Wonder Woman 2017 Movie Costume Tutorial – Part 1 of 2: Tiara, Shield, Bracers, Sword
Welcome back to the Stitch and Bitch!
It’s been too long since my introductory post – sorry about that! I’m hoping with the new year to write more frequently, and on that, please let me know what you would like me to write about! Im happy to cover tutorials for pretty much any aspect of costuming, so send it on a postcard~
Let’s kick this off with our first tutorial of the year. This isn’t going to be one covering a particular technique (however all techniques featured here I will go more in-depth with in future specific tutorials), but is going to be a step by step post of how I made one of my favourite costumes of all time – WONDER WOMAN! *insert theme music here*
Obviously, don’t take how I made mine as gospel. There are plenty of other (and cheaper) ways of making this costume, and I will offer up some suggestions as we go, but hopefully this can be of some help!
Let’s start at the beginning. Back in 2017, I made Queen Hippolyta (Wonder Woman’s mum) before the film came out. I had no interest in cosplaying Wondy herself.
Photography by Johnnie & Todd’s Den
And then the film came out and BOOM all my life plans changed, everything was now Wonder Woman. Being a 6ft tall, broad shouldered woman, it’s so very rare to see women matching my look in movies. We’re always the bad guys, the ugly sisters, the bullied tomboy. Seeing an army of tall, powerful, strong women who looked like ME made me sob. So i resigned myself to starting Wonder Woman as soon as possible. While Hippolyta had been crafted entirely from 3mm foam, I wanted to get as much screen accuracy with Wonder Woman as I could (with the intention of eventually competing with her. Still working on that.)
So this meant months of research. And testing, and failure, and money.
I started crafting by making her shield and sword, in October 2017. I won’t go into too much detail about the sword, as I didn’t make it – it was made by the absolutely wonderful and kind guys at Tip Top Workshop. I originally intended on using their 3d print kit to mould and cast a resin version, but they kindly gifted me a cold cast resin one! It’s a beautiful piece, and you should definitely go buy your own.
The shield was a proper hodge podge job. I used my Hippolyta shield as a template for me to jankily draw around on 10mm EVA Foam. I then heat shaped this circle (i have a big round plastic snow sledge i use to curve my shields…) before starting the detailing! I stared intently at references and hand drew the circles and stars and lines. Sorry I can’t be more detailed here – I tend to do most things by eye.
However on Etsy there is a lovely pattern for the shield from Epoch Echo Cosworx. I then used a soldering iron to carve the lines that needed to be recessed into the foam. I glued string onto the parts that needed to be raised, as well as thin craft foam glued onto the triangles in the centre. I then covered the whole shebang in black worbla to hide all my sins. Black worbla wasn’t really the best for this, (its weaker and rips more easily than other worblas), but I had a shit ton lying around from a competition win! Lots and lots of tedious heat gunning and poking into crevices later, the shield was ready for painting (well the back still needed crafting but I totally left this till the last minute and stuck the handles on the day before MCM London…). Back then my preferred method of priming was by coating everything in Wood Glue! It’s still a pretty good method, I’m just lazier now and opt for a flexible spray primer. Wood Glue is better than PVA, because while similar, wood glue HARDENS whereas PVA is still gummy. Black worbla is damn smooth, so 2 or three layers should do it!
Next it’s time for painting! I opted for hand painting rather than spray, because I’m an idiot. Anyway, I used a metallic gunmetal acrylic for the base, then a hand mixed antique gold-ish colour for the.. Gold bits. Just look at a pic of the real shield you’ll see where to paint…
But we’re not done there! If there’s one tip I can give to anyone making armour or props – WEATHER YOUR SHIT. You don’t want it to look flat and boring, you want shadows and highlights and depth to your props. This means adding darkness in the recessed bits. Obviously it depends on what look you’re going for, but usually the trick is to wash a lot of liquidy black/brown over everything. Then using a rag wipe away most of the colour, leaving it in the recesses. Weathering is my favourite part of crafting, and it’s just a lot of a bit of a dab here, a bit of a dab there, until it gets the look you want.
And the shield is done!
Let’s go through how I made the bracers next. Now I’m not happy with these at all, and will be remaking them from worbla (and adding lights!) the next time I wear the costume. But it’s important for people to see that everyone makes mistakes, and these costumes don’t just happen perfectly first time! So I’ll show you what I did anyway.
When I first started this costume, I was intending to be 100% accurate with technique, which meant I was planning on sculpting the bodice armour, making a silicone mould, and casting it in flexible urethane rubber like the real piece. (Reasons why I chickened out of this to come in Part 2)
However seeing as these supplies were expensive as all hell, I decided to test things out by making the bracers the same way, so I didn’t fuck up and waste £300 of silicone and rubber.
I started by sculpting the bracer flat, from chavant clay (otherwise known as Monster Clay, as it’s the most popular brand). It is SO VERY IMPORTANT!!!!!!!! To use this sort of clay when making moulds. Not only will it not dry out so your sculpt won’t lose shape, but it is sulphur free clay. Silicone (that you use to make the mould) really doesn’t like sulphur, to the point where if it gets into contact with it, it will stay a liquid and not become a rubber mould. Not ideal.
I use a very cheap and simple sculpting tool kit from Amazon, along with some rubber tipped sculpting tools for smoothing.
Next I hot glued a foil turkey baking tray to make mould walls. Don’t do this. I’m lazy and an idiot.
Use lego, or sculpt a wall from more clay, or hot glue foam board walls! Whatever you choose to do, make sure it’s airtight so no silicone can leak out. Once this is done, spray a bit of mould release over it all (clear lacquer works) and pour your silicone in! I used a platinum cure silicone (one that is mixed by weight 1:1) rather than a condensation cure (which uses a large amount of part A and a small amount of catalyst), because the urethane rubber I bought wouldn’t work well with a condensation cure. Do your material research so you don’t waste money!
Wait a day. Peel your mould off, and clean out any silicone. Make sure its dry, and then pour the rubber in to your heart’s content! I added some black pigment to mine to make it better for a metallic paint after. This rubber is extremely fast curing (like, half an hour till you can demould), and when it started to get touch dry I lifted the mould off the table and curved it into the shape of an arm, ‘securing’ with duct tape. Worked well enough.
Now here come the big issues…
First we have the issue of the fit. Every time someone says ‘measure twice, cut once, and don’t fuck up your project you absolute idiot’ I seem to put my fingers in my ears, and then it proceeds to bite me in the ass. Anyway, the bracer was too small. Because when i made my paper pattern, I wasn’t accounting for the thickness of the rubber. Again, I’m an idiot. So i proceeded to try a few castings, making it thinner so it could stretch more. However if i made it too thin, the rubber ripped. Eventually I found a thickness that was bearable. But yeah, this is the main reason I want to completely redo the bracers.
The other issue is the paint. I airbrushed mine, and it looked good enough. However paint DOES. NOT. STICK. To this rubber. It stays sticky no matter what I do. I haven’t yet found any way of painting it without it peeling off or sticking to things and picking up dust. And if I can’t have a real metal looking finish then what’s the damn point!
So yeah. Those are the Wonder Woman bracers. I will eventually remake them from a rigid material, and correctly size them, but for now mine are OK. The four foot rule* definitely applies though.
Now onto my favourite part of the whole costume, and genuinely my pride and joy. The tiara.
I’m lucky enough to have access to a blacksmithing studio owned by my mum’s boyfriend, so you bet your ass I was gonna make a metal tiara.
After discussing options, we settled on brass. I used 2mm brass sheeting, and on Christmas Eve 2017 I set to work! Under the watchful and helpful and instruction-giving eye of David, I measured and cut and soldered and acid bathed and cut and measured and soldered and fired all the pieces. In total it took about 11 hours without stopping? Once I polished it, the piece really came to life, and even more so when it had the final patina applied (weathering!!!). The tiara doesnt have any sort of attachment – we shaped it to my head so it sits nice and comfortably against my forehead. Of course this means every time anyone else tries it on they exclaim “It doesn’t fit!” well it’s not meant to fit you!
Jokes aside, I am so incredibly grateful for David (over many projects) giving up his valuable time to help me with various costume pieces! I am aware that I am very lucky to have these resources available. And will definitely continue to take advantage of them…
The making of the tiara was actually the first time I (successfully) filmed my crafting progress! I’ve tried many times in the past, and just… forget to keep filming the process and then don’t have enough footage for a video. But this time I did! Please go give it a watch if you’re interested in the actual details of how this tiara came to life.
I think that’s all for this part of my Wonder Woman tutorial! I’ll finish off the build in Part 2. However don’t fret if you’re wishing to see the finished costume! I finished it in May, and did a big photoshoot in july, so please enjoy all the finished photos below! (all taken and edited by myself!)
Do let me know what you think of this build, if it helped you at all with your own costume, and what you would like to see me write about in future!
As always, you can find my social media links below and check out the rest of my costumes on my website (and buy prints of this costume!).
Keep Crafting, see you next time!
Beth Malcolm AKA Amazonian Cosplay
Visit Amazonian Cosplay and buy some prints today!
- Wonder Woman Movie Costume Tutorial Pt1 with Amazonian Cosplay - January 9, 2019
- Welcome to the Stitch and Bitch – Cosplay Content with Amazonian Cosplay - October 12, 2018
- It Shouldn’t Happen To A Cosplayer… Cosplay Catastrophes - July 4, 2018