Getting Started: Cosmetic Makeup

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

As you are packing up your bags and planning your upcoming cosplay appearance, you should take a moment to make sure you’re bringing the right makeup supplies – many of which fall into the category of cosmetic makeup.  Although you will probably bring your favorite name brand foundation and powder and perhaps whatever eyeliner you have lying around, there are other useful products you should consider purchasing.  We have asked Jez Barraza–a professional makeup artist who has shopped around at local drug stores and department stores–to bring us her recommended list of products that should be included in your cosplay-makeup arsenal.


By storing your makeup in an organized bag, you can keep your make-up together in one easily accessible place.  Plus, the risks of forgetting, misplacing, marking, spilling, or powdering any of your costumes is highly unlikely. The best priced bags that I have found are at Sephora. Plus I love that they are cost effective with a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.


The best products are the ones that combine both.  I use Clinique Superbalanced Powder Foundation because it gives you light full coverage with moisturizer and sunscreen that you need for inside and outside photos.   It has a swivel top to control the amount of product that comes out while keeping the rest of your product from too much exposure to the air (which can cause contamination or dry out) and has a mirror and applicator included.  It costs about twenty dollars, but it’s very natural and easy to use.  I love mine.


Have you never used a bronzer before?  Well, this product works wonders if you want to look like you have sun-kissed skin without using the “fake and bake” tanning salons, spray-on, or lotion.  The best part is that a little bronzer goes a long way and you can control the intensity with each application.  Plus, it’s a good way to intentionally add shadowed contours  to your face in place of Ben Nye Character Shadow.  Just remember that bronzers come with mixed colors on their palette, so pick one that has a tone close to yours, then go a shade darker.  Spend time really looking at the selections they have at your local drug store, because it will give you the opportunity t o experiment with different brands at an affordable price.


This is a good starter eye pencil for basic cosplay makeup.  It gives you a straight edge line to accent your lashes with a natural look that is easy to control and it comes with a smudge tip at the top of the stick which is used to create a smokey eye.  The benefit of working with a pencil is that mistakes are easily forgiven, allowing you to manipulate the color intensity to achieve the desired effect.  Although it’s size makes it very portable, it should not just be carried by the ladies.  If any guys are looking for an eyeliner for cosplay, you should give this one a try.  This liner is affordable and comes in various colors that sharpen with ease.  Basically, it can get the job done on a dime and can be applied or re-applied anytime.


Any waterproof all-day cream liner is the best kind of liner because you can control how heavy or how light you want to apply the liner to properly enhance your eyes.  You won’t need to reapply it because it won’t sweat off or rub off.  Not to mention, at the end of the night when you’re ready to head to the ballroom to get your dance on, you will still look fabulous. HIP cream liner’s come in a variety of colors and Sephora brand liners (pencil, retractable, or palette) are also good options.


Maybelline’s Line Stiletto is a basic liquid eye liner that you can use for strong lines with dramatic effect.  Just remember that liquid liner cannot create a smokey eye effect.  It is intended for a harder line such as a sharp cat eye orcorner wing extending past the end of the eyelid.  What I like about this product is that the handle is large enough to steadily grip while controlling the precise amount of application desired on the lash line.


This is the topping to your eye make-up because it give your eyes that extra punch that you need to complete that doe wide-eyed look. Just coat the corner of your lashes with a black brown color or black tinted mascara  and it will definitely widen your eyes and help you look amazing.  I have found several great brands including Maybelline 16hr mascara, Max Factor, Two Faced, and Botanicals – you will need to experiment to see what works for you and the cosplay character you are wanting to portray.


Cover sticks are used to balance the colors in your face and create the appearance of an even skin-tone.  To take full advantage of cover sticks, you must learn how to blend the color back into your natural skin.  You can use your fingers for faster application and easy blending.  If you  naturally have dark circles under your eyes, use the yellow corrective stick to neutralize your skin tone and make you appear more awake.  Now if you have red dots or blotches on your skin, then use a green corrective stick to hide the redness.  Make sure you use it anywhere your skin is uneven before adding foundation, cover-up, or powder and then say “goodbye” to the redness.


A tinted lip balm will help accentuate those pouty lips, in addition to keeping them moisturized and supple so that you can avoid licking your lips.  By applying a sheer sheen, you can bring out the natural tones without applying the heavy pigmentation of lipstick.  (If the coloring is still too subtle for you, you can upgrade to lip gloss with extra color pigment.)  Burt’s Bee’s has a great line to choose from and well as Blistex lip balms.  Just make sure it says tinted before you buy it.


All Nighter is a setting spray and is quite similar to Final Seal, used in theatrical makeup, except it is made specifically for daily makeup wear and is estimated to last 16 hours from application.  It’s available online and I can only speculate that, as its popularity increases, it will eventually be carried in stores like Sephora.

* * * * *

The secret to cosmetic makeup is to have fun with these products and experiment!  The more you use them, the more you will learn how best to use them.  Not to mention, it doesn’t hurt to have a friend who’s good at color selection or just as a second pair of eyes to help mix and match colors.

WonderCon 2011

Saturday, 9 April 2011, 8:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Convention Reports

It surprises me each year to see so many geeky subcultures intermingling at WonderCon. However, unless you earnestly want to break into the comic book industry, this convention is first and foremost a big advertising venue. All the big players had booths in the dealer’s room with DC Comics promoting their Green Lantern franchise, Marvel advertising Thor and Captain America, and Nintendo soliciting the 3DS. Meanwhile, in the panel rooms, you could watch new movie trailers and screen television shows including Nikita, Thunder Cats, Human Target, Breaking In, and V.

The booth I enjoyed seeing was HBO’s promotional display for their new series, “Game of Thrones.”  As an avid fan of George R.R. Martin’s book series, I’m eagerly awaiting its television premiere on April 17.   They had a table selling T-shirts with various House sigils, for those wanting to declare their House allegiance, and display cases with the costumes of Ned Stark, Robert Baratheon, and Daenerys Targaryen. Also, anyone willing to wait in line could get their picture taken on the Iron Throne! Granted, it was a resin cast of the chair, so the throne was more comfortable to sit in than how George R.R. Martin described it.

I also had the opportunity to attend the 501st Legion: Armor Costuming, which was essentially an introduction to a local Stormtrooper guild.  Although I have no intention of dressing up as a storm-trooper, I picked up some tips on armor construction.  The material they recommend making armor out of is Smooth-On Cast 300 for mold casting and ABS plastic at .090 grade sheets for thermoforming.  They also recommended purchasing a dremel, sand paper, gray or black paint for shaping and weathering your armor.   I was disappointed that they didn’t explain how to make molds, rather they will ship pre-molded armor pieces to anyone who joins their guild.

To end the weekend, WonderCon screened “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” as nostalgia for all of the Joss Whedon fans.  Given how much I respect Whedon’s work on this film, I was hoping for a packed room and non-stop singing, but was sorely disappointed.  This event didn’t seem to draw in the number of fans they expected since it was considered “old news”, but I’m sure everyone who attended enjoyed the experience.

This convention definitely caters to a specific fandom.  We may all be geeks, but each convention must draw upon your love of a particular subject to create a memorable experience.  So if you aren’t that big into comics, the main attraction at WonderCon is the dealer’s room. And who wants to pay money to spend money?

Lengthening the Eyes

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

Unlike the innocent wide-eyed anime characters, it is typically the mature and arrogant male characters that are endowed with long and narrow eyes.  These are the characters that I most enjoy crossplaying since they inevitably are more attractive in their confidence. Below, we have outlined how to recreate the lengthened anime eyes when you cosplay.

You Will Need:

  • Grey Eyeshadow
  • Black Eyeliner
  • Brown Eyeshadow
  • Mascara
Apply a base of medium gray eyeshadow and blend the pigment into your skin.  If you apply silver eyeshadow, you will appear more bishonin.
Use black eyeliner to define the shape of your eye.  You will need to extend the outer edge and give it an angular shape, wrapping around to line halfway along your lower eyelid.
If the eyeliner is too bold, apply a small amount of brown eyeshadow to transition the black into the grey.
Apply a light coat of mascara to your bottom lashes only.

Enlarging the Eyes

Tuesday, 5 April 2011, 8:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

In the past, we’ve introduced the concept of imitating anime eyes using makeup products.  Drawing upon similar techniques, I have designed my own method on how to enlarge your eyes that will be subtle enough to wear at the convention.

You will need:

  • Brown Eyeshadow
  • White Eyeshadow
  • Black Eyeliner
  • 1 pair of Ardell Fashion Lashes – 138 Black
  • 1 pair of Ardell Accents Lashes – 305 Black
  • small pkg. cotton swabs
Apply brown eyeshadow to your eyelids, being sure to blend into your skin at the edges.  This will help reduce the appearance of large eyelids.
Apply white eyeshadow to the underside of your eye, creating the illusion of an extended conjunctiva.
Next, use black eyeliner to define the shape of your newly enlarged eye.  As you redefine your lower lash line, try to draw a very thin line for best results.
Adhere Ardell Fashion Lashes #138 to your upper lash line using the included eyelash adhesive.  You can use a Q-tip to control the placement.
Adhere Ardell Accents Lashes #305 to your newly defined lower lash line.  You may need to trim the lashes to achieve your desired effect.
Finally, reapply the eyeliner, being sure to fill in the empty space between the upper and lower eyelashes.

Manga-Inspired Photography

Thursday, 31 March 2011, 8:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

With the emergence of “Manga Dreams”, a touring art exhibit, cosplay photography is becoming a respected form of artistic expression. Photographers Jonathan Anderson and Edwin Low recently had their work exhibited at the Hamiltons Gallery in London and the next exhibit is scheduled for the Maison Europeene de la Photographie in Paris. If you are interested in viewing their complete collection, you can visit the Hamiltons Gallery – Exhibition Archive and BBC News.

These images have obviously undergone heavy digital editing, but to great effect.  The most subtle of effects include :

  • Enlarging or Lengthening the Eyes
    [Photoshop: Filter: Liquify: Forward Warp Tool, Pucker Tool, or Bloat Tool]
  • Plasticizing the Skin
    [Photoshop: Filter: Artistic: Plastic Wrap]
  • Transitioning Sections of the Image into 2-dimensional Cartoons
    [Photoshop: Filter: Blur: Gaussian Blur + Photoshop: Edit: Fade Gaussian Blur]
    [Photoshop: Filter: Artistic: Cutout]

Now, they also seem to have access to digitally-created background images, which will be more difficult to replicate for the average cosplayer.  Nevertheless, we hope this artwork serves to inspire your future photography attempts and would like to encourage you to check out our Makeup Tutorials to see how to create similar effects using makeup.

Enhancing the Chest

Thursday, 24 March 2011, 8:00 | Author: Janet
Category : Learn about Cosplay

Every so often, Japanese animators ignore all the rules when it comes to female anatomy.  They create characters that have inhumanly large breasts (especially compared to their waist size) that bounce and jiggle from the slightest movement, whilst the air-headed female is too naive to realize just how appealing men find her body.  Now, whether or not you are going to help perpetuate this male-oriented fantasy by watching shows such as these, is entirely up to you.  I’m only here to help you pull off a really amazing cosplay.

While we acknowledge that there are many ways to enhance your natural breasts and increase them about two cup sizes, this tutorial is intended to take you a step beyond that. We designed and created an “enhanced” chest and filled it with candle gel-wax to simulate realistic, jiggly breasts at an affordable price.  Following the successful completion of this project, we have decided to share the technique with our fellow cosplayers.  Now you can easily make this “enhanced” chest at home, using our printable pattern.

What You Will Need:

• 72 oz Candle “Gel Wax”
• 1 yd Blackout Lining
• Separating Zipper
Reusable Melting Pot
• Disposable Wooden Spoon
Disposable Funnel Set


Purchasing the Pattern



We’ll send you the electronic version of this pattern for only 1.99!! Printable on 8.5 x 11″ paper, we’ve made this pattern easy to assemble with clear and concise directions.

What Type of Filler to Use

We chose Gel Wax due to it’s jiggly attributes, however, we want to acknowledge some of the flaws with this product.  The first being that we do not know if the gel wax will melt in direct sunlight on a hot summer day.  Secondly, the fabric requires an additional spray sealant to keep the wax from seeping through the weave.  Alternatively, you may choose to fill the bra with bird seed or with weightless bean bag pellets.

Instructions for Assembling Our “Bra”

Before cutting your fabric, lay the pattern pieces across your body.  Pin the Side Front pieces to the Center Front and check that the seam line runs through the center of each breast.  This may take some adjustment and/or rescaling. Likewise, if the neckline is too high or the seam lines do not extend far enough, take note of the necessary alterations.
Once you are satisfied with the preliminary fitting, you are ready to cut out your fabric pieces.  The material we recommend is blackout lining due to its soft texture and vinyl coating (which is intended to resist wax leakage).
Remember: Vinyl is very unforgiving and each punch of the needle is a permanent mark. If your stitches are too short, the fabric will become perforated and rip apart, however, if the stitches are too long, it may not hold in the wax as intended.
Stitch the Side Front pieces onto the Center Front.
Stitch the zipper into the center back seam.  If your zipper is too long, allow the excess to be at the top of the garment
Unzip the zipper and attach the two Back pieces to the Side Front panels.  Now that the undershirt is assembled, be sure to try it on and make any necessary adjustments before proceeding.
Gather the remaining Inner and Outer Enhanced Breast pieces.  To begin, stitch all of the darts closed.  Next, stitch the Inner and Outer pieces together, using the alignment markings as guides.
Position the breasts onto the undershirt to create the desired affect.  Typically, this will be with the two inside edges touching or even over-lapping for very full breasts.  Stitch breasts in place, leaving an opening at the top with enough room to fit the funnel.  
(GEL WAX OPTION) Heat the gel wax in a disposable pot until liquified, typically 220°F.  Stir constantly with a disposable wooden spoon.  Do not exceed 260°F when heating your gel. Take it off the burner and wait to pour until the gel reaches 170-180°F. USE EXTREME CAUTION, WAX WILL BE HOT.
(GEL WAX OPTION) We recommend strapping your bra onto a mannequin form when pouring to avoid any accidental and serious burns.  Using the funnel, pour the gel quickly to maintain viscosity.  After each pouring wait 30-60 minutes for the gel to cool and set. 
Once you have filled your bra up to the mouth of the opening, it is time to hand-sew the pocket closed.  You may also have to make alterations to compensate for the additional weight your bra is now bearing.



Purchasing A Sewing Machine

Thursday, 17 March 2011, 8:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay


Have you thought about purchasing a sewing machine, but realized you didn’t even know what type you were looking for?  We don’t always know what kinds of stress we are going to inflict upon our machines , but I would like to help you discover a sewing machine that will accommodate any cosplay situation.  Although I can’t take the place of a sales representative, I would like to share the basic features that you should be able to locate prior to purchasing your machine.  I hesitate to recommend specific brands or models because there are so many brands on the market (Brother, Bernina, Elna, Husqvarna/Viking, Janome, Kenmore, New Home, Pfaff, and Singer)  and I have not had sufficient experience to strongly suggest one over the other.  The final decision is up to you; I can just establish some of your search parameters.

Find a Local Dealer

Fabric stores and large department stores will keep several models on display, if you would like a “low-stress” shopping environment.  However, you’ll find a larger selection if you go through a certified sewing machine dealer – oftentimes this is a sewing machine/vacuum repair shop.  You can locate these dealers by visiting the manufacturers’ website and clicking on the button labeled, “Find a Dealer”.  If you do some quick cross-referencing you may be fortunate enough to find a multi-brand dealer; someone who is certified to sell the top brands and who will not have any particular bias towards one company.  Likewise, if they do sewing machine repairs in-house, they will know which models are more likely to breakdown and which will stand the test of time.

Set A Price Point

You know where your comfort zone is when it comes to spending money on expensive equipment, so have the money set aside and know the maximum you are willing to spend on your machine before you speak with a representative.  Without restriction, you could easily spend thousands of dollars on a sewing machine (the intricacies of which would be wasted on a beginner).  The representative can help you find the best model that fits within your budget.


Understanding Your Machine

The following list introduces you to the most common sewing machine features.  If you can’t locate all of these features on your sewing machine, then you must decide which features you cannot live without.


Decorative Stitches
Every machine comes with 6-10 basic stitches, such as straight stitch, zigzag, reverse, overcast, hem stitches, and buttonholer.  Anything beyond this is “decorational” and has limited use in cosplay.
Computerized LCD Screen
This screen displays your current stitch settings, including: stitch number, length, and width; needle position; and recommended foot.  Despite the electrical wiring, I’m told that these machines are actually cheaper to repair.  Check to see whether or not  you have to toggle the screen between different settings.
Start/Stop Button
Instead of pressing down on the foot pedal, you can make your machine start and stop sewing with the push of a button.  Honestly, I think this could easily get out of control for beginners and I would not want to take away my own control of the machine.
. Variable Speed
Usually, I would not bother limiting the speed of my machine, because you can learn to control your speed by exerting the appropriate pressure onto the presser foot. However, if you are new to sewing, you may find this feature handy.
. Variable Up/Down Needle Position
With the flip of a switch, you can chose what position your needle defaults to when you stop sewing.  It can be quite handy to have the needle automatically rest “down” within the fabric, so that you can lift the pressure foot and pivot to a dynamic angle without jumping a stitch.
Free Arm
You machine’s sewing surface is separated into two parts, the “bed” and the “free arm”.  By removing the bed, you will reduce the surface of your sewing space, thereby enabling yourself to stitch around cuffs or pant legs.  Double check that the free arm is not too wide for such tasks.
Foot Release Lever
There are different styles of release mechanisms, but all of them allow you to quickly change the foot you are using.  (In this picture, it is a upward-facing lever in the back)
Automatic Needle Threader
This device slides out and if set up correctly, will thread the eye of the needle for you with a simple twist.  This feature is a common luxury, although, I personally prefer to do it the old fashion way.
. Double Needle Thread Guide
Most machines will have one thread guide near the needle clamp, but it is possible to find machines that have two separate guides specifically used for double needle decorative stitching.
. Two Spool Holders
I like the versatility of two spool holders, even if you only intend to use just the one.  It can come in handy if you plan to use double needles or even if you plan on threading your bobbin while you sew.
. Thread Cutter
Many machines allow you to sever your threads using a tiny cutting blade that is mounted on the side of your machine.  If you are willing to spend a bit more money, you will also be able to cut the threads with the push of a button, the Auto Thread Cutter.
Sewing on Vinyl and Leather
Ask your representative which models will be more capable of sewing through these tough materials.  Also, I have been told that certain feet will help feed vinyl smoothly through your machine: Walking Foot, Teflon Foot, or Roller Foot.
Additional Goodies
In the storage compartment of your machine, there will be a fairly standard bag containing a screw-driver, seam ripper, lint brush, extra spool, 4-5 feet, and bobbins.  Take a quick glance to see what additional accessories they have provided.


Should I Purchase The Low-End ‘Specials’?

Fabric stores always sell at least one sewing machine that costs $80-$100, as their affordable model.  It should be quite obvious that this will be bare-bones essentials (you certainly won’t have all of the features listed above), but it will be enough to get the job done.  As long as you are willing to take care of this machine, it should last you for many years, until you are ready to upgrade.




Two Spool Holders

Hand Sewing Techniques

Thursday, 10 March 2011, 8:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

Despite the innovation of modern technology, knowing the various hand-sewing techniques is still a relevant skill for costumers. For example, you might use hand stitching to allow movement between fabrics or create the illusion of an “invisible” stitch.  I have posted pictures of different hand-sewing techniques and supplemented them with instructional text from The Costume Technician’s Handbook.


Running Stitch/Basting Stitch:

The running stitch is the most basic of all hand stitches.

Click on the image for step-by-step instructions.



The backstitch is the strongest of all the hand stitches and was the stitch often used for seaming in the days before the invention of the sewing machine.

Click on the image for step-by-step instructions.


Prick Stitch:

Use the prick stitch when you want a relatively strong, unobtrusive stitching line.

Click on the image for step-by-step instructions.


Cross Stitch/Catch Stitch:

Use when you need to tack two fabric layers together and allow them to move apart as the body moves.

Click on the image for step-by-step instructions.



Blind Stitch

The blind stitch is invisible on both sides of the fabric.

Click on the image for step-by-step instructions.


Hemming Stitch

The hemming stitch is quite strong and suitable for hems on medium or heavyweight fabrics.

Click on the image for step-by-step instructions.


Slip Stitch:

The slip stitch makes a sturdy, flat hem with hidden stitches

Click on the image for step-by-step instructions.


Whip Stitch



Blanket Stitch


How to Prevent Knots

Thread your needle directly from the spool of thread.  This will allow you to stitch in the same direction as the thread twist, preventing kinks while you stitch.  Keep your thread short and always use your thumb or forefinger to keep the appropriate tension on the thread when tying knots.

Displaying a Bare Chest

Thursday, 3 March 2011, 8:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

It is common knowledge that females must bind their chest to achieve a convincing crossplay, but it is an illusion that depends quite strongly on the modesty of the costume and one’s ability to hide the bindings.  However, it is possible to wear more “revealing” costumes by manipulating the muscle and tissue in the chest.  So let’s take binding a step further, using a simple technique, to crossplay a bare chested male.

The only material you will need is athletic tape. Place one strip vertically across the center of each breast. You may use petals (aka pasties) to protect your more sensitive areas. Place another strip horizontally (and also centered) applying pressure as you begin to pull the muscle to the side of your body.

Continue to place two more perpendicular strips, applying pressure and being careful not to extend tape into the area of skin to be displayed.

Note: This method is recommended for people with smaller breasts (size A, B, or C).

It is important that you test this technique before using it at a convention. Not only do you need to monitor your skin’s reaction to the athletic tape, but you may find this method unbearable for long periods of time. My own experience with athletic tape resulted in an uncomfortable tightness between my breasts, causing shortness of breath and inducing dry skin.

I  would also like to remind you that you are still bound by societal constraints. People will still get freaked out if they happen to glance at your breasts underneath your costume, despite the amount of tape you may put on your chest. We recommend that you securely attach your costume to your skin using double-sided tape before you decide to take a stroll  around the convention center.

Flattening the Chest

Thursday, 24 February 2011, 8:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

One of the quickest ways to determine gender is to take a glance at someone’s chest.  This is why it is so important for females to flatten their chests when they are crossplaying.  As you will quickly discover, this endeavor is not without a cost.  Since this method requires you to displace a few pounds of flesh and muscle, it often applies great pressure to your lungs, which can make you short of breath.

The Three Types of Binding

Compression Shirt 

Pros: Professional Looking, Easy to use, Moderately Comfortable
Cons: Expensive

Velcro Back Brace 

Pros: Professional Looking, Less Expensive
Cons: Uncomfortable, Difficult to Use

Ace Bandage 

Pros: Cheap, Easy to Use, Moderately Comfortable
Cons: Unprofessional Looking


We strongly recommend the use of compression shirts, which are intended to flatten a female chest.  Not only are these shirts quick, reliable, and comfortable, they also can be ordered in various lengths and necklines.  They can be easily ordered online from T-Kingdom or Underworks, however, their ease of use means that they are the most expensive method listed. (Note: If you order from T-Kingdom, an Asian-based company, you may need to order one-two sizes larger than you normally wear.)


A cheaper alternative is a Velcro back brace.  This product can be quickly secured, but we recommend asking a friend to help you.  Due to the elasticity of the straps, back braces are one of the most uncomfortable binding methods available.  If you feel lightheaded or short of breath while wearing the back brace, either loosen the straps or remove the back brace entirely.  To maximize comfort, wear upside-down and on top of a shirt.


Traditionally, the Ace bandage is the most popular method due to it’s inexpensive cost and overall comfort.  If wrapped incorrectly, however, the bandage can slip down to your waist.  We have provided a step-by-step tutorial to inform you about proper wrapping procedure.


Begin wrapping below your chest, starting in the center of your abdoment.  Pull the bandage behind your back and continue wrapping.


Using one hand, hold the front edge of the bandage so you can apply pressure as you wrap.


Continue wrapping the bandage tightly around the torso, until you have completely covered the chest.  Increase pressure as you wrap, covering the previous wrappings and being careful not to have any obvious creases or bulges.


When you have reached the edge of the bandage, you may tuck the end underneath the wrapping or use one of the provided metal clamps.