mandag 30. juni 2014

I had an amazing time at DreamHack

I often have amazing time at cons and love to look back at all the stuff that happened when I get back to my normal life. So here are a few thought from DreamHack Summer 2014.

I got to hold a cosplay panel for Riot Games, that was amazing. I also wrote a sum up of the topics I talked about here. 

I also had a lovely interview with Deumovochka Cosplay from the Russian League of Legends cosplay group, so nice and I have to check out what's happening in Russia cosplay wise. I almost only cosplay in Scandinavia, I must broaden my horizon.
Me and Deumovochka Cosplay

And the cosplay competition was a chapter on it's own. They had great prizes and awesome judges, both Yaya Han and Kamui. 

You can watch the entire cosplay show and prize ceremony here, I even won a prize, gosh ^^

More about the winners on the DreamHack webpage. Look at this incredible gang, so proud to be a part of this group. 

And I took like 1000 selfies with all kind of amazing people, these are the ones I took. 
Top left Yaya HAn and Kamui, top right Cosplayer Tine Marie Riis (SC2 vs LoL) Bottom left Nova and Sarah cosplayers, bottom right LiquidSnute, one of the worlds best starcraft 2 players. 

And if this wasn't so amazing already, the producers for the StarCraft 2 tournament wanted to do an interview with me before the finale, on live Swedish television. You can see the interview on twitch here. And I really want to do a Kerrigan costume now. 

Last I got a photo of me and the winner of the SC contest, TeaJa (while I'm wearing a Razor head set) They actually gave me a headset later, so I'm super happy. 
Trying to not get makeup all over their headset. 

fredag 20. juni 2014

Cosplay Panel writeup

During DreamHack Summer 2014 I was asked by Riot Games to hold a panel about cosplay construction, and I was very honored to do so. 

And here is a sum up of my key points from the presentation which is also a great introduction to cosplay making in itself. So if you are neew to cosplay, this can be helpful.  

The panel was not be a step by step showcase, but more a overall introduction to some methods and techniques I have used in general. You can find all the step by step tutorials here on my blog though, e.g. for the Vi cosplay

Because I learned so much from my Vi costume I used it as my main example. 

I could hold a panel about planning alone; to get a costume done in time for an event you need to know what to do and how much time you got. There is nothing more frustrating and stressful than sitting at your hotel room the night before a con or competition and finishing your costume. 

Plan out which parts must be finished at which time, so that paint can dry and adjustments can be made. And try the entire costume on before the con. Suddenly something doesn't fit together, you can’t bend your knee or go to the toilet. Then you will have time to fix these issues. 

And cosplay is an expensive hobby even though you try to use cheap materials. Mistakes happen, the wig comes in the wrong shade and you needed way more fabric than you thought. Find out how much you can spend on your costume, so you don’t sit with a half-finished cosplay and no money to finish it. You can always upgrade it later; I do that all the time.

And travel. Are you going to bring your cosplay on a plane? If you have a large bow, a sword or a staff you can construct them so they can be taken apart. And using a shampoo bottle can fix that issue. I attached the bottle to one piece and the cork to the other. This way I can easily screw it back together.
Reference photos
Another part of planning is to gather as many reference photos as possible. You might also get a lot of variation between in-game and splash art. Only If you are entering a contest make sure to send in the photo that you costume is built after ;)

Go big.
I say, always start with the most difficult part, the part that you have no idea how to build. Because if you can’t build that one difficult and essential parts, then it would be no point in building the rest of the costume. Even Yaya Han said the same thing during her and Kamui's Q&A at DreamHack. 

For Vi the hardest part would be the gloves.

Planning the gloves
And that leads us to even more planning. The large gloves are a bit incomprehensible to start building, but if we divide them into smaller parts, you can easily get an overview. I divided the hand into fingers, the back of the hand, the core and the knuckles were all the pieces would be attached together.

The pieces
It is easier to focus on making one finger, the layout on the back and the core. And when they are done, you need to assemble. Here is the full tutorial on how the gloves were built

So we know what parts to make, but which materials can we use.

Being a cosplayer doesn't mean that you are a professional costume maker. But a creative cosplayer can make amazing props out of almost everything. These are all props and costume parts I have made using cardboard. You need to treat it to get the finish you want, cover it with glue to make it more water resistant, smooth it out with plaster or filler and so on. The problem with card board is that you won’t get durable props, they will break after being used for a while.

The Vi gloves are mainly build out of cardboard, because I needed them to be light weight and cheap. Paper mache is also a great solution for making a base, the chest armor and splicer mask is covered with strips of newspaper dipped in a mix of water and glue.

Expanding foam
Ideal to use if you want big props, as the foam releases gas which makes it expand. The Vi pauldrons are made this way. I started with paper mache over a balloon to get the shape. Covered it with foam, when dry (and wait until the next day) carve out your shape. It will be a lot of air bubbles, so the entire prop need to be covered in paper mache, filler or cardboard to get a smooth surface.

Foam mats
This is a recurring cosplay material. I haven’t worked so much with it myself, these photos are borrowed from Kroforce cosplay, and it illustrates the potential in armor building. Use a sharp knife, stencils found online and glue together with hot glue or contact glue. To prevent paint from cracking cover it with wood glue or plasti dip.

This is the darling of the cosplay world at the moment. You can use this thermoplastic material to make almost everything from armors to sculpting. The down side is that it is a little expensive, but it is very easy to work with and very durable. I forgot the Adjutant helmet out on my veranda in February during a rainstorm over night and it didn't break.

How to work with worbla
The most known way is the sandwich method. One layer of worbla, craft foam in between and another layer of worbla. This makes very sturdy parts and you can find several tutorials on Kamui's page. I wanted to test if it was possible to use less worbla, and made the Vi chest armor with just one layer. It works, and is much more flexible, but can get very wobbly if you are not very careful when building.

But you can also use one layer of worbla and stiffen it up with cardboard instead of craft foam, as I had done on the Adjutant Helmet.

You cut it using a scissors and shape it using a heat gun. When warm the glue within the material is activated and it sticks to itself perfectly. Add more details directly to your piece. And there you have it.

Paint Time
To bring our props to life, a great paint job can really elevate your cosplay, and here are a few more tips for you.

How to paint?
There are endless ways to paint and many different brands and types.
But it is always a good idea to prime your prop first. This will give you an even color to make the true colors pop. It can also be used smooth out the surface. Gesso is the name of one primer.

Spray paint gives an even surface, and many thin layers is the way to go. Work only in a well-ventilated area!
But beware, to not spray paint Styrofoam! Maybe you have spent 40 hours carving out the perfect sword and it is finally time to paint. Then spray-paint will melt it! Either prime it first with glue or filler. Or use acrylic paint.

Acrylic paint is a great way to paint, you will bet brush strokes, but it is way easier to get paint in every crease with a brush. Or you can use a sponge and stipple the paint on, gives a great gradient hue.

But a base paint isn’t everything. Using several techniques can bring out the realism and depth of you prop. These two gloves were painted with the exact same base paint.

Highlight, shading, weathering
These are three methods to make prop paint pop. Weathering is the process to make it look like your prop have been used (gotten dirty, scratches, paint flaking) Mix a darker acrylic paint with water and smear it over your prop. Make sure to get it in every crack.

Shading, means adding darker paint (also watered out) at any low point to bring out depth.

And high light means adding a light color to any high points (to create fake lighting). Can also use silver marker to “scratch” away paint from weapons and armor to create battle damage. 

Painting worbla
A quick guide to painting worbla. The surface often is very rough and you need to prime it, and we are talking about 10 layers of gesso or 4 layers of wood glue. You can’t sand wood glue, so if you need to sand, go for gesso.

Then I spray painted a base color. Then I added a very thin layer of silver spray (a way of highlighting, since it will only hit high points). Added a new gold base paint. Smeared it with brown acrylic paint to get a weathered look. Also added black paint in every scratch (low point). And last added silver along side the scratches to highlight the edges.

Special effects.
I love to do something extra with my props, add a wow-factor, and many of the contestants at DreamHack had done exactly this. 

Adding lights are a great way to do that, and not really that difficult to implement. You need a battery and a circuit (wired) going from + to – And on this circuit you place what you want to be powered by the battery, like a LED. The thing about LED is that you have to attach it the correct way, the long leg is the positive side, and you have to make the current go inn there. From battery from to LED +. Also LED can burn out if applied too high voltage. You need to attach a resistor. You can find calculator for this online.
Or if you don’t want to make your own circuit, then use a el-wire (all ready with battery pack) or a flash light.

How about we take to another level. We can add smoke in a con friendly way. (Fire is usually not allowed.)

You have your circuit (battery and wires) and we can place anything we like on it. I wanted steam for my gloves. I found out that you can buy smoke on a can for testing smoke alarms. Ok, now I need a way to activate it without using my hands. A helicopter rotor, also known as a servo, can be used. Problem is that you need a device to “tell” the servo which position the blade is going to stand in, so I needed a servo tester. Wire it up, and we have steam.

How the steam works

Last wow-factor is sound. And here you don’t need to wire at all. Buy a stand alone mini speaker that runs on batteries. And if you build you prop in a way so you can take the speaker out, then you can reuse it for several different prop (making it a less expensive investment per prop) just hook it to you phone and play off music or other sound effects.

Bonus Levels
These are a few extra topics I added if we had time in the end of the presentation. 

Molding, casting and latex
For more details photos and steps on how to make special effect makeup and a Liara head piece see this tutorial

Wig styling
I have also written a more explanatory tutorial on wig styling and needle felting to create dreads. 

And lastly, you don't have to know how to do silicon and resin casts to sculpt props, this is clay and the full tutorial is here

 There you have it, my list of cosplay life hacks. Hope you found something useful, or just liked even though you knew all this already. 

Cosplay will always continue. 

fredag 6. juni 2014

Adjutant cosplay from StarCraft 2

I have learned so much from this cosplay. And I am so happy with the results. At the moment I'm working on updating it. There are always parts that I think can look a bit better, and details you don't know if works before you see it on photos. Mainly I will add more tubes to my skirt, making it a bit fuller. 

But for you who are looking for how to make this costume, tutorials are here. 
And here are some photos. 
Photo by: Martin, FrameLab AB

Photo by Katrix Media

Photo by Pål Andresen

But wait.. .there's more. Since I won best in show with my stage performance I have to share this with you. And If you need any tips on how to edit music/sound for your performance check out this tutorial

Also I plan to film the makeup appliance process the next time I'll put it on, I promise. (Which will be my first makeup video tutorial)