Worbla.com is working with Element Creations for her Princess Zelda build, and she shared her first tutorial with us on creating Zelda’s iconic shoulder pauldrons out of Worbla’s Black and Red Art.
The first piece I decided to make for Zelda from Hyrule Warriors is the shoulder armor set. It took around half a Large sheet of worbla, some craft foam, and red worbla for the pauldron detailing.
I started with making the pauldrons. Those have a pretty basic shape, but they do represent a challenge when it comes to adding details and merge them all together to get a seamless look. The way I did it is rather simple. I used craft foam as a base, then cut the desired shape. You can do that with your own pauldron for any other costumes. It’s always the same patterns, but with a little bit of tweaking.
I did used the sandwich method on these pieces because I want the to be extra solid and I also added some extra support. The pauldron comes in two craft foam pieces in order to get the curved look at the shoulder seam. I merge those two sandwiched pieces together and there was my Pauldron base!
Then the fun but most tedious part! The detailing was very fun and I had the chance to play with red worbla. I did use a tri bead roller to make the square cut on the details, then I placed them together on the pauldron trying to be the most accurate possible.
Zelda’s shoulder armor also have a sculpted detail right on the inside edge. I used red worbla, heated a bunch of it, then sculpted by hand the shape. This took a very long time to get it smooth and perfect and also, to make it look seamless.
The process for Zelda’s shoulder armor is pretty easy, but it takes a lot of time. It’s just a matter of having the desired shape and adding your sculpted details on top.
For the centre chest piece, I used the same process. I drafted it in craft foam, I sandwiched it, then added the details. I did use black worbla on this one. I wanted to test the versatility of the two and how both of them looks primed and painted.
The painting process was quite easy. I primed the whole armor with Mod Podge (one of my fav primers for black and red worbla), then I painted it all black, and used my favorite gold acrylic paint. To achieve the gradient/used look on the armor, I used a fluffy brush, and I slowly dabbled into the armor to gradually add paint and make a gradient effect. Without touching the inner corners, adding the gold gradually makes it looks like the armor is old and used. It’s a really fun process!
I added the gems at the end with some sewing thread.
Adding white highlights is optional for these pieces or any golden armor pieces. I did add them myself because I think it gives a cool look. And since Zelda is cartooned in Hyrule Warriors, I wanted it to pop out.
The following is a blog post by Rinkujutsu documenting the differences they found between Worbla’s Finest and the new Worbla’s Black Art.
Worbla’s Finest Art Vs. Worbla’s Black Art by Rinkujutsu
Project example: Edward Elric’s northern automail from Fullmetal Alchemist
Today I’ll be comparing Worbla’s Finest Art to the new Worbla’s Black Art! This isn’t a tutorial, but is just an overview of the differences and pros/cons of the two materials. I will abbreviate Worbla’s Finest Art and Worbla’s Black Art as WFA and WBA throughout this comparison.
As you can see in the photo, the first noticable difference is the color! WFA is beige/yellow, and WBA is a spooky black. Overall, the materials work almost identically.
It appears that the two materials heat up at roughly the same rate. However, WBA seems to stay softer longer, so it has a lengthier working time than WFA. WBA is slightly more difficult and more temperamental to work with than WFA. The difference is so slight that it does not affect the ease of use that both WBA and WFA have.
WBA is not as sticky as WFA. It does stick to itself quite well, but it takes a little more effort and coaxing to make it stick as well as WFA. On the one hand, this is nice because it is harder to have an accidental fusing of pieces out of place. On the other hand, the bond of two pieces of WBA seems a bit weaker than that of WFA. However, it is plenty strong enough, and there is not any concern for breakage.
Also, WBA does not readily stick to craft foam like WFA, making the “folding over the edges” method a little trickier. I noticed that, since it does not stick to the craft foam, it was better to emboss any detailing before folding the edges to the back. This does not affect the “sandwich” method.
WBA sculpts excellently and takes fine detail better than WFA because WBA is smoother. The lack of stickiness in WBA does not affect its ability to blend and sculpt together.
WBA takes complex curves as well as WFA does. However, I noticed that WBA lacks a bit of the elasticity and stretchiness of WFA, causing the structure of the material to pull apart more easily when stretched too far.
The variation in durability is very slight. WBA seems just a shade more flexible and weak than WFA, but there is not enough of a difference to cause concern.
WBA also has a trait that WFA lacks; WBA has a slight spring back or “memory” when it is reheated after shaping small sections for the first time. This is not a large problem by any means, but it can be a bit annoying when sculpting and reheating small details.
WBA also works well when used alongside WFA. Each material can stick to the other as well as it can stick to itself. Details sculpted with WFA can be applied on top of WBA, and vice versa. Scraps of both WBA and WFA can even be blended together successfully, though in general I would prefer to keep the two separate.
WBA is definitely smoother than WFA. The biggest thing that people should know, however, is that WBA is not perfectly smooth. WBA is roughly twice as smooth as WFA. If I could draw a comparison, I would say that WFA is like 120 grit sandpaper, whereas WBA is more like 220 grit sandpaper. WBA still needs primers and preparation to yield a smooth finish. However, this preparation time is cut in half at least, and WBA requires only about half as many coats of primer or wood glue than WFA.
Note: The round domed pieces of Worbla in the paint samples picture were stretched as far as they could go without breaking, so that they were as rough as the material could possibly be. In most circumstances, you would probably need less coats than what I used. WFA needs up to 15 coats of gesso to get perfectly smooth (I didn’t have the time to do a sample of this), but I think that WBA would only need maybe a coat or two more of gesso than what I did for the photo. The gesso samples look rougher in the photo than they do in real life.
I hope this comparison was helpful! Go out and try the materials and see what you think of them! Feel free to ask any question. Expect to see more Worbla tutorials from me in the future! For now, here are some progress photos of what I was working on for this:
While it’s hard to tell Worbla Black from Worbla’s Finest when everything’s finished, the smoothness and ability to take extra fine detail can be a definite bonus. Here are examples of work done with Worbla Black!
A Greco-Roman breastplate made of Black Art by Erza Cosplay. The fine detail she can achieve is astonishing!
This blog post was originally created by Elemental for Costume Musings and is a more in-depth look at the differences, pros and cons of using the new Worbla Black Art.
Worbla’s Black Art (WBA, Worbla Black or Black Worbla, depending on naming conventions) takes the aspects of Worbla’s Finest Art (the ‘original’ Worbla, so to speak) and adjusts it specifically with cosplayers and crafters in mind. There are some fantastic benefits – but also some setbacks – to the new material, and I want to give you as FULL a possible breakdown on this new thermoplastic as possible.
(Most of this blog will be written with the assumption that you’re familiar with the properties of Worbla’s Finest Art and will be comparing Worbla Black to it.)
Worbla Black, compared to Worbla’s Finest, is made of plastic entirely instead of plastic and cellulose. This gives it a smoother finish and a bit more strength, especially when stretched over complex curves. It’s a bit less tacky, but still has the adhesive properties of Worbla’s Finest and it is still 100% recyclable.
What does this mean for use? Well:
Worbla Black Is Smoother:
Worbla Black has a texture similar to EVA foam when shaped and painted directly. It means for items where a small amount of texture is acceptable or desired (a wood finish, for example) Worbla Black can be used without any priming. The surface of Worbla Black is a bit more fragile to marks that will show, therefore, so you’ll want to be careful of leaving things like nail imprints in your piece. (You can see one on the bottom of the left ‘leaf’ of the above piece.)
What if you want things even smoother? One of the most common primers for Worbla’s Finest Art is Wood Glue, due to it being cheap and easy to apply and source. After many tests with Worbla’s Black Art, we strongly do not recommend wood glue for Worbla’s Black Art. WBA is not slightly porous the way that WFA is, and as a result the wood glue does not ‘bond’. While it will sit and somewhat ‘float’ over flat areas of WBA, it will crack and easily flake off of complex curves. Similarly, Gesso does not bond well to WBA and I personally found it badly flaked off in large chunks when I attempted to sand the gesso smooth.
Okay, what SHOULD you use for priming Worbla Black? There are a few products that can give a very smooth and possibly (with enough sanding and work) glossy finish for Worbla Black. 1) Mod Podge: I suggest this for anyone who can’t spray a product and can’t find a retailer for Flexbond. Mod Podge flexes fantastically with Worbla Black and adheres to the surface very well. It’s inexpensive, fairly easy to source (and cosplaysupplies.com will soon be carrying it!) and gives a smooth surface without much time. Click any of the following images to enlarge.
2)Flexbond: Flexbond is a Rosco product. It’s a theatrical adhesive (not the tile grout) and can be a bit hard to find/annoying to buy as it comes in 1 gallon containers, but when I can’t use a spray primer or am working around a lot of tiny detail, Flexbond is my favourite primer. Why? Because it self levels. Flexbond has a surface tension that means things like brush strokes will even themselves out (unlike mod podge) and Flexbond is flexible and does not crack or peel. It also works great to seal foam and it’s been my go to product for priming Worbla’s Finest Art for a year now. (You can see my breakdown of primers for Worbla’s Finest Art here.) Click images to enlarge.
3)Autobody Primer: Specifically, high-build filler primer. (Sometimes called Automotive spray or Primer Sealer) This stuff was just introduced to me and when I can spray a primer (ie: the weather is good, I have access to the outside) I will use this for most of my Worbla Black work. It takes only 2 coats and some sanding to get a fantastically smooth finish, and I expect if you were to pair this with lacquer and some more dedicated sanding you could get a perfectly glossy finish. I use the Rust-Oleum brand because that’s available locally. It flexes with curves well and doesn’t chip easily.
Okay it’s smooth, cool! What ELSE can it do?
Worbla’s Black Art can take incredibly small detailing and shapes.
Worbla’s Black Art allows for more mistakes and guesswork: Worbla Black is less tacky when heated, compared to Worbla’s Finest, which makes it easy to reposition a detail piece that you’ve placed wrong without tearing the surface layer. The adhesive quality is still as strong: as always, attach details and pieces by having both parts heated – don’t apply a hot piece to a cold piece or it may not properly bond.
Worbla’s Black Art is stronger than Worbla’s Finest and doesn’t stretch thin over complex curves. Worbla’s Finest can get thin and weak when stretched, but Worbla Black keeps a similar thickness – so you won’t have to use a double layer of Worbla Black for chest plates and extreme curves by default (the way you do with WFA).
Well, what are the downsides? What doesn’t work?
Because Worbla Black is – well, black, it is harder to ‘see’ if you’ve layered foam underneath for detailing; as a result, if you have lots of small foam details it can be hard to press the Worbla into all the grooves. If you need to emboss a piece, you may want to emboss it first and then fold over the edges or sandwich the Worbla Black for the best effect.
Because Worbla Black is a little more robust against stretching, if you’re ‘carving’ details into it or trying to shape it when it’s not properly activated (ie: warm but not warm enough) you can tear it, and trying to stretch the material too far (especially over eva foam details) will also tear it.
Because Worbla Black is less tacky/sticky when heated than Worbla’s Finest, if you use the ‘folding’ method over another material, you will need to use a larger edge to fold over. Worbla Black does not stick to foam or bristol board/card stock as well as Worbla’s Finest does. (It does stick – it just doesn’t stick as well. The sandwich method still works just fine.)
In addition for the less tacky/sticky aspect, if you don’t adhere your pieces properly together with Worbla Black, they may separate. As always, make sure you’re attaching hot to hot when joining pieces of any Worbla product.
Worbla Black is harder to overheat or ‘burn’, but once you do overheat it, it will become very glossy and ‘melted’ and smell a bit chemical. Plus, there’s always some things that are both good and bad depending on what you need!
Worbla Black is much less prone to air bubbles: where gas from the EVA foam escapes and makes a bubble under the worbla surface that has to be popped. These usually occur in Worbla’s Finest when you’re reshaping and reheating a piece that has foam. This rarely happens in Worbla Black: instead, because (again) of the less tacky surface, Worbla black can sometimes peel away from sections of the foam when re-heated and re-shaped. You don’t need to pop these bubbles or areas – just press them down with your fingers.
Worbla Black also has a bit of a memory – it will spring back into shape when heated more than Worbla’s Finest Art does, so if you are sculpting fine details into something 3-dimensional, you’ll need to be careful about heat application.
Worbla Black shapes at the same temperature as Worbla’s Finest, but heats up faster and stays hot longer: it can be a bit harder to work with because of the heat and some people may require gloves. The longer working time can be great for some things, but if you need to speed up the cooling process we suggest keeping a ice pack handy.
Because Worbla Black is, again, black – painting something white or other light shades will take several more coats than it would compared to Worbla’s Finest Art. Always keep that in mind when budgeting for your paint and paint time!
All right, what about…?
Here’s our FAQ
Does Worbla Black Art work with Worbla’s Finest and TranspArt? Does it work with Wonderflex and other thermoplastics? Yes, absolutely. the adhesives in Worbla Products do work well together, though you should always test your joins. You can also combine your scraps of Finest Art and Worbla Black together when recycling for new material.
Is Worbla Black non-toxic like Worbla’s Finest is? Absolutely! It doesn’t have the nice sawdust/cookie smell of Worbla’s Finest (Worbla Black smells like regular plastic) but it is non toxic when heated and the smell is very mild. Just like Worbla’s Finest Art, however, if you are melting Worbla Black with a hot knife or using a laser cutter, make sure you’re in a well ventilated area and use a respirator. The fumes when Worbla is melted are not-toxic, but can be noxious.
Does Worbla Black work and shape at the same temperature as Worbla’s Finest? Yes! 90C or 195F.
Is Worbla Black going to melt in the heat if it heats up easier than Worbla’s Finest? Truthful answer: We don’t know for sure. Practical answer: It shouldn’t. Even though Worbla Black heats faster than Worbla’s Finest, it still needs to reach a certain temperature to get soft. As always, don’t leave your Worbla in a hot car/shed/etc, but general wear should be just fine. Of course, if you’re going to be cosplaying in Death Valley, please keep an eye on your Worbla and perhaps limit your time in the heat before seeking out Air Conditioning.
There was a beta test phase. How did people get chosen/how can I become a beta tester? Our Beta testers were pulled almost entirely from people who either a) have tutorials or work or both on Worbla.com, b) regularly blog tutorials on other products and we knew they would give us a good example of work with their Worbla Black, or c) are cosplayers who regularly host panels on armor, Worbla or Thermoplastics in general. If you’d like to be considered the next time we have a product to test, make and share tutorials (if they’re Worbla based, never hesitate to send them to email@example.com) and if they use any of the products featured on CosplaySupplies.com you can send your tutorials to Orders@cosplaysupplies.com. If you host panels on thermoplastics, let us know – Cosplaysupplies is happy to give handout samples to skilled panelists. Our beta testers were also all based in Canada and the USA: the European testers were handled by Cast4Art.
I have a question not answered here! Email Amanda@worbla.com and I’ll try to answer you as best as I can!
Want to see what people have made with Worbla’s Black Art so far? Take a look!