Friday, March 29, 2013

How to design a costume (Brooke's rough guide)

So I was talking with a friend I met at the Anime Convention I went to last week. The conversation moved to plans for the next costume they were making and they mentioned about how they weren't really great with sewing, and the challenges of knowing where to start with their project.

I started explaining what I did, and then realised that it would be good blog material. My thanks to you, Michael, for inspiring me to get off my butt and explain something I always think is a given when talking to other people about designing costumes.

So let's begin.

The Idea.

So picture this: you're sitting down one afternoon, and like a bolt from the blue, you're like, I should make this my next costume.
Okay, probably not. But hey. Most of the time when I've decided to make a costume, I've been on a bender of some series, cottoned on to one character, and then gone, 'Hey, I know what would be a brilliant idea right about now...'

Sometimes it's because I like how the character looks, or what kind of a person the character is. I might be drawn to how epic their outfit looks or enjoy how they move. It's usually a visual thing, really. Other times I'm drawn to it because I really like the type of character the person is and therefore would like to try emulating it a little. Other times its because I want to do another cosplay and I need to find someone else I like with really long strawberry-blonde hair, since mine doesn't really fit under a wig anymore.

That's mostly been the story the last couple things. But hey, you work around what you have.

Speaking of which...

Setting the handicap level.

So you have your character? Or an idea of your character? This is the bit where you decide whether to actually keep it or scrap it. Look at the base stats of your character, and your own base stats, and figure out whether its physically possible to actually do.

Start with the basics. Height, weight, physiology. If you're planning to add some major changes to the character, this is when you'd do it or deal with it.

So, for example:

This lad. This was my last cosplay, for those not following the blog. I picked this because A) I like Bleach B) I prefer warlike berserkers to Orihime C) Hair.

The latest rendition turned out like this:

(I'm waiting on clearance for a different photo.)

Now, I am not male, not ripped, and not seven foot tall. But you work with what you've got.

Consider the things that will dictate everything else about the costume that are to do with yourself. Your own physical attributes; what you'll have to change and what you can't. Sometimes, if the difference is too great, it's just something you have to forget about doing. Which sucks sometimes, and sometimes turns out to be something of better judgement.

Okay! Other things you need to consider.

Address minor details as well - hair colour and style and what colour wig you might need if that's the case (if it's an anime character, it often is). Eye colour if you feel like a stickler, which can be rectified with colour contact lenses if you can wear them.

Okay. Next step.

Identifying the 'feel'

So you've looked at the basics of the character. Next is beginning to work on the cosplay itself. I go about this in two ways.

The first way is to go back to the original source and check the character again. If you have a video of the character in motion, it's better. What you want to identify here are the items of clothing you need and how they should behave on a character.

This is the trailer for my second-favourite movie, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete. I'm not sure if you can turn on captioning for it, so the dialogue might be hard to understand. Dialogue isn't really what you're after at this stage though; you want the look and feel of the costume. Mostly to figure out what the articles of clothing should be made out of.

Advent Children is a pretty good example of looking at the source to gauge what you should make the costume articles from - you can practically see the thread count on some of the articles in the film. Other projects might require a little more imagination.

So, by this stage you go 'oh, the pants are hard-wearing and the cloak is too. But the cloak is always flapping about. Does that mean I should make it out of something lighter?'

Or something like that. Have a think also about the type of fabric suited to the character - when my sister and I made Tetra's outfit from The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker, we made the pants from linen, the top, belt and scarf from jersey knit and the jacket from rubber-backed curtain fabric.

So. Stock image from series.

Real life. And EZLO HAT.

The linen is an obvious choice - Tetra is a seafaring pirate. It wouldn't make sense for her to be wearing satin pants. Jersey knit is basically what most t-shirts are constructed out of, and has the double-whammy of draping nicely and feeling good. The curtain fabric had the right texture and colour, for the most part, and would probably be the only thing out of place if Tetra had been running around in real life. (Well, jersey knit is probably a bit anochronistic for the time, but hey.)

So if the character is wearing something that looks hardwearing, find a fabric that looks tough. If you're more after something that's floaty, pick a fabric that's light. If you're after drape or form-fitting-ness; go for a knit fabric.

I apologise if it sounds like I'm telling the reader how to suck eggs. I'm just going through the thought process for these things.

And yeah, choose materials that suit the look first and then the function.
Unless it looks like you're choosing between fabric composition over type.

Fabric type: a tangent

Yeah. Natural fabrics essentially feel better on your skin and give better airflow. Cotton breathes, as does linen, acetate and rayon, to a degree. Cellulose fibres (plant-based ones) feel best but crease like the little ratbags they are, so keep that in mind. Protein-based fibres like wool, alpaca and silk are often relatively expensive and will warm you up fairly well. It might help at this stage to distinguish what I mean by 'silk'.

Silk is made from silkworms. Protein fibre. It's used to make fabric. For some reason I am not entirely sure of though, when I say 'silk' or when a lot of other people say 'silk', it inspires thoughts of this fabric:

which is a satin-weave fabric, and is usually found in polyester and nylon varieties. So silk is used (sometimes) to make satin. Satin refers to how the fabric is constructed, rather than its composition.

Textiles lesson aside. The third type of fabrics you can get are synthetics. Nylon, polyester, and a variety of other things. They don't soak up liquids and are as effective at keeping your body warm as if you wrapped it in a plastic bag. However, they're usually pretty cheap, and they don't crease as easily as natural fibres.

Something to consider.

So. We've identified the character. We've figured out which of our attributes match to the character, and which ones we'll have to change. Maybe we've even worked out how to change these. We've figured out what articles of clothing the character wears and have had a guess as to what we could make them out of.
The next bit is where we actually start doing stuff.

Where do I start?

I begin by checking out other cosplays of the character that have been done in the past. See how people have done them; the little things that they found along the way that can make or break a cosplay, and the tips, tricks and hints on where to start and how to do things.

If you're adamant about doing things by yourself, you can skip this one. I prefer to see how I want these things to turn out though. DeviantART is a good starting point for research, although keep in mind that there's some terrifying stuff in there. Be specific with your search criteria and keep reciting Sturgeon's Law.

But hey. Research like this is how you can find out what to do, and what not to do with your costume. Consider it all advice, which you can take or leave.

Also, for those of you who possess little time or sewing skills. (I do this too - I can't sew jeans to save my life). Hit up a couple op shops. See if they have anything that looks vaguely similar to any of the clothing articles you're after. Sometimes you might need to do a little modification to get what you want, but it's also a good way to get the 'worn-in' look. If you're a stickler for a certain pattern or colour, you may end up building from scratch, but hey. Don't make your life harder than it is.

If you're the type who can't sew, I'd recommend finding a friend who does and talking with them at length before you go near a sewing machine about what you're planning on doing. Make sure you've got the correct gear and you're going about it the right way. If you can, get them to teach you the bare minimum to succeed. If you're the type of person who likes to figure things out along the way, that's fine. Just make sure you buy plenty of extra fabric. TT.TT


I'm a sewer, and I make my own patterns. It's just what I do. *shrugs*
However, a commercial pattern can usually do the job if you're now at the stage of 'I'm making something from scratch and I need to know how to make it'. Just keep in mind the type of clothing you're making while you're staring at the pattern selection book in the store, wondering where your mind is.

Commercial patterns have their ups and downs. They come in sizes, and have instructions, and can give you an immediate estimate of the type and amount of fabric that you'll need for a given project. However, they're usually printed on the thinnest paper known to man (so they're not very sturdy), have the same properties as sleeping bags and tents (in that they never quite go back in the bag the same way) and the instructions describe the hardest way to do something. In English and French.
c'est la vie.
If you have to pick between pattern companies, keep in mind that they have their own difficulty level. Simplicity patterns are usually the easiest. Burda are moderate. Vogue are for the fearless.

Or insane.

Keep in mind that you can also modify these patterns if they don't quite meet your needs. It's pretty easy to make something more fitted or flowing before the fabric gets chopped up.

Sewing! Crafting!

Keep calm and follow the instructions. Keep your reference pictures handy. When I'm sewing at home, I usually end up shutting myself in a room and wearing something like a tank top and shorts - something I can usually try the item on over the top of. It's a good idea to check how the sewing together is going as it is going. This has two advantages: it's encouraging to see the thing you're making start to take shape, and you can identify problems fairly quickly. A dummy handy helps you keep an eye on things from a third-person perspective, although if you don't have one of those (they're not absolutely necessary for life) then a mirror can be just as handy.

Don't panic. It's almost a given that you'll stuff something up, so just make sure you know what you're chopping up before going at it with the scissors. Those mistakes are the hardest to fix. Let's never speak of how long it took me to finish my Espada coat because of cutting things out wrong-side-up and sewing the wrong bits together and interfacing the wrong side of bits. That thing was the bane of my TAFE course.

It was also supposed to have pants. Anyway.

Inevitably, at this stage, you'll realise that you're so short on time that it was a foolish thing to even begin. Don't listen to that voice. Keep going. You'll pull through.


Here, you're about 95% done. The things that distinguish a great cosplay from a good one are ultimately the fiddly, time-consuming details. Stuff like nails and earrings, yes, but more than that.
I'm guessing I probably don't need to say this, because if you're into cosplay at least, you probably know this one.

Get in character.

Wait, what are you doing here?

Or give off some semblance of trying to be in character.

You don't have to be all the time. Heck - one of the funniest photos I popped up in from Animania recently was my full hollow makeup with the cheesiest thumbs-up I could deal out at the time.


Out of character.

But that's kind of what made it hilarious. And it achieved its purpose.

But. Acting in character, at least for photos and when people give their initial reaction to you really adds to the experience.

(See: That time I went to a con as Kairi and had someone scream my name and hold our their arms for a hug.)


Take photos. Sleep. Leave the thing for a few days and then come back to it. And be proud of it.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Sequel Machine (Part A)

So, I was all set to blog earlier this week, and then I ran out of time before the convention, and then was all set to blog right now, and remembered that I need a chip adapter to upload the progress photos from my phone, and I don't have that right now.

Basically, on Friday, the DNS server on the network timed out, so I went to fix it and somehow managed to hard reset the whole modem. So now the network needs setting up again and the owner of the modem is out for the weekend. I'm using the wireless that belongs to my church to write. And the whole time, I was like 'Huh. That's never happened before.'

My tech mishaps aside, and whatever repercussions remain, this weekend was a little hectic. The above information is only relevant because I am not at home, where the adapter-chip is, and therefore I cannot upload progress photos of the costume, and it's only the day after Animania, so I can't upload a whole lot of photos from the convention day either. But SOON. *appropriate delay* NOW.

And, I am coming to realise, I have a habit of starting a blog post with a completely unrelated story. I think it serves to break the ice or something. ANYWAY.

What am I giving again? Oh. A diagnostic on how the cosplay-making progress went, along with a review for Animania. With no real available photos. Hmm.

Oh. There's a video.

To my shame, I participated in a Harlem Shake video. Two actually. There was this one, and there was one in the auditorium near the end of the day. By then, I was hanging out with a group from Gurren Lagann, and all of us were a little too exhausted to be shaking anything vaguely Harlem-shaped. If that one arrives on youtube in the next couple of days though, I'll put it up anyway.

I'm on the far right for the initial bit, and then just right of centre after the break. And then behind the Skull Kid in the third cut, moving awkwardly to give the impression of dancing while trying to avoid poking other people in the head with my helmet.

Personally, I think the Harlem Shake is a little silly, but nevertheless, for reasons unfathomable, I participated in not one, but two. Maybe it was a 'hey, I don't have a face' moment.

Where to begin with everything else?

At the start of last week, I had a white lycra skivvy sewn up, and was prepared to use that in place of the black top I had for the character. And then I was like 'aw man, can't decide' and then was like 'hey, I'll make the white top anyway and see what it looks like'

Nek Minnut:

By Wednesday, I had the white top with black tattered sleeve sitting on a mannequin next to the already-existing black one, and realised that it would be the way to go. I didn't really want to admit it at that time, but that's kind of what happened. There was also just this sense of trying to fool myself out of it, because I knew how much work would be needed to get it done. I've never been one for holding to that kind of common sense, so I started on things anyway.

It began with detatching the bra from inside the black top and sewing a white cover onto it. The stitching was put in last time because I wanted a form-fitting top that wasn't going to migrate when I moved. Then stitched the white top on over that. Then, realising that the top still needed painting, I cracked open the dressmaker's mannequin that my parents gave me for Christmas. (It had stayed unopened for the time being, as I don't have enough space at home to justify having it out all the time.) Oh. By 'cracked open' I mean that the box was still taped up. I hadn't opened it yet.

So we opened it up and set the top on it. When it came to painting at 9pm on Friday night, it was wrapped with clingwrap so the paint couldn't leak through. Bec ended up painting the black on the front; I was preoccupied with attaching my toes. Then she crashed and I finished off the back. The next morning, I tried setting the mirror frames into it and away we went.


It's occurring to me now that I'm following narrative on the basis of separate articles in the costume. Would we rather follow by article or day on which these details were accomplished?



ahahahahahahahaaaaaaa *cackles*

I'll keep this way. Maybe rearrange it into something linear later.

So what else was accomplished this week?

Oh. The prosthetics!
These were started on last Saturday. I'd bought some liquid latex that was apparently okay for skin (Latex in its liquid form contains ammonia and there's types that will burn your skin in liquid state) about six months prior and began with that, some pantyhose and 3mm foam. The prosthetics for my hands were made by spreading a little latex over my finger, sticking a strip of pantyhose to it, and then waiting a little. Then I'd spread a little latex over the back of the foam piece that I'd cut, wait for it to get sticky, and then press it on. Really, the prosthetic business was a lot of waiting. Stick, wait, stick, press, hold, wait.

The shapes for the fingers started out as...what? Like a stretched pentagon. Like if you took the roof overhang away from a child's drawing of a house. Then I realised that this didn't actually gel very well with the shape of my hand or getting it to blend, so the I reshaped the foam pieces to look more like droplet shapes, and bevelled the edges. This is fiddly work, but it looked good. After that, it was a matter of waiting until the latex had dried, and then gritting teeth against the pain when trying to take the things off. Latex + hair on my fingers = worse than a bandaid. Because I'd done it to myself, and the stuff had bonded very well, and I couldn't just rip the suckers off, or the foam would come too.

The toes then were much easier. I was after a different kind of shaping, so a slight pitch was introduced into the shapes by scoring one side and hot-gluing the other, preferably without burning of fingers on the glue.
Then they were painted with acrylic, which, much to my sadness, did not mask the ballpoint pen I'd marked the individual pieces with.

Toes plus fingers plus nails.

So I had numbered toes. Brilliant. To credit though, I actually applied enough petroleum jelly to my toes to avoid all the skin being pulled off when the prosthetics came off.

Um, um, what else?

The mirrors!

I had these mirrors from last time; they're round shaving mirrors. They have a slight amount of magnification, and yeah. I just velcro-ed one onto my front last time, but wanted to step the game up a little this round. I built a 1-1.5cm rim around the edges with plaster bandage and then painted it black. Sticky back plastic (The stuff you use to cover books with that inevitably ripples or bubbles) stopped funk from getting on the mirrors during the process. And then I pierced a stack of holes around the back rim edge. Aside from bruising my fingers, this meant that I could sew the mirrors onto a webbing that went inside the top and supported the things.

Now, this webbing frame had a couple of problems. Most of them were listed under 'I can't get the edge of the top to meet up with the webbing'. I guess that's just something to fix later. Or much later down the track, when I inevitably give up on body paint forever and buy a morph suit for the flipping thing.

But that aside, it looked rather cool.

Now, morph suit. That I didn't have.

My problem with this costume last time was that I remembered to buy body paint for it, and then left that paint in Newcastle for reasons unfathomed (I forgot). That Saturday morning was thus spent combing the centre of Sydney for a costume supplies shop, where I paid $25 for five tiny tubes of paint.

This time, I remembered the paint. And ran into something else interesting.

See, water based paint lifts when you sweat. Or when it dries. Or when it comes into contact with anything, whichever comes first. So what happened was my back was painted up at 5:30am by Bec the Champion Housemate, and then I went on the train, and tried to attach the mirrors, and wore a jacket for a short period of time. By the time I got to the event, a lot of it had flaked off.

I mean, it was still cool looking. But there was definitely something within me that was sad. It should have been better! *Shakes fists in air*

Now. Next thing.

The helmet and the jaw.

These were still mostly intact from the last outing. The jaw, sadly, was slightly squashed on the way home last year though, so I had to try gluing it back into place. This was met with mild success.

The other thing that was discovered during this time though, was a texture paste in the Fibres room at uni. Magical stuff. I managed to smooth out some of the pitting and pockets on the mask that had happened as part of the creating process - removing traces of the plaster bandaging and paper mache. Then it was sanded, and repainted with a brand of spray enamel I will never buy again.

You buy $2.60 worth of spray paint, you get $2.60 worth of spray paint.

The black details on the mask were made with permanent marker and black acrylic. I actually liked the low sheen on the acrylic, in the end. I mean, I had a high-gloss finish on the mask last time, but I'd done the black entirely with permanent marker. Cheap permanent marker. It crackled and really just looked weird.
The current rendition is much better.

It was at this stage I found that there are actual differences between the character's appearance in the manga and the anime - I'd taken all my reference images from the manga initially, and then was watching the fight scene with this guy in it again.

And there it was. The back of the head was different.

This had zero effect on what I was doing, as I stuck with the manga adaption. But hey, fun fact.

Also, this round, I made a plague-mask-shaped-thing out of swimsuit lining, and glued it to the inside of the jaw. When the Hollow roars, you can't see anything beyond the white jaws. Just a black abyss.
Mine ended up being not-quite-black, due to buying white fabric and dyeing it.
But for a simple trick, it worked quite well.

Before dye

After dye. Boogying away to Basement Jaxx is the best way to pass the time with this method.

I ended up dyeing the thing twice; it came out blue the first time.


Plague mask pattern

Brilliant Selfie material.


So, where to go from there?

I didn't get to fix up Zangetsu (the sword). There just wasn't time. TT.TT
So, all of this, and then getting up at 3:50am, missing the time for the first train and catching the second. Noticing double-takes even before the full regalia.
People asking for photos at Central Station.

This only comes into play when you realise that at this stage, I was not in full gear. I was, however, still partially dressed up. And the audience here were people going about everyday business. I had some fourteen-year-old-looking-kid come up and start asking what the helm was made from, and how long I'd worked on it.

"At least 60 hours,"

I think he responded with an expletive.


The thing was that I was not fully dressed by the time I arrived at the event. I spent an hour, cursing my non-prep, in the bathrooms, painting up and getting everything else where it needed to be. I'd not brushed my hair in two days and had to de-snarl it, and hadn't really worn in my lenses either.

That aside, they went remarkably well. I mean, my eyes are fine; I don't need any kind of eye correctives. So putting lenses in is a little weird. It's not hard to put them in - I've been watching Dad do it for as long as I can remember. But you can feel when they're in. And coloured lenses are more fun - in addition to the slight haze that I was now seeing through, there was this odd yellow ring around my vision when I was standing in low light. Of course, this is because the coloured iris that makes up a contact lens cannot dilate or constrict according to the light source. So in low light, I was able to see the lenses on my flipping eyes.

I know it should really just be treated as normal, but it still kind of weirds me out a little. But hey.

It was stressful getting everything together, but I did. Kind of. My spirit gum gave up on the 'hey, lets stick prosthetics on' and I used the latex instead. Which will stick to your skin so long as you are not sweating. hahaha. I gave up on the fake nails, as I couldn't get them to stick either. And kind of knew that if I put them on, I'd never be able to do anything else.

You know, as far as a diagnostic evaluation of this is going, it sounds like a lot of tears and stress and not much reward. But that's because I don't remember to blog about the feeling of epic when I turn around the mannequin and see the work Bec did on the black stripes on the front of the top, or see what it looks like to combine yellow contact lenses with black paint around my eyes.

It's usually easier for me to quantitatively measure negatives and qualitatively measure positives. That's why things like this are weird.

Oh. Fun fact about Brooke for the day? I found out that I actually do stress-eat. I bought two litres of custard on Friday and drank a bit over half of it in the space of an afternoon. That evening featured custard-flavoured feelings of regret.

So. Stress and the prejudging, and as soon as I stepped in the judging room I knew that I was incredibly outgunned. The people clearly part of the contest were so well dressed, added to the intimidation that usually occurs when you notice that two of them were part of Team Australia last year, and represented Australia at World freaking Cosplay Summit.

Somehow, I did not completely lose it then and there. The judges liked the helmet.

And then it was done and I exited the room, wandering off to find someone else to bug.

Ran into a couple of people I see at cons, and had conversations with others as well.

That's kind of one of the odd things about going to a con and con people. You'll have a lighthearted conversation, wander off, and then realise that you never actually swapped names. I guess that as cosplayers, you kind of already have something in common, and especially if you're cosplaying, you already have a name. And that's how you have a conversation with a complete stranger without being awkward. By dressing in the most ridiculous fashion possible and acting like it's normal.

Oh life, you so grand.

Things were bought, photos were taken. In fact, I didn't end up taking any photos. I'm kind of just hoping that the photos everyone else took will be enough, at least for that convention. Facebook has its uses, I'll concede. Admittedly, photos with anything that was larger than a phone would have been difficult for me, and my phone doesn't take high-quality photos. Ah well. There were a lot of people asking for photos, and I'll just trawl the interwebs until more of them pop up.

The train ride home was uneventful, but for catching it with another cosplayer. We yabbered over stuff and lamented glitter and the heat. Her costume required glitter and a jumper. And it was incredibly hot that day.

I also got to meet a crew from Gurren Lagann (as mentioned earlier), and swapped stories with them.

These kind of connections are good. They're weird, but they're good. We run into people at these kind of things, and share the latest projects and by turns get excited and think that the idea suggested is madness, but the right kind of madness.

I mean, I didn't get to see everyone I'm in contact with at Mini, but I'm planning on visiting Supanova, so maybe then. Not sure which costume is going to that one yet either.

And that's almost it.

So, how did the competition go? The one you poured blood and sweat and tears into?

I was entered in the 'Master Cosplayer' division, actually because 'Novice Cosplayer' is for people who haven't cosplayed before, and I had. Then there was a bunch of smaller awards in that section, which are only awarded if something is impressive enough.

I didn't win anything, but I only missed out on 'Master Crafter' by a couple of points. This meant that I went home without any awards, but that's okay. I was being measured against a bunch of people who were a league above me, and I only lost by a couple of points?

Most enthusiastic silver medalist ever. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Drive and Burnout

For reasons unbeknownst, this post actually has nothing to do with cars. I mean, it could. I could begin to talk about how Sutto reckons I don't have 'GTi love' (He's one of the other Suzuki Swift drivers at church) and how I argue back that I do and it's different to his appreciation of the machines (it is). Or we could talk about how this really just proves that I am way too willing to rise to a goading.

"Sutto, You merely adopted the GTi love. I was born in it."

But this post isn't about cars.

This post is about Animania, an anime convention held in Sydney in March and September. It kind of relates to a couple of other blog posts that I've made before, so if you want to do some extra reading you can check out my post on Animania here, or the other themes of this post here, or the rest of my university work that's related to Bleach and the concept of the Hollow here. (And there. And everywhere.)

Now that I've just done a considerable amount of plugging for the blog, and you can see how much I've written about Bleach, I can assume that you'll be up to speed when I start talking.

Also, uni.

Directed Studies is taking up a lot of my mental space. I end up doing the headless chicken thing over it. The headless chicken thing is basically "oh man I have this much stuff to do in this amount of time and theresnotenoughtimetodoanythingwhattheheckamIsupposedtodoohcrapohcrapohcrap"
Part of that is my newest and biggest thing, which will be the topic of the next blog post, and part of this is trying to get Animania's costume done in time.

I mean, the one I'm taking down is Ichigo again. September's effort. But it was so well received  I kind of decided to see if I could enter it in the cosplay competition Animania runs, and March Animania is a bit smaller (and therefore the cosplay competition pool is smaller, right? *laughs nervously*). So, I have a costume to take. I'm just trying to tweak it; make it better and more streamlined. More scary?

I dunno. But I bought yellow contact lenses for it, and I'm wearing them now, and the whole world is a little hazy for it because my eyes are going what is this thing sitting on my eyeballs and every time I walk past a reflective surface my mind is going what in the blue hell is wrong with my eyes?

Friiiiick. I've lost the adapter for my phone memory card again. That thing is going to take ages to find again.

Wait. Here it is.

So I guess it's kind of working. How it will turn out when I add it to the face paint and mask/helmet I can't tell.

But at the moment, this is kind of taking up all of my mental space. And at the same time I'm remembering that hey, you have admin stuff to do for that, huh? And it's not fun.


Animania is next Saturday. I'm putting in the entry form tonight, so I don't forget and miss out like I did last year. And hopefully everything will be together and I'll have one less thing to worry about.

So, my current dilemma is mostly this:

*Also, spoilers and stuff for the storyline of Bleach. Just a heads up.*

Ichigo, for those who don't follow Bleach, is a bloke.

The state in which I am cosplaying him has him in a berserker state. He's battle-damaged, and busy being not human. Busy being hollow and kerb-stomping the fourth Espada. By battle-damaged, I mean this:

Now, the casually observant person might note that giant pointy mask and hole-in-the-chest aside, he's not wearing anything on his chest. Generally, this is not a problem for guys.

I approached the problem and solved it thus:

And torn sleeve was extended to torn-bit-of-fabric-top-for-practicality-and-common-decency.

Now. This challenge that I'm rolling with at the moment stems from a couple things.

1. I want to cosplay it better/closer to accurate.
2. I'm going down by myself and not having to cover my own back in body paint would be handy.

This week I sat down and sewed a form-fitting, long sleeve top, with the hopes of getting that to stand in and do the white-skin and bare-chest business. I was just planning to kind of strap myself into it and away we'd go. But the top didn't quite work out as well as planned.

So now, I either have to do some extra tailoring to it, or do some more thinking.

I could do the same as before, with the top in white and some black stripes across it.
Or I could keep trying with the white all-in top.

But I don't have enough fabric to do both, or do one and then change if it doesn't work halfway.

Of course, I could go 'stuff all of this' and take the pre-existing top anyway.
But probably not.

I dunno. I really want to keep it looking accurate, but at the same time don't want to sacrifice how I look for that more than I have to. I mean, I'm not seven foot tall and built like a tank anyway. Even if I manage to get the top sorted, I'm still 163cm tall, with a slightly pudgy stomach and hips and waist that could never pass for male. So should I bother?

The other challenge I have to consider is making the hollow hole look more like a hole. I'm working on something with mirrors, and am pretty sure I can get that to work at least. It really just needs something rigid I can fix it to, and then I'll pop a short tube/lip thing over it and extend the amount of black space and hey presto! Hole!

I realise that this doesn't make a whole lot of sense reading like this, but my head is making a card house out of tesseracts at the moment and isn't fussed with trying to explain.

Oh yeah. You should totally check out what a tesseract is. Best wikipedia sidetrack I've had in a long time.

But I digress.

The top is my current situation. I've also got to repair the jaw (it got squashed a little on the way home in Spetember), make some alterations to the mouth, and try and get some spiny-knuckle-prosthetics. I have foam and latex, and I'm not afraid to use it.

And this time. THIS time, I will remember to bring the body paint I bought and not get twenty minutes on the train and remember I left it at home.

In conclusion?

I'm going to a convention next week. It's going to relate to Directed Studies, because culture and costumes and documentation and stuff. I've still got a lot of things to do. My brain has been operating at 150% and has started making the kind of warning sounds that say 'you should probably pull over and change the oil now.'
But hey. Sleep when you're dead, right?

If anyone wants to give me their opinion on how to finish the top on this costume, please do so. The blogs are set up to allow non-bloggers to comment. And even if you want to log in, you can do it with a google account, I believe.

Okay. One blog post down. Let's jump onto the next thing.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Breaking Down the Fourth Wall - Introduction

Rough introduction:

This is my last year of uni. At the end of last year, I found that enrolling for this year had to happen  waaaaay earlier than usual, and that there was a course I could do called 'Directed Studies'. To sum the course up briefly, Directed Studies is the course where you decide the content. You determine the content and then fulfill it.

Now, for those new to the blog, I'm an aspiring costume designer, and a cosplayer on the side. I studied Fine Arts because I thought it would help with the learning-to-design-costumes-bit, but in actual fact it has been more about producing art. Funnily enough.

Sometimes this has worked in my favour, but for the most part, if I wanted to design costumes for uni, I had to think of a way to justify them to fit the design brief we were given. This was fun at times, but also a little tedious. I was, for the most part, basically doing the costumes in my own time and on the side, and they've been getting better, but I haven't been able to properly claim it as my own field of expertise when comparing to other classmates, who actually get paid for their artworks.

And then Directed Studies came along. An opportunity to do something that maybe the university doesn't have as a proper elective. The rest is not quite yet old enough to be called history.

What does that have to do with the price of fish and the title of this blog post?

Tuesday was my first lecture for the class, where we sat, huddled in the AT lecture theatre, also known as the coldest lecture theatre on campus.

Make sure you bring Blue Fire.

Seriously. I'm going to show up there in snow gear one day. Maybe that will get the message across.
Yes, I know that it's nearly impossible to fall asleep in a cold room, but do you think you could ease up a little? I am not friends with cold.

Anyway. Lecture. And have explained to us the nature and documenting business that we'll need to invest in for the subject, so that our lecturers have something to mark at the end of semester. One of the suggestions for marking the research and progress was a blog.

You don't say?

This afternoon, I thought for a bit about whether I wanted to set up a blog that was completely new, annexed onto my main blog (this one) or go and use my DeviantART for the project. I decided on this one, because URL battles are a challenge, and I really, really don't need another website at this present time (next to two blogs, a deviantART and a youtube channel. And a Facebook page.). Plus, all the current readers can be kept up to date with my latest piece of madness!


Anyway. That brings me to the name.
Anyone out there who is aware of stage/dance works and fiddling would recognise the term 'fourth wall'. It's the wall that the audience looks through into the realm of fiction, where the other three walls make up the containing environment for the characters to interact with. But with certain bits of fiction, and at certain times during the fiction, you have a character become aware of the fourth wall.

Wait, let me see if I can find an example.

Words can not express how much I love this movie. Anyway. Skip to 1:05 if you don't feel like sitting through a bunch of snippits from The Emperor's New Groove and having something to giggle at. Although really, I think that those bits are all punchlines. You need to whole joke to have a proper laugh.

1:05-1:22, cool?

Kuzco, at this point, isn't engaging with the narrative. He's directly addressing the fourth wall, and subsequently the audience.

My project, which is about costume-making, kind of works with that. I'm taking established characters from fiction and pulling them through the fourth wall into reality.

Wow. I have been in art school way too long.

That's the theory of it anyway. The practical will look like costumes. And madness too, I suppose.

More info on costumes, ideas and progress later. I've just realised that it's Friday arvo and remembered that I actually wanted to watch the rest of The Emperor's New Groove. Talking llamas, here we come.