Here's a couple of examples of capes made with this technique:
First up are some basic tools:
*The tissue, of course. The kind I have is a name brand, so it's relatively sturdy and is actually two thin layers.
*Scissors, to cut the tissue. Trust me on this - even a brand new, razor sharp hobby knife isn't up to the task.
*Long tweezers to help with positioning and moving the delicate tissue, and even more so once it's been soaked.
*Clay shapers, the handle of a paintbrush, small plastic or brass tubing, etc. You'll want some kind of tools to help you shape it and get the folds you want.
*A paintbrush you don't mind possibly ruining by soaking it with glue. I prefer the flat type pictured.
*Hobby knife, to cut the tissue once it's partially dry if you wish to go for a distressed or tattered look.
*PVA or white glue, and ensure that it's water soluble.
*Dish of water and another smaller one for the glue.
*Cyanoacrylate (CA) or "super" glue
*Tape of some kind that's got a strong adhesive. I used packing tape for this.
*A straight edge or ruler, preferably metal, but any with one smooth surface will work.
1) Prepping the tissue
I pulled the two layers of the tissue apart and set one of them aside.
I folded the single layer of tissue over on the crease that was already there and used the smooth surface of a my metal hobby ruler to press the crease flat, like you would if making a paper airplane or some such.
You can see the difference in the flattened piece and the other layer:
Next, I set the figure on top of the tissue with the feet at the crease. This is important because the cape will be one thin layer folded in half, and the bottom edge will be the crease, so it won't separate while you're working it.
I drew a rough shape in pencil of how big I wanted the cape to be, and it actually turned out to be a touch too long, so once I cut it out, I trimmed from the top, not the bottom! Remember, we need to keep that crease as the bottom edge of the cape!
In my previous attempt at this, I just used super glue to adhere the top of the cape right to the figure, but removing it to paint separately was a pain and tore the cape in a few spots. A few days ago while thinking about how to do this tutorial, I had an epiphany on the subject of removing the cape and a way to make it easier. This is where the tape comes in! I cut two small rectangles of packing tape and attached them to the back of the figure, and used a clay shaper to smooth it down and really make sure it was secured to the figure. Since the tape is clear and didn't show up very well in the photo, I outlined the pieces in this pic:
Put a little dot of super glue on the tape and carefully press the tissue onto it with the tweezers, and add another dot from the top side if you have to so that it sticks. Be VERY careful about getting anything stuck to the super glue except the tissue at this point(finger tips in particular), or it will destroy the tissue and you'll have to cut out a new one and start over. Here's how it looked after each side was anchored to the tape:
As you can see, the two layers are separating at the sides a little, but don't worry if that happens - it only matters if the bottom edge comes apart.
At this point, I will use my fingers to move the tissue around, pushing and pulling gently, to see just what I can do with it. Sometimes the idea you had in your head for something doesn't come out as planned once you get into doing it. Think of this as the sketching phase of a drawing. Here's my rough idea(and this was quite a pain to photograph with only two hands).
*NOTE* If you don't plan on removing the cape to paint separately, you can just glue it straight to the figure and not worry about the tape.
Put some of the glue in a dish and thin it 50/50 with water. Load the brush with the thinned glue and starting from the top where the cape is anchored, slowly start soaking the tissue. Don't rush this part because it can tear easily.
Once it's completely soaked, it starts to look a lot more like cloth, holding close to the figure with creases and folds.
At this point, I put the figure on his base and secure it to one of my paint bottles, because you want to make sure you don't make the cape hang below the base the figure will be attached to.
Next, I start moving the tissue around to make sure I cover up the the small remnant of the old cape. To do this and have it look accurate, I imagine that the wind is coming at the figure from behind him and to his right, which would press the cape against his right side and billow out to his left side. With the tweezers and the paint brush loaded with more glue at the ready, I press the cape against his side, holding it with the tweezers, and then using the paint brush add more glue and hold it in place:
Important tip: Always have the paint brush handy - I'd load it with thinned glue and hold the handle of the brush in my mouth - because the tissue is so thin that the glue will start to set relatively quickly and you will sometimes need to wet an area down again to keep it supple.
To get the left side of the cape to look how I want, I wet the tips of the tweezers in water and grasp the tissue, carefully pulling it out and away from the figure.
Go slowly, and if you start to feel tension, back off, because it doesn't take much at all to tear it. I almost did just that because I had secured the right side of the cape to the figure so well, I nearly ripped it in half when I first started pulling on it. Go slow and easy. Once I had the cape flowing out to the side, I used the tweezers to grab small areas and twist or tug on the tissue, and clay shapers to move it around andstart putting folds into it. Since I couldn't really take photos of that, I marked out the approximate areas in red where I used the tweezers and shapers on it:
Here's a look from the front side:
Once you get it to where you want it, put it under a lamp to help the glue dry faster, but be wary of putting the bulb too close and possibly doing heat damage to your figure. If everything goes well, in about 20 minutes, the glue will have dried and then you can go back in with a heavy dilution of glue, around 75/25 or a little more, and put a thin coat over the cape and then stick it back under the light again. Once this second layer dries, it should really stiff and you can then pull it away from the figure.
However, if things don't go well, as they did in my case, then you might have to go back and do some clean up. Normally, you can simply soak the bad area with thinned glue, fix the problem, and let it dry again. Since the glue is water soluble, you can do this as much as you want. If the problem is more severe, more drastic measures might have to be taken. Here's how the cape looked after it dried:
Like a temperamental souffle, it collapsed on me while it was drying. The left side fell inward because I didn't use enough glue to hold it in place before drying, and the middle part adhered the remnant of the old cape, smoothing itself out and taking most of the folds I had worked with it. i didn't realize it would do that, and probably would again if I softened up the area and tried again. What to do? Patch it! I cut a small piece of tissue to fit in the affected area:
Holding it in place with the tweezers, I used the brush to soak the top of the patch until it stuck. This was another one of those things I couldn't photograph, having only two hands. Here's a shot showing where the top of the patch is, just below the red line:
Now, I knew that if I soaked the patch completely, it would probably do exactly the same thing again and smooth out against the underlying area, and I also wanted one of this big hill-and-valley type folds in the back of the cape, so I held the bottom edge of the patch with the tweezers and soaked the sides of it, leaving the middle dry and standing out away from the rest of the cape. As it's difficult to see what's wet and what's dry, I used the middle pic of these three to outline the area I soaked:
When the glue on the sides of the patch dried, I went back and used a 75/25 dilution to soak the middle, and it's done.
Once you're happy with the cloak, you'll need to seal it so that water will no longer soften the glue, and I always use a spray can primer for that. The tissue will have some texture to it, and if that's something you don't want, a tip from Kronus Stormbringer is to use a gloss varnish after the primer to fill in the texture.
Good luck to those who try it, and if you do, I would to see the results you get from it!
Edited by Brother Chaplain Kage, 30 January 2015 - 10:19 PM.