Digitally Enhanced Anime Eyes

Thursday, 3 June 2010, 12:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

Despite all the time spent  making your costume, the appearance of your face will also reflect upon your skill as a cosplayer.  Make-up is an essential part of your costume because it can create the appearance of flawless skin and enlarged eyes.  Although many cosplayers have accepted the challenge of bringing these cartoon characters to life, we will never achieve anime perfection with makeup alone.

This is where digital manipulation becomes rather liberating.  Using Photoshop Creative Suite you can easily make your skin flawless, brighten your hair, tone-down your lips, and even change your eye color.  For the biggest impact, we would like to emphasize the technique demonstrated above by Katsura Kotonoha, in which the eyes are both highlighted and shadowed for a more dramatic effect.  We have added pictures below to demonstrate the variety of anime eyes among different television shows.  Be sure to refer back to the illustrations of your character for the best results.

FanimeCon 2010

Tuesday, 1 June 2010, 12:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Convention Reports

If I didn’t know better, I would have sworn that the San Jose Convention Center was hosting a Pikachu Convention this last weekend.   Despite the fact that Pokemon was released more than 10 years ago, the number of Pokemon costumes far exceeded the usual abundance of Naruto and Bleach cosplay.  In hindsight, this might explain why the Marriott’s fire alarm went off on Day Two.

Due the popularity of cosplay, FanimeCon vendors and merchants are beginning to accommodate the cosplay community.  The number of lolita/cosplay/animal accessory booths have increased significantly during the past three years and it is now possible to find contact lenses, make-up, and wig suppliers for last-minute cosplay purchases.  I was also able to locate a newly released photography book in the Artist Alley titled “Cosplay In America.”

There was also a great line-up of cosplay panels ranging from costume design (A Cosplay Just For You; Lolita Fashion Show and Panel; Steampunk Costuming), cosplay photography (Basic Cosplay Photography; Flashing Strangers), plastic manipulation (Body Casting 101; Resin and Plastic Molding), and cosplay publications (Otaku Sanctuary Magazine).  Amitie, Janet, and I also presented two cosplay panels (Costume Maintenance; Crossplay and Other Physical Modifications).

FanimeCon was also selected to host the United States preliminary auditions for the World Cosplay Summit, an international cosplay competition held annually in Japan.  Each team must perform a three-minute cosplay skit with only two characters from the same series (For complete details, visit the Fanime WCS page.)  This year, FanimeCon provided a small, secluded room for the ten contestants to perform a skit and discuss costume construction with the judges.  After several hours of judging, Kathryn Griffin and Krystal Stoner (Fushigi Yuugi) were chosen to represent the United States Team in Nagoya, Japan!

All of these great events coupled with the return of the Black and White Ball, Music Concert, Fanimaid Cafe, AMV Contest, and Masquerade provided more than enough activities to keep everyone busy this year.

Crossplay and Other Physical Modifications

Tuesday, 1 June 2010, 8:00 | Author: Janet
Category : Learn about Cosplay

Click here to download the presentation

Due to the high demand of this panel, we have decided to post the power point slides to our website.  Please do not reproduce or redistribute this panel without our consent.

FanimeCon 2010 Panels

Thursday, 27 May 2010, 8:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Announcements

Kricket Costumes will be presenting two panels at FanimeCon 2010:

Costume Maintenance
Saturday, May 29th, at 10:00 am
Marriott Salon 1:2

Join us as we discuss how to extend the life of your costume, from the building stages to convention travel to packing and storing your costumes. We will share common mistakes and best practices, drawing from our personal experiences.

Crossplay and Other Physical Modifications
Sunday, May 30th, at 7:00pm
Marriott Salon 4:6

You have not experienced cosplay until you have CROSSplayed. Learn the secrets for dressing as the opposite sex and causing confusion among the general public. KricketCostumes will discuss crossplay techniques and more advanced forms of physical modification. This panel includes mature content.

Thanks for your continual support and we look forward to seeing you there!

The Price We Pay

Tuesday, 25 May 2010, 12:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

If you attend anime conventions for leisure, it can easily become an expensive hobby.   Consider for a moment the cost of each anime convention, including parking, admission, food, hotel room, dealer’s room, and even the materials for your costume.  But instead of letting these expenses spoil your weekend, you should consider different methods for saving money (e.g buying cheap food, parking on the street, and purchasing costume materials at the Goodwill).

There is one cost, in particular, that everyone acknowledges as a waste of money: the hotel room.  When I attend conventions, I purchase hotel rooms that are connected directly to the convention center because it enables me to stay up late, be at the heart of the activity, relax intermittently, and drop things off at my room.  The problem is that only large corporate hotels link with convention centers and hotel prices can range from $90 – $200 per night. My friends and I often share the hotel room to reduce our overall expenses.  I also expect the highest quality of service from the hotel staff.

Last year at FanimeCon, my friends and I decided to take advantage of the valet service for the first time.  Since Janet arrived at the convention before the rest of us, she left her luggage in the care of the valet before parking her car five blocks away in a free parking garage.  When she returned to the hotel room, her luggage was on the bed and she had no reason to suspect that anything was wrong.  It took us a few hours to realize the valet had misplaced two pieces of her cosplay outfit.  It took the hotel staff an additional 24 hours to locate the items in one of their service rooms.  The most frustrating part was that we didn’t even receive compensation for their mistake.  When you consider that hotel rooms cost in excess of $300, the hotel staff should haven taken better care of our priceless personal belongings and provided us with a relaxing and carefree weekend.

Quality Pictures Without a Camera

Thursday, 20 May 2010, 12:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

As a cosplayer, I make it a priority to schedule an official “photo shoot” during each convention; this usually results in me wandering around the convention center and the surrounding streets as I search for a location.  Ideally, your photo shoots would be scheduled during the first day of the convention, when your costume is at its best, and taken with your own camera.  It’s also easier to capture the “perfect” pose in the “perfect” lighting when you bring along a group of artistically-inclined friends.  Even though I want my costume to be seen and acknowledged, I would say that first and foremost, I make my costumes for my own pleasure.  The photographs I take of my costume are the only lasting testament to months of preparation and they provide an artistic outlet when I’m struggling with after-con depression.

The camera that we use is a Nikon D60 digital camera, which takes large, high-quality photographs.  It is a D-SLR model, with an 18-55 mm lens, pop-up flash, and 10 megapixels.  I would recommend this camera for anyone with the money to buy it. However, I realize that many people have a limited budget for cosplay and anime conventions, so I would like to share with you some other possible photo opportunities if you are unable to afford a professional-grade camera.

Before Amitie and I purchased our camera, we would spend hours searching the internet for cosplay pictures taken by amateur photographers after each convention.  Even though the pictures were taken in bad lighting with poor composition, we were excited if we could find even one picture.  And yet, the convention scene has changed significantly over the years.  Nowadays, there are a dozens of professional photographers wielding expensive cameras and searching for cosplayers that will let them take their picture.  Although you will have to wait a short while to retrieve the photos, these photographers will generally share their pictures free of charge.  This is a service not to be taken lightly and we insist that you follow specific etiquette rules when you are asked to pose in front of an expensive camera:

  • For the most interesting pictures, be sure to practice your poses ahead of time.  Some photographers will not wait for you to master the “perfect pose”.
  • When someone takes your picture using a professional camera, ask them if they have a business card and if they will be posting their photos online.
  • Check out the websites of professional photographers who normally make the rounds at the major cons (e.g. Eurobeat King and Conpix.)

If you feel uncomfortable asking a photographer for their card, you can always look around the dealer’s room for a photo-station with a green screen.  These stations are generally equipped with light diffusers and computers that allow you to select your own background using stock images.  The downside is that not every convention will have such a booth and if they do, their service is going to cost you some money.

Behind Schedule?

Tuesday, 18 May 2010, 10:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

I never seem to get any sleep the night before a convention and it’s not because I am nervous with anticipation.  Typically, I’m trying to finish some minute detail such as altering a glove or painting props.  About two years ago, I promised myself that I would never bring my sewing machine to a convention and since then I haven’t.  Unfortunately, my friends usually do (and they bring their last-minute projects with them.)

In an effort to make their costumes “perfect,” many cosplayers spend the first day of the convention in their hotel rooms, hovering over their costumes rather than wearing them.  I strongly urge cosplayers to avoid this situation at all costs – the con really does feel shorter when you spend half of the weekend sitting at your sewing machine.  The solution lies in setting a deadline and holding yourself accountable to it, whether your deadline is the last Sunday before the convention or midnight of Day Zero.

When you cosplay, you must remember that your first priority is to attend the convention for which you paid; there will always be more conventions and opportunities to display your finished costume.

Changing the Color of Your Wig

Thursday, 13 May 2010, 12:00 | Author: Janet
Category : Learn about Cosplay

When it comes to dying your wig, there are several options from which you can choose.  In the past, we have experimented with colored sharpies, cheap hairspray, and acrylic paints.  Although each method has its own adverse side effects (such as staining your costume or making your wig impossible to comb), we have learned how to create long-lasting color that retains the comfort and texture of your wig.

The easiest way to replicate your character’s exact hair color is to start with a white wig.  Whether you purchase a synthetic dye or create your own, you will have better results with a white wig, as opposed to a wig already saturated with pigmentation.

We have found a wig dying tutorial by Honey Bunny that teaches you how to make your own dyes at home.  In a small spray bottle, mix 1 cup of 70% rubbing alcohol with about 15 drops of Dick Blick acrylic paint.  The Dick Blick website offers a wide selection of colors from which to choose.  If you buy two bottles of dye, you can mix and match for the perfect color!  During the dying process, you will saturate your wig with a mixture of alcohol and liquid dye, let the color set for 8 hours, rinse it in cold running water, leave it out to dry, and repeat as necessary.

There are a few important things to remember when you’re using this tutorial.  You can add more dye to the alcohol mixture to create more vibrant colors, but you should test each solution on an inconspicuous area of the wig or use some hair clippings.  You will notice that the final color of your wig differs slightly from the color your see in the bottle.

Not all wigs have to be white in order for you to change their color.  Katie Bair sells pre-mixed (albeit expensive) wig dyes that have been created specifically for cosplay wigs.  You can refer to her Virtual Mixing Chart to see how her dyes will affect the color of your wig.

Don’t forget to wash/rinse your wigs completely before wearing them.  This will remove the loose pigments from your wig and prevent dye transference to other surfaces. When Amitie created her wig for Death the Kid, she decided to use large black sharpies in order to have maximum control when drawing three white stripes on her (soon-to-be) black wig.  Although we believed she could use black sharpies as a substitute for more professional dying methods, the black ink spread to her white shirt and permanently stained it!  You will often find that cheap and fast methods seldom work – since they are not products intended for wig dying.  Purchasing the right product is the first step in caring for your wig and creating a stunning costume.

Purchasing Quality Wigs

Tuesday, 11 May 2010, 12:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

Although wigs can be made from human hair, synthetic fiber wigs are the most common and the least expensive. You can expect to purchase a wig for about forty dollars; however, price is not always a good indicator of quality. Rather, we wish to teach you how to recognize a quality wig based upon a written description and visual clues.

Check the Scalp

The best wigs have a built-in latex scalp, which creates an illusion of natural skin. These types of wigs will generally allow you to adjust the part-line an inch to either side.

Assess the Volume

Carefully examine all angles of the wig before purchasing. Although, many online shops take front and back views of their wigs, many shops will pull the entire length of the hair either forward or backward to create the illusion of a thicker wig. Side shots will give you the best perspective on the hair’s volume.

Consider your Hair Style

For complicated styles where the hair needs to be pulled in a specific direction (ponytail, braid, pigtails, or spikes) you will need to look for a thick wig. Keep in mind that if you try to style a straight haired wig into an up-do, this may leave empty patches and loose tufts of hair at the back of the wig, taking away from the appearance of your costume.

Modifying your Wig

When purchasing wigs, try to select one that is already colored and styled to resemble your character. This will simplify your life. That is not to say that modifications can’t be made, but rather you will end up spending a much longer time preparing your wig if it does not already resemble your character’s hair. If you purchase a wig that is not quite the right color or just a little too wavy, that’s fine, as long as you purchase the right tools for modifying synthetic fibers.

Where to Shop

When you begin your online wig search, you will save a lot of time by visiting our recommended sellers: CosplayWigs, Cosworx, and Amphigory.  We have purchased wigs from these stores before and they meet our high-quality standards.

Return Policies

Remember, wigs cannot be returned once you buy them – It is a health regulation. If you are hesitant to purchase a wig, ask the seller a question or request additional pictures. You are the customer, so don’t be afraid to get as much information as possible before you invest in a wig.

Getting Started: Wig Supplies

Thursday, 6 May 2010, 12:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

If you are preparing to style your cosplay wig, we recommend purchasing some important tools before you get started. While many of these tools can be purchased from local beauty stores and wig shops, the simplest method is ordering all of your supplies online  from our favorite cosplay wig specialist: Petting Zoo Wigs.  Below, we have listed several products that can assist you in the styling and caring of your wigs.

Mannequin Head

The most accessible way to store a wig is to place it on a styrofoam mannequin head. Each mannequin head has a large hole in the neck, allowing you to secure it safely on a wig stand. While these tools allow you to display, store, and maintain your wig, we do not recommend leaving your wig on a mannequin head when styling it.  Due to the fact that a mannequin head is much smaller than a human head, our wigs often become short and disproportionate.  You might want to ask  a friend to model your wig on their head, while you cut it to the appropriate length.

Wig Stand

Wig stands stabilize your mannequin head by clamping onto the edge of a table. You can rest assured that your mannequin head will not fall over due to the uneven weight of your wig.

Quilting Pins

If you are worried about your wig falling off of the mannequin head or you just want to secure your wig, you can place quilting pins through the wig and into the mannequin head. Since quilting pins are made with a large colored ball on the tip, they will be easier to find when you wish to remove them.

Wig Caps

Nylon wig caps serve two purposes: To conceal your natural hair and to provide an anchor point for your wig. Obviously, the shorter your natural hair, the easier it will be to put on a wig cap. If you have longer hair, there is a technique for coiling hair on top of your head prior to wearing the wig cap.

Bobby Pins

Bobby pins hold everything in place; they are useful for controlling your hair before you wear a wig cap and securing the wig cap to your head. A proper hair pinning will ensure that the wig stays on your head throughout the day and feels more natural.  If your wig shifts around when you wear it, you should double check the placement of your bobby pins.

Mebco Pocket Brush

As you wear your wig, the fibers will slowly become disarrayed and tangled. A pocket brush is the best tool for removing these knots. Unlike natural hair, you should start brushing your wig near the base of the scalp (rather than working your way up from the bottom); this will remove less fibers in the long run.

Hair Thinner/Scissors

Although you could trim your wig using the scissors you have around the house, a hair thinner will make the cut edge of your wig appear softer. This item is available online at Texas Beauty Supplies.

Lint Roller

When cutting your wig, you should prepare yourself with a lint roller.  Otherwise, your clothes and floor will become covered with synthetic fibers.

Caulk or Styling Gel

The most popular method used to emulate extreme hairstyles is the use of Clear Caulk –  a type of waterproof bathroom glue. As an example, you can create pointed tufts of hair by placing small portions of glue at the base and pointed ends of each hair tuft.  The glue will dry within one day and dramatically stiffen your hair.  Despite the effectiveness of caulk, we encourage cosplayers to useless permanent methods of wig styling.  Once your wig is glued into a specific design, the fibers will begin to frizz and tangle within a few days of heavy use. To extend the life of your wig, we recommend washing and combing your wig at the end of each convention – this will require you to use water-soluble products such as Schwarzkopf Got2b Spiked-Up.