Creating the Pattern for Astrid’s Armor

This is the first episode demonstrating how we built Astrid’s amor from How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. In this episode, we’re going to show how we created the pattern for the axe with saran wrap and duct tape. 

Products & Materials

MATERIALS USED: Saran wrap, duct tape (preferably white), construction paper
TOOLS USED: Scissors, markers

One of the most important parts of making armor is the time you spend creating a good pattern. Regardless of how beautiful it is or much detail you’ve added, your armor will not look “right” and runs the risk of falling apart if it doesn’t fit well. Thankfully, creating a pattern doesn’t have to be difficult. The one thing we find that helps tremendously in this particular step is having a friend to help, but you can also do this on your own with a little practice and patience. As with all of these tutorials, we’d love to hear how you might’ve done things differently or if you’ve used any other techniques that helped you create create your patterns. So let’s get going.

STEP 1: The Fitting

    1. Fitting and patterning armor is essentially about making a mold of your body that you can turn into a pattern that you can use to cut out the various pieces of the armor. We started by wrapping all the parts of the body which would be covered with armor with saran wrap. This is one time when having a friend to help us was extremely useful. After wrapping each part of the body with a few layers of the saran wrap, we began covering the saran wrap with tape. We like to use white duct tape because it’s easy to work with, sticks really well to the saran wrap, and we can write on it with a marker. We applied the tape in pieces, making sure to thoroughly cover all the places that would be covered in armor. We also made sure to not put the tape on too tightly as this would result in armor that would fit too tightly as well.
    2. Next, we used a marker to draw our seams. It’s important to mark everywhere your armor would connect or any place where you’ll need to re-shape your armor later. This is another place where it’s super helpful to have a friend around to mark the places you can’t reach. Once we marked all our seams, it was time to cut ourselves out of the mold. We just cut along the seam lines that we’d drawn. Since we used saran wrap and duct tape, a regular pair of scissors did the trick. When doing this, you’ll want to be super careful not to cut yourself or your clothes. As we cut each piece off, we labeled everything so we’d know where each piece would go later.

Step 2: Making the Pattern

Making the patterns for each piece of armor is simply a matter of transferring the mold onto a flat sheet of paper. While it sounds simple, there’s a bit of artistry needed to flatten the rounded sections of the armor. To give the pattern (and the armor) a nice contoured shape that fits your body, you’ll need to cut darts into your pattern. The concept of darts is usually referenced in sewing applications, but it’s also critical for making armor. Darts are folds or tucks that come to a point when sewn into fabric to give shape to a garment. They’re typically seen around the bust, hips, and shoulders to provide a nice form fit. There are a lot of tutorials on the web to help you conceptualize your darts if you don’t have much experience with patterns. Here are a few that we found particularly helpful:

  • WORKING WITH WORBLA: CARAMON MAJERE’S SOLAMNIC ARMOR: While this one is a little short on the explanation, it has a lot of good pictures that demonstrate how darts are created and how they work. It also demonstrates this on armor instead of sewing which is a little rare.
  • SEWING DARTS: As the title indicates, this one is for sewing but does a great job of explaining the concept of darts, including the various types of darts that can be created.
  • Darts/Pattern Guide for Creature Suits: This one does a pretty good job of explaining how darts can be used in creating patterns for head pieces or other rounded parts — but we liked it mostly because of this GIF.making dart for rounded surface

In our process, having the mold made things easier as we were simply able to cut in the darts until the mold laid flat. These cuts would then become seams in our armor that, when glued together, would give each piece the shape we were looking for. So here’s how the pattern came together.

    1. After we cut ourselves out of the mold, we cut each piece into sections and began cutting in the darts until each section laid completely flat.
    2. We then traced each section onto construction paper taking the time to label everything so we knew where each piece would fit later on. Labeling these different pieces can seem tedious at first, but it’s an important part of pattern making that will save you a lot of time later on (imagine trying to put a 50-piece puzzle together later when there’s no picture to reference and when the puzzle pieces may not necessarily fit perfectly together). While we were tracing the tape-mold sections, we also started to add some of the details to the pattern — things think like the points around the shoulder pads and the wrist guards. After we had all the pieces of our armor ready, we simply cut them out to have them ready to transfer to our foam.

Creating a good pattern takes time and patience, but not only will the rest of the build be easier when you take the time to make a custom pattern, but you’ll also have a piece that fits you perfectly. With our pattern completed, we were ready to transfer the pieces to our foam and start actually building the armor itself. We’ll cover this in our next episode, so be sure to check it out.