Monday, 31 March 2014

Countdown to Con day

So, there's one week left until your next convention. You've organised your costumes, accommodation, tickets, all the important stuff. You've spent three months procrastination about working out and getting fit and looking your best for this con, but just haven't gotten to doing it. With one week left, there's nothing you can possibly do now that would change things right?


Now, I'm not saying we all need to go out and work our butts off and that we have to always look our absolute best for conventions. Not at all. But we all like to feel our best. And when we do feel good about ourselves and gain that extra bit of self confidence, it absolutely shines through when taking your costume out to display to the world.

So, here's a few tips and things that I try and adhere to the final week before a convention. 

1. Water is your friend! Staying hydrated is really important, not only for your health, but your appearance will have subtle differences too. Firstly, keeping well hydrated the week before the convention will help minimise the effects of dehydration on the actual event day. Lets face it, most of us have had experiences of not getting enough fluids whilst getting hassled for photos, or not being bothered with the half hour long lines because there is plenty more exciting things you could be doing.

So, out of all my tips, I feel like this one is probably the most important.

2. So you've got some wicked contact lenses for your costume, that's awesome! Want to avoid having horridly red and bloodshot eyes on the day? Well, try putting the lenses in for an hour or two each day leading up to con day. Most lens companies will recommend this and it will be stated in the instructions. But it's a small detail that can quite often be overlooked. Also, when you become accustomed to wearing them, your eyes won't be as watery. At least, this is the case for me anyway. It also helps to invest in a small vile of 'dry eye' drops. This stuff is a godsend when your eyes become itchy and dry after wearing lenses for a period of time.

3. Get organised! Keeping organised will help with the stress levels. Stop procrastinating on this one and just do it! Simple things like writing a list to help you remember what to pack, or even packing your 'regular' clothes the weekend before so you concentrate on last minute preparations for your costumes. It all helps. Stress can certainly reduce the 'fun' factor at convention time, and nobody wants that. Even when you feel like you have a million things to get done in next to no time, just writing a list and getting an idea of exactly what needs to be done can help you prioritise also.

4. Skincare. Yeah, you only have a week to go, but even now a good skin care regime can prevent last minute break outs, those dark circles from being tired and so on. Once again, staying hydrated will also help keep your skin looking it's best.

5. Last but not least, sleep! Yes, I know sometimes we will inevitably be up all hours of the night trying to finish that costume we promised. But a regular sleeping pattern will also help with all of the things I've mentioned above. Getting enough sleep is almost as important as staying hydrated (some may argue that one). Being well rested when con day rolls around will really make all the difference in the overall experience of it.

Anyway, I'm sure you guys knew all this already. But sometimes the simplest things are easy to overlook. So even if you didn't work out like you roomies yourself you would, yo will definitely notice the difference in how you feel by following these few steps.

Until next time friends!

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Skyrim Nightingale

The minute I started playing this game, I fell in love with the outfits! Whilst there is many different designs on my to-do list, the Nightingale was the first

I chose this one for a few reasons. The Theives Guild missions were one of the first I tackled, so I felt most familiar with the 'nightingale' characters. And also, a friend just happened to have a foam template for the armor design. If you want to check out his many files, you can find them here. So, after he sent me the files, I started work on this almost instantly.

I only needed to make a few small adjustments to the scale of the template (always remember to check this. It's easy to get excited and hit that print button as soon as you download a pep file. Much disappointment will be had once you reach the end only to find the template was scaled to fit someone 6 foot tall when you're only 5'3) so, I printed out my template, taped it all together, and began the cutting out process. 

Now, there's no right or wrong way to do this part. Some people like to lay the paper template over the foam, cut both layers with a Stanley or carton knife. Some people prefer to cut out the paper template first, lay it onto the foam (as I did) and trace it. I prefer the latter as I feel like I get my pieces cut out more neatly than I do with a Stanley knife. Plus, for this design, I was only using thin sheets of craft foam, which was no chore for a decent pair of scissors.

The next part required my trusting old hot glue gun. It's also important to have you template file viewable on your PC so you can refer back to the 3D model to make sure you get all the pieces assembled correctly.

Now, some people may be more organised than I, or have a bigger better workspace where the space allows them to cut out the whole template. But I worked in sections. I also have two small children. So working in segments helped me keep it all organised. 

For example, I cut and glued all the pieces for the upper part of the chest amor before cutting out any further pieces.

Progress went quite quickly once I reached this stage (as far as assembly goes) I had the upper body completed withing a couple of days.

But I got to this stage and began getting bored with the cutting, glueing, cutting, glueing and cutting and more glueing.

So I decided to start adding details to the foam. I used hot glue to draw on the raised design. I think this was the fastest method out of the couple that I tried. It also dried the fastest, and I was able to move onto the next step of prepping for the paint job in a matter of minutes.

So I used liquad latex to prep the foam. I guess any plastic type product would work, but I fell like this armor needed to remain flexible, due to it's close fitting nature and my desire to wear it and not walk around like I've got a pole up my butt. The liquad latex worked well in filling any small gaps and discrepancies with the hot glue. I applied it with a spray bottle, and spread it with a foam brush and regular paint brushes.

Aso important to remember, this stuff will drip everywhere!! And keep an eye out for runs where the product is over applied. After the initial coating I let it dry for a good 24 hours. I made a few touch ups in spots, and let it dry again. 

I used regular acrylics to paint it. Some people like to coat latex with prosaide first, but seeing as I didn't have any left, and was on a bit of a deadline to get this costume finished (I wanted to wear it to a con, and I have to order my prosaide online) I went ahead and began painting it. Who knows, maybe it will come back and bite me in the bum for skipping this step. But I will let you know how the Costume fairs :)

I wanted to go with a slightly different colour scheme.

So I started out with a base of orangey-copper.

Followed by painting in the spaces with black

I didnt paint over the ridges in the armor at this stage. But rather, I went back and went over them later with a washed down black paint, and used the old apply, semi dry, wipe off technique I'm so fond of.

So, with the top half completed, I was left with this

Stay tuned for details on how I completed the bottom half! 


Monday, 17 March 2014

Why I think "likes" ARE important

Cosplaying and social media pretty well go hand in hand these days. And more often than not we hear the same old line 'you shouldn't count your likes so closely'. 

Well, perhaps not counting them. But I feel like too many people write them off as 'un-important'. 

The first thing to remember as a cosplayer though, is that everyone has different tastes when it comes to costumes. We can't force anyone to like our work, despite how great you or others may think it is. And if you are putting yourself out there on the interwebs, you're inviting the world to critique your work. There will be times when people will be much faster to point out the mistakes and discrepancies in costumes than say "hey! Neat job! I love love the accuracy in the details"

That's just people. Sad and unfortunate, but you need to grow a thick skin and prepare yourself for instances like these. Because they are inevitable in the costuming industry.

But, I wanted to talk about "likes".

It's so easy to let the disappointment seep in when you post a picture (or anything for that matter) and check back to find no one has liked it. Then starts the whole cycle in your mind of "why should I bother? no one likes my work". Well, firstly, a costume should be made for you! Not for everyone else. It is definitely a bonus when others are in awe of and appreciate all your hard work. For me, a costume is a recreation of a character or something of the like that I have a connection with and love for. In saying that, motivation to finish said costume is much easier to find when there is more than one party interested in seeing it to completion.

So, when you check back to find x amount of people have liked your picture, even posted a nice comment or two, it's a huge mood lifter. Well, i know it is for me anyway! 

You see, I think likes are important because for me, it's a huge motivator. People show interest in my projects and it gives me the motivation to keep at them.

Many cosplayers will tell you they have experienced the motivation slumps when it comes to various projects. People showing their support and offering encouragement has often helped me break out of these moods.

It's not hard to hit the 'like' button when you think someone is doing a good job at something. And seriously, this small act can have a bigger effect than you (the audience) may realise. A small show of support can be more encouraging and more uplifting and motivating than you imagine. 

Now, I'm not saying we need to like every single pice of work we happen across. But I think we need to dismiss the idea of 'likes aren't important'. They hold more value than we give them credit for. 

I know a lot of people may disagree with this, and continue on the path of "don't count the likes" but this is just my opinion :) and as a cosplayer, I appreciate every single person that encourages me in my work