Making Yennefer Knee Armour
The Witcher is full of fun designs but also pull your own hair out from stress designs. The follow is how I approached the only armour on this outfit of hers.
When working on this cosplay, I used for most of my references this stunning statue made by Hugo Gómez. Not only is it stunning work but its the clearest shot of details and colour one can really get for this outfit. Check out his work here
For me one of the main concerns with these knee pads was, well being knee pads. Being in an area of a lot of movement and the possibility of me needing to knell meant I decided to avoid rigid materials like a 3D print and frankly the level of detail on this is not something I can personally achieve with thermoplastics. So I decided to go the route of foam.
I am very fortunate to own a vinyl cutting machine (Silhouette 2) so I decided to try using that to cut my design into foam. The first issue with that is that the machine can only take thin materials and I planned to use 5mm high density foam (Bought from Coscraft).
Taking 1mm craft foam, I ran it through my machine using the cutting settings for "Stamp Cutting" and hoped for the best. At first I was worried about the tracks left on the foam by the machine rolling it in and out but then ended up not being an issue! Phew!
After it finished cutting i carefully applied heat using a heat gun and the foam deepened the cuts to form the details. While the foam was still hot I pressed it into a rug I have. Just to give it subtle texture.
Next, using contact cement glue, I glued this top layer of foam to the 5mm high density foam, pressed some weight on it so the bond was flush and left it cure overnight. Come morning I cut off the excess with a sharp knife to give myself two flat ovals. I then lightly sanded the edges of the foam so give it a more polished look.
Next was making the shape. This took a bit of luck to be honest, luck and patience! Heating ONLY the 5mm high density foam side slowly as not t melt it, I would then press the knee pad over a curved bowl again and again, sometimes just heating and holding the shape in my hands. This took a few attempts to get right. I avoided heating the top layer as it is much thinner and the heat needed to shape it would melt it, thing of the top layer as just a fashion design, the bottom will be doing all the work. I heated and cooled and rolled until I was happy with the shape and had a matching pair!
Now the painting! As I knew this would flex I wanted the paint to flex with it. SO for an undercoat I used Flexipaint, a paint that is a bit like rubber, it moves with the foam! (Buy it here ) . The thing to remember with this paint is it is really like painting liquid rubber. Its thick, it dries slow, Use thin coats! For me all I really wanted was to get it settled into the grooves of the design and then lighter across the surface of the foam, so using a sponge i took very small amounts, worked them into the grooves and wiped away the excess. Then I let dry.
Next I took a gun metal grey gilding wax and a cloth and rubbed it all over the foam. Depending on the brand this can be easy or hard, the colour I used it hard to work in but the results are stunning. use small amounts, apply in firm circular motions until it is all covered.
While I could have stopped there I worried the design wasn't visible enough, especially in photos to taking small model paint brushes, I added black paint in certain areas of the design until I was happy with it.
Mainly It was filling lines, This process took a while and required a steady hand and patience for sure!
I was nearly there!
But on close inspection of some screenshots, the edges of the kneepads showed an extra detail, lines around the edges that seemed to pull the edges in. *sigh*
I decided to approach this with good old fashion needle and thread. Using extra thick thread and doubling up the thread until it was nice and thick (and using a strong thick needle with a large eye) I made single stitches, tied in knots through bot layers of the foam, this helped both make sure the two layers never part on the edges, but added the detail I was after. It looked messy on the back! Not that it technically should matter as its being glued onto boot tops but I like to keep my work as clear as possible, so I finished it up by simple glues some black felt on the back. Glue LOVES felt so this has the added benefit of helping it attach to the boot covers more securely.
And thats it! DOOOONNNE. Lightweight, flexible, strong knee armour. Ive since worn this outfit about 4 times, knelt on these (nice and soft!) thrown them in my suitcase and they still look as good as when they where finished.