Easily on of my favourite weapons to date, Ember Celica is the weapon of choice wielded by one of the main protagonists in Rooserteeth’s new animation series RWBY. I absolutely love the visceral boxing mechanic these are used for in the show and knew I had to make a set for myself as something to own as well as for completion’s sake to keep the other three company.
Starting off the build, I first made rough templates of the soon to be gauntlets out of paper and thin card. Making sure that the fit allowed me or any wearer to be able to slide them on and off with ease as well as to check if they looked good from a distance.
It's good to do paper mock-ups of armour props before you actually go about cutting them out from the more expensive material itself, as you'll start to iron out issues through trail and error earlier on using the cheaper disposable material instead of later and avoid wasting unnecessary material.
After refining them to a point I was happy with, I then transferred the templates to several EVA foam gym mats, I particularly enjoy using gym mats on account of how dense and rigid they but more so on how simple they are to work with for armour; So with the aid of a steel ruler and good set of hobby knives the various pieces of the gauntlets were carefully cut out.
To do curves in EVA foam of which theses gauntlets and a lot of armour pieces have you'll definitely need the aid of a heat gun. EVA foam on its own will return to its original flat shape over time after any attempt is made to bend it. You can circumvent this by using a heat gun or a strong enough setting on a hair dryer.
EVA foam is very susceptible to heat so by simply heating up the foam along the direction you want to curve, and then bending it and holding it in the desired final position as it cools you'll find piece holds it shape and structure, however try not to heat the foam too much at once, gradually heat and gradually bend to avoid melting.
For the front business end of the gauntlets those I knew would have to eventually support the gun barrels and needed the width to do so. So I decided to make them out of sheets of PVC by building them up around the EVA foam base giving me the platform for future work.
I should mention for this build to assemble and adhere to EVA foam pieces to one another the best course of action is to use superglue. It is relatively cost effective to use and when used particularly with foam it has an instantaneous welding effect.
With the components of the base gauntlets glued together next step was to start on the shotgun shell bandolier that ran along inside them. Again through rough sketches and trial and error with paper templates.
I cut out and super glued to the base gauntlet the necessary foam strips to make up the chambers of the weapon. I also with the aid of a rotary tool at this point started to do some bevelling along some of the edges of the gauntlet.
As for the physical shells them selves those were made from cheap thin plastic tubes pulled off dollar store mini bicycle pumps, these tubes were cut in half with a rotary tool and carefully cut to length.
To do the brass heads of the shotgun shells, circles were cut out from the PVC sheeting and then shaped and trimmed into semicircles which were attached to the tube halves which give the impression of shotgun shells
After the glue had set the shells these were then put into and glued with epoxy into each of their respective chambers slots.
For the gun barrels those came about as a result of me carefully sawing them off cheap cowboy pistols and sealing up the exposed faces with a combination of filler putty and wonderflex, before gluing them onto the business ends I had prepared earlier.
Now we come to the painting phase. however with all types of craft foam you need to first seal the material before you can undergo painting of any kind. Without sealing the foam before painting, you will find the paint will not adhere to the surface very well and end up being absorbed by the material resulting in a poor looking final product.
So to seal foam the most common technique is to use is a mixture of 1:1 PVA glue (wood glue) and water. Then using this resulting milk like mixture, proceed to do multiple coats onto the piece with a cheap paintbrush.
At minimum I like to do somewhere between 8 to 10 coats allowing each coat to fully dry before going onto the next, to get a good surface to work with. The more coats you do the more you’ll feel the foam get stiffer, less spongy and eventually appear glossy.
With the foam properly prepped the actual paintwork could begin; For ember Celica the paint job consisted of multiple stages. First was a grey primer layer which helped fill in any still exposed imperfections and sets up the surface for painting.
Followed by two coats of a flat yellow acrylic spray-paint layer, I should mention when using spray paints of any kind please wear a respirator and so in a well ventilated area.
For added flare I did some light gold sunbursts and gradients along the edges of the gauntlets with an airbrush. It adds a depth to the paintjob I feel and once those were dried I started doing the line work with my good friend the brush tipped fabric marker sharpie.
The shotgun shells were coloured with red enamel hobby paints and gold acrylics for the brass caps.
The gun barrels themselves were spray painted chrome and had subtle black acrylic paint smudged into he details to make them stand out.
Capping it all off with a final layer of weathering which was achieved by dabbing a combination of black and brown acrylic paints onto the surface, allowing it to dry slightly and then smudging and wiping away the paints with a damp paper towel to get a desired look,
A very simple technique and definitely worth trying out, it adds a gritty aesthetic to the prop.
Thanks for reading