DIY Diablo III Wizard

My friend Anna from Seattle Cosplay is a brilliant fashion designer and cosplayer. I can’t sew (yet!) but I can make props and accessories. We put our powers together to collaborate on a costume  — she worked the fabric and I did the fabricating. The following is a summary of some of the work I did on this project. To read about Anna’s work, check out Diablo 3 Wizard – Part 2.

DIABLO 3 WIZARD                                                                .

This is the concept art for the wizard Li-Ming in Diablo 3. The level of detail is so intense that (as you can imagine) this exact design didn’t make it into the actual game. This one picture is the only reference we have for this character. Like a Magic Eye, the longer you gaze into it the more details emerge.


Let’s start simple.

There is a main shape cut out of styrene to give it support. The rest is many slices of fun foam. I heated it up and sculpted some simple shapes into it, then drew on the details with puff paint.

The stars are mirror hangers that you can get in any hardware store.

I also helped with the wig. I got some loose hair and made it into wefts with silicone caulk. I used some of them to make a bun onto which the crown is tied (one weft was a spare.)

FABRIC STUFF                                                               .

I put paint on some stuff!

There are woven leather details that go on the sides of the chest. I antiqued this pleather a little so it would be more visible.

This is what it looked like after Anna finished with it.

Also, Anna bought some high-heeled shoes and made boot covers for them. The pleather didn’t match the shoes, so I dyed the boot covers so they match.

For the dragon prints on the sleeves, we used this stencil from beraka on deviantART. I traced it onto some fine nylon screen and painted a layer of wood glue on the negative spaces.

I screenprinted the patterns on the sleeves and skirt panels.

If this had been a smaller pattern, wood glue probably would have worked fine. Because it was so huge, one end would be dry by the time I put paint on the other end, so I had to wash the screen after every use. The wood glue kind of softened so I was afraid to wash it too thoroughly. As a result, dried paint stuck in the screen and by the end some of the prints were looking kind of crusty. Later I went in and touched stuff up with a small brush so it was okay. It just took extra time.

CHARMS AND BELT THINGS                                                            .

This is the jewelry that goes all over the belt. While looking at the concept art I noticed the artist drew a small handful of shapes and then copy-pasted them all over the whole outfit. So I’ll do the same.

These are sculpted with Paper-Clay, which is super easy to carve and sand when it air-dries. It’s also ridiculously fragile, so not appropriate for the final version of what I’m doing, but it’s really fast to work with to make the masters.

The original has a pig-like face on it, but Anna would not tolerate it. She asked me to redesign it to be a phoenix instead.

One-part silicone molds.

I cast everything in polyurethane.

The star shapes are cut from the crescent shape. Two of these will be earrings, but the rest are for the belt.

These are the scrolls that hang from the hip. I did them in one sitting so no progress pictures. They are wooden dowels covered with highly-textured fancy papers. The “metal” end pieces are actually rubber furniture feet. Anna made the scroll holster and I did some of the detail painting, plus that little charm up there in the top left.

STAFF                                                                .

I studied the reference and made some sketches and blueprints.

I made an armature out of wood and wire held together with epoxy. I beefed it up with aluminum foil and covered it in a thin layer of sculpey. The horns and eyes were sculpted separately, baked, and sanded before adding them to the adding them to the rest of the figure. Since they were already hard I couldn’t mess them up. The pale, flesh-colored sculpey is just regular Super Sculpey, which is cheaper and more abundant than the grey Super Sculpey Firm. Since I want to do a bunch of details I am using Super Sculpey Firm because it doesn’t get messed up so easily.

The mouth will get cut out later.

After I baked it I sanded and smoothed it even more with a dremel.

After rubbing it down with a very thin coat of vaseline (as a mold release agent) I applied the first gel coat of silicone. It’s super thin to preserve the details.

I mixed further coats of silicone with a thixotropic agent to thicken it up, then spread it on like frosting. I think I put on five or six layers, of which this is probably the third or so. While spreading on the final layer, I stuck cubes of cured silicone left over from other projects onto the face to act as keys for the mothermold.

I’m going to make a three-part mothermold. The lines indicate where each piece will go.

Masking off this section with plasticine clay and generous amounts of vaseline. Later I covered this whole section with two layers of fiberglass.

Masking off the second section. The brown side on the left is the first fiberglass piece.

The completed mold. If you look closely you can see holes drilled trough the flanges. Once I removed the original from inside this mess, I put bolts through the holes and used wing nuts to tighten the mothermold pieces together. I wanted my duplicate to be hollow, so I used some fast-curing polyurethane and did a slush cast — I poured the resin into the mold and then rolled the mold around for 10 minutes until it cured. The result is a hollow shell in the shape of your piece.


Roughly cut out the eyes and mouth.

Unfortunately the awkward shape of that fiberglass chunk between the horns messed up the alignment of my gel coat. It kind of made a mess of this! I think that’s just going to happen no matter what. In retrospect I should have removed the horns and cast them separately. That probably would have made my life a little easier. Next time! Now I know.

Resculpted it with some Magic-Sculpt sculpting epoxy.

A few coats of plastic primer for a base coat, then I hit it with some silver leaf Rub-n-Buff so it was fantastically shiny.

I recruited some friends with electronics knowledge and tools to help me with the lights. Thank you Steven, Alex, and Ben!!

In there is an LED array with some pink film for color. Once I got the lights in there I added some clear acrylic spheres so the light really beams out of the eyes. There’s also a bit of aluminum foil in there to act as a reflector. It’s pretty bright! It also has three light modes — bright, dim, and strobe — which you can toggle by lightly depressing the power button.

Meanwhile, here’s the rest of the staff. Most of the length is a wooden dowel, but top is a piece of thin PVC pipe. I wanted it to be hollow so I could put the batteries in there. In this photo I am covering the staff with Sculptamold, which is a strange combination of plaster and paper mache. It’s hard to work with but makes a lot of texture in a hurry.

I sculpted the teeth with more Magic-Sculpt. I couldn’t do this earlier or I’d have no way of getting the lights in there. I made the teeth longer than in my sketch for the sake of drama.

Getting ready to paint. The rings around the body of the staff are Magic Sculpt epoxy.

All painted! I used gold leaf Rub-n-Buff on the gold bits so they look very metallic.

The staff is 5′ long and weighs 1.8 lbs.

Check out Anna’s work on this costume! Diablo 3 Wizard – Part 2

GALLERY                                                                (click to full view)


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