Don't you just love it when you base a fabric selection on colors shown in an artbook scan...and then you load up the video game to look at something else and find out that that article of clothing is an entirely different color?! Gaaaaaaah! Well, I think you can guess what they did to palette-swapped Xiahou Dun's pants. They're golden brown in the artbook scan I downloaded from a fan site and black in the game. And, of course, I bought the fabric already. Guh. I might just go see if JoAnn's has any silky black prints that I like even better. If so, I can always use the brown stuff for something else. I did buy 3 yards of it.
Sorry I don't have any fun and exciting progress pictures. I am working on stuff, though. I have most of the measurements required for drafting Zhang He's sash patterns. The Xiahou Dun sword guard pattern is in progress. I zoomed in on my sword reference pic in GIMP and took an assload of pixel measurements to figure out its proportions. I had tried just drawing up a pattern on graph paper, but it didn't come out right. This way, I'll be able to scale it to fit my sword (which I haven't gotten to trimming or sanding yet, but believe it or not, most of side #2's wrinkles have a mostly smooth surface - no, really, they do - and my body filler isn't here yet, so it's not like I can even get it into picture-worthy state right now anyway). I also found a perfect unitard to order for Zhang He. I'm going to paint the butterfly detail on with Jones Tones fabric paint, which is supposed to work nicely with stretch material. Weeeeeeeeeee.
While I'm on that subject, I'll mention that I'm switching back to Zhang He's default colors. I was going to do the version with the silver unitard, but stupid me wrongly remembered the rest of the outfit as having the same colors as the default one, and that's not the case at all. Even the sash color is noticeably different. After taking a good look at both, I honestly prefer the default color scheme, especially because the gold and white trim on the silver scheme's sashes is reversed, with the gold on the outside instead of the white. This means that some curly fabric pieces are gold and not white, which would have been a problem for me because I'm insistent on using galloon trim to make the gold, and Frankensteining that into a curly shape just doesn't work because of its subtle pattern (which is one reason why I wanted it in the first place - the other being that it's a nice bold yellow gold that doesn't look annoyingly shiny).
In other related news, Katie Bair put up a Zhang He wig quote. I'm going to go for a spot on her roster ASAP. I might want to learn wig design someday, but I have enough to do for these two costumes that I really don't want to mess with it right now. What I do want is a nice accurate wig, so it's well worth it for me to get one commissioned.
Lest anybody still thinks I'm sane, I should also mention that I decided to make Xiahou Dun's leg armor out of 24-gauge stainless steel squares riveted to an appropriately heavy textile. I found the metal and a hole punch, but I'm still deciding on rivets. I need speedy ones because you just swat them with a hammer (instead of pounding the end down flat), and they're rather hard to find. I have a catalog coming in the mail soon along with samples.
Uhhhh, aren't there cheaper and easier ways to get a similar effect?
Cheaper - yes, easier - not necessarily. If you order the metal in an adequately long strip that's as wide as the pieces you need, you can make a jig to run the strip up against and thereby rapidly snip pieces of an appropriate length. You can use some sort of template to line up your hole punch when poking holes in the pieces. The riveting process attaches the metal and puts the nifty bump on its middle at the same time.
The other method I've seen for simulating plates involves gluing styrene over craft foam, gluing a craft stud in the middle of each square, spraypainting the squares silver, and then affixing them to the base material. This is certainly cheaper (back when I thought I was going to use it for Berserker Rikku, I got several 12"x48" sheets of styrene for about $15 plus shipping, and the stainless steel is going to cost me about $40), but it takes much longer to measure and cut out the squares that way (even if you glue a big sheet of foam and styrene together first to save time), and then you have to glue each decorative stud on separately. I'm sure you could template-ize that somehow, but it's still an extra step compared to riveting.
In conclusion, I can easily afford the metal and the other supplies required to make plated armor out of it, so if I'm going to have to do about the same amount of work either way, why not go for authenticity? (Plus, it'll be good practice for the Zhang Fei outfit I want to make for Randy in the future. The leg armor on that is a flat sheet of riveted overlapping scales that is then bent in an arch. I'm so glad it wasn't difficult to talk him into going as Xiahou Dun this year instead. As you can tell, I've really gotten anal about accuracy and craftsmanship, especially when the costume is as elaborate as that of a Dynasty Warriors character, so I didn't want to do Zhang Fei until I had the capability to actually make his metal shit look right.) I should mention that the metal's weight won't be a problem either because it's so thin and it'll be worn by a person who's built like an ogre. Hooray for my cosplaying oaf. ^_^