Purchasing Cosplay Shoes

Thursday, 28 July 2011, 8:00 | Author: Janet
Category : Learn about Cosplay

When building a costume, it is easy to forget about your shoes until weeks before the convention.  Even with sufficient planning, shoes provide unique challenges given their shape, texture, coloring, and purpose.  If you decide to purchase shoes from a thrift store, you’ll be lucky to find a decent pair after hours of shopping and it will never fully compliment your costume.  If you decide to build your own shoes, you could spend hours designing a pattern, shopping for materials, and constructing your shoes.

Nevertheless, shoes are an integral part of any costume.  They should not only provide relief and comfort during four days of intense walking, but they should also enhance the overall look of your costume.  But with so many details on which to focus, you might be wondering how you might complete your costume on time.

The answer is simple—purchase your shoes from a specialized dealer and focus on the remainder of your costume!  I recently discovered a China-based company, Cosplay Boots, which offers hundreds of shoes to compliment a wide-range of anime and video game costumes.  Although I can’t yet vouch for their reliability, I hope to purchase many shoes from them in the future.  Assuming the shoes are as high quality as they appear, they could save me hours of work for a moderate price!

In the comments below, tell us where do you shop for cosplay shoes?  Do you find it easier to buy your shoes or make them at home?

The Making of Harry Potter Robes

Thursday, 21 July 2011, 8:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Peek At Our Projects

I’ve never before had time to make the Hogwarts school uniform, but with the story coming to a close and a midnight premiere to attend, I managed to find the proper motivation.  Enamored by the main characters, I decided to make the Gryffindor House robes.  (A decision which sparked great debate since, according to Janet, I should be placed into the Hufflepuff House; however, some people should consider that Houses might also symbolize what you wish to become.)

There are two styles of robes to choose between: Years 1-3 or Years 4-7.  Harry Potter Wiki provides an extensive history on the various styles worn at Hogwarts from 1938 to 1998.  Your choice of robe affects the thickness of the stripes on your tie, the placement of stripes on the cardigan, the size of your house emblem, and whether your robe has colored lining.  Also, note the differences between the male and female uniform requirements as this isn’t always clear beneath the robes.

Only once I started patterning did I realize that there was one major challenge to making this robe–there were no visible seams.  I really did think I was crazy to come to this conclusion, but I watched Order of the Phoenix all the way through and I also found confirmation from Darth Eagle’s Tutorial.  If you haven’t made robes before you might not understand the depth of this problem.  Usually there is a seam that runs along the base of the neck which connects the hood to the body of the robes.  But they don’t have this seam, which means that the front facing extends into the depths of the hood.  Also, there is typically a seam that runs vertically down the center of the hood, they don’t have this seam either, which implies the seam is located on the underside of the hood.  Faithfully following these rules, I attempted to make an “authentic” movie version of these robes.

After two weeks of work, I manged to finish the robe (two hours before midnight), but I still don’t understand how the movie costume techs built a seamless robe.  It is a puzzle that begs to be solved and I’m hoping to revisit the problem once I’ve taken a substantial break.  If you have any insights on this matter, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Making Realistic Scars

Thursday, 14 July 2011, 8:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

This post is for anyone who wishes to cosplay one of those “tough” or “dangerous” characters – who make it a habit to pick a fight and leave with battle scars. Realistic-looking scars can authenticate any cosplay. Granted, they do not draw the crowds as much as someone plastered in fake blood; these scars are intended to be much more subtle. The theatrical community often relies upon “scarring liquid” to create realistic looking scars (also known as rigid collodion).

If you’re interested in making open wounds, we recommend you watch this video tutorial on how to use Dragon Skin.

It is important for you to wash your face before applying any type of makeup. Collodion can be applied directly onto the skin for best results, but we recommend applying neutral foundation and/or scar-coloring before applying collodion. If you use creme makeup underneath the scar, it will provide subtle hues and give the appearance of depth. (Scars are typically shades of red, brown, and yellow.) When you are ready to administer the rigid collodion, apply the liquid in the same size and shape as the scar you wish to create. As the liquid dries, it will pull and wrinkle your skin, creating a hard, glossy, and puckered appearance. This process will take only a few minutes. For a more dramatic effect, continue to apply the collodion in layers, allowing each layer to dry completely. Also try dusting with skin-colored character powder between layers to create a fleshy appearance.

Collodion can be peeled off the skin; however, if you prefer, Bond Off! or acetone will easily remove it. (Note: If you leave the collodion on your skin overnight, you may have an indentation that will fade within a few days.)

Remember to dab a small amount on the inside of your arm to test for allergies. May cause redness, drying, or irritation. Do not apply near the eyes.

Combining Two Wigs Into One

Thursday, 7 July 2011, 8:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

All wigs have a netted or elastic foundation onto which wefts (or strips) of hair are sewn.  It is quite easy – though tedious – to remove these rows of hair and transfer them onto another wig, effectively doubling the thickness of your original wig.  Although this technique of wefting makes ponytails look horrendously patchy,  having the additional hair may allow you to style your hair more easily.

What You Will Need: 

  • Wig Comb
  • Scissors
  • Hair Clips
  • Seam Ripper
  • Thread and Needle
For your benefit, I have flipped my wig inside out so that you can see how the wig’s foundation is constructed.
On closer inspection, you can see the vertical elastic bands onto which the wefts are attached.
To set up your workspace, pin both of your wigs (right-side-out) onto separate styrofoam mannequin heads and then situate your mannequin heads on their own wig stand. You may want to mark which wig is the “original” and which is the “duplicate”.
Starting with the duplicate wig, be sure to clip all excess hair on top of the wig so you can see what you’re doing.
Now you can begin methodically removing the rows of hair using a seam ripper.
This picture shows what the weft will look like once it is removed.
Although it seemed as though most of the wefts were the same length, you may want to keep track of the order in which the hair was removed.
Whenever you are comfortable, move over to the original wig and begin hand-sewing the removed wefts in-between the built-in wefts. I tended to use a combination of the backstitch and the whip stitch. Continue this process until you are satisfied with the thickness of your original wig.
You certainly don’t have to use all of the hair from your duplicate wig, but you should at least hold onto any excess just in case. Here is how my duplicate wig looked once I was finished.

Cosplay Complex

Thursday, 30 June 2011, 8:00 | Author: Janet
Category : Learn about Cosplay

About two weeks before FanimeCon, my roommate purchased an anime OVA from a garage sale that he thought would be of particular interest to me.  Cosplay Complex is an anime show about several high school students who promote cosplay through their extracurricular club.  They participate in local cosplay competitions with the ultimate goal of competing in the World Series.  “What a brilliant idea!” I thought to myself.  With such a huge cosplay fan base in America and Japan, why wouldn’t you create an anime show about cosplay?  And why would someone give it away??  That should have been my first hint that this show would inflict nothing but misery upon its viewers.

Although the show is founded on an interesting idea–the competitive and dramatic lives of cosplayers–it provided a poor representation of real cosplay drama.  With a story built around gratuitous “panty” shots and obscure characters, such as a two-foot bunny fairy with no apparent back story, it was literally impossible to take this show seriously.  When they added a young man who constantly surveys and “protects” the girls’ changing room and a  lesbian girl who chases after a shy and reluctant freshman student, this story even borders on creepy.

Although these traits, in and of themselves, do not constitute a bad show, the absence of any back story, action, humor, or character development proclaims this show a shoddy production from the beginning.  In truth, Cosplay Complex is one of the worst shows I’ve ever watched to completion–and it was only three episodes long!

That being said, I wonder why is it so difficult to create a show about cosplay?  Given that cosplay is a direct result of the anime industry, you would think they could create an interesting parody show that highlights popular cosplay outfits, convention culture, and compelling stories based on true cosplay drama (cosplay rivalry, masquerade disasters, obsessed fan boys and girls, etc.).  Having watched the legendary anime convention parody, This is Otakudom, I know this feat is possible, albeit challenging.  Thus, I ask you, would it really be so difficult for a team of producers to write a show about cosplayers who love anime?  I certainly hope that, in the next few years, we might see more dramatized versions of Cosplay Complex, without the asinine and tedium.

Outdated Cosplay

Thursday, 23 June 2011, 8:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

“The wheel of time turns as anime shows come and go, leaving videos that become memory.  Memory fades to history, and even history is long forgotten when a new anime arises into popularity.”  (parody of Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time,” by James Oliver Rigby Jr.)

*  *  *  *  *

Anime, as a genre, is rapidly expanding and improving.  Every year, Japan broadcasts four seasons, each containing at least twelve anime shows.   We hardly realize that these shows are coming at us like waves in the ocean with everyone looking to catch the next wave of popular anime.  And when it hits, those who are paying attention will fly with it for as long as they can, savoring every second until they drift back into limbo.  Having witnessed the Inuyasha, Naruto, Bleach, and Soul Eater waves, I can understand how newly popular anime can create prevalent trends within the cosplay community.

What is harder to understand is why there is a subset of cosplayers who chose to go “old school” and cosplay popular (though now outdated) shows from the 80’s and 90’s.  Granted, I remember when my brother introduced me to Dragon Ball Z and when Cartoon Network started broadcasting Outlaw Star and Cowboy Bebop.  I enjoyed watching these shows for a time, but as I’ve stated, newer and better shows came around.  But every year, I see remnants of these shows rippling through the cosplay community.  Are these cosplayers trying to hang onto the past – perhaps the show that got them really into anime?  Or have they just not found a new show to occupy their fandom?  Are they too lazy to make a new costume each year?  Or perhaps its because, as nerds, we refuse to follow the new “fad.”

If you decide to go this route and cosplay an obscure character, it is certainly a different experience from cosplaying along with the mass appeal.  Although you have a better chance of having a unique costume, you might barely get noticed – not that this should bother you, but you shouldn’t be surprised either.  There will be times when you will feel lucky to hear someone acknowledge your character’s name as they walk by.  If your character is recognized at all, these people will accept that your love for the show is much stronger than the average attendee and as such, you will attract the few others who share this love.  (and by attract, I am specifically referring to that one overwhelmingly excited and squealing fangirl who just can’t live without glomping you.)

To those of you who are currently up-to-date on your cosplay choices, how does it feel knowing that your costume will suffer through its own waves of popularity?  Do you love your character so much that when the show becomes “old school” you will still be excited to don the costume “one more time?”

Walking around Barefoot

Thursday, 16 June 2011, 8:00 | Author: Janet
Category : Learn about Cosplay

While wearing the Topless Sandal at FanimeCon, I felt as if my feet had become duck feet.  These sandals have limited flexibility and you often feel a constant pressure on the soles of your feet.

However, despite my initial discomfort with these sandals, they allowed me a special privilege at the con — walking around barefoot!  These sandals have a lot of potential for the cosplay community.  For starters, they have a sticky top that is relatively easy to apply, they can withstand several blocks of walking, and they can be cleaned with soap and water and reused the next day.  Plus, the Con-Ops never complained about (or didn’t notice) my lack of covered footwear.

My only suggestion is to be especially careful when removing the sandals.  I damaged the sticky layer of glue when I pulled them off after a long day.  Online sources advise slowing peeling the sandal from the sides (rather than the top) to reduce damage to the glue.  Then, you can wash them with soap and water, using your fingers to remove any dirt and grime, and allow them to air dry completely.  These sandals should be able to withstand a full convention weekend.

To purchase these sandals in a specific color, visit the manufacturer’s website.  If they don’t have your size available, you can browse Ebay for a wide range of sizes with completely random colors.  I also recommend purchasing one shoe size smaller than you would typically wear.  For example, I usually wear 8.5, but I decided to purchase the 6.5-8.  This will minimize the amount of sandal showing and provide you with a more authentic barefoot cosplay.

FanimeCon 2011

Thursday, 9 June 2011, 8:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Convention Reports

Several conventions, including FanimeCon, have dubbed this convention season “The Summer of Steampunk”.  Perhaps FanimeCon felt guilty about last year’s canceled steampunk panel or perhaps they wanted to attract new con attendees.  Either way, I can certainly understand the artistic interest in such a decision.  But I would like to point out that the Steampunk fandom does have their own venues at which they can be more appropriately represented.  (Coincidently, KublaCon, a boardgame convention that coincided with Memorial Day Weekend, also chose a steampunk theme this year.)  That being said, we would like to congratulate FanimeCon for fully embracing their decision to go steampunk and offering six steampunk-themed panels:  Undressing Sherlock;  Steampunk Costuming: How-to;  Steampunk Props Demo, Show and Q&A;  Steampunk in Anime;  Steampunk Fashion Show and Costume Contest;   Meet and Greet the Steam Federation.

For the first time ever, FanimeCon also hosted Cosplay Gathering Room which was essentially a cosplay hangout.  Not only did they provide tables and chairs for lounging, they also had various repair stations to meet many of your cosplay needs.  I was disappointed to see a lack of wig-repair items.  If you’ve ever worn a long wig, you will know just how often you will need to brush it and how little things like bobbypins can save a costume.  When we visited, they seemed to have low attendance, probably due to the fact that this was their first appearance at Fanime and because they were situated in the Hilton hotel.  However, the concept is good and if they improve upon their marketing (possibly calling it a Cosplay Hangout Room), I have no doubt it could become incredibly popular with the cosplay community.

Also of note, one of the most popular anime shows this year – “Magical Girl Madoka Magica” – coincided with Ludovico’s anime recommendations!  Not only was it a favorite of FanimeCon staff (the marathon room had two full viewings during the weekend), but also by con attendees.  Artist Alley offered new fan art based on the series and many cosplayers chose to wear the gray school uniforms of the main characters.  Another unexpected cosplay choice was the demons with the orange horns going around the convention center.  For those of us out of the loop, this was an homage to the obscure webcomic, MS Paint Adventures – Homestuck.

Otaku House Cosplay Idol

Tuesday, 7 June 2011, 8:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

Otaku House is a retail chain located in Singapore.  They specialize in “Japanese toys, anime collectibles, cosplay products and other nonsensical gifts.”  For all of you cosplayers out there, they have a small selection of cosplay wigs and accessories.  We expect that they will offer more cosplay products as their popularity increases.

* * * * *

For years the internet has welcomed websites that promote cosplayers and their costumes – essentially giving kudos to their craftsmanship skills.  However, we were pleasantly surprised when Otaku House quickly joined the ranks of Cosplay.com and American Cosplay Paradise through their worldwide competition, Cosplay Idol.  This cosplay competition allows individuals to vote for their favorite costumes via a Facebook fan page and craftsmanship is only one of the judging criteria.  Given that the voting is open to the public, photographic composition, physical sexiness, and anime popularity are also highly regarded.

The Cosplay Idol contest is categorized by continent: North America, South America, Europe, and Asia.  The idol winner in each category will receive $500 of cosplay merchandise and the 1st and 2nd runners up receive $300 and $200 of cosplay merchandise.  Don’t worry, there’s still time to submit your photo and garnish enough votes to enter the finals!  The qualifying round ends on July 31, 2011 and the top 5 pictures from every photo album (approximately 200 pictures) will enter the final round of judging.  Please read the official contest rules before submitting your photo entry.

On a final note – I wanted to remind you that Amitie and Janet have submitted their pictures to the North America competition.  Be sure to vote for them and, while you’re there, take a moment to check out some of the other amazing contestants!

Does Voice Matter?

Thursday, 2 June 2011, 8:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

I’d like to ask you, “How big of a role does voice play in your cosplay performance?”  More specifically, do you roleplay and pretend to speak like your character while at a convention?  In my experience, most people who cosplay really want to portray their character accurately in photographs, but typically will break character when they are not posing in front of a camera.  Yet, these cosplayers are underestimating the performative potential of voice to better simulate their characters during convention appearances.

There are many different factors that influence a cosplayer’s final performance at conventions.  Some of these include how much charisma you have and how much inspiration you have drawn from the original source material.  Although you might be unaware of the process, there are many questions you are going to have to ask yourself.  Are you comfortable speaking in public?  Are you going to be cosplaying in a group with equally enthusiastic friends?  Does your voice closely resemble the voice of your character (i.e. are you a female crossplaying a male)?  Is your character mute (this most often occurs in first-person RPG characters) or do they have very limited catch-phrases?  Most importantly, understanding your own ability to improvise dialogue in a very unnatural atmosphere is going to help you subconsciously come to a decision.

So what can you do if you don’t want to speak “in character,” but want to add some dimension to your cosplay?  Why not carry around speakers that are playing your character’s theme music?  Unfortunately, I have yet to see someone walking around with playable recordings of their characters voices or related sound effects.  For example, take Marikawa Shizuka, the nurse from High School of the Dead.  Every time she moves her body, her butt and her breasts make a bouncing noise, which is mainly why her character is so comical.  How awesome would it be to replicate that same effect?

One of the few venues that cosplayers are encouraged to experiment with sound is the Masquerade.  I’d like to give kudos to everyone who has the courage to put themselves on stage and has put in the time and effort to bring their performance together.  Yet, why is it that the dances can be just as (if not more) popular than the dialogue-based skits?  Do cosplayers lack the proper equipment to produce authentic character voice-overs?  Are voice-overs generally less popular than musical sound tracks?  It seems these questions cannot be answered until sound moves into the convention hallways and cosplayers truly begin experimenting with it.

Finally, I would like to discuss the prospect of inviting voice actors to cosplay their favorite voice-over characters at anime conventions.  Not only could they be made to look like one of their characters, but they would have already completed the character research and mastered the personality of said character.  And they would sound exactly like their character!  I definitely believe that voice actors have the potential to become the best cosplayers we’ve ever seen.  But then again, does voice really matter?