Make: Kids’ Tron Costumes, Part 4

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Well, after a pretty big push in the last post, I figured that it was time to do another. After all, at this point I’ve got five days left to get these assembled and finished.

No pressure.

The list of things that needs to be done is getting pretty short at this point. The kids’ Quorra costumes are moving along at a good clip, and as of recently, Natalie Joy has made headway on hair and makeup:

Quorra Tron wigs

Quorra Tron makeup

But my end needs more work. First step was to get the diffusion layers in — I used dollar-store shower curtain liner to diffuse the light from the EL wire to try and make it look more like what was in the movie. I cut the light-lines out of the chestpieces and glued in the liner. It was a little too translucent for my liking, so I doubled it and the results were much better.

Diffusion layer installed in my Little Fish's chestpiece.
Diffusion layer installed in my Little Fish’s chestpiece.
Close-up. Hard to see, but there's a subtle stippled texture that really helps bounce the light.
Close-up. Hard to see, but there’s a subtle stippled texture that really helps bounce the light.
Did a quick lighting test before I called it a night. The diffuser is pretty effective.
Did a quick lighting test before I called it a night. The diffuser is pretty effective.

Once both chestpieces were done, I needed the foam back plates to move forward. They’re key for two reasons: one, they’re structurally important. All the straps connect to the back plates, on one side with glue and on the other with Velcro. Two, like on the movie’s suits, the heart of the suits’ electronics will live in them:

From the Innovative Design video featurette.
From the Innovative Design video featurette.

Ours are a little humbler, but the idea is the same. Using some foam floor mats for material, I put together the back plates. Instead of a locking mechanism, a collection of Velcro dots are glued to keep the cap in place. To get a nice semi-gloss finish, I mixed some acrylic paint into white glue and painted it on:


They wouldn’t dry before the night was over, so I decided to tackle the hex texture for the undersuit again. It didn’t necessarily go so well last time I tried. I have this vector image, all ready to be fed into a laser cutter that is supposed to cut me a perfect stencil. But I can’t guarantee I’ll get time on the laser cutter and I don’t really want to mess around with sticker paper and spray paint.

So, instead, I decided to do something different. I put together a whole bunch of balsa wood and made myself a stamp:


It took a couple of tries, but it seems like it’ll do. I practiced some more and I can get that beautiful texture in place fairly consistently. It’s not as accurate as a laser-cut stencil would be, and the lack of lasers in this project is really starting to bug me, but in terms of reliability and access to material I can’t beat this approach.

Next, these pieces need to be assembled. I’m finally about ready to run the EL wire — I just need to assemble the pieces of the top before I do.

As always, folks, paddle your own canoe.


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One Thought to “Make: Kids’ Tron Costumes, Part 4”

  1. […] Little Fish announced her Halloween plans for this year with much the same gusto as last year’s Quorra costumes: she wanted to be Sabine Wren, one of the main characters in last year’s new Disney cartoon, Star […]

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