Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A New Utility Belt for Batman

A while back I was in Japan helping with an ad campaign (featuring this commercial and print ads like this one) and had the pleasure of meeting one Kevin Porter.  Kevin has made a name for himself appearing as Batman in a variety of short films as well as conventions all over the world.  You may have recently seen him in the Batman vs. Darth Vader Superpower Beat Down video.

He mentioned to me at one point that he'd like me to make some parts for a new version of the utility belt he wears with his costume.  By the time we were done discussing it, the project had grown from "can you make me a smaller version of this little buckle?" to "How about three complete belts instead of two?"

I guess that's how these things happen.

Here's he is in character as Batman wearing one of the uitility belts I made for him:
Bat Belt Kevin Porter

For more pictures and a detailed explanation of how it was made, read on...

3D modelling isn't my strongest skill set, but I was able to crank out the two shapes I needed in pretty short order:
Bat Belt Buckle Revised

Originally, the only part Kevin wanted me to make was a miniaturized, non-functional cobra buckle (like you find in high-end tactical equipment like THIS):
Bat Belt Parts w Cobra Buckle Angle 2

Once Kevin and I were happy with the design work, I went ahead and fed the models to Jarvis (my Objet30 rapid prototyping machine) and in a couple of hours he cranked out these pieces:
Printed Pouch and Buckles

Here's the buckle after a bit of cleanup:
Cleaned Buckle

And here's the pouch with the cobra buckle in place:
Cleaned Pouch

Here's the Cobra buckle all by its lonesome:
Cleaned Cobra Buckle

I added a piece of 3/4" MDF to the back of the pouch to make it thicker (no sense using the pricey 3D printing resin just to make a straight-sided box).  Then I gave all of the pieces a liberal coat of primer:
Belt Parts

Once the primer had cured, I sat down at the sewing machine and made a leather strap and flap to add to the pouch:
Belt Part Prototypes

Here's a closeup:
Prototype Pouch Completed

After a bit more cleanup, I gave both pieces a coat of my standard prototype color:
Prototypes Completed
I didn't paint over the leather parts because I wanted to preserve the texture.

Once the paint had dried, I made a quick pair of mold boxes:
Prototypes Boxed for Molding

Then filled them with silicone rubber:
Molds Poured

Once the molds had cured, I cast a couple of sets of parts in urethane resin with some black pigment added in:
Lots of Bat Casts

Each belt required eight of the pouch castings and one of the buckles:
2 Full Sets of Cast Bat Belt Pieces

Once the mold flashing was trimmed off and the back sides were sanded smooth, all of the parts were sprayed with a coat of primer:
Bat Belt Parts in Primer

All of the parts were then painted with a yellow enamel intended for farm equipment:
Base Colors on Bat Belt Bits

Then I picked out the black details by hand with a small detail brush:
Third Bat Belt Buckles Blacked

The original plan was two different version of the belt, one what was made up of yellow boxes with yellow flaps and black buckles, the other would have heavily tarnished brass boxes and yellow leather parts.  Here's the pieces in the middle of the weathering process:
Weathering Begins

To add to the look of the all-yellow belt and make it a bit more interesting, I added a few scuff marks where the paint was chipped and the bare metal was showing through.  I also picked out the small bare metal details on the cobra buckles themselves.  Here's the first two sets of pieces all painted up:
Pouches Nearly Done

All of these pieces need to be attached to something, so I picked up three of these 2-inch wide leather work belts and painted them yellow:
Belts in Yellow

Why three?  The idea came up to make another all yellow belt with less weathering and no scuff marks.  Here's all three of them laid out on one of the benches in the workshop:
Three Assembled Batman Utility Belts

The resin cast parts were each drilled, glued, and riveted onto the belts:
106 Pop Rivets

To prevent the rivets and hard edges from scratching or wearing against a rubber batsuit, each of the belts was also lined with velvet to make it nice and soft on the inside:
Velvet Lining

Here I am test-fitting the "clean" version of the yellow utility belt:
Test Fit Final Belt 1

Here's the more weathered version:
Test Fit Belt 1

Test Fit Final Belt 2

Finally, here's the brass and yellow version:
Test Fit Brass Belt 3

Test Fit Brass Belt 2

Sexy, right? Test Fit Brass Belt 1

To be fair, it looks a lot better on Batman himself.  I nabbed the following images from his Facebook page:
Bat Belt Kevin Porter

The belt even looks good when he's not wearing the complete costume:
Batman Wearing Utility Belt Only

So keep an eye out on the Bat in the Sun Youtube channel, I have a notion that you'll probably see this belt again sooner or later:
Batman versus

I'll admit I had my doubts about the bronze and yellow color scheme, but at this point I'm confident it'll look pretty good on film:
Super Power Beat Down Bat Belt
Still no word on Wolverine's opinion.

More to come.  Stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. Damn, those look cool. I'm going to have to check out the youtube channel as well, now.