Many people craft their own creative costumes, but Swiss game designer and cosplay aficionado Martina Hugentobler takes dressing up to a whole new level. The self-taught artist spent an incredible 1,000 hours sculpting this extraordinary Anubis costume by hand, using materials she found at her local hardware store.
In Egyptian mythology, Anubis is the god of mummification and has the head of a jackal. Similarly, Hugentobler’s inspiration stems from a sculpture by Hui Zou depicting a robotic Egyptian dog, aptly titled Anubis. Inspired by the combination of ancient Egyptian style and futuristic elements, Hugentobler asked for permission to create her own wearable version, resulting in the incredible ensemble that looks like it’s a 3D digital render. However, the complex piece actually comprises a rigid armor base made from PVC which was then covered in colored vinyl to achieve the metal-like reflective surfaces.
This is only Hugentobler’s third costume, but it’s clear to see she has a natural talent for the craft. It took the artist 1 year to finish the project, but her time and effort has definitely paid off. As well as receiving a huge amount of attention online after she posted a video of the costume on Reddit, Hugentobler entered her creation to a Fantasy Basel Comic-Con in Switzerland and won second place. “The response has been overwhelming, especially since it’s not a well-known character from a specific game or movie that has a big fandom,” says Hugentobler. “I knew from my previous costumes that people seem to appreciate the polygonal aesthetic but I would have never thought it [would] blow up like this.”
We recently caught up with Hugentobler to ask about her process. Read on for My Modern Met’s exclusive interview.
How did you first get into making costumes?
It started with an upcoming Halloween party in 2015 and I didn’t have a costume to wear. A few days before the event I had the idea of making a 3D model to create patterns, then building wearable papercraft from them. To my surprise it worked and I’ve been hooked on making costumes ever since.
Can you tell us a bit about the Anubis character your latest piece is based on?
The character is a statue that I found online, designed by Hui Zou and built by R-one studio. I immediately fell in love with the design and asked for the artist’s permission to make a cosplay from it.
How did you achieve the digital look?
I usually build my own low poly version of characters. Low poly is a look that refers to early 3D computer graphics. Some characteristics of the style are flat surfaces, sharp angles and no textures. Often you want costumes to look realistic, so adding weathering, wear and tear makes them come to life. My costumes are missing both weathering and a realistic shape language, so they tend to look like a cleanly rendered image instead.
What materials did you use and how long did it take you to make it?
My main materials for Anubis were PVC boards that I covered in vinyl. I also used some EVA foam for structure parts, fabric for the undersuit, epoxy resin for the gems, aluminum pipes and steel rods for the scythe’s structure, and lots of other materials.
All in all it took about 1,000 hours over the course of a year. This is my third costume, so I’m still learning a lot, and often have to redo things until they work. I spent a lot of time planning on how to attach all the floating armor pieces. Since PVC is rigid I had to figure out how to be able to move at all, how I can get in and out of the armor on my own, and how to make the pieces detachable for transport because they’re huge.
What’s your favorite thing about making costumes?
I’ve always loved crafting, when I was a kid I built cardboard armor for my plushies. During the day I work behind a computer screen, so I itch to build something tangible as a balance. Cosplay is a wonderful hobby to me that combines my passion for art, animation, design, 3D software and crafting. Last but not least, I met a lot of wonderful people through making costumes.
Can you describe the most amazing costume(s) you’ve come across at a cosplay event?
It’s hard to pick one from all the amazing costumes out there. To see AJ-Designs’ Transformers in person was definitely a highlight. They move extremely well despite their size. What impresses me is that they have been worn on countless conventions but are holding up so well they still look new. The creators built in light, sound, and smoke effects to make the characters come alive even more.
Do you have any plans for a next costume?
Yes, and with it I want to try out new materials and techniques. I don’t know if my idea is feasible yet so I’m doing lots of planning, material tests, and prototypes before starting with the build.