Star Wars Costuming Comlinks: Weathering

July 05, 2016

One of the best parts of creating a costume is looking like you walked right out of the television screen and onto the convention floor. There are many fine details that get overlooked when making a costume look life-like and lived in. Weather is one of those important details. Some costumes shouldn't stay shiny and clean, even though it feels wrong to dirty up a costume you just completed.


Why is weathering important?
In order to weather a costume properly, you need to understand why you're doing it in the first place. It's really plain and simple. Some characters in Star Wars live and work on dirty, dusty planets which means they are going to have dirt and dust on their outfits. For example, think of sandtroopers from the Mos Eisley cantina. They're called sandtroopers for a reason- they're covered in sand! If you made a sandtrooper costume without covering it in sand, you'd look like a regular stormtrooper instead of what you intended.

Most of the original trilogy characters are shiny and clean. Stormtroopers, royal guards, and Darth Vader look shiny and new. However, there are characters in other eras of Star Wars like the clone troopers from The Clone Wars who fought in extreme weather conditions, which is why their costumes look weathered by the terrain and physical activity. Weathering your costume will make you look just like the characters you see on screen.


What parts of a costume should be weathered?
First of all, using your reference images will really determine where the costume should be weathered. As a basic rule of thumb, weather your costume where dust and dirt would naturally collect. Think of crevices, indents, and fine lines in your costume where grime would settle in. Scuff parts of the costume that should look worn down or used. Blast marks can even be created if you want your armor to look as if it's been shot at in a battle.

How do you weather the costume?
There are many ways of weathering a costume so experiment with different techniques and materials. When weathering a clone trooper costume, I lightly haze the entire costume with light gray spray paint, which can be done by standing back from the armor and misting it with paint. This will leave a dirty look to the armor without looking too heavy. If you overdo the spray paint application, you can always take it off with sandpaper. To apply grime into the small crevices, you can mix black or grey acrylic paint with water to create a wash and swipe it on with a paint brush. I like applying spray paint directly to a steel wool pad and scuffing the edges of armor to give it a used appearance. Sandpaper can create a soft or rough effect based on what grit you use to scuff the armor. You can also sprinkle sand or dirt onto the armor and hold it in place with a coat of clear enamel spray paint. To get a soft, subtle weathered look, airbrushing paint is a great technique. Costumes from The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels animated series should have a airbrushed appearance since the characters are computer generated.

The top of this helmet has been lightly coated with grey spray paint and scuffed with sandpaper.
Weathering a costume can be one of the most difficult and frustrating steps to complete, but in the end it's always worth it. I plan on doing tutorial videos of weathering when I work on my upcoming Sabine costume so stay tuned. Feel free to email me at savannaakiefer@gmail.com if you have any questions about this topic.

You Might Also Like

0 comments