Creating a convincing ice and snow effect was one of the challenges I faced during making my costume of Valkyrie from Fortnite. Her armor is covered in light blue transparent ice and white snow and I had to search for a way how to make both effects blend together nicely, look convincing, match the referrence and most importantly STAY on the armor.
With any new project it is wise to start searching for existing methods and take inspiration from them:
You can use a soft transparent silicone Encapso K used for displays to create crashed ice effects like in this video. This method is not suitable for our purpuose, because it wouldn’t hold well on armor, it is too soft, makes bigger crystals, it is not durable and also too expensive. It’s very good if you want to display a piece tho.
You can use latex, hotglue and salt crystals to create a convincing ice effect on small areas, as shown in this video. This method is not expensive and makes almost the same effect I needed for my armor. There is just the problem of salt disolving in water and you really can’t hide your armor from water perfectly every time. This video served as a base inspiration for the ice effect I wanted to create, I just needed to use different materials.
You can also find fake snow media used for different winter decorations mostly in a form of flakes, spray or white paste, which are much better for our purpuose, but there is still an issue with durability of white paste, which cracks and selective application with the spray.
I decided to take inspiration from these products and some of the household items you can own at home or buy in any common decor store.
I know there are a lot of other things you can find at your home to create convincing snow and ice like coconut flakes or salt, but I advice you not to use any food (color fading, smell, durability).
The method I invented can be used on fabrics as well as on armor from different materials. It holds well on plastic, foam or worbla.
– Acrylic structure gel glossy
– Acrylic structure paste white sand
– White/transparent gravel – depending on the size of crystals you want to achieve (decor gravel – glass crushings) – can be bought in any home decor store like Pepco, Kik, Mobelix, …
– Light blue transparent color (and airbrush) – I’ve used diluted Copic Ink in FBG2 color.
– transparent epoxy glue or transparent hotglue
– transparent glossy varnish
On my project I started with white structure paste (normally used for preparing a canvas for painting), that has a texture of sand, which I applied with brush on places, where I wanted the snow to be. I created a nice white structure and let it dry.
For the best effects I’ve used an old brush and I dabbed on the armor/fabric creating a round star like shape.
Then I proceeded to create a sticky base for the milky white decoration gravel using acrylic gel medium (glossy) and dabbed it on all the places I wanted the gravel to be. It is also milky white, but gets transparent during drying. Take a big sheet of paper and spread it on your working surface to catch any gravel, that doesn’t adhere onto armor. Take a pinch of the gravel and sprinkle it on the places, where the gel medium is. You can also lightly press on the gravel to stick better. A still wet armor with sprinkled gravel on it should look something like this:
Then let dry. Now the armor looks almost finished, but it is important to either use a varnish to fix the gravel on it’s place or give it another layer of gel medium (which I found out was better, because some of the varnishes can have a slight yellow tint in them) to fix all the crystals in place, so they don’t fall off. Let dry.
The last step is depending on the project you are working on, but in my case, the snow/ice effect was slightly blue on the referrence. I airbrushed all the places with diluted Copic Ink in very light blue color till I got a tint I was satisfied with. And I know Copics are quite expensive – I bought them to tint Valkyrie’s wig and had a leftover, but you can basically use any durable (for example acrylic) !transparent! color to tint the crystals with.
If want to use this on very smooth surface like plastics, I recommend sticking the crystals first on a transparent epoxy glue for better durability (be careful again about yellow tint, use transparent glue).
Filling bigger places:
If you want to fill bigger places using this texture, you can spare a lot of gel medium by using hotglue instead as I did in some corners around the ropes, that wrap around the foam bracers I made. Be careful though, that the crystals are keen to sink in fresh hot hotglue and they can increase the weight of the armor significantly then.
The finished look:
Hope this tutorial helps you in your future projects!
If you happen to use some of my patterns/models/files/ideas, don’t forget to give credit!
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