Hey Beamer3k. Thanks for the compliments. The armor and valkyrie took about 6 months of MAJOR work to complete. You can see the whole process at our blog if you are interested: naughtyzootdesign.blogspot.com…
but other than that I guess I would say there were a few simple things that we tried to focus on to help the project along:
1 Materials choice
-We worked in materials that were hard so they keep a clean edge and are easy to get a "perfect" flat (or curved) surface with. Im not a fan of trying to sand epoxy smooth. Id rather start with something smooth.
So we used a lot of PVC (for thickness) covered in aluminum.
The other big aspect of materials choice was that we tried to use materials that looked convincing and cool in their raw state- so the aluminum was a pretty good choice for that reason as well. We then made a point of trying to showcase "Hey this piece is actual metal" I think our results were a little mixed there but mostly very satisfactory.
2 Tool choice
Since we worked in hard materials my bandsaw was indispensable. It would be difficult to work in harder materials without the right saw I think. But no matter what material you are working in I would always recommend a good table top belt/disc sander. I find that a there is no substitute for grinding something flat or creating a beveled edge. There are a lot of other tools we got into (cause Im BIG on tools)... but I would say a $200 tool will save you 40 hours of work and improve the quality 10X. -Did I mention I love tools?...
We were SUPER fussy on finishes. Tons of tests and trials and failed attempts with the costume pieces themselves. But our goal was to make every piece look PERFECT at a distance of 6 feet. We allowed visible flaws closer than that (to save sanity) but we really wanted it to be convincing IN PERSON. -The short version is that we discovered the autobody paint store. They have much higher quality paints, they could custom mix colors and put it in a spray can for us, they have the top end metallic/ pearlescent paints and the best clear coat in a can. Being fussy on these points will make a noticeable difference.
-1 Strict Accuracy. (yeah that's a negative 1). We DID NOT focus too much on strict reproduction. I would say our work could justifiably be criticized for that. To me it was more important to create something believable than to do an EXACT reproduction. So there were places where we did things slightly differently to allow our material choice or to make the costume a little more wearable. -Thats not a tip...its just an idea. I guess I would say that I like a little liberty in cosplay.
That's my rant. I am a creative so I LOVE making things and on the rare occasion someone asks me to discuss the work I do like to open my fat mouth. Sorry if I got self-absorbed. Thanks for asking and thanks for including us in the community of excellent, fun-loving cosplayers.