Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Otakon and what not

We are back from Otakon~ woot!  To freshen things up, I have started to take photos for cosplayers instead of doing crazy cosplays myself.  I thought it would be a good way to meet some awesome people and expand my portfolio at the same time.

The preview photos are up in our facebook account, and I will try to edit all the photos by the end of this month.

I also took some random pics from Otakon, so that might be up at some point ^^


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Black Rock Shooter Photoshoot - Katsuya Weller

I'm back with what I believe is the final leftover from the backlog of last year- The Black Rock Shooter photoshoot from the talented Katsuya Weller!  We dragged her all the way to the North Carolina Museum of Art for part of this shoot, and we thank her profusely for putting up with all of our "getting lost while driving" and "having our costumes melt and/or fall apart" nonsense.
Yes, bask in the glory of the giant circles
Stuart's model close-up
Dramatic gaze into the distance
Then we trekked back to the convention center so we could dramatically lay down on the floor.
Careful not to get stepped on

Because I just love my sword SO MUCH
Group shot!
To see all of these pictures in their high-resolution glory, here is Katsuya's AZ 2012 photoshoot set on Flickr.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mirai Nikki Photoshoot (circa AZ 2012)

Another item from the backlog of things from last summer- the Mirai Nikki photoshoots with the wonderful and talented Katsuya Weller!  Beware- massive photo spam below.

Group shots yeaaaah

Everyone loves sketchy parking lots full of cosplayers
Poor Stuart and his miniscule field of vision
Lounging on the sketchy stairs
Read all the manga! (i.e. the Ratchet and Clank comic we borrowed off of Katsuya)
Time for Mimi's closeup!
Ninth / Minene Uryuu!
I recall this feeling very awkward
Yes, scream into the microphone like a crazy person!
Third / I don't remember his real name because he dies after the first episode (spoilers)!

Guys, we should probably take the stairs instead


Next up, Katsuya's Black Rock Shooter pictures!


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Black Gold Saw: Sword

So I realize this post has been a long time in coming (give or take a year or so), but I am finally getting around to the sword construction post for Black Gold Saw!

(pretending that I didn't completely forget about this)

My sword is quite similar to Stuart's - we went to Home Depot and bought a giant piece of that pink 2" thick insulation foam together and got them to cut it in half in the store (meanwhile having to awkwardly explain just why we needed almost six feet of insulation foam when we were clearly not making home repairs).

Unfortunately, Black Gold Saw's sword (what a tongue twister) features an entire edge that is serrated, so I had to measure and sketch out every zig and zag along the way.  
The top bit ended up being nixed and enlarged later
 And then came the fun part.  Carving.  Carving carving carving carving.  Expect to spend many many mind-numbing hours on this part, and be careful - X-Acto knives are sharp.  (You might think this obvious, but when you are trying to distract yourself from the tedium by watching bad television, your hand might accidentally slip).  My poor apartment had more pink insulation foam on the floor than actual carpet by the time I was done with this.

In order to get the hilt to fit snugly into the sword, I cut a rectangular strip down the middle of the sword so that I could insert the PVC pipe.  I remade the top part of the sword out of leftover foam (made it larger), so I just cut a hole through that and stuck the PVC pipe all the way through.
Just so.
Then came the joys of expandable foam, and here comes the warning: DO NOT GET THIS ON YOUR HANDS, CLOTHES, FLOOR, OR ANYTHING THAT YOU ARE REMOTELY ATTACHED TO.  Wear gloves, and then prepare to never be able to use them again.
Terrible quality picture is terrible
And once it is dry (you should leave it at least overnight- poke it with a stick to be sure it is hardened), you can shave off the extra foam.  However, here is something I was not aware of that caused a few problems- when expandable foam is cut, it actually shrinks noticeably in volume.  Do not shave the foam completely flat against the sword - you will end up with this weird warped indentation down the middle of the sword that I have (and was unable to mask).  Once that is done, cover the entire thing in masking tape.
Add paper mache, and voila!
Finally, spray paint/acrylic paint it until it looks the way you want it to, then seal it with Mod Podge (but get matte, not glossy...I accidentally used glossy and my sword was much shinier than it needed to be).

The handle was made with Delight air-dry paperclay , and I sculpted the skull on top with stone clay.  

The finished product:

Stay tuned for another sword tutorial!


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Maniwa Houou - (or how I learned to dress like a giant chicken)

It's that time of the year again - con season!  I spent the last weekend at Anime Central in Chicago, which was a new convention for me.  Photoshoot pictures will be forthcoming, but in the meantime I figured that I should make a construction post on How to Impersonate Local Wildlife (---> maybe if you live near Chernobyl and your local wildlife includes a six foot tall, bright red avian monstrosity).  Give a warm welcome to Maniwa Houou of Katanagatari.
Chicken?  No, no, see, he's a PHOENIX   >__>
So we can argue about the fact that the white bit at the top is probably his hair, and that beak is just sitting on his hair, but let's be honest- your wig hair is NEVER going to do that properly.  So just go all out and make a full-on chicken helmet.

Let's start with the helmet, which was probably the most craft intensive part of the costume.  I started with a chicken wire base that I molded onto the shape of my head - which is easier said than done.  Chicken wire is surprisingly inflexible (or perhaps I am just unaccustomed to using animal enclosure materials), so after wrestling for an hour or two and pulling out far too much hair, I just went ahead and used my head-shaped wig stand.  And make sure that you leave a hole in the back of the head- this is necessary for the "hair" that will end up sticking out of the back of it.

Make sure to tuck in those stray wires..chicken wire cuts hurt
Another word of warning:  After the clay is applied and hardened, the helmet will be considerably tighter than it was when you fitted it.  I basically have to force the damn thing onto my head - take this into account unless you enjoy crippling migraines.

I used half-gallon milk cartons to stabilize the beak section, and then just masking taped the living daylights out of the whole thing.  I used cereal boxes as the weird wrap-around face claws, and stuffed cotton into the open spaces to keep it from falling in on itself.  I also did a layer of paper mache, but it quickly became evident that it would not end up being smooth enough.   So what did I resort to?  My go-to material for everything, stone clay!  I also poked four holes in the top to make sure that I had somewhere to stick those floating diamonds.   Let it dry, sand the shit out of it, and you've got yourself a giant chicken helmet!  Life accomplishments, man.
Who DOESN'T love shitty quality bathroom mirror pics - This is post paper mache, pre stone clay.
Then just paint, seal with mod podge, and voila!  You are now ready to terrorize small children.

The floating diamonds (because I really have no better word for the things sticking off the top of his head) are just wire with craft foam glued onto it and painted.

And now for the "hair."  Due to its weird-ass gravity-defying anime-tastic shape, I decided to make a giant squiggly thing carved from a two layers of a three-foot roll of black craft foam with wire mod podged in-between the two pieces for malleability and stability.  Note to self: make sure the wire is thick and sturdy enough.  Thin wire just ends up dragging pathetically behind you, and you want some nice gravity-defying action going on.
Apply mod podge on the outside for shininess like whoa
And now we move on to the feather cloak.  This gave me more trouble than anything else in the entire outfit.  Not because it was particularly hard: just because my stubborn-ass brain refused to use sensible materials like felt, and instead originally opted for fabric.  Twice.  With disastrous results.  I was determined to get the totally unrealistic three-dimensional shape of the feathers from the anime, so I forced myself to step outside the box and then throw the box out the fucking window.  After much trial-and-error (but let's be honest, it was mostly error), I just took two pieces of felt, cut it into a zigzag cloak pattern, sewed them together, and stuffed it with the innards of a poor, innocent, $1 pillow from Goodwill.
The gloves were equally irritating to make.  I ordered shoulder length yellow gloves from WeLoveColors.com  - incidentally, the same place I got the matching tights - and I prepared to turn them into claws.  So, in a moment of my infinite wisdom, I bought orange fabric dye to color the hand part of the glove.  Thing that sounds like a great idea in theory but ends up smelling really dreadful and burning your esophagus: dyeing fabrics.  The lines were just drawn on in normal black pen.  The claws were easy enough- I just bought long fake fingernails, trimmed them to points and painted them black.
Why does almost every cosplay I do seem to have claws
The belt was just yellow craft foam with those yellow chains you can find at Home Depot hot glued on in sections.   The craft foam itself was attached to a wide belt with sticky velcro (not one of my better moments), but crunch time is crunch time, I'm afraid.

The tail was also made out of two layers of craft foam reinforced with thick wire.  Craft foam is your friend...make good use of it.

The pants were fairly simple - I just found some white wide-legged yoga pants online, hand-sewed on some red panels and put elastic into the bottoms so that they would come in at the knees.  

As for the tights, I ran out of time to actually paint them properly, and ended up using electrical tape cut into thin strips, which worked to great effect.  The downside is that it takes a bit more prep-work every time you want to wear the costume, but it probably looks cleaner in the long run than actually painting them.

And the final product....
Do I look like a crazy person yet
And after spending an ungodly amount of time sweating in this heat-absorbing costume, this is how I felt after getting back to the hotel room:
Minus the whole "being a dude" part
I'll make a separate post for the sword- I think this madness has gone on long enough, as it were.  I'll be back with sword construction and photoshoot pictures.  Join us next time, on "What the Fuck is That Crazy Person Wearing."
Dance, chicken, DANCE

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Black Rock Shooter Photoshoot, Part 3 - MZMA

Poor Cosplay-vania.  I've totally left you abandoned.  Q_Q  You need a good old-fashion post to get you back on track.  And so, without further ado, the continuation of our picture-fest from our Black Rock Shooter photoshoot (again, shot by the wonderful Bryan Regan) with my MZMA pictures.

 I love the angle of this next one :)

And this next one is my favorite one of this cosplay.  ACTION SHOT! :P

And finally, one group shot where we all look awesome :D

This photoshoot was amazing, and wouldn't have been nearly as fulfilling without Mimi and Kathryn, and our photographer Bryan Regan!  Thanks everyone!


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Black Rock Shooter Photoshoot, Part 2- Black Gold Saw

After a week of blerg (that's actually the technical term), I'm finally getting around to posting my pictures from our Black Rock Shooter group cosplay.  So without further ado, here's the second set of photos from the photoshoot with the wonderful Bryan Regan!

You know how much fun it was getting up onto that platform?  Not.
Model pose GO

That sword is ridiculously difficult to hold up with one hand.  That is my intense concentration face.

Why hello wig, after a day of conning you don't look so good.   Creepy factory makes up for it though.
Dramatically stare into the distance.  This is an important skill.

I think I may have been singing here. 
Totally not slipping on the gravel.  Definitely an intentional pose.  Definitely.

You're damn RIGHT there's no trespassing.

Ridiculously well-timed walking picture.

AWWW YEAH, cue dramatic wind blowing my hair.  And, you know.  Cars.

Batter up!  Swing batter batter SWING 
And just for fun...

I think you're doing it wrong.

Herp derp.  
Guitar sword?  Yes please.
More group shots and MZMA pictures to come!


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