Earlier this year Melissa Ng of Lumecluster made the Dreamer Regalia Armor for actress and cosplay extraordinaire Felicia Day. With support from Shapeways, she crafted a beautiful custom made piece of fantasy themed wearable artwork. It may not come as a surprise but she’s been very busy since.
Ng recently unveiled her newest project, the Sovereign Armor. After the Dreamer Regalia armor Ng started to consider how she could take her design to the next level. When she launched it with Felicia and Shapeways, it sparked a lot of discussion around design, craft, gender and the functionality of artwork. She came away with two new concepts to explore; first to show the public that 3D printing is a craft that requires hard work and creativity, and second to show that even decorative armor for women doesn’t need to follow the gender stereotypes of fantasy and video games.
In her blog Ng explains “A lot of people also still think that 3D printing does all the work for you…it doesn’t. Even so, there were debates on whether I actually had to do “real work” since I use 3D printing as part of my process to create intricate and complex pieces. “
To show the work that went into this project, she outlines in detail the total hours it took to create her masterpiece: over 518 hours (not including the time it took Shapeways to manufacture). As she did last project, she breaks down the steps it took and clearly demonstrates the care and artistic skill it took to conceive, design and post process the armor into its final form. Ng chose to print everything in Elasto Plastic due to its additional flexibility. After printing she polished and painted the armor, then added fabric and LED lights.
While exposing the craft and labor that went into the armor, Ng started to question the implications of aesthetics and functionality of the work.
“there still seems to be an overwhelming belief that fantasy armor that doesn’t have actual breasts just “isn’t sexy,” “isn’t showing off those feminine curves enough” or “doesn’t help people easily identify that she’s a woman.” I know this is just my opinion but how are the below images not badass??”
“As someone who started pursuing fantasy art seriously only a few years ago, all these discussions got me wondering how I wanted to grow as an artist. Did I want to throw my interpretation into the mix to help show that a woman can look just as beautiful and sexy in practical looking fantasy armor (that actually covered her body)? Of course “
Melissa Ng was armed with a sense that her next project had to not just be beautiful but achieve a sense of meaning through functionality, that the armor was meant for a warrior to defend herself and not just be visually pleasing for a male audiance. Ng started to research traditional armor making techniques and discovered an expert in the medieval craft: Ian LaSpina, a youtuber who goes by Knyght Errant. She contacted him and he agreed to be her armor consultant.
“Knyght Errant’s Youtube channel and website offers easily digestible content that explores medieval history, armor, armor maintenance, and various types of armor attire and undergarments. His channel and website are an amazing source of inspiration and knowledge that’s perfect for the complete medieval armor beginner, cosplayer, costume maker, and anyone interested in getting an intro to historical armor design and expanding their visual library.
Ian was kind enough to review my design progress every step of the way through Sketchfab’s 3D viewer to ensure I didn’t make any impractical armor components that might inhibit the wearer’s movement or…y’know…end up harming the wearer instead, haha (I’m looking at you, dangerously spiky pauldrons!! :P)”
The results speak for themselves. Check out the video below, and make sure you dig into Melissa’s Blog about creating the armor here, and actress Marisha Ray’s photoshoot in the armor for her Geek and Sundry here.