(Shadow Stalwart light armour)
This page will be walking through the various stages of how I went about creating my Aloy shadow stalwart light armour, from the video game Horizon Zero Dawn.
One thing I love about Horizon Zero Dawn, is that they added in a 'Photo Mode', where you can pause the game, move the camera around to find the perfect angle, change the time of day to alter the lighting, and then use that to get fantastic screen shots from your game. I used this method to take all of my reference pictures for this costume.
As there are a lot of pieces to this costume, I decided to start at the top, and work my way down. The first thing I started work on was her headpiece. As I am doing the version of the armour that is given to you during one of the story missions, as it is the lighter version of the Shadow Carja armour, and her headpiece is more of an elaborate mask.
I sketched out the shape and size I needed my mask to be on paper, then transferred that to craft foam. Once I had the piece cut out, I used a ball point pen to engrave the lines onto the mask. This saves a lot of time and effort, as when we reinforce it, the lines will show through, and save you having to carve them in later.
Aloy's hair is just beautiful. Her hair is very thick, has a slight wave to it, and with a lot of braids and beads running through it. Her hair also has an ombre effect to it, as the roots are a dark auburn, the main length of her hair is a light auburn/medium brown colour, and the roots fade to a medium blonde; there are also blonde streaks going through her hair.
I originally planned to use a lace front wig I had bought to use as a base for my Jessica Rabbit wig, however that wig is auburn all over, and didn't have the tones that her hair does. I'm a stickler for detail, and I wanted my wig to be as accurate as possible, so I decided to dye a wig to the exact colour I wanted. I have only ever dyed a wig once before, and thankfully it went well so I knew my technique would work; however that was used to dye a wig from white to lilac, not to add an ombre, and varying tones and highlights! I knew it would take a while to do, but I wanted this wig to be as accurate as I possibly could.
I had a plain blonde lace front wig in my collection, however it was fairly thin, and Aloy's hair is very thick, so I had to thicken it up before I tried dying it. After rummaging through my old non-lace front wigs, I found a long, medium blonde one that would work. I have a bunch of non-lace front wigs in a box in my workroom for just this reason. I can never bring myself to throw a wig away, as I know they can be useful to thicken up higher quality wigs in the future, as buying synthetic wefts each time can get pricey!
The cheaper wig had no tones or highlights to it, it was just one solid colour, and it would look incredibly fake if I just attached the two together, so I cut the cheaper wig apart, weft by weft, until I had a bunch of thin wefts, ready to sew in to my lace front.
Now that I had the base ready to go, it was onto the styling.
Guerilla Games have released an awesome cosplay guide for Aloy, which shows her hair from all angles. If you are doing a specific Aloy costume, use the in-game Photo Mode to see how her hair lays when she is wearing specific headpieces etc.
Aloy has 4 french plaits, and 3 large twists on the top of her head, which pulls her hair back and away from her face. These are french plaits where the hair is put underneath the previous strand, not to be confused with a dutch braid, which is done the same way but with the hair going over the previous strand.
- Two very thin french braids are just above her ear, one on each side.
- Two small french braids are the side of her head, one on each side.
- One chunky twist right in the middle at the top of her head.
- Two medium sized twists are right next to the large one at the top of her head.
Once you have these done, use hair elastics to tie off the ends of the top 3 twists, about 6 inches back. The ends of the centre 3 braids are folded under themselves, to create a rough pleat at the back of her head at the top. Secure these with bobby pins and Got2B freeze spray (also be sure to spray over the twists at the front of the wig, as you want them to stay where they are).
The two side braids, and the two braids just above her ear, should be done as french braids for about 4 inches, then finish them off as a normal plaits, and tie them off with elastics.
She also has about 6 thin braids just random throughout her hair, I did mine on the underneath part, near the sides of the wig, so they would sit on my shoulders and be visible from the front.
With these braids done, all that was left to do was to curl the hair that was left at the back. As I added the wefts from the cheaper wig, I couldn't use my hair curlers, as the added wefts weren't heat resistant.
I used some foam rollers to curl the hair in sections about 2 inches wide, then put my wig head back in the bathtub. I put my shower on a hot setting (but not so hot that it would melt the wefts fibres), and soaked all of the hair that was in the rollers.
I left it in the tub to dry overnight, then took out the rollers; this left me with bouncy, natural looking curls. All I had left to do was to give it a gentle brush through with a wide tooth comb (you get less frizz this way).
The final finishing touch was to add in the coloured beads that Aloy has going through her hair at the ends of her braids. I had a bunch of large hole wooden beads from a previous costume, and I gave them a paint job, as most of her beads are red and blue. I threaded some of the thinner plaits through the beads, and added a few on the ends of random curls.
Aloy has a very natural, fresh faced look, with a bit of liner in her waterline, and long thick lashes.
I used my usual foundation, and added on some light contouring, not too much as Aloy's face is more rounded, without much definition round her cheek bones.
I used a brown khol pencil in my waterline, and tightlined my upper waterline with a black khol pencil, to make my lashes appear fuller. I used black mascara to coat my top and bottom lashes, and also added some light wispy false lashes to my upper lashes.
Final step was to fill in my brows using a medium brown brow powder, and add a bit of brown eyeshadow to my lower lash line, and socket crease. Finally, I used a taupe brown eyeshadow with a fine brush to add on freckles.
A full, exact list of the products used is on my Instagram post of the finished make-up look.
Aloy's chest armour is separate to her shirt, as it is attached to straps over her shoulders and around her back.
Now I had my wefts and my lace front wig ready, it was time to get down to the tedious task of sewing them in. It turns out I didn't need to sew in as many as I thought, as I wanted the main bulk to be around the crown, and in the middle at the back. As the wefts were just a block colour, I added them in every 3 rows, instead of on every row, as I wanted them to look natural, and not cause the wig to have blocks of one colour, without any tones. I ended up using about 1/3 of the wefts I had cut from the cheaper wig, and put the rest away, ready to use in the future.
Attaching them was simple, I just used a light beige thread and a needle, sewing along the band and attaching them to the wefts of the lace front. If you aren't a fan of sewing, you can glue the wefts in with fabric glue, or a glue gun (providing you are careful and don't use too much, as hot glue dries hard).
Now time for dying! I used the ink and isopropyl alcohol method, as it's the only one that would give me full control over the colour application. The ink I used previously had worked brilliantly, so I used the same brand again; Copic.
They can be a bit pricey, as you need a lot to do this, but they gave a lovely finish last time. I bought a few of the brown and orange shades to test out, and see how they worked, and my favourites were
When you start getting the materials in to dye the wig, be sure to buy the ink refills instead of the markers, as they are much easier to get the ink out of, as you don't need to split the pens open like on normal markers. I bought 3 bottles of each colour, and 3 clear spray bottles to mix the dyes in. The final thing was to fill each bottle roughly half way with isopropyl alcohol (I used 99%, but 96% would work too, just get whatever is easiest to get hold of), and fill the other half with one of the ink colours. I repeated this for all 3 colours, and my spray bottles were ready to go.
I started from the back as this makes life SO much easier, as I wanted the colour to be even, and to ensure I got it all covered first time. I used 2 large clamps to hold the bulk of the hair up, so only the bottom weft row was hanging down. I brushed this through to make sure there were no tangles, then started at the roots.
I used E39 on the roots, spraying a fair amount onto the hair, and brushed this about 1/4 way down the hair.
I used E29 and a little bit of E008 on the middle half of the hair, then gently combed it down the hair.
I left the last 1/4 of the hair blonde, so it would have the lovely ombre that Aloy's hair has.
Once this section was dry, I washed it out until the water ran clear, then dried it with my hairdryer to check what the colour would look like. It came out a little bit darker than I wanted in the middle part, so I tipped some out of the mixture in the E008 and E29 bottles, and added in more of the 99% alcohol.
Next I just had to repeat this same technique for all of the wig. Not going to lie, this is going to tedious, take ages, and smell strong, so make sure you work in a well ventilated area, and take regular breaks.
When all of the hair is covered, I brushed through all the hair from top to bottom, then left it to sit for about 5 hours, so the dye could stain the fibres. After that, I put it in the bathtub and used my shower to wash out all of the dye, until the water ran clear. Make sure you rinse it until the water is clear, otherwise there will be excess dye in the wig, and if it rains, or you sweat, that dye will transfer to your skin and costume.
I left the wig to dry naturally this time, as I don't like using my hairdryer to dry the whole wig, as it damages the fibres.
When the wig was dry, I noticed a few small areas where the dye hadn't stained the fibres very well, but as this was in the under layers of the hair, it wasn't a problem. If anything it looked nicer having a few blonde streaks running through it.