...is pretty fast and a lot of fun! Just find pants, a shirt and a jacket in suitable colors that you feel cool about Mutant-ifying and go to town! This week, we're focused on Arklanders, but the same methods go for a lot of Zone-dweller gear!
BASIC GEAR TUTORIAL
Step 0: Design Lay out your un-Mutated clothes and think about your look. Do you want to look like a radioactive and drug-crazed mechanic, a philosophical junk-marine sailor, a gun-crazy holy-warrior scrap pirate or maybe a sanctimonious Fish Priest? What modifications do you want to make to get your base garments reflect the character you are going for? This is Martin's method for making clothes look worn as hell and cool. It's primarily inspired by post-ap larpers' word-of mouth tips but also by the inimitable Nuclear Snail youtube channel. Well worth a look. All links below go to relevant videos from this channel. We hope to be able to show you Martin's results in a week or two! Step 1: Modification A modification is a major change to a garment, like removing sleeves and (maybe) sewing on new ones from a different garment, adding flotation vest pieces, making some major holes to patch up or tears to sew together. Remember to add something like a couple of leg-holsters, several cool belts with bags, combat webbing, a codpiece or kilt / skirt on the top part of your pants to make them look cool and tie your costume together. Plain pants without belt / thigh gear tends to look a bit too “normal”. VIDEO ON PANTS Step 2: Abrasion There is no shortcut to making a costume look like its been to the seas of hell and back. You have to bring out the sandpaper, the shredding files, the serrated knife and maybe even the power-file. Abrasion means removing the outer layer of the fabric through mechanical distressing to make garments look like they've been used for decades in a harsh environment. What exact method you use is not important but you should end up with a garment that is heavily worn in the right places. Don’t worry if you “ruin” the garment. That’s the point and you can always repair any tears or holes you accidentally make. What you should avoid is damaging things like zippers, fasteners and buckles, if you intend the finished garment to use them. Continue mechanically distressing the surface until the upper layer of the fabric is messy, threadbare and probably has a bunch of holes for you to fix. Do that now. Remember how your garment would wear and make sure to distress all hems, knees, elbows, shoulders etc. a lot more than flat surfaces (they may even have some undamaged spots). VIDEO ON DISTRESSING Step 3: Paint For an Arklander costume, you might want to use grey and white acrylic paint (sold as base coating for plastic minis like Warhammer) grey textile paint and some rust colored paint for stains. If you paint minis it might be useful to think about this stage as painting your costume as if it was a miniature. Especially details like armor plates, buckles and gear like weapons and backpacks are often hard to abrade right and are better "worn" with paint. Your goal with paint is to make permanent grunge and dirt effects that makes your costumes not only look cool but also like they're dirty in just the right way. In this case salty. You want to lighten raised areas, hems, seams and collars, and darken nooks and crannies. It's easiest to use a pretty large brush, dip it in acrylic pain and then wipe away most of the paint then “dry-brushing” the areas you want to highlight. Use the spray can at about a meter distance and start spraying outside your garment then gradually lighten the exposed areas with first dark grey, then light grey, perhaps finishing off with some almost white highlights. Darken deep places that you accidentally hit with the spray with a dark version of the original garment color. Then add blood splatter / rust etc. VIDEO ON PAINT Step 3: Finishing touches Add stencils, name tag and symbols to your costume. In our example, we'll add the Holy Fish Patch as well as some Old World symbols (the Noatun Enclave symbol) to military-looking gear to hint that our sailor has plundered a dead underwater base in their youth. Finally seal the costume with fixativ or matte (or shiny for metal or plastic details) spray varnish. Adjust and continue painting and distressing until you are happy with the result! Do the same to all your gear. A nice trick is to stain and distress and stain an old duvet-cover and then safety-pin your sleeping bag to the inside of it.
This is how happy I was when I found a couple of life-vests from the 60's on the island! A key accessory or piece of worn gear like this is a great addition to basic gear. It becomes the core of the costume and sets it apart.