pics of your behind body saying you'vve just made pants too often, giving away one thing every day - prolonged giveaway) can be viewed as spamming and annoying. Keep away from them.
Go the right way
Photo: Milos Mlady photography

I hope this article helped you realizing what you are doing wrong/well on your social sites or helped you maybe think about the content you do and what do you want to achieve on your page. :)
And just a last disclaimer - Opinions in this article are just my opinions, I do not want to hurt anyone and I didn't even try to make an article about boosting  the followers on your page. It is just an article about tips and tricks and my opinions about what is right to do ;)

This article was made with support of my Patrons on my Patreon! There will be no time doing this without them!
I hope this article will be useful for someone and if yes, you can follow my work on cosplay (and other stuff) on my FACEBOOK PAGE or TWITTER or INSTAGRAM.

And if you like this stuff I do, you can support my work by donating on my PATREON.



Turning a respirator into a postapo mask - tutorial by Germia

Some of you already know I do a lot of livestreaming on my channel DATgermia and since I am a cosplay and I am working with chemicals and my work produces a lot of deteriorative particles, I have to wear a safety mask/respirator.

My followers had an awesome idea I should use my freshly aquired 3dprinter (omg it is so much cheaper since I've got it lol) to pimp up my mask in some way.

I said to myself I'll go for it. I've always wanted to do a postapo prop and I've seen this as the right challenge. I decided to take inspiration from Mad Max's Immortan Joe and his mask/respirator.

So I've started searching for the right stl around the internet and I found it HERE.

I printed the mask with my Prusa i3 MK2S and PLA Plasty Mladec in silver.

I have to admit, my print failed in the chin area, but I decided to slice the model with Slicer in my PC, print only the chin area, sand it and glue it to the rest of the mask. And I did.

As glue I've used PLA rests mixed with tetrahydrofuran - pvc wielding. I also had to fix a small hole in the nose with wood burning iron and some PLA rests, that I melted into the hole.

The mask had a different shape than I needed, so I decided to heatform the mask with heat gun to fit better on my mask and I cut almost the whole cheek part to be able to fit the mask on my repirator. I cut it with dremmel tool and I sanded it down. I smoothened the whol mask after it with several layers of tetrahydrofuran till no print lines can be visible. After it I drilled a hole on the sides and led a cord through them to wrap around the filters and hold in the place.

Then I painted the mask using the Immortan Joe mask as a model. I used Artemiss and Pébeo colors and you can see me painting it, when I livestreamed it on my stream:

Sledujte hru Pimping up my safety mask - painting od uživatele DATgermia na adrese

Then I had to switch filaments and I tried using Gembird black filament. Tetrahydrofuran doesn't work on Gembird anymore and it has big troubles by printing, so I do not really recommend this filament. I decided to decorate only the plain plastic transparent cover of particle filters, since they do not have to be exchanged (in comparison with white particle filters and big grey/brown chemical filters).

I had an idea to use mesh for covering the plain filter - it can be modelled, printed and formed very easily. But if you do not want to model it, you can download it here. I printed only half of the meshes height, so I can better form it and better handle it. After you print it, the only thing you have to do is the heat it carefully by heatgun and form it around the plastic filter covers. Cut with scissors all the rests of the mesh you do not need.

I decided to better up my mask with my small printed 3D logo - but be careful not to cover all the spaces on the cover - you need to have some space for the air to flow through! That is why I used a mesh and not a solid part to decorate the filter surface.

I used hotglue to fasten all the pieces to the plastic cover.

The last part I wanted to print was a belt, that would decorate the sides of the filter. Do not glue anything to filter itself, just to the plastic cover, since you have to leave the filters interchangeable.

I thought first about different kinds of belts I can use, even rubber bands, but I stopped my search when I saw this file.
This was absoultely perfect for this job. I had later even some better ideas, so maybe I'm gonna do a second mask later, but this one turned out perfect!

I printed this belt, but once again, the print failed when it was somewhere aroun 60 %, but I still decided to use it - I do not like making mess and wasting material, so I glued (second glue) the failed pieces together and oh my Gosh! It turned out much better than the original design.I took the belts and glued them with hotglue onto the sides of the plastic cover of the particle filters. Then I panited it with acrylics and DONE.

This process was also streamed on two different videos, so you can take a look:

Sledujte hru Pimping up the safety mask II od uživatele DATgermia na adrese

Sledujte hru Pimping up the safety mask III od uživatele DATgermia na adrese

I also showed on my stream how the mask is assembled:

  Sledujte hru How my safety mask/respirator works? od uživatele DATgermia na adrese

This article was made with support of my Patrons on my Patreon! There will be no time doing this without them!
I hope this article will be useful for someone and if yes, you can follow my work on cosplay (and other stuff) on my FACEBOOK PAGE or TWITTER or INSTAGRAM.

And if you like this stuff I do, you can support my work by donating on my PATREON.



Xena sword and chakram prop - tutorial by Germia

I've just finished all the pieces of my Xena costume and I can finally write more about it. And since a lot of people asked about how I made my sword and chakram, I decided to share again my knowledge with you :)


Chakram is a round weapon, that can be thrown and has a cutting ability. Everyone knows this weapon is slightly more fantastic, than realistic, but it didn't stop chakram to become iconic and beloved.
I've already written a lot about what to be careful of when starting to make chakram and I also shared my patterns with you in THIS ARTICLE. 

Following this article and assuming you have your patterns printed out and abalone shells prepared, let's go to the crafting section.
I've bought pack of hardened polystyrene in sheets in about 0,5cm diameter. I've glued 2 sheets together with polystyrene glue, let it dry and trandfered my pattern onto it. Then I cut it with exacto knife and dremmeled into shape. I dremmeled the corners in the inner side round and I've used sanding sponge to make th outer edges sharp. I also slightly cut the parts, where abalone shells are placed. Then I covered the polystyrene chakram in black worbla. Be really careful with the heat, since too much heat destroys the polystyrene and it will melt it. If you are afraid to use polystyrene because of that, you can use harder EVA foam as core material.
I took wood burning tool and burnt the pattern of chakram inside and I burnt also the places, where the abalone shells should fit.
I cut the abalone shells in half to spare material and glue the halves inside the burnt places with hotglue. Then I smoothened the whole thing with latext cement, painted it with silver, gold, black and brown acrylics from Artemiss (insert the code GERMIA for 25 % off) and Pebeo.


Sometimes the more info you have about something doesn't have to be excatly positive for your working process - in other words - more doesn't mean better. I really struggled with different versions of Xena's sword and I ended up lookin at several different prop replicas of it. There are so many different versions! And the same goes for Xena's armor...
I gave up on my research, because I was lured to one particular design, that caught my eye in the process and I couldn't stop thinking about it even I know it is not exactly the most accurate version of her sword. I'm talking about this one - It has so many gorgeous decorations, that make the prop so much more interesting, that I decided I give this version a go. 

I started by making patterns. I found a pic of the sword taken perfectly from above, I trasnfered it into Gimp and adjusted his size to respond the actual size, I cut it into 20 cm logn pieces and extracted to Word and printed out. I've explained already how I measure size of props in my article about Pharah's wings - You have to have a full body pic of the character holding the prop, then enlarge the pic, so the centimeters respond to your height (18cm-180cm in real life) - measure the character to respond the height either of you or the actor/character if he was real. Then measure the prop you want to make (sword) and you have your measurements. I've found out the sword should be between 70-80 cm long, so it is a shorter sword.

It is not as short as my Anna Valerious sword so it will definitelly need some kind of core material. I bought a sheet of PVC and I cut the rough shape of the sword from it. I took two sheets from polystyrene and cut and glued them to PVC - 1 from each side - with hot glue - but be really careful with hot glue and polystyrene. Then I added few layers on the hilt and sanded and sanded till my sword had edges, rounded parts and was prepared to be wrapped in worbla. I wrapped it then in brown worbla like a sandwich and cut the rests of worbla on the borders. Then I took my wood burning iron and smoothened any surface I didn't like. Once again - be careful with hot gun an polystyrene - everything has to clap on first heating or else you will burn the polystyrene inside and cause surface problems. I did it too and next time I will definitelly use EVA foam for this build instead of polystyrene. I corrected my mistakes with worbla layers, wood burning iron and finally with sanding sponge, dremmel and latex cement.

I took black worbla to make finer decorations and for bigger decorations, I wrapped moosgummi in worbla and sticked it onto the word, for finer decorations, I used only straps of black worbla. For the finest decorations, I took pointy tip of my wood burning tool and I made the engraving in the black worbla. I also added Abalone shell halves and glued them with hotglue on it's place. I smoothened the edge and some places on the hilt with two layers of latex cement and then I painted the whole thing black.I added golden Artemiss paint on the hilt and made highlights with Pebeo dark gold and I painted the edge with Artemiss and Pebeo silver and I've used airbrush. The last thing was the wrapping around the hilt, that I made from worn leather, which I later painted dark brown with Artemiss leather colors. I glued the wrapping to worbla with contact cement.

And here are some pictures of my done cosplay :)

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