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. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Come on, leave your epic wordage in the space below. I dare you.