Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sneak peeking

You know the feeling, when everything is finished and ready to go. It makes you feel satisfied and somehow empty. All your hard work and effort can be now packed and prepared to wear on the big day. For us it is usually a passing feeling. It lasts about two minutes and we usually haven't really packed all our stuff away, because we still need to sew some stitches and glue something to something. The two minutes usually take place between finishing everything and wearing it on the morning of the convention.

But now! Now we have that feeling and it's still two DAYS to the convention. We even took some photos to test our costumes. Wicked! Oh yeah, we needed to take them so that our faces would not be visible, because we didn't have the make-up on.

Finnish cosplayers and other con-goers, see you soon at Tracon!

"Of course it is legal. Trust me!"

Sniff... No sniff! Muddler!

Joxter using his time beneficially.

Monday, June 28, 2010

System mallfunction! Or... what?!

Few days ago, a very small bottle of clear liquid was found inside my mailbox. Thanks to Karan we were able to try to attach Muddler’s whiskers. Two attempts later the glue passed on to Hiron. She made the job look easy, again. The whiskers are made out of grayish fishing tackle, which I found after a quick search from mighty wreck storage.

Hazy picture of the whiskers trial.

Few days has also passed from the construction of Muddler’s evil shoes… or socks, but evil never the less. Yeah, Hiron was unhappy to be forced to take yet another round with them, but she didn’t shoot me when I suggested few alterations to them.

Oh yeah... Almost forgot. We are practically ready. Four days before the convention we are heading. This is our record. And because of that, we are in awe.

Almost finished!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cosplayer, crossplayer, neutraplayer...

I'm a lady. I think there is no way I could be mistaken as a boy, but still my cosplay history is dominated by male characters. Not the most masculine men in the world, but still male. During the time I have been cosplaying, I have not used word “crossplay” to describe my hobby more than few times in the beginning. Particular term has just dropped from my vocabulary. There is an discussion on Finnish cosplay forum at, which gave me the spark to write about the matter. “Cosplay or crossplay” is the topic, where people explain why they prefer one over the other. Cosplay. com has a own section for crossplaying for international tastes.

I see crossplay as a sub category for cosplay. As a term it defines that cosplayer and her character differ gender. If someone asked me if I see myself as a cosplayer or a crossplayer, I would answer that I'm a cosplayer. I have no need or will to highlight the gender difference between me and the character I’m portraying. So somehow I'm unable to comprehend why the term crossplay is sometimes such an issue.

I’m at the age, when parents don’t really care how I present myself. Or maybe they care, but also trust that as an adult I know what I’m doing. I’ve read that some of the younger cosplayers suffer from narrow minded parents, who don’t let them dress as a member of the opposite sex. Some in these cases there might be fear of “un-normal sexuality”, which is a rather twisted idea.

I think that crossplay doesn’t create anything that isn’t there already. Crossplay might be a supporting matter or way of self-expression of sexual orientation or usually neither of these. I know many people who dress as a member of the other gender while cosplaying and sexuality plays no part at all on their hobby. Cosplayers normally understand this, but sometimes the public doesn’t and I think that is something the parents fears the most. Being labeled isn’t nice and being bullied because people’s ignorance is horrible. I bet that is something what parents have in mind, when they ban crossplaying from their young ones.

To avoid negative commentary from parents or any other direction enlarging matter doesn’t help it. Crossplay can be thrilling. Also for some it is just cosplay. People have different types of bodies and sometimes they bend better to female silhouette and sometimes male. Sometimes the favorite character just happens to be male. When you cosplay, it’s all and only about a character. Cosplay isn’t reality, which sometimes seems to be forgotten. It’s just like theater, acting a role of somebody else than you. That is why I see the term crossplay as a descriptive word, not as an competing hobby next to cosplay.

As a side note, I need to add that sometimes I just love the term, because mind games are fun! For example, one time I saw a cosplay, where a girl crossplayed a boy who was crossplaying a girl. I only have cosplayed a girl who crossdressed as a boy.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

General view on the progress and contacts trial run

Midsummer Day is on the next weekend. While everyone else are staring at a ridiculously huge campfire and eating sausages with potato salad, I shall try to finish all the incomplete stuff for Joxter and Muddler. Yoki will spend the weekend away, but she’s been really efficient these past few days. She found the perfect suede jacket to be torn to materials for Muddler’s ears.

Attaching rather real looking tail.

I already altered Muddler’s sock patterns according to our test version, but I’m going to start sewing on Saturday. I don’t want Yoki to be around when I start to curse and blame all the innocent creatures on Earth when things get difficult. I also finished Joxter’s hat. Only thing I still need to do with my costume is to weather it and possible find character loyal undershirt. The coat is pretty hot to wear.

Unidentified flying objects drying/flying in Yoki's room.

By the way, my convention envy got downgraded when I realized that there is only under few weeks to get the cosplays together. I’m bit worried for our companion Karan. I heard from Yoki, that she has made all the easy stuff, when I asked about the condition of her cosplay last weekend. We talked via Skype today, both parties working on the costumes. Karan assured that she will make it. Let's still cross our fingers!

Yoki painting the base shoes for Muddler's socks.

Now to the contact lenses. We bought them from Cybershop when they had sale going on. It was a nice coincidence that I found a pair for us both for half the price they originally were. Yoki’s lenses are 2-tone Onyx grey and mine are 3-tone Aqua marine. They are labeled to last a year. On our infrequent use possibly longer. We both have contacts on our left eyes, right on the picture.
It's always pretty weird to put the lenses in the eyes after a long period of time. But next to that, they work nicely for our purpose.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Make-up tests for Joxter's nose continues...

Make-up test for Joxter

I got inspired yesterday and made a trial version for Joxter's make-up. I still need to improve the shape of the brown nose area. When I was applying make-up to my nose, I got caught up with the thought, WHY the nose is darker than rest of the skin… Which is quite irrelevant, when you go trough all the polymorphous creatures on Moomin Valley. But still.

I tried to alter the shape of my eye by the placement of the eye-liner. In the corners it's on the inner eyelids and in the middle on the outer, to fake the strict cornered, almond look of the eyes which Joxter has. I used brown and black pencil eye-liners and a lot of fading. The last, black lining is left un-touched. For the nose I put basic foundation on a palette and took a piece of bronzer and made a paste from them. I used a sponge to apply it. The sides need some more fading, I think. The base is just foundation I usually use. I applied bronzer under the cheekbones and under the jaw to make the shape of the face more distinct. Flash tends to make face look flat as a pancake.

The wig still needs some styling. I need to lighten it and try to flip the ends. For the make-up, I will apply the darker foundation paste on the whole forehead. And I will make the paste more beige and natural looking. It looks too terracottaish. I'm not wearing contacts on this particular photo. I altered the color a bit with Photoshop, but it’s still little off from the assumed, more turquoise color. “The contact lenses- test drive” will happen after few days. That’s something to look forward to!

Friday, June 18, 2010

So hyped up!

Yesterday I went trough cosplay blogs and sites to fill the late night hours. It was quite obvious that Desucon was held last weekend. Almost every Finnish cosplay or anime related blog had an entry about it. And suddenly July seems so far away! I think I got some sort of convention envy for reading and watching people’s experiences from Desucon. Luckily, first aid for the nasty disease was lying on the floor when I got back to work. Postman had delivered our tickets to Tracon. The symptoms are bearable now. I just need to fight the urge to push everything else aside and finish our costumes.

After some investigation on different sites, it was clear that I had missed tons of great costumes. If I summarize some opinions and observations, the level of cosplay in Finland has taken a step up. The bar has been raised, I believe. Not only for the cosplayers, but also for the conventions. I still haven’t found bad critique towards the convention itself. Of course there is some, but it’s rather neutral and pretty normal for any bigger scale event.

Euro Cosplay preliminary was held at Desucon, which must have affected the level of the costumes. I checked some videos from the contest and was mostly like "Woah!", even if I didn't recognize every character. The winner of the preliminaries will attend to the championships at London MCM Expo. All I can say... Go Balthier, go!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ears, toes and saucepans

There is about half a month till Tracon and we are on pretty good standing, even if there is still work to do. As I earlier posted, we haven't done much. The progress on the costumes was on hold for two weeks because of our vacations. This week is no exception. I'm stuck with my real work and commissions. Yoki has a summer job and is preparing her graduation party. But next week we try to get the costumes in a condition, which would allow us to have a pre-photoshoot. Meanwhile I took some pictures of some objects I haven't yet posted.

The saucepan is a real saucepan. It will be altered by Esa, our dear metal expert who will make the handle on it and hammer it up a bit. Originally pan is from anonymous donor, who found it lying around his cottage. We were quite close of giving up on the search of an old aluminum pot. And we wanted it to be aluminum. I can't see Muddler's headwear to be anything else. Gladly, when inquiring many people the word will get around and we were lucky to obtain the hunted item.

Muddler's socks will be built on old ballerina shoes. The pattern is a mixture of shoe cover technique and altered glove patterns. The material is thick linen, normal one would possibly tear in use. The sock pictured below is a model. Yoki wasn't happy with the outcome of the first sock and after she pointed out some minor errors, I got the urge to do them again. I wasn't too happy about that at the time. Perhaps I even let out some bad words. Anyone who has sewn gloves from non-stretchy fabric with seam allowance of few millimeters knows how annoying it is.

To obtain Joxter’s shoes was surprisingly easy. I went trough only four (which is the number of them existing in our town) flee markets to find what I was looking for. They are one size too small, but what would cosplay be without some pain. I only need to weather them some more and possibly change the laces.

Muddler's so-called-head is made from recycled leather from old suede jacket. I like to work with leather, because you don't need to hem it and you can stretch it to some extent. The pieces of the scalp are stitched together with tense zigzag. The seams will not be visible. They will be covered by the ears and the saucepan. We still need to find natural beige leather or fur for the lighter parts of the ears and the best way to attach the whole thing on Yoki's head.

Monday, June 7, 2010

CasualtyCosplay FAQ

Nothing much have happened on the costume front and my brains are on a summer mode, so I will take a hold of Yoki's suggestion of answering the frequently asked questions. The questions are collected from the comments on our Youtube account.

Where do you get your outfits?

This is the most popular question of all. I think I have answered this regarding most of our costumes here on the blog. But presumably, if I have not mentioned commissioners then the costumes can be labeled as our own creation. Information about the wigs or the shops we have purchased them I have seen quite pointless to share until now, because most of the queries came from other countries than Finland and we tend to buy them locally. But I know we have some Finnish readers, so this is all for them.

I might get some of those mentioned Finnish cosplayers gasp with this confession... If we buy the wigs new, we buy them from Finnish costume store Punanaamio. Now, now... Hold your horses! One error with cheap plastics wigs taught us to buy washable XTPRO-quality wigs. They are not as good as kanelon wigs, but for our purposes they have worked well. They can be dyed to some extent and styled easily. I have worked with few types and can recommend shoulder to short wigs as they are. They are thick enough not to expose the net underneath. The longest possible XTPRO needs weft add-ons for my tastes. The size of the wigs suits us pretty well, which is quite crucial, because they are not adjustable. Our head sizes are between 56-57.

Contact lenses we purchase from Cybershop. They sell lenses for cosmetic use only! I have always been really pleased with the shop, so I highly recommend their services.

How did you make Mayuri's hat and ear-chin piece/Deidara's scope, ponytail and palms/Sasori's body?

These are the questions which I usually leave to be, if they are not send trough private messages or e-mails. These inquiries for detailed information and construction tips usually consider props and costume parts which are expensive to buy, rare or they are not sold anywhere. I take pride on these particular objects, because I have found way to accomplish them. And to succeed on them I have used many working hours and my imagination, which are rather valuable for any artist. So no, I’m not going to share step by step tutorials of them publicly. I always answer the inquirer personally and try to describe the process verbally the best I can. Normally I ask them to not to share the information as it is.

Questions about clothes and patterns I answer willingly. They are the things I don’t struggle with much and have professional knowledge about. I have been thinking of making tutorials from pattern making, because it is rather popular subject on the questions I get.

Is Yoki a girl or a boy ?

Yes, this is one of the frequently asked questions. And Yoki is surely a girl.

Where are you?

This is not probably a question, but people tend to misunderstad where we are from. To make things clear, I looked out a map. And no, we don't have polar bears.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Making animu-faces

Note: Oh, this is such a silly post.

Posing isn't always easy. Even harder its in conventions, where you can do little to improve pictures and strike a perfect pose with little thinking. That is possibly why cosplayers go with safe/same pose photo by photo. One of these poses must be the kawaii-pose and the many variations of it. But really, the base is always the same. Big, wide eyes, high photo angle and cute, quirky smile.

After some experiments, I noticed that it is really quite easy to achieve, even if you are not sweet and innocent girl on her teens. And now, I shall share my knowledge with this specific and highly descriptive step by step guidance!

Starting point: Relax your face. Think of something cute and sweet, like cupcakes and candies.

Nose manipulation: Tense the side muscles of your nose, like if you were going to sneeze. The tip of your nose will fall a bit and the length between your upper lip and nose will slightly increase. Tension affects also the upper lip. This is an optional step. I think it makes the next phase easier.

Smile: Press your lower lip tightly against the upper lip. Try to smile. Don't worry, if you think you look like a duck. It's part of the process.

Vogue...Strike a pose: Turn to the camera, tilt your head down and open your eyes wide. Lift your eyebrows to create an illusion of innocence. Add weird hand gesture. Kawaii~~!