Sunday, 13 July 2014

Give it some welly

Footwear is always a challenge. And I knew this costume's footwear would be no different.

Rob Liefeld drew my feet.
I have big feet (size 12s), which means its hard to find decent things in the right size. I was also conscious of the fact that I've got to put on the shoes (or boots) of the costume first, because the armour would restrict movement; that meant any footwear had to be flexible enough to take me getting the rest of the costume on.

Finally, I had to face facts: I wasn't going to spend much on Commander Shep's boots, and nor was I going to trash my own footwear in an effort to create a perfect replica. What does Shep wear, anyway? Shin guards and Nike Airs? I didn't know, and the pictures and camera angles aren't too clear.

This meant I had to think laterally, and I decided the most economical - and practical - way to achieve my aim was to fall back on the staple of English eccentrics everywhere.

The Wellington Boot.

I bought a pair of charcoal Wellies from Asda (Wall-Mart) and set about converting them. Initially I had planned to add pads and buttresses to make them more Shepardy, but I quickly saw this would be a problem when walking. Wellington boots deform when you walk, meaning that any additions to the rubber would come unstuck or look unsightly.

This meant that the entire effect had to be painted.

First, I took off the mold lines. The first coating was a simple spray with the grey of the rest of the costume. I then added my own flourishes to the Wellies' rather traditional pattern. The end result was an uneven grey/black combo, which worked fine but lacked any real interest.

Unpreturbed, I took the Wellies for a walk to the local corner shop, grabbed some brain food, and tackled the problem again. This walk was deliberately designed to expose the Wellies to the environment I'd be using them: navigating my way along paths, roads and rows of other people. Almost immediately my spray and paint developed clear scuff marks in the pressure points where my foot bends. This was exactly what I wanted: it exposed the areas that were likely to suffer through wear and tear.

Rather than be embarrassed by these, I decided to make them a feature. I quickly covered them up with a generous daub (and dab) of metallic paint. The end effect was to make it look like the boots have seen combat, and the initial finish has given way to a metal space suit underneath: just as Shep would have.

The end effect doesn't stand up to close scrutiny: note the overkill on the black areas, and the still-visible mold seam. However, at a distance, it works as a battle-worn pair of stompin' boots.

And I hope nobody's going to be looking at my feet anyway.

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