Saturday 14 January 2017

Lonely Guide: making capes quickly out of tin

 A fellow G+ wargamer asked how I made capes and cloth out of tin, and I thought it'd be a good time to put up a tutorial on the subject, just to have on the blog in case.

You're going to need a bit of tin first, and an old pair of scissors to cut it with-- be careful what you choose, you'll need something that both paint and your glue can stick to.  Some commercial tins are coated in... odd things that repel them.
Two pairs of pliers aren't a necessity, but the one you do have MUST be needle-nosed; that's the round ones (with the green handle in the photo).  And greenstuff of course.

And a file.  You're going to need a file too.

You'll also want a suitable candidate for the cape.  I'll be making one for this Angels Encarmine sergeant.

First and foremost, I want to stress this one fact; This Is Art, and art is representative.  You don't have to make the cape exactly cape-shaped, it'll be far too much hassle to bend about afterwards.

Anyway, cut out your general shape from the tin, making sure you've got a bit extra to work with on the top edge.  If you like you can make a paper pattern and fold it around the character to give you a good idea how big and such.  Nothing too strict here, except for making it wider at the bottom than at the top.

Right, now I've tried explaining this in the past to someone and failed, so please bear with me..
Clamp the tin with the pliers, at an ever-so-slight angle to the side of the shape, and bend it one way.

Like this.  Move the pliers along a bit, and bend the opposite way.  Do you see now why the pliers needed to be round?


Because the pliers are tapered (at least, they should be) the resulting creases will fan out.  Try to make them irregular, over-bending one or two for variety.

This was tricky to photograph.  Taking the other pliers (optional) bend a tiny bit of the side edge inwards, for a round edge and also to give the suggestion of volume to the cloth.

Check often with the miniature and ask if the cape looks alright.

Once he's happy with it-- and you are too-- you can cut away the extra on top; if the client has a backpack, cut a rough hole to accommodate it.  You don't need to make the gap perfect, as you'll be filing it in with greenstuff later.
Try not to bleed all over the tin, it's a pain to wash off and paint won't hold to it.

Continue bending the folds around...

Keep fitting it to the miniature and tweak accordingly, bending here and there.  The main thing is not to be worried about messing it up or making it too small; extra can be taken off, but not the opposite...

Another tricky angle.  Here, you're firstly going to want to fill in the gap between body and cape with greenstuff, for stability purposes.  once that's done, fill in the spaces between shoulder and cloth, and also the rough patch under the backpack.

 And your cape is finished!  You might want to add some buckles or a bit of twisted floral wire for cord at the front to show how its being worn.  Now you just have to finish the sergeant.

I MIGHT WARN YOU that the paint will wear off the edges and leave bare tin, unless you layer your choice of sealant very thickly along the edge.  This is one reason I like to weather my capes.

If you want the ragged cloake look, clamp the cape to a bit of cedar or another soft wood (before you bend it) and hit it with the drill press, running along the bottom edge and up the sides a bit.  Twist it around and there we are.

So that's that!  How to make a cape quickly and effectively.  Using this technique you can make tabards and extra draperies; combining it with my bunches of purity seals tutorial (I really have to put the tutorials together at some point) you could even make large sheets of literature, banners... all sorts!

Bye bye for now.


  1. When I first looked through the pictured I thought that was you bleeding all over the cape... I've worked with thin tin and copper and have never walked away without an extra scar or two.
    Great tutorial though, the result looks great.

    1. It's all too easy. Or maybe I'm just thin-skinned lol

  2. Excellent, thanks for the tutorial :-) I am going to give this a go with some of my Dark Angels.

  3. Wow! Nice tutorial, and very cool idea!

  4. This is awesome, I'm totally going to give it a try!

    1. Go for it, and soon your whole force will be clamoring for one!