Saturday, October 31, 2009

we kept our promise

this is a quick post
we managed to do snufkin's photoshoot within our time limit.
the weather was nice, sunny, a bit cold but not freezing.
no casualties happened (hiron tested the water temperature by accident) must be our record.

nuuskamuikkunen, photo by eila

the video will be subject: behold the bubblehead nurse!

ready to eat some brains..or maybe not, pic by eila

-yoki out

Creepy Halloween!

Sneak peek of some sort for sake of Halloween. Have nice day with or without costumes! <3

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Photoshoot... progress!

This saturday we'll be able to have a photoshoot! The weather forecast, if we can trust is, promises us sun. This is what we have been waiting for. We need to get up early in the morning to take advance of the short daylight period and I will be busy trying to make the shoot succesful and to make my own costume ready for the night. Halloween seems to be the most costume orientated day of the year, both of us dressing up. So exited!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Competitions- only for the talented?

This is a subject that has been recently discussed on Finnish cosplay forum at aniki, so I thought of revealing my thoughts about cosplay competitions.

We haven't participated in any competition so far, because there have been regulations that doesn't fit our current projects. It might be that we have a pair cosplay, when you can take apart in the competition as group, minimum three persons. And we don't wan't to compete against each other in individual competition, because... well, that is'n how we roll.

The categories in competitions are really hard to put together and they alter drasticly in different conventions. I can see the pain behind dividing the branches of cosplay in separate groups. J-rockers and anime characters can't be put on same categories, just because the sources and the reality aspect is so different. And levels of costuming skills and experience should also be taken consideration, if the goal is to offer equal chances to everyone. That makes four different groups already. And if you start to look for more evaluations you come up with more, that is for sure. Before you know it cosplay competitions are like dog shows, all categories have their own judges on their own rings.

I think the most functional assemble is to divide the experts and novises in different groups. If the convention has a theme, let's say, like japanese pop culture and fashion, there could be specified group for lolita, ganguro and other costumes related. In Finland I have seen this alignment of making something for everyone. Hello, that doesn't work and eats up audiences interest in the competition.

Even thought Finland is a small country, we have nice collection of conventions. It's likely that there will be enought competitions to attend to, even if they are more defined and narrowed. One convention shouldn't include everything. Not only for the amount of work it needs to be organized well, but also to help cosplayers finish their costumes properly and to be proud to show them off. And because the fan base and number of cosplayers have increased, it would be wise to make conventions more confined than they are now.

Of course you can't forget groups and pairs. They should have different evaluations than in individual competition, like show elements and dynamics. I haven't seen too many group performances which have intriqued me. Usually they are build on fanservice and yaoi, because they work for the audience. Ok, yes, you should entertain the audience, but the judges are the ones who should be convinced. Also with your costumes, even if they are not the first prior in evaluation. Sometimes costumes in group competitions are just pain in the eye. In pair or couple categories especially costumes and the craftmanship should be somehow in the same level in an entry.

One thing that personally irritate me, is the "And the next group entry is number... umm... number 18, because numbers 15, 16 and 17 haven't confirmed their participation." Well, that is nice. Perhaps we could have been on the stage if they would have informed earlier that those mentioned groups don't have the courage to step up and get their act together. I may be harsh about this, but I has happened to us. Young and enthusiastic cosplayers sizzle about their debute entrance on group cosplay competition and then they just lack the interest. Not all the drop-outs are like that. Some may have real issues, more than they just didn't feel like it.

That makes me think is pre-selection a bad thing? Nowadays bigger conventions require background tapes from the participants. That shows already commitment from the group and will reduce the number of drop-outs. So, good thinking. In individual contest pre-selection isn't that important. Judges work is made easier with forms, where competants need to fill beforehand information about the character. I don't know, haven't done them, but also descripting the costume as detailed as possible would be rather helpful. I say big no-no for purchased costumes in competitions, but everyone can't necesseraly make everything by themselves. Commissioned items as part of selfmade costume I see rather acceptable, if and only if the information about those objects have been given in advance. This way the judges can evaluate the costume as a creation of cosplayer and as a whole package.

One subject that has been discussed is the standard of the costumes seen in the competition. It has been pointed out that it has gone down. I have noted it also and really the best costumes can be seen outside the competitions, wandering around the area in all their grace. Which get to me to the prizes and positions. No more plushies and stupid honorable mentions which are handed out like free samples of tissues. Competition IS a competition. Sometimes cosplay needs to be serious business in order to get the hard working and ambitious costumers to participate. They don't step up just for pat on the head. They want criticism and proper evaluation. It would also make the judges work more interesting and profound.

In every competition I have seen so-and-so costumes worn by people who are eager to be seen on stage and taking part in the competition for the thrill of it. They are usually quite young and cosplay is their new interesting hobby. No, they should not be taken out, because they might grow to these hard working and ambitious cosplayers, but then again they should not compete from the prizes next to novises and experts who really are there for the win. There is always problem with half time shows. The time when the judges are making the decisions about winners it could be possible to have more playful and entertaining competition. Like show-class, newcomers or something. Selected jury could give honorable mentions for the participants and point out things that could be taken concideration when making a costume. This way real judges can concentrate on their work, the best cosplayers could be selected and the newcomers could have their moment in spotlight, gathering confidence and having a nice experience.

How to make that happen? Strict participation rules for the real competition. Of course they could wary between conventions, but all together they are way too loose right now. Seems like anyone who is quick enough will be qualified.

One matter that flares up a little fury inside me, is the case where talented cosplayers drop out from competitions because of some whining individuals, who can't take it when well made costumes win the prizes over and over again. That is really pitiful, because those cosplayers usually deserve to be the winners and have worked really hard for their costumes. Again I have noted that the whiny ones are more likely beginners. Note: the experts have also made their first costumes and usually they are not too proud of them and seeing pictures of them makes them want to have a moment of good old facepalm. Improvement is a result related to that and that is something I personally am trying to achieve. Hell, I try to beat everyone who have made the costume I'm working on. That is healthy competition.

Cosplay competitions are the main events I'm looking forward to when attending conventions. I want to see accurate and well made costumes that stand out and are worn by costumers who have put time and effort in making them. The other, rich and playful side of cosplay can be seen around conventions and in the internet. Fun and games for everyone equally, but also something to fulfill the needs of ambitious ones.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Weekly- Pick a pic

Prop ninja! Yoki appropriately prepared to sand her sword 2008.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Making of Bubblehead Nurse - Mask

Girl known as rainman at had made an awesome tutorial for Bubblehead Nurse, but for some reason I can't find them anymore. I used them as a guideline with few alterations. (For those who look for a tutorial for the movie version nurse, check out this tutorial by MithriLady.

Bubblehead Nurse- Mask

First thing to do is to construct the base for the mask. This is achieved by building it from newspaper and glue on a wig head. Everybody knows that a wig head is notably smaller than a normal head, which means that it needs to be padded.

I took two measurements. One from top of your head to the under the ear and other around the head. Then I padded the wig head with scrap fabric according to my measurements. And remember that you have a nose! Pad the face up and amplify the features a bit. When you are done with the padding wrap the whole thing in plastic, so that the glue doesn't stick to the fabric.

Then I cut newspapers to strips and started overlapping them with adhesive around the head. There is no rules how to place the strips. I made four layers and I don't recommend less. I used all purpose glue, because that was all I had home. I added a drop of water to it, to make it more runny.

After the glue has dried cut a back slit and trim the neckwhole according to yours!

When it was all done, I left the head to dry overnight. The next morning I cut it open with carpet knife from the top of the head to the back of the neck. I pulled some padding out to make the removal of the hollow paper mask easier. I roughtly cut eye holes and one for the mouth because I'd really would like to drink when wearing the costume. I also made the neck hole little bigger. I didn't have to make the back slit bigger, but if you have problems putting the mask on, then it's recommendable. The slit will be covered later.

Add tricot so that it overlaps to make the "seams" more durable.

For some extra support I put the mask back to the wig head and covered it with basic white tricot and glue. I love using this tecnique. It makes the mask more sturdy, but doesn't harden it like clay would. This is done the same way as with paper. Cutted facric strips are glued to the mask.

Don't glue the gauze too close to the eye and mouth holes. This way you can move it aside if you need to drink or perhaps see properly.

Then I took gauze and glued it on to the mask. I had leftover gauze from my school work, so I used it instead of gauze that I had dyed in tea. It was dyed, but it was just moderately aged (read: too white!). After I was done with glueing I painted the mask. The result is quite harsh, but it doesn't matter, because I was still in the middle of the progress. I used black, yellow and red acrylic paints.

Be sure that you have enought glue ready when working with fabric, which really sucks it up.

After the glue and paint had dried I added the second layer of tea dyed gauze. I had two different widths. First I glued the wider one on the mask. Then I repeated the painting process. The point of doing two painted layers is to make it look realisticly oozed trought. I added glue in the inside the mask and turned all loose ends of gauze inside to finish the neckhole. Then I added vertical strip of gauze on the other side of the back slit. When you put the mask on you can place the strip over the slit to hide it. I tried to fit the mask in my head after wrapping gauze all over the mask, but it didn't strech enough. If you work with elastic gauze, then you can follow radical-rain's tutorial!

Less paint is better. Do it with left hand (if right handed) to prevent "painted look".

Then I just wrapped the narrower gauze over the mask hiding the right eye-whole and seams on the lower layer gauze which bothered me. Tah-dah! Mask is ready. I'm still going to add this interesting "goop" following radical-rain's recipe to make it look more disgusting.

Almost finished!

weekly - pick a pic

original characters Tsubame and Yoki (autumn 2006)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tea, anyone?

Tea dye for gauze and a nurse cap

"How to tea dye" and many more helpful tutorials can be found via Dark Elements! Awesome and inclusive list of links, check them out.

Monday, October 19, 2009

This is Halloween, Halloween, Halloween!

The ultimately favorite holiday for cosplayers? Perhaps, perhaps it is. One more reason to make a quick-quick-quickie-costume because you just can't miss the chance to dress up!

In Finland Halloween is quite new consept. Kids who are now on their early teens sees Halloween as fairly normal holiday. When I was something like thirteen-fourteen, we had "Halloween party" with my friends. We made ghost costumes from old sheets and watched horror movies all night and that was it. Yet the celebration of Halloween is common now, trick or treating still hasn't become a custom. Some adventurous kids wander around their closest neightbours in hopes of sweets. As the Halloween is a imported holiday in Finland 31. October is celebrated as the All Saint's day. Before All Saint's day got labelled as we today call it, was the last day of October celebrated amongs the farmers as the end of the harvest season.

Nowadays the end of October is more a commercial fest with craft stores selling cheap witch hats and vampire capes. That is not a necessarily a bad thing, if it gets people wear costumes and not to fear others reactions. A official day for goofing around in strange clothes makes good sense in Finland, where it's quite un-common to have publicly fun just for the sake of it. I'm glad that Halloween with costumes is getting more popular, because we desperately need to loosen up from all the formality.

Most recent Zombie walk- Helsinki -poster by Emilia Keskinen

I have always seen our hometown as a truly prejudice place, but it got me few day ago! I came across with first ever Zombie walk in our hometown! First Zombie walk in Finland were arranged 2006 in our capital city, Helsinki. I know that the origins of Zombie walk isn't connected to Halloween in any way, but I think it gathers more participants when it's held linked to other happening including costumes. It somehow makes it more acceptable.

(off-topic: How the hell I'm supposed to get home from work after that suprise snowfall! The flakes are bigger than my thumb!)

Now back to the subject. I introduced the idea of a quick-quick-quickie-costume for Halloween. I don't know do I have time to attend the Zombie walk, but I'm going to this Halloween party/gig, so people in costumes are more than welcome. To celebrate the undeadness of this holiday I thought of doing Bubblehead Nurse from Silent Hill. It's easy, cheap and quick costume to put together and suits for the bar's atmosphere. I need to do the mask detachable if I wish to drink anything... Well, the drinking could be possible without taking of the mask, but I would like to be recogniced by my friends. And I'm so going to win the prize this year! Last year I won, but I was in the bathroom when they called the winners on the stage. I was clueless about all until the next day, when people asked me multiple times where I was and why I didn't go get the prize. I told that I was in the bathroom and got startled looks. What you were doing there? Why it took so long? Goddamit! People, when wearing a corset and a bustle, it really takes some time...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What's next?

That is a really good question! We had planned a photoshoot for tomorrow, but the weather is somewhat horrible right now. I think it's not going to improve much... It might even snow a bit. There is nothing wrong with snow, but when it's wet, windy and the sun is nowhere to be seen the circumstances aren't that great.

The only option right now is to wait for the next weekend. Our photoshoot location is an hour away from the town. My timetable is quite flexible and I even have few extra days off work, but Yoki's school days last till three or four o'clock. After she gets home we need to pack our stuff and move to the location. Yoki needs to put on the costume and make-up. Then we can start shooting and all the previous have taken so much time, that it's already evening and dark. And I mean dark. Natural light is the only light source we have "out there".

I hope that during the next week Finnish autumn shows its beautiful side.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Weekly - Pick a pic

This pic was taken 2008 by me. Yoki was trying on her Jasdero costume.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Casualties happen

Cosplay costumes always suffer, even thought you try to make them as durable as you can. We are not an exception, so I thought that I list the casualties we have had during cons. Photoshoots usually goes so well that there is nothing to them.

Ropecon 2006

We attended this con as Hitsugaya Toushiro and Matsumoto Rangiku. Nothing bad happened really. Only the wigs which we used got quite unwearable. In a matter, they were bad to even start with. After Ropecon we really started to pay attention to the wigs.

Yoki edit: Hiron's face was on the danger zone. I hit her in the face twice with Hyorinmaru's hilt.

Finncon 2007 / Animecon V

Okay, to start with my ear, which was numb till the next day because of the hawk eye Deidara has. I had to attach it not only to the headband but also to my ear with transparent rubberband. Not cool. I don't remember was it Animecon or Ropecon, but our warajis needed some serious fixing after the con. The emergency aid was to tie the loose ends and hope for the best.

Yoki edit: The day we cosplayed Sasori and Deidara were rainy and the wig I used were dyed. So the white inside of Sasori's hat were pink at the end of the day. Also the puppet body's holders

Drinking and especially eating was really hard for Yoki. Pic by Vibracao 2007.

Ropecon 2007

Yoki took part in Twister competition while cosplaying Sasori. The puppet body didn't like the idea. It folded from middle torso and is still apparent. It can't be fixed, but I'm sure that only ones who know it existes is me and Yoki herself. Also Mayuri's head-ear piece started to fall apart during the con. We had super glue with us, so the problem was fixed. One of Akon's horns also fell off. Again glue participated, but this time the type was more skin friendly.

Yoki edit: Holders broke again from Sasori's puppet body. Poppers came loose from both Akatsuki jackets. Mayuri's clothes were white from the bodypaint. Mayuri's chin piece had three holes instead of two. Deidara's wig suffered from serious hair loss and it lost almost all of it's shape.

Hiron edit: Uh... I didn't remember there were so many.

Tracon III (2008)

This was the first time I was one with more casualties. I manage to broke my sword while trying to get trought a pack of people. I kept it behind me and sheated, but little did that do. Also Yoki got crack on her sword, which was two times bigger than mine. And in the end I fixed mine, but it broke again. Now it's in two pieces, yay!

Yoki edit: Poppers again!

Proof that the sword is in two pieces. But somehow it fits this character. Pic by Yoki 2008.

Finncon 2008 / Animecon VI

I learned heavily that fake leather doesn't work with hot glue. Our shoe covers started to detach from the base shoes. After each day I had to glue them again. Yoki got tangled with her wig many times and after the con it was quite horrible. So horrible that we decided to buy a new one and sacrifice the old for the greater good. I got some scarring because I didn't have the time to do my binding like it should be done: With care! I had to take off the sports tape after a long shower and it still took some suovenir with it. And we also messed some of our costume parts with the grey bodypaint.

Yoki edit: Jasdero's pants lost some lacing. Skin damage occured while taking off the body paint. Back pain as result from acting and walking like Jasdero.

Tracon IV (2009)

I was the casualty. I walked around the con with a cane. It would have been fun if I had cosplayed as Dr. House but no... The pain. Oh my, the pain.


Yoki helped me a bit with this post. Well, age doesn't come alone.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cosplay and recycling

Cosplay can be really expensive. And when you cosplay as double you easily get three digit number. When you need to buy two pairs of contact lenses, two wigs and twice the amount of fabric you just can't keep up with your ability to spend munny!

I try to avoid excessive consumption every day and naturally that affects costume making. There are many ways to cut down your expenses and one is recycling. Recycling can mean many different things. You can use old clothes as part of your costume, make props from found materials, alter your old wigs or plan your costumes so that you can use pieces of the older one for the new one.

Here is an example from our most resent cosplay which we both attended.

For our Jasdero and Debitto costumes half of the materials were recycled. Debitto's jacket and Jasdero's vest were made out of fake leather blazer, jacket, skirt and pants bought from flee market. Vest's armholes and hem are made out of old knit. Lining in Jasdero's vest and in both hoods are made of two stiched vests. Shoes we also hunted down from flee market. Golden paint we used for the guns was leftover from previous project like the black bodypaint we used for the make-up. Debitto's black wig was used on different character and Jasdero's was bought previously for other purposes. I made Debitto's black under shirt from scrap tricot I had and the white one from oversized mens T-shirt. Print was made with old fabric paint. Yoki made Jasdero's arm bandages from padding made out of scrap piece of cotton. Bandage she used was raided from the first aid kit. Yoki made the rings in Jasdero's head piece from aluminium sticks... again lefovers from previous costumes. We comissioned Jasdero's... uhum.... the light bulb thing from Esa. He made it from stuff he found from his work place.

The cable coming from Jasdero's has actually a light! Photo by Hiron from 2008.

What whe bought new for the costumes:

-few meters of thick satin for the pants

-satin ribbon for the pants and details
-two iron on patches and poppers for Debitto's jacket
-a half meter piece of white fake fur for the hoods and shoes (it was on discount in the fabric store, because it was cut incorrectly)
-one and a half meter of fake leather for the shoe covers
-four zippers for the shoe covers
-contact lenses
-grey bodypaint
-two toy guns

For the example cosplay we didn't use any innovative solutions which we usually want or need to find. Creativity will save you money especially if you happen to find promising materials from the street. The blue insulation material what we usually use for our props is quite expensive but you just might find few good pieces of it near construction sites. I just grab the little pieces from junk piles, but for bigger objects I ask permission. If your relatives are renovating their house you could possibly go trought their left overs. Look for chaulk, silicon, styrofoam, adhesive, paint, glue...

Using recycled material is one chapter, the other is tho re-usage of existing parts of the costumes. The most effective way to re-use is to look for character look-alikes. It's really easy to cosplay anyone from groups who have identical uniforms like Akatsuki from Naruto and Organization XII from Kingdom Hearts II. If you have cosplayed a character who has natural hair, not heavily styled and dintinctive kind you can easily alter the wig with wefts and different styling for different character. Personal opinion: styling is lot easier than dyeing. If the character has a different hair color but the style is same as your purchased one, buy a new wig.

For us the ultimate makeover wig is one that I bought ten years ago for my LARP character. Back then it was over shoulder lenght with soft curls. I used it once. The second time was when I graduated from high school. In Finland we have this masquarade thing before official graduation. Students dress up, throw candy for younger students, drive around the town on truck pallet throwing candy for random people, party and possibly get sick from driving around the town on truck pallet when it's snowing and cold in the middle of February... I didn't know anything about cosplay, but maybe Death from Sandman by Neil Gaiman was my first cosplay ever. After that the next time I used the wig was when I cosplayed Akon from Bleach. Then we made original characters, wig was used for Naoru. Last year I altered the wig with wefts for Debitto from D.Gray-man.

Wig evolution!

Contact lenses even for cosmetical use are costly, but they are definitely needed if you are pursuing detailed finish. Going trought your cosplay plan and finding characters with the same eye color is greatly advised. If you have many cosplays coming up try to put them in order so that the costumes for characters with same eye color are made inside a year timeline. In unfrequent use contact lenses stay wearable over the time the guideline says, if you remember to chance the liquid every now and then.

Recycling and cosplay takes effort, that's for sure. Another thing is imagination, but that comes along by itself when you toggle with materials looking for ways to put them in use. The unexpected materials we have picked up and used as part of the cosplays include mosquito net, tights (both in Mayuri's hat), plastic bottle necks and caps (attacments for the wings on Sasori's puppet body), straw mat (used in Akatsuki hats), lego bricks (Deidara's hawk eye) and Yoki made the base of Snufkin's pipe from rubber cork.

Anything is usable. Collect things and give your imagination a chance.