Thursday, March 31, 2011

Projects: Lilith Bat Ears: Darkstalkers

      The first project I did with Fossape was a relatively straight forward head piece for Alcyone MKR.  This is a bit more complex.  You have to do things like lapping and fusing the fosshape, and also doing spines.  It's still not all that hard, just follow along.  Of course, with any project the layout is important.  Now with something so organic like wings or "ears" you have to decide what you like.  I decided here for perky, and active rather than withdrawn  .With fosshape properly worked you can make pieces that stick out very far without any sag.  First you have to make a pattern.  This is more artistic than mechanical on this one.  Here's the picture I used as a model.  It's actually Morrigan, but the sisters have the same " ears, " and there are a million more pictures of Morrigan than Lilith.

So I made a pattern and I pinned it to a piece of the Fosshape 600. You always have to remember that Fosshape and similar heat activated products will shrink. I like to make a pattern for how I want it to turn out and cut it a half inch or more larger.  But, you can give yourself even more wiggle room, cause Fosshape is very easy to shape with scissors after it has been heated.

I know it looks ragged but there is a lot you can do once you start shaping.  I use a flat iron at it's highest temp setting for working Fosshape.  You need a hair flat iron that you can use exclusively for projects, never again for hair. This piece is going to need some strength to stick out that far.  So we need to fold the Fosshape over and fuse it to itself.

Fold it over, than press it together with your flat iron. To fuse it together you'll have to hold it for 15 seconds or so, depending on your iron.  For straight areas you can use the full length of the iron, for curves you have to use just the tip.  Keep in mind the side you fold to is now the back..  Next, you have to do the bottom part and fold over the stalk which needs the most strength.

  Now you have to work your way all the way along the top edge, this is where you need strength as well.  So fold all the edges along the top and the small section going off the stalk on the bottom.

Now this is done it's time to start some shaping.  Heat a section good and then sort of hold it in the shape you want, after a several seconds it will start to stiffen.

You can get the hang of this pretty quick.  One thing to remember is that it is very easy to trim this stuff with scissors once it hardens.  So if your edges look bad or the shape isn't quite right, don't worry.  At this point you are just giving curve to the piece.  After you get some curve, you need to do some spines.  You want to start at the tip of the middle spine and work your way to the claw. The spines are on the front of the piece, not the back that has the folds. With this technique your'e pinching the Fosshape together in your flat iron.

This is a little easier than it sounds but it gets difficult to do near the claw where the material is already stiff.  

This what it will look like once your'e done.  Now you want to bend the small bottom edge and the top edge in toward your new spine a bit. Just go around the edge with the flat iron bending it up a little.

Now you are at a point where you can dish or bend the area between the spines.  This can be done with your flat iron as far as it can reach.  You might need to harden the part you can't reach with a hair dryer on high.  This takes a while.  It would be better to have a heat gun on it's lowest setting.  You can get a cheap heat gun for $ 30 or less.

WARNING.  If you are using a heat gun do not get it to close to the piece or you can burn a hole right through it.  Your'e going to have to play around with this a while.  You might want to take a small piece of Fosshape and practice these techniques before you do it on a real piece.  Now the whole thing is hardened take some scissors and shape it to your liking.

Here I'm cutting the middle spine at a jaunty angle.  But shape the whole piece to your liking.  Once your happy with it it's time to paint.  Spray paint seems to work real well on Fosshape.  Last pair of these I did I winged it, but this time I'm going to mask it.

I masked it with blue tape and sprayed the hell out of it with red gloss plastic spray paint.  Then I let it dry for a long time, overnight is best.  Now to mask over the red and paint the inside part black.

Well there was a bit more bleed thru than I liked.  I tried to cover the black that bled and the red wouldn't cover.  I ended up using some craft paint that happened to be a perfect match to finish it up.  I also used Ivory craft paint for the talons.

Well here they are done. They came out pretty decent.  Have at it.  Oh yeah, here is the Dazian website where you can order Fosshape

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Web Series We Like: There Will Be Brawl

      It's hard to describe the brilliance of There Will Be Brawl.  Here is the beginning of the  info page from their site." In a dystopian Mushroom Kingdom, corruption and avarice reign supreme." Brawl is a very adult show that utilizes many well known Nintendo characters like Mario, Luigi, Peach, Link, Kirby and a ton of others. Their behavior is a bit different from the games, although you may have suspected some of it.  I knew Mario is a drunk, and Zelda is a bitch.  Anyway, it is a must watch for those of you who have not seen it.  of the amoral elite. When a series of grisly crimes pushes an unlikely champion to seek the truth, a mystery unfolds that could completely destroy everything he holds Mushroom Kingdom, corruption and avarice reign supreme. Even the greatest heroes of the land have buckled beneath the overwhelming will of the amoral elite. When a series of grisly crimes pushes an unlikely champion to seek the truth, a mystery unfolds that could completely destroy everything he holds dear.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Project: Basic Cosplay Weapons: Mai's Stillettos

      I wanted to start a series on making cosplay weapons, but some of the stuff I make is a bit complex.  And I'll get there, but let's do a few simple projects first.  Mai, the awesome Fire Nation warrior from Avatar, has an array of weapons.  I'm going to make a set of her stillettos, then a set of the more complex daggers.
A great schematic of Mai's weapons I found from a simple image search.
The stilletto is of course at the top right.  It's a basic cylinder, slender, with a flat 4 sided  not rounded tip. The tip is silver, the shaft is a reddish brown, and it appears to have fletching.
So how to make one, or four.  I started with a quarter inch dowel and cut it into 4, 6 inch lengths.  Then I took each one and wacked the tip with a hammer a few times.  This is for two reasons, to get it to flare out a little and to make it more safe.  If the strands are busted up a little it will bend rather than go through some one.  You can't be to safe with cosplay weapons.  Now I'm gonna carve the point on the end cutting down to the center on opposite sides, then a little on the other two sides. You don't want a rounded point, you want flat blades..
Carving the first flat side. Note smashed wood.
  When I was done I filled cracks in the piece, mostly cause I hit it with a hammer, with spackle
This is the only spackle, all others suck.

Next I thought it would be nice to taper the back of the stllettos a bit just for looks and maybe a place to hold them in the fingers. This shows three of the points and one of the backs.  Now they all get sanded with a 150 or higher grit sandpaper. 
 Time to paint, I'm using craftsmart brown, and metallic silver.  Cheap ass craft paint.  Now try not to overlap these paints cause it looks funny.  First some brown on the shaft and silver on the tips.  It will take two coats

Once your happy with the paint job we're going to do some light fletching.I got some white turkey quills from the craft store and sliced them right down the middle with a shrp knife.  I then trimmed some of the hard middle of the feather down, cause these stillettos are small they need delicate  fletching.  I then cut 1 inch sections of the feather, we need two for each stilletto.

Once I trimmed the hard part to my liking I used some gel type crazy glue to glue them on.  Gel crazy glue is much easier to work with.

Now you take a very sharp pair of scissors, Ginghers , and trim the feather like it is in the Mai weapons picture.

Like so.  And there you have 4 stillettos to pierce the hearts of the Fire Lords enemies.  Or you can just hold them while people take your picture, either way.  A simple project, but you will learn things doing simple things that will help you later.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Project: Straw Hat Pirate Flag

      Most of this is similar to the Kuja Pirate Flag I made so this will be some pictures and notes.  First I found a good picture on the net.  I then sized it so it was 6 inches tall.  This way one inch on the screen corresponds to six inches on the 36 inch flag.  It makes it easier to lay out, by far. So I would measure every thing on the picture and blow it up.Again I'm drawing on file folders to make a rigid pattern.

This was more of a challenge and took way longer to lay out than the Kuju Flag.  But a lot of it was still circles. A compass and a straight edge were my main tools. Once I got the basic shape I then separated all the pieces with an 1/8 inch gap. You can see it's done at the top of the picture, but not with the teeth yet. Once I had it all laid out I had to cut out all the pieces. I was very careful to label each piece with the color they are supposed to be, and the teeth with their location. So now I had to attach the Heat n Bond to all my different colors, then place my patterns on them and cut em out. And I made a classic mistake. Most pieces have no side they work either way, but the teeth need to be laid out backwards to work. I cut out a set the wrong way. Doh.

Here I lay out my patterns, trace them, and cut them out.  I found that cutting out the eyes and nose was easier if I stuck a sharp knife into the piece and turned the piece into my knife.

It's safer cause the knife is stationary and it seemed easier and more accurate.  You do need a very sharp knife, in this case a utility knife with a new blade.  The surface I'm working on is a piece of cork laminate flooring, a very good surface.  Anyway, I cut it all out, time to lay it out on the flag.

First thing is find where the center of the flag is with a tape and put the part of the skull between the eyes right there. I worked my way out from the center, to the hat then the teeth, then the bones. To try and orient the cross bones I laid a straight edge across the whole flag. So I ironed away and here is the result.

The photo looks pretty good, but the light colors on the black don't look quite as good as the black on red of the Kuja Flag.  I still think this is pretty cool, and though time consuming, not all that hard. Maybe a thicker weight nylon might look a bit better against the darker colors. I'll let you know, but making flags is cool. Next, some cosplay weapons.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Webcomics We Like: Questionable Content

      This is a new one for me that I just stumbled on a couple months ago.  Once I found it, it was consumed voraciously.  Questionable Content is a comic about a bunch of young people living in a small town up North.  Doesn't sound like much, but this is very cleverly written.  It's also chock full of anime references as well as indy hipsterness.  There are a lot of engaging and complex characters which is usually why we end up liking stuff.  So give it a try.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Blogs We Like: Costumes and Cons

      The clever Costumes and Cons is currently putting together a resources page on their site.  It's full of links to all sorts of helpful Cosplay stuff.  Like general cosplay, sewing, wigs, and other tutorials.  A really nice idea.  A link to resources is HERE.  But besides this you should go to and follow this cool cosplay blog.  And then come back to ours, and so forth.  If you have good web resources you know of please send them there way.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Project: Alcyone Headpiece: Beginner Fosshape

      Fosshape is an amazing material that is very useful in a lot of different cosplay projects.  Fosshape available from Dazian , is a white felt like fabric that you can mold and harden with heat.  It comes in two grades 300 and 600 which is twice as thick.  I have used both and find the 600 better for most applications.  I just did Morrigan from Darkstalker wings, and you just can't make something that substantial with the 300.  The 300 is better perhaps for smaller lighter pieces.  That's why I'm using it for this project, Alcyone's Headpiece.

Like just about every project, although less than most, Layout is very important.  I found as many pictures as possible, then I had to start sketching one side of the headpiece to make a template.  With many projects you are trying to achieve symmetry,  so whether it's a sword or wings or a headpiece you really need to make a template for one half of what you want to make, then transfer it to make the whole.
Lay out one side on heavy paper, this is a file folder.

Cut the pattern out and draw it twice on the fosshape.

Then cut it out and prepare your flat iron.
So after you have your design cut out in fosshape it's time to heat the stuff up to stiffen it.  I have found that a flat iron you use to straighten hair is perfect for working fosshape.  You can get one of these pretty cheap and just use it for cosplay projects.  DO NOT use it on hair after you have used it for fosshape.  So the trick is to work the piece with your flat iron and hold it in place till it cools.  Which happens pretty quick.  It's a good idea to take a small pieces of fosshape and practice working it into the shapes you want.
Using the flat iron to work the piece.
Remember you can reheat and reshape a number of times, but it does get stiffer and thinner the more you heat it.Work the whole piece so it all gets stiff.  You hopefully will end up with something kind of like this.

Fosshape shrinks when you work it a bit, and it does so kind of unevenly.  Fortunately, fosshape is much easier to cut once it's stiff.  So go back with some scissors and even things out, and sharpen the edges.  Once I get it just right it's time to paint it.  Spray paint seems to work far better than other paint.  And you need to spray the hell out of it a bunch of times.  Fosshape is very porous and you need to spray it from a bunch of different angles to get in all the nooks and crannies.  Note,  you can still work Fosshape just fine after you paint it.  But, you will get paint on the flat iron that is hard to get off.  Once I get the color and th shape right all i have left to do is hot glue it to a hair band so it will sit on the head right.  Of course, you have to put the hair band on, an futz around with the piece till it sits just right.  Mark it with something ( colored pencil ) that you can see on black and hot glue it thoroughly.  It's best to use one glop to tack it down, let it cool and then put lots of glue on either side to really secure it.
This is the finished product.  It  looks kind of wonky, but it looks great on.  Fossape allows you to do all kinds of cool things and is well worth looking into.  I'm gonna make this a series showing increasingly harder projects, I did some much harder stuff for Kimi's Morrigan Cosplay.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Project: Kuja Pirate Flag

      To spice up future photo shoots I wanted to make some of the very cool pirate flags from One Piece.  Since we do Luffy and Boa Hancock, we need a Straw Hat Pirate Flag and a Kuja Pirate Flag.  I decided to try the Kuja Flag first because it was just 2 colors.  First off, you have to have a good picture of the design.  Well you can find one by doing an image search.  I just happened to have a nice picture on the side of the box of the Boa figure we got at Katsucon.  So I took that scanned it and then cropped and expanded the pictures until they were around the size I needed.
Little Boa, the design from the box, and one of the snakes blown up to the right size.
Of course I forgot the important first step.  I went on eBay and ordered a 3' by 5' red flag blank.  You could sew one but the blank was $12.75 and smaller ones are even cheaper. Someone just put a bunch on eBay for 4 and 5 bucks, look up flag blank.  3' by 5' is a pretty big flag.  I wanted the design to almost go to the edge of the flag, so I figured the skull would be about 15", + a couple inches for the teath, and each snake about 8.5".  With some spacing that's about right.  You could of course play with the proportions a little.  So I had a snake pattern, now I need a skull.  Its just several circles with teeth, so I just need the bottom part and it's easy enough to extrapolate the rest.  So I blew up a picture of the bottom of the jaw and cut it out.

I traced that design onto 2 file folders taped together. Then with 2 different compass' I drew a 15" circle for the head and the smaller circles for the eyes and nose.
I used a regular little compass and made a compass for the big circle with a paint stirrer, a pencil and a sharpened pop-sicle stick.
So I laid out the skull, cut it out and cut out one of the snakes too.  Next step, use some heat n bond on some black nylon.  Heat n bond is an adhesive sheet that you iron on to fabric so that you can stick it on another piece of fabric.  You can get it at any fabric store.  What you do is iron it on to th black nylon fabric.  Then with the heat n bond stuck to the fabric you can then transfer, trace your pattern on to the heat n bond.  It has paper on that side that you later peel off, so it's very easy to draw on.  Then you just cut them out.
Skull and snakes ready to be ironed on.
So this project is not that hard and the finished product came out very well.

This picture does not do it justice it looks very professional.  I am super happy with the result and it was a little time consuming, but pretty easy.  Believe me you can do this.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Project: FFX Treasure Chest: Part 2

      So the basic box is done, time to make the top.  I'm gonna do this with pole wrap, a product made for covering unsightly supports, usually in basements.  First I cut three half round pieces the width of the side of the box minus the thickness of the pole wrap x2.  Then 2 the size of the actual side.  Then I drilled holes through all three and glued a dowel into them that I used as a spacer.  The center half round I cut the center out of.  The pictures should make this clearer.
2 sides and 3 cut out center pieces.
The dowel is glued through the 3 center to give you your spacing.
Now it's time to put on the pole wrap.  I glued it and tacked it on with some brads.

That's pretty easy.  Now I have the basic parts, it's time to stain them, then put them together.
Just used basic walnut wood stain.  Now we put the top on with some hinges and add a closer so it can't slam on your fingers.  Also it will stay open if you want it to.

Again these are the easy parts.  Now you have a decent chest.  Now to paint it to look like the chest in the game.  This requires lots of  blue or green masking tape.  Not the tan stuff.

You just have to start taping where you want to make the lines like say the gold stripes on the top.

Tape it off and paint it gold, wait for it to dry take off the tape and do another part.  Keep going till you have stuff filled in.  I used a metallic gold craft paint.  Of course ideally I would not paint it, I would cut the pieces out of brass and steel.  But god that would take forever.

So I filled in a bunch of gold then I mixed some gray and silver to fill in the side bits.  Well I worked away at it and here are a few pictures of the Finished, for now, product.

I have to say I'm not entirely pleased with it, but now I have a FFX chest so there's that