Costumes on Haight

Thursday, 7 October 2010, 8:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

Ever since I accepted the makeup artist position at California’s Great America, I’ve been running low on Ben Nye makeup.  Rather than ordering the makeup online, I decided to search for local retailers in San Francisco that might have a good selection.  When I visited Costumes on Haight, I noticed these felt wigs on one of the shelves and thought I should share my discovery!

I’ve never before seen wigs made out of fabric and I was pleasantly surprised by the craftsmanship.  I have found few useful applications for felt when it comes to costume-construction (except as the traditional fabric of choice when making poodle skirts), even though the material is cheap, stiff, heat resistant, and does not fray when cut.  I appreciated the ingenuity and innovation of these wigs.

Although felt wigs offer many benefits, there are also some downsides.  Firstly, felt wigs will not be able to waft in the wind in the same manner as synthetic or natural fibers and, secondly, you must apply multiple layers for fear of the wig appearing limp (which is probably why the manufacturers seem to favor spiky hair styles).  I encourage you to try to make your own fabric wigs at home using a wig cap as a base.  However, if you’d like to purchase one of these wigs for yourself you can order directly from Elope.  As a side note, they also sell a yellow Super Saiyan wig.

Papercraft

Thursday, 30 September 2010, 8:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

Papercraft is the art of making models out of paper.  While this typically includes tiny anime figurines, it has expanded to include cosplay props, armor, and masks.  Think of it as cosplay origami with pre-printed fold lines and instructions.

If you can create a computer graphic model of the item you would like to papercraft, you will be able to see precisely where the folds should be.  While this would require training in specific modeling software (e.g. Autodesk Maya), it provides cosplayers with new alternative methods for constructing their costumes.  With the correct coloring, you can replicate your favorite polygon video game characters.  Even if you don’t want to make a pattern yourself, you can find many pre-made patterns online.

Realistic Elf Ears

Thursday, 16 September 2010, 8:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

There is a certain mysticism that accompanies long pointed ears.  Although this physical trait is most strongly associated with the elven race (Legend of Zelda; Banner of the Stars), it has also been embraced by the anime community to bestow grace and beauty to other non-elven races (Sesshoumaru from Inuyasha; the Herons from Fire Emblem).

The average cosplayer can easily obtain prosthetic elf ears but the quality will depend upon the source.  Although seasonal Halloween shops sell plastic elf ears, the most natural-looking elf ears are made from latex and can easily be painted to match your desired skin tone.  We recommend that you check out the large selection of latex ears at Aradani Costumes as well as their article on how to wear and care for your ears.

Remember to purchase spirit gum adhesive and spirit gum remover in order to comfortably attach your ears.  These can be purchased anywhere theatrical makeup is sold.

Airbrushing Makeup: Part 2

Thursday, 9 September 2010, 8:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

In Airbrushing Makeup: Part 1, we talked about purchasing an airbrush and what additional materials you will need to get started.  This follow-up post will examine the logistics of facepainting, broaching subjects such as technique, safety, and maintenance.

FACEPAINTING TIPS AND TECHNIQUE

When airbrushing the face, do not exceed 6 PSI (pounds per square inch).

Online sources do not agree on how much air pressure you should use for face painting.  Although I have deferred to Iwata’s recommended PSI, I’m found sources that recommend up to 15 PSI.  So the question becomes, “Is it dangerous to airbrush a subject’s face at high PSI levels?”

I have heard that if the air pressure is too high, the paint will prickle the skin and could become forced into the skin – essentially creating a tattoo.  (Typically, higher PSI is useful for covering broad areas of the body for body painting or spray-on tanning, according to modelmayhem.com.)  Alternative, if you chose to spray at a lower pressure, you may just need to apply extra layers for even coverage.

Whatever your application, you can monitor the pressure of your air compressor by referring to the pressure gauge.  If you need to lower the pressure, you can open the Pressure/Moisture release outlet.  Now if you want to forgo all the stress, you can purchase an airbrush from a makeup company that is designed specifically to spray the face, such as Temptu, Luminess Air, or Dinair.

Do not spray paint into the eyes, nose, mouth, or ears.

Your subject will need to be able to keep their eyes and/or mouth closed while you apply the makeup.  To prevent them from inhaling the mist of paint, ask them to exhale or hold their breath while they paint, stopping every few seconds to allow them to breathe.  Alternatively, you can also use cotton balls to block passage to the nostils and ear canals.

Spray 6″ away from your subject’s face.

According to airbrushmakeup.com, this will allow for even and controllable coverage.  If you get too close, you may run into the aforementioned problem of high air pressure and narrow range.

Be conscious of the risks.

I am relatively new to airbrushing and, without proper experience, I cannot warn you against all the liabilities of airbrush makeup.  Improper handling and a lack of safety precautions could lead to health problems caused by the inhalation of paint.  When working closely to someone’s face (especially a friend’s face) always make sure that they are comfortable and safe.

HONING YOUR SKILLS WITH PRACTICE EXERCISES

In order to practice control and precision, Airbrush from Scratch recommends airbrushing thin lateral and longetudal lines, then placing a dot at each intersection.  If you want to be able to practice your motor skills without the hassle of cleaning your machine afterward, you can purchase Brush-Up Paper, which turns black wherever water is applied.  In this way, you can spray water through your machine rather than paint.  If your entire canvas becomes black, simply wait for the water to evaporate from the paper and try again.

CLEANING YOUR AIRBRUSH

Only a small part of your machine comes in contact with paint (basically from the reservoir cup forward) but you still need to clean it to prevent clogs.  You should clean your machine every time you change colors and at the end of each session.  Personally, I use Medea Airbrush Cleaner which is great for water-soluble paints.  Paint thinner is often recommended for non-water-soluble paints.

The following text will walk you the cleaning procedure – quoted from Airbrushing: A User’s Guide to Getting Started:

“If there is paint in the paint reservoir, pour it back into a bottle or container and spray out any excess [paint] into a paper towel.  Wipe the paint reservoir as clean as possible [using a non-fibrous material].  Fill the paint reservoir one-quarter full with the appropriate cleaning agent.  With a [flat bristle paintbrush], slosh the cleaning agent around the paint reservoir to break down the paint.  The cleaning agent will turn opaque as this is done.  Be sure to get into all the nooks and crannies and, if you are using a gravity-feed airbrush, get down into the cavity at the bottom of the paint reservoir.  Spray this now paint-contaminated cleaning agent through the airbrush, and once again wipe the paint reservoir with a rag or paper towel.  [Repeat as necessary] until the cleaning agent sprays clear.  Using new cleaning agent and a clean bristle brush, gently wipe across the paint tip to remove any build-up of dried paint… At the end of the workday, you will want to clean the needle.”

NOTE:  The needle runs through your airbrush to control the spray.  Refer to manufacturer’s instructions when removing the needle for cleaning.

SacAnime 2010 Summer Photos

Sunday, 5 September 2010, 22:05 | Author: Amitie
Category : Announcements

Special thanks to all the cosplayers who attended SacAnime.  Although we were only able to attend the convention on Friday, we photographed a lot of great costumes. Enjoy!

SacAnime 2010 Summer

Sunday, 5 September 2010, 21:41 | Author: Kricket
Category : Convention Reports

SacAnime is one of those conventions that you could attend for one day and confidently say that you have seen everything.  Despite its small size, this convention is home to local talent, such as wig stylist Katie Bair and cosplay model PikminLink, and manages to draw big name voice actors such as Steve Blum, Ali Hillis, Liam O’Brien, and Mari Iijima.  Likewise, it is the only convention where I have been able to see Team LoveHate‘s Itasha anime-decal cars.

So you must be asking, what classifies this as a small anime convention?  The most obvious marker is the number of panel/video rooms… which they only have one of each.  However, what really stands out is the size and layout of the hotel where the convention is hosted.  For the past two years, Sacanime has taken residence at the Radisson Hotel.  Admittedly, this hotel has beautiful landscaping including a coy pond, gazebos, and multiple fountains.  But once indoors, the convention becomes one long hallway.  Although this can provide an intimate setting to socialize with local fans, I have always found that the greatest fun lies in being able to explore the convention site.

I was also disappointed to learn that Katie Bair would not be hosting a panel–last year she gave advice on “Turning your Hobby into a Business.”   The only costume-themed panel was titled, “Lolita Fashion 101”.  However, this does not mean that SacAnime has not made some improvements over the years.  This year, they managed to procure both a wig booth, Epic Cosplay Wigs, and a contact lense booth, Media Collectibles, in the dealer’s room.  They also scheduled some new events such as the performative–albeit foodless–Maid Cafe and a professional photo booth.

Despite my unprovoked criticism, SacAnime is growing rapidly.  I can see it in the size of the dealer’s room and the expansion of SacAnime into the hotel’s hidden courtyards.  This being said, I will be very disappointed if Sacanime doesn’t upgrade to a new hotel by next September.  They should also provide more video and panel rooms if they hope to someday rank among the nation’s largest anime conventions.

Airbrushing Makeup: Part 1

Thursday, 2 September 2010, 8:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

An airbrush is another “expensive tool” that cosplayers can consider purchasing if they are serious about cosplay.  Although an airbrush can serve many artistic purposes, within cosplay the most relevant use is makeup application.  Now, I’m not trying to tell you that your makeup should always be applied by airbrush, but if you need to dramatically change the color of your skin (face, neck, hands, etc.) then airbrushing can provide a quick, flawless, and durable solution.  Likewise, if you create stencils then you can quickly apply tattoos and other character markings using an airbrush.

Earlier this year I purchased an Iwata Eclipse CS (dual-action, gravity feed, internal mix) airbrush and an Iwata SmartJet Air Compressor.  I found a great introductory kit at Blick Art Materials for $349.

If this is also your first encounter with airbrushing, I want to share some basic terms that you need to become familiar with in order to choose the most appropriate machine.  The following definitions are quoted from Airbrushing: A User’s Guide to Getting Started © Iwata Medea.

internal mix: A type of airbrush where the paint is atomized inside the airbrush tip.

single action: A method of activating an airbrush whereby depressing the trigger delivers both air and paint simultaneously.

dual action: A method of activating an airbrush whereby depressing the trigger delivers air and drawing back on the trigger releases paint.

bottom feed: A siphon-feed system where paint is drawn up from a reservoir (jar or color cup) mounted underneath the airbrush.

side feed: A siphon-feed system where paint is drawn from a reservoir (color cup) mounted on the side of the airbrush.

gravity feed: The system where paint is drawn into an airbrush from a reservoir mounted on top of the airbrush.

* * * ADDITIONAL MATERIALS * * *

Once you have your airbrush, be sure to purchase the following items.

PAINT

I purchased Ben Nye’s liquid makeup (MagiColor), which is available in 23 colors.  According to their catalog, “[These] highly pigmented paints dry quickly to a smudge and water-resistant finish.  Apply with brush, sponge or airbrush.  If desired, thin paints with 10% Final Seal for airbrush.”  (Their product, Final Seal, sets the paint so that it won’t rub off.  Alternatively, you can also spray Final Seal as a base before applying the airbrush paint.)  When purchasing paint, it is important to check whether or not it has been “pre-reduced” or thinned.  If not, your paint may be too thick and could clog your machine.  Face-paint tends to separate and dry when it is not being used, so do not pour any paint into your reservoir until you are ready to use it.

LATEX GLOVES

I didn’t think gloves were necessary until I started opening new bottles of paint.  Somewhere between mixing the paint and pouring into my reservoir, I ended up with smudges of paint all over my fingers.  If you want to keep yourself and your machine clean, stop by your local grocery store to pick up a 10-pack.

PAINT BRUSH

A stiff medium-sized paint brush is useful when cleaning the outer rim of your paint reservoir and into the crevices.  Although you might be tempted to clean your machine with a fibrous material (paper towels or cotton balls) these items can break apart and clog your machine.

COTTON BALLS

These can be used to plug the nose or ears when airbrushing your subject’s face.

DUST MASK

If you are worried about inhaling too many toxic fumes, you can purchase a mask from any hardware store.

INTERCHANGEABLE NOZZLE

I’m guessing that the range of spray on the Eclipse airbrush is too limited to airbrush a face efficiently.  I hypothesize that the range could be widened by purchasing a larger nozzle, but this theory is unconfirmed.  Badgerairbrush.com explains, “Although they have some effect on the line an airbrush produces, nozzle sizes (Fine, Medium, Heavy or 1, 3, and 5) apply more to the material that should be sprayed through the airbrush than the fineness of line an airbrush will produce.”

This discussion will be continued next week in Airbrushing Makeup: Part 2.

Your Cosplay Resource

Wednesday, 25 August 2010, 8:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

When I graduated from college, I promised myself that I would never write again.  My resolve must have wavered since today marks the one-year anniversary of my cosplay blog.

*  *  *  *  *

As I stagger through the “real world,” I’ve realized that cosplay is something I don’t want to give up.  That’s why, without a second thought, I became a theater major.  It’s also the reason why I applied to work for an amusement park as a Wardrobe Tech (washing laundry more than anything else) and why I established this website even though I couldn’t care less about blogging.  I have dedicated my life to costuming and I will continue to share my growing knowledge with the cosplay community.

As you have no doubt considered, the name “Kricket” is not a reference to any particular anime.  I chose the name because it has a strong connection to my past.  Kricket was my role play character in an online MUD, known as Dragonrealms.  This elven thief became my strength in a daunting world.  She is a reminder of who I used to be and who I am becoming.  I strive to maintain her pride, cunning, and mischief in all of my endeavors.

If you have been with us since the beginning, you will remember that our blog used to be named, “Through the Eye of the Needle.”  Over the past twelve months, we have dramatically changed the layout of our website, expanded our Cosplay Tutorial page, started taking Commissions, and provided Ask Amitie for one-on-one cosplay consultations.

We would like to thank everyone who is following us on this website, at conventions, or through Facebook.  We still have a lot to share about cosplay and will continue to develop blog posts and panels that provide you with resources to improve your costuming skills.  As we move forward, we are discussing the possibility of opening an online cosplay store.  Whether you are just learning about cosplay or are a veteran enthusiast, we promise you won’t be disappointed!

Feminine Makeup for Crossplayers

Thursday, 19 August 2010, 8:00 | Author: Janet
Category : Learn about Cosplay

To achieve the rounded facial structure of female characters, we would like to emphasize the use of light foundation to create highlights–along with some other tips and tricks. We have shaded the above image to demonstrate where highlights are applied.

*  *  *  *  *

The following steps will guide you through the process of applying feminine makeup:

Step 1: Shave your face daily to reduce discoloration caused by facial hair.

Step 2: Shape your eyebrows with tweezers.  For a more natural look, pluck the lower portion of your eyebrow instead of the top.

Step 3: Cover blemishes with a concealer. Typically concealers are skin-toned; however, you can also use green concealer to cover red discolorations and yellow concealer to cover blue discolorations.

Step 4: Apply liquid foundation to your entire face.  This will create the appearance of flawless skin.

Step 5: Highlight the chin, cheeks, forehead, and the ridge of your nose using a light powder foundation. This will dramatically brighten your face.

Step 6: Shadow the sides of your nose and your jawline using a dark powder foundation.

Step 7: Fill in your eyebrows with pencil eyeliner that matches your hair color.

Step 8: Apply false eyelashes, mascara, and eyeliner to emphasize your eyes.

Step 9: Brighten your cheekbones with a light application of powder blush.

Step 10: Enhance the lips with subtle lipstick, the exact shade will depend upon your makeup design.

Although these instructions utilize theatrical makeup techniques, we always recommend a more subtle application to accommodate for the close interactions of cosplayers.

Masculine Makeup for Crossplayers

Thursday, 12 August 2010, 8:00 | Author: Janet
Category : Learn about Cosplay

For masculine makeup, we want to emphasize the use of dark foundation to create shadows.  We have shaded the above image to demonstrate where shadows are applied.  By darkening areas of their face, women can create sharp angles and mimic the elongated facial structure of male characters.

*  *  *  *  *

The following steps will guide you through the process of applying masculine makeup:

Step 1: Cover blemishes with a concealer.  Typically concealers are skin-toned; however, you can also use green concealer to cover red discolorations and yellow concealer to cover blue discolorations.

Step 2: Apply liquid foundation to your entire face.  This will create the appearance of flawless skin.

Step 3: Shadow the hollows of your cheek, jawline, temple, and sides of your nose using a foundation that is two to three shades darker than your base.  This will make your face appear narrow.

Step 4: Highlight the ridge of your nose using a lighter powder foundation.

Step 5: Accentuate the eyes using eyeliner.  Use reference pictures and keep it simple.

Step 6: Pencil in your eyebrows making them thicker and closer together.

Step 7: Reduce the pigmentation of your lips by applying a skin-toned concealer.  Beige-colored lipsticks and/or liquid foundation will suffice

Although these instructions utilize theatrical makeup techniques, we always recommend a more subtle application to accommodate for the close interactions of cosplayers.