The most important thing you can do before creating a costume is what you are doing RIGHT NOW…research. Samus costumes are so intricate, so delicately sized and detailed, that it is next to impossible to find a quality suit for sale. Thus, creating a realistic Varia Suit to make all your friends ‘ooooh’ and ‘aaaaaaah’ means a lot more work than your average Halloween costume (or cosplay). Look at character images off search engines, sketch out the details, and take notice of how everything fits together cohesively. If you can’t draw a straight line, get creative with how to make the shapes and angles. My costume has a total of 19 completed pieces, including: a helmet, 2 shoulder pauldrons, 2 upper arm, 1 arm cannon, 1 lower arm, 1 glove, 1 stomach-to-back piece, 1 vest, 1 chest piece, 1 back jet pack, 1 undies, 2 upper leg, 2 lower leg, and 2 shoes. Each of these pieces is constructed of several additional pieces, and where there aren’t add-ons, there are paint techniques. If you haven’t seen my tutorial for the helmet, make sure you check that out too. Again, this entire costume is made with as many recycled/ reused materials as possible, and I spent under $75 to complete the entire suit.
So let’s just get right into it. Here is the Pauldrons tutorial.
2 foam balls (10”+) found in the floral department of your local craft store
Old newspaper (no glossy magazine paper though)
Bronze acrylic paint
Black acrylic paint
Large knife (be VERY careful with this/ get adult supervision!!)
Toothpick and string
1. Unwrap foam balls and prop up on solid surface (I used a vase so I could still turn it)
2. Start by drawing a line around the center of the ball (a), then another perpendicular (b). The points where they intersect will give you the center on each side of the ball (c). Measure the distance between the center points and mark the center of that length on each side (d). Now mark the point ½ the distance between points (c) and (d) on both sides to give you point (e). To get nice, even lines around your sphere, place the toothpick in the foam at point (d) and tie one end of the string to a marker and the other to the toothpick. Make sure the marker end of the string is tight at point (e), and then draw a circle. Do this on both sides and we will call them lines (e). Below is a diagram (not perfect but hey, it helps to visualize!) of your template markers.
3. Once you have your template, draw on the shape of the pauldrons how you want them to look. Here is mine:
4. Using the large knife, cut out the area marked with arrows. BE VERY CAREFUL using the knife, I almost cut my finger off…literally blood everywhere. It’s hard to cut through this foam and very messy, so make sure you lay down a drop cloth of some sort for easier cleanup. Anyway, I made flat cuts, fitting the balls onto my shoulder several times to see how to cut them out in order to make them sit comfortably. As you can see, I did this step after the paper mache, but you can really do it either way. I switched the steps only because I accidentally cut into the newspaper and had to repair it, so I figured it might be easier to cut first, mache later.
*HINT: measure between lines (e) for your foam wing cutouts BEFORE you paper mache. Also, if you have more time, you can chisel out lines (e) and (a) to give more dimension and possibly a place for battery powered green LED string lights. I would have done this if I had more time, but the costume was already extremely time-consuming, so I just painted on black lines in the end.
5. Now make some Paper Mache mix out of 1:1 Elmer’s and water. Tear newspaper into strips, and dip into mixture, making sure to squeegee off the excess. Paper Mache the entire surface, including the cut out section. Repeat for at least 2 layers, and be sure to let dry completely between each layer to avoid molding. I did 4 layers.
6. You can cut out your foam pieces while the spheres dry (I initially wrote “while your balls dry” but thought better of it. *Ornery giggles ensued*) I measured between lines (e) earlier and cut an arch to fit (x4). Once your paper mache is hard, tape down the wings where you want them.
7. PAINT! Using the bronze acrylic, cover the entire pauldrons except the cut out, which you will paint black. Add details and DAMAGE!
8. Finally, once all the paint is dry, you may be wondering, HOW DO I ATTACH THESE THINGS?! Once your entire costume is ready and you are getting all the pieces on, screw 2 screws up through the shoulders of your vest (tutorial to come, worry not!!) and into the pauldrons.