Sunday, 10 April 2016

The Nausicaa Project: Accessorizing Kai - Saddlebags

This week's post continues with accessory making for Kai - this week I'm writing about how I made the saddlebags. In all of my references (the manga, watercolour concept art and movie screenshots) Kai is pictured with two saddlebags which are attached on either side of his back behind the saddle. As usual there was variation to be seen - in the movie they're green and more rounded in shape, whereas the watercolour references and manga show a more rectangular type of bag. As with everything I've made so far, I've had to find a medium between all of the references which looks good in 3D. This picture, which I found in the manga, was my main reference for the side of the bags:

I began by drawing a scale image of the bag and working out the pattern pieces. It's quite a simple design - four sides with a base and a flap that folds over the top. The sides are curved to get that nice shape, as seen in the picture above. I then transferred the patterns to tracing paper and cut them out in the fabric. They're made from a sandy coloured suede material, which is cut up from a coat I found in a charity shop.

The side pieces were tacked together, ready for sewing. 

I sewed the sides together on a machine with a leather needle. The resulting bag was nice and strong. Here it is with the base also attached.

The next stage was making the lid, which was sew to the back piece of the bag, the edges folded under and glued to create a neat hem. In this picture I was checking I was happy with the size...scale looking good!

The bags needed to be joint in some way, but there's never any evidence of how they're supported in the artwork, so I had to imagine the look for myself. I did some research into western saddlebags, and designed a middle piece based on the images I found. 

Next it was time for the details: straps and toggles. The straps are made from a very tiny strap leather cut to shape, the toggles from small wooden beads I filed down. 

This view of the bags from above shows the curve in the centre piece, which fits nicely around the back of the saddle. I plan to add small leather straps which will hold the saddle bags securely to the saddle so they don't move around.

At this stage, the saddle bags were almost finished. I was yet to add decorative metal studs on the straps, which I am yet to photograph!

I'm very happy with this little pair of saddlebags. I feel that all of the accessories have really helped bring Kai to life. Next week I'll continue with Accessorizing Kai: my post will be about how I made his bridle. Thanks for reading!

Monday, 4 April 2016

The Nausicaa Project: Accessorizing Kai - Leg Guards

My blog post this week follows on from making Kai's saddle - the next accessory I made for him were his leg guards. As per usual I gathered several references from different artworks, and tried to find a balance between all of them that looked best in 3D model form. Here's one example - a section from the manga with a nice back view of the leg guards. You can see the curves at the edges and the straps that hold them to the leg.

The first thing I did was made a pattern out of felt to try and establish the shape of the leg guards.

I used the same cord technique that I applied to the saddle to add some definition to the shape of the leg guards.

I then tried covering one of the leg guards in leather. However, I found that the shape warped and the felt wrinkled, leaving me with quite a messy and unsatisfying looking shape. So it was back to the drawing board.

I built leg guard mark II with a bit more structure, meaning that the shape looked more uniform, and would hopefully cover well too. The final guards have five layers - an initial calico pattern, lined with a thick suede, topped in felt, which is then smoothed out with nylon and finally covered in a thin layer of leather. This is one of the guards before the leather covering.

You can see the thick suede layer underneath, which really helped to solidify the shape. 

Then the boots were covered in the same very thin leather I used for the saddle. You can see in this picture that the surface is much smoother and the shape more defined and accurate to the artwork. At this stage, they were just being held together with masking tape, waiting for real straps.

The final straps were made out of scrap leather I cut to size. I couldn't get the perfect colour I wanted, so painted them with enamel paints I mixed myself.

Kai is very happy with his new leg guards! Once I had finished these I moved on to make the saddle bags, which I'll cover in my next post.