Sunday, 23 February 2014

Construction of Maya - Part 3

Make-up. Single handedly one of the trickiest parts of this costume. I blame the unrealistic colour of her eyes, and the half body tattoo that stretches all the way down her left side in typical siren fashion.

So, contact lenses. Ild never worn them before, but I was super keen to try them! My first pair I bought were from Pinky Paradise. The pair I bought were the G&G white lense with black rim. However, before I and even worked up the courage to try them on, I had to move house. Aaaaaaaaand, managed to loose them somewhere along the way. 

After getting settled into my new place, and searching through everything I owned, I gave up on the Pinky Paradise lenses, and bought another cheap pair from my local cosmetics shop (Cosmetics Plus). These seemed almost identical in appearance, though they did seem like a lesser quality brand.

And then we have the wig.... The first wig I bought (as mentioned previously) I was not happy with the colour of. The pictures online were a lot lighter than what it actually was in real life. However, I was able to make use of this wig. More on that later.

It took me awhile to get used to wearing contact lenses. And low and behold, I find my Pinky Paradise lenses the week before my first convention! Apon trying them on, I discovered they were MUCH more comfortable than the cheaper brand, and very much relieved it wasn't just the fact my eyes hated lenses!

So, I then ordered the second wig. It was a little light. But I thought I could darken it gradually until it reached a shade I was happy with. It was also a little short at the front. But with the first dark wig, I added a few extra wefts to give it slightly more length. I also added a few dark blue wefts at the back, which created a wonderful effect and gave the wig a bit more volume overall. 

Once I had the wig right, I set about trying out make up to achieve Maya's look. As dark as I went with the eyeshadow, it just didnt have the same dramatic effect as in game Maya. Eventually, I gave up on the eye shadow, and just used a cream eye liner. I still used a touch of powder to soften the edges, but I was much happier with this look than the eyeshadow. I'm not a expert on make up, but I sure learnt a lot experimenting with this look!

The lipstick was another drama. I couldn't find a shade that I liked. They were either too bright, or too dark. In the end I used the darker lipstick I had bought as a base, and lightened it up with the same product I used for the siren tattoo - Snazzaroo body paint.

Which brings us to the next part - THE tattoo. Oh my goodness.... I wanted something that wouldn't stain my skin for days after a con. So after further consulting with friends who had also used various products, I was recommended a body paint by the name of Snazzaroo. The only issue with this stuff, is that it isn't waterproof. I had no issues with it however, and it lasted well during a hot, humid and sweaty day at a convention, so I was happy. It took me around an hour to hand paint on the tattoo (I wanted it as accurate as possible too). I also watered it down a little so it didnt look powdery or flaky once it dried.

I was glad I and plenty of time for trialling various products during the making of this costume. It took much experimenting to get a look I was happy with. But in the end, it was worth all the hassle, and I certainly learned from it all. Which is one of the things I enjoyed most when creating this costume. Learning so many new things and improving and expanding on skills I didn't even realise I had :)

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The Construction of Maya - Part 2

So with the bodysuit completed, it was time to tackle the pants. This seemed like it would be a much easier task for me. And it was. I took a pair of low rise blue denim jeans, and sewed the grey patches onto them.

I only had one problem when constructing these patches, and that was finding a grey colour that I was happy with. The only fabric I could find that was close to what I wanted, was a satin. Well, as you can imagine, satin would crease easily, and probably look kinda funny. I was skeptical, but I actually bought it. I sat at home playing with it for a while, doubling it over, pinning it down, examining it carefully. It just didnt look right :(

Well, then I had an idea. A far fetched one, mind you. But it actually worked. On an old pair of jeans, I had scribbled an outline of the grey pattern. I cut up this old pair of jeans, and covered the patches with the satin. It actually didnt look too bad! Well, at least I thought so anyway.

I decided to paint the patches before I sewed them onto the pants. TarahRex Cosplay was the one I asked for advice on painting and weathering fabric. With her helpful tips, I set off to paint :)

Once I was happy with the shading, I then used a permanent marker to outline and give it that 'cell shaded' effect you often hear people talking about when referring to a borderlands cosplay. I was very cautious approaching this task, so worried I would overdo it. But I actually found it to be quite fun. I had plenty of reference material, and made sure I kept referring back to it so as not to go overboard.

With the pants completed and the bodysuit almost finish (minus the weathering) I actually began to felt like I was getting somewhere! Up to this point, I had spent a few months on it already, so I was quite pleased and my excitement rejuvenated to see the base structure of my costume come together.

Trolling vs Constructive critism

Wether you are a cosplayer or just a follower of the hobby and the artists, we've all seen the horribly despicable insults on the net by those unfortunate people who make us loose our faith in humanity somewhat. I talking about those that aren't happy with their own lives, so feel the need to bring people down to share their muck of misery.

However, it's not all gloom and doom when it comes to 'trolls'. First and foremost, if you are happy with your costume, and are confident that you've done the best you can, well good on you! Well done, I say. Seeing a costume through to completion is no easy task, no matter how big or complex the outfit is. If you are happy with it, then it really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. Period.

But this community is one that thrives online. And of course, with the good comes the bad. And its important to remember that it doesn't matter what you do, or where you go in life, you won't please everyone.

But, today I want to talk about the difference between 'trolling' and constructive criticism. It has become way to easy to take a seemingly negative comment and call that person a 'troll'. But me, I prefer to try and not look at these remarks so negatively. Really, you will be surprised at what you can learn from them.

I'm going to use the example of my make up trials for Maya.

Comments like "her neck isn't long enough", "she's too big for that costume", well yes, that is trolling. Things of your physical appearance that you can't change?? If that is all someone has to complain about when assessing your costume, then I take that as a compliment in itself. If someone (now these people generally 'search' for something to complain about) can't find anything wrong with your costume that they need to turn to your own physical attributes to find a fault, means you've done well in recreating the character :)

It's the comments such as "perhaps the lipstick could be a different shade" or "the eyeshadow is too dark" well, I learnt from those. I did several trials for Maya's make up and posted the pictures online. Sometimes it's these seemingly negative comments that help us become better at what we do. Ok yes, some people have no tact when pointing these things out, but hey, generally they mean it with good intentions.

This hobby is definitely not easy for the light at heart. So I think part of the struggle in the 'Cosplay Journey' is learning to take trolling and/or constructive criticism with a grain of salt. If you have your bar for standards set at a certain level, and you achieve your goal, be happy! Don't let others take your happiness and accomplishments away.

The construction of Maya - part 1

Wow, it feels like this was so long ago now! And I guess it was. But looking back on the construction of my first costume, I learnt A LOT of things. Not just about sewing, but about cosplaying in general. I'll talk about those things more when the time calls for it...

The first thing I did, was scour the net for adequate reference pictures. Close-ups, screen-shots, concept art, I studied them all. My love for the game and the character really pushed me to want to capture the details as much as my skills enabled me to.

This is what I started with, and the only thing I didn't like about it, was the hair colour. I chose to try for something that looked a little more like what her hair appeared like in game. I think the wig was the first thing I ordered. It was a cheap one off eBay. And when it arrived, I wasn't too happy with it. It was much darker than I thought it would be. But, being short on funds at the time, I thought there may be a way to make do. So I stowed it away with my tiny collection of supplies. It was a start.

I thought I would start with the bodysuit first. Originally I had the idea of buying a turtleneck leotard, and appliquéing the patterns on. Well, in theory, this would have been great! And was a nice easy way for me to ease into sewing. Well, after trying it on a couple of times during the appliqué process (to see if I had the patterns sitting correctly) it stretched horribly. So it sagged in places, and made it look like it was 5 sizes to big for me. *sigh*

Well, I had no clue about creating my own pattern. It was around this time I began searching around for other Cosplayers who had created this outfit, in an attempt to get some advice. I didn't have to 
search for too long. The lovely Lithium Cosplay had recently finished her Maya costume, and had done a superb job in my opinion. With her tips and advice, I bought myself a leotard pattern and took deep breaths! I decided to do a similar thing as previously planned. I constructed a plain black solid base, and appliquéd the patterned pieces onto it. This also helped solve the issue of the yellow spandex being slightly transparent when stretched. I ended up hand stitching a lot of the appliquéd parts on, as my lack of knowledge in the seamstress department made it a struggle with my machine. 

The progress was tedious, it was a struggle to find time whilst also caring for two small children. So after much frustration, I again turned to the WWW in search for answers. Rah from Rascal Cosplay was my saviour this time, as she was also working on a Maya outfit at the time. She put me onto the right road when it comes to sewing spandex with a sewing machine.

After these two incidences, I quickly learnt that I needed to be a bit thorough in my researching if I wanted this suit to look good. I was quite surprised at the communities willingness to offer me advice and help. I have to admit, I was extremely reluctant at first to ask around. My lack of knowledge made me truly feel like a noob (well, yeah, I know I was). But, I came to realise something very important. Something we all need to consider from time to time when encountering those seeking advice. No matter how silly the questions sound, or how tricky a concept may seem to grasp - we all started somewhere. Ad not everyone endeavouring to enjoy this hobby starts out with the necessary skills to get you going.

I have no problems with offering advice or help to the new (and even older) member of this community.  If it helps them have as much fun as I do when I dress up, then I'm all for it! Besides, isn't that one of the reasons why we do this? To have fun?

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Time Management - Setting Achievable Goals

So, recently I've seen a lot of  'I wore my old x costume to this y con because I didn't get z finished in time...'

I'm not sure what it is, but I'm seeing it more and more amongst the cosplayers/costumers I follow. Perhaps as the hobby increases in popularity we are feeling the need to go the extra length to have that costume that stands out in the crowd at a con? Or perhaps I'm looking at it wrong. Could it be as awareness increases we feel more confident in branching out into the extremes in the costuming world?

Anyways, whatever it is, I feel like the community as a whole is taking more and more on when it comes to the workload side of things. Maybe I'm wrong, and maybe it's just me. But it does raise an interesting topic - time management.

Ohhh! So you just remembered that con that's coming up in 3 months time. Time to make a new costume! Well, it's so easy to pick your favourite character from your favourite movie, or the video game you are currently playing. I feel that with a few small details taken into consideration when choosing your costume, it can reduce the stress and perhaps avoid that last minute rush we all find ourselves in from time to time.

First things first, is this costume within your current skill range? I ask this for a simple reason. Learning new techniques, as well as trial and error when trying to replicate something you are unsure of, can eat up your time faster than you realise. I've found this to be the case for myself a time or two. Yeah I watched a tonne of YouTube tutorials, and yeah I got the exact materials I was told to use. But the knowledge doesn't always give the guarantee that hands on experience can assure. So, if venturing out of your comfort zone, sometimes it pays to give yourself a little extra time.

Secondly, the order time of products you will require. More often than not, resources are sourced online these days. Don't forget to allow for postage times, as well as construction time. Things like wigs and contact lenses are the first things I usually order, especially when sourcing them from overseas. I do this for more than one reason actually. Ordering products online may be convenient, but sometimes deceiving. If a wig or lenses turn up and I'm not happy with the colours or styles, I still have time to get something else.

Painting... Ahhhhh, painting *shakes head at own foolishness*
Why would painting be on my little list? Well, to broaden this, not just painting, but finishes or coatings of any type, especially when it comes to armour. When I construct something of foam (i'll use foam for an example) there is generally multiple layers of paint and finishes applied. Multiple layers means multiple sessions of waiting for paint to dry before being able to apply the next coat. It's very easy to overlook such a simple fact. But a few extra days and allowing paint or finishes to properly cure/set/dry between coats can make all the difference to your costumes and props. Believe me, I know!

So, three simple things that can be easily overlooked. And I know there could be quite a lot of you that read this and think 'pfft, who doesn't take that into consideration?'. Well, I was new at this not too long ago, and I learnt a lot of these lessons the hard way. We all have a beginning, for some they grasp it easier than others. But if I've enlightened and helped just one person, then my job is done. :)

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

My motivation to cosplay

So, I've been cosplaying for little over a year now. What got me into it you ask? An extreme obsession with a particular video game. Borderlands to be exact. Going through a rough time in my life, this game was my saviour of sanity! Then... THEN! ... I heard there was to be a second game. Yay! More Borderlands awesomeness to waste my life away on. I followed the Gearbox Forums quite closely, and when the game finally came out, I made a tonne of new online friends who shared in my obsession with the game.

It all started out with comments like 'which character would you most want to be?', or 'If you could have one of their skills...' And so forth. Every now and then, a new Borderlands cosplayer would post a picture of their new costume on the Forums, and my buddies and I would all discuss it. I couldn't help but think about how much fun it look like, and how cool it would be to actually dress up and be that character even just for a little while.

I felt kind of silly at first, when I first admitted I wanted to cosplay Maya the Siren from the second game. But I received so much encouragement from fellow forum members and online gaming friends alike, I began feeling a little overwhelmed. And then I decided. Yes, I was definitely going to do this!

At first I wasn't sure what to do, or how to begin. I am by no means a seamstress! But my passion for the game and the character drove me to want to make this costume the absolute best I could achieve. 

Many, many months were spent researching, watching tutorials, speaking to and receiving advice from fellow cosplayers (many of which I now call dear friends). There were definitely times of despair, when something didnt turn out the way I wanted it, and certainly times when I thought I had bitten off more than I could chew.

But I preservered! And I was so happy with my end result. Almost 12 months of a constant learning journey of experimentations and many late nights. It was all worth it for me in the end.

Did I learn new things? Absolutely! Would I do things differently next time round? Most likely! Did I have a heap of fun wearing the costume for the first time? Hell yes!

Anyway, my motivation.... That's simple.

My motivation, the thing that drives me the most when constructing a costume? 

An obsession!  A passion and admiration for the character I am trying to portray. That's what it is for me. Bringing a part of the fictional world that i had spent so much time with, to life. Not to mention the encouragement, excitement and support I received from my friends was also extremely uplifting.

My first real costume was definetly a wonderfully positive experience for me, and was also the beginning of a new obsession for me. Cosplaying!

Now my drive extends beyond the love of these fictional characters, in an effort to expand and push my skills to the limit. Since beginning my cosplay journey I've attempted things I've never dreamt were possible. Im attempting characters I never thought I would be able to bring to life. I've learnt now that anything is possible, and where there's a will, there's a way.

And, I'm loving every minute of it :)