Cosplay In Focus: Supanova Gold Coast 2016

04 - All

Cons are always a reliable way of completely wearing yourself out and cosplayers know exactly how exhausting expos can be: Not just having to do laps of the venue in search of friends and food but also the hours and hours of work they put into fitting, fabricating and forging their outfits, usually the night before (it’s a tradition).

This week we spoke to five cosplayers about their builds and the work it took to make them a reality.

Sheik, from The Legend of Zelda, built by Panic Designs

How long have you been cosplaying for?

I was pretty much raised to be nothing other than a nerd: My mum taught me to read by making me read the dialogue boxes while I watched her play Ocarina of Time. I discovered cosplay in high school and began attending conventions shortly after that but never really had the knowledge or confidence to finally give it a go until Brisbane Supanova 2015, when I went as Harley Quinn. At the moment I’m only cosplaying at conventions, but I have a lot of photo shoots planned in between conventions to build up my portfolio as a designer.

IMG_0478What inspires you to cosplay?

I’m a production designer by trade, so attention to detail and craftsmanship is extremely important to me. I love the challenge of taking on costumes that are either technically difficult or hold some sort of sentimental meaning to me (like Sheik), so to reach the finish line and be able to do justice to something that I’ve grown up with is such a great feeling.

How did this build go for you?

I started a few weeks before the convention but the reality was that I got to two days out and, being a perfectionist, I realised I wasn’t nearly as happy with what I had made so far as I should have been, so I started again. The hardest part of the build was definitely the props, just because of how time consuming the process was from scaling and stencilling the design, cutting, sanding, priming, painting… with no time at all for error. But I was surprisingly happy with the end result, especially the Lyre. Thankfully, there weren’t really any parts of the costume that I didn’t already know how to approach but unfortunately I did have to cut a few corners to get it ready in time. This made me super nervous to wear it on the day because The Legend of Zelda means so much to a lot of people (myself included), so I couldn’t disappoint. But it got there in the end and I was really happy with the final product.

Got any plans for your next build?

I’m a bit addicted to being ambitious, so I have big plans for the rest of the year. At the moment I’m working on Millia Rage (Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign-), which will be complete with an animatronic wig and I’m about to start on Sherwood Forest Ashe from League of Legends for my first competition, as well as a long list of commissions and original designs. So it’s going to be a busy year but I can’t wait!

03 - Plusle and Minun

Cowslip’s gijinka designs based on Plusle and Minun from Pokemon, built by Aurelius’ Armoury and Silver

How long have you been cosplaying for?

Aurelius
I think I’ve been a ‘nerd’ since forever: I grew up loving Pokémon and Digimon, the parents had Star Wars on VHS and in high school a friend got me loving World of Warcraft. I was all over Doctor Who when it restarted with Chris Eccleston, and of course I read Harry Potter. I’ve been attending cons for years, I don’t even remember my first one but I’d vaguely guess around 2006. I always wanted to try cosplaying but never did so until 2013 with my first Sister of Battle armour (let’s not speak of the one time I tried before that, it was terrible).
I’ve done some cosplaying for charity, it was pretty fun but these days I mostly do shoots and conventions.
Silver
I’ve been cosplaying for about five years now, and have been attending conventions for about the same amount of time. I grew up on ‘nerd culture’ essentially; it’s always been a part of my life.
My sister’s housemates at the time actually told us that they were going to cosplay to Supanova and that really made me want to dress up as well.
I cosplay to conventions and photoshoots and I’d love to do some charity work in the future.

What inspires you to cosplay?

Aurelius
Currently, seeing other people’s work inspires me to cosplay. Watching others craft their fandoms encourages me to get better at crafting mine.
I’m a huge Warhammer: 40k fan so most of my cosplays come from that universe, also tackling the decaying decadence of those designs is a nice challenge, especially from an Imperial point of view, everything is just way over the top.
I’ve had a few tries at making my own designs, and it’s been varying levels of success, sometimes it feel more like modelling a costume, rather than getting into character of something you really connect with.
Silver
I really enjoy bringing a costume to life. While sometimes it’s mainly love for the characters, a lot of the time it’s a mix of character love and love for the costume design.

How did this build go for you?

Aurelius
Minun and Plusle were interesting, because the crafting was split between myself and Silver. I looked after props and she did the sewing. I think it took us around 2-3 months to get everything sorted and done.
I learned a few new tricks about creating swords and using cording for details, and that contact cement – while corrosive to Styrofoam – also allows you to peel away layers quite neatly once it’s ‘dry’, so that was pretty cool.
I would have liked the swords to have been a little more refined and the scabbards to fit a little nicer so they didn’t pull away paint but they turned out really well anyway and I’ll take those improvements to the next project.
Silver
It took me about three or so months to put together these outfits with Aurelius, which was a difficult and slow process because of our different schedules.
I learnt how to make a Chinese lucky flower knot, which was cool and I finally had a go at making ‘thigh high’ stockings.

Got any plans for your next build?

Aurelius
I’m half way through building another Warhammer: 40k cosplay currently:  It’s for a con I haven’t yet announced but I’m pretty damn excited about it. I’m trying to add more detail to its relatively simple design to make it a little more interesting and have that personal touch.
But I’m also in the planning stages of a rather massive and very (to me) sewing heavy costume which is honestly going to push me so hard. I’m planning on using so many new materials and methods of prop/garment making that it’s kinda daunting, but I’ve got some good friends I can rely on for some support so I think it will be OK.
Silver
The next big project I’m looking to tackle is Pyrrha from RWBY, which might not seem too hard for some people but it’s way out of my depth of knowledge because half of it is armour. I’m looking forward to it though, because I’ve been practicing making props out of Worbla and foam over the last six months, so I’m really hoping it turns out well.

00 - Jinx

Vi, from League of Legends, built by ChuChuui

How long have you been cosplaying for?

Well, my mum has always brought me up to be a nerd ever since I could hold an Xbox controller in my tiny hands. My first convention was Brisbane Supanova in 2012 (I was 12 at the time) and I bought a Miku costume at the last minute with my friend and fell in love with the atmosphere and community! I didn’t feel like an outcast at all, I felt like this was home, like a family to me. I saw the cosplay competition in 2012 and I was in awe of the amazing costumes and said to myself, “I want to be like them when I grow up.” So I pushed myself to become better and better every year and with every costume. Last year was the first time I made a costume, and ever since then, I’ve been more driven than ever to do my best in every costume I make.

What inspires you to cosplay?

The community inspires me so much to keep creating cosplays and to never give up, no matter how tough it gets. I also love a challenge, so I choose costumes that I think I can’t make and I try my best to make them as best as I can (call me crazy). This way, once I finish the costume, I can say “I did it!” and be proud of what I accomplished in front of me. When I’m in cosplay I definitely feel like I’m in the character’s shoes and I always have fun doing this.

How did this build go for you?

My VI cosplay took me over 100+ hours to complete! The gauntlets were my worst nightmare; they were made out of 20+ EVA foam sheets, 50 billion hot glue sticks, wire (to make an inner structure so it won’t all fall apart on me), 2 cans of plasti-dip to coat, plus lots of silver and gold paint. Also, I added in some LEDS to make it all sparkly.

My armour was made out of a mixture of EVA foam and Worbla. My gauntlets were the biggest challenge out of the whole costume (I even had to put a wire structure through the hands to make it steady so it wouldn’t fall apart on me). I used a dremel on the EVA foam to give a more 3D effect to the armour and gauntlets and a soldering iron is also handy to melt the foam to give it some awesome battle damage!

This was my biggest cosplay yet and I’ve learnt so much from this costume.  I normally leave attachments for my armour to the last minute, and oh boy, it is hell. For my VI cosplay I learnt many different attachment methods that helped me keep my costume from falling apart (and I didn’t leave it to the last minute! Go me! It saved so much hassle). There is always so much problem solving involved in cosplay which leads to blood, tears and late nights, but in the end – when you’re standing up on that stage or when you put all of your costume on for the first time – that feeling of happiness you get is totally worth all of the tears.

Got any plans for your next build?

I definitely think I’m going to cosplay Kindred for Brisbane Oz Comic-Con this year! However, I’m going to do my own spin on Lamb and Wolf. I love League of Legends so much, not just for the gameplay but the amazing character concepts and skins: They’re so beautiful and fun to make! I can’t wait for this next cosplay challenge – it’s something I’ve never done before, but I will do it to the best of my abilities. No matter how tough it gets, that’s all part of the fun!

02 - Sona

DJ Sona, from League of Legends, built by Zaphy Cosplay with Pandemodia Gaming and Cosplay, Cam’s Random Builds, Blondiee and Carson Cosplay

How long have you been cosplaying for?

I made my very first cosplay with the help of my Mum way back in 2005: It was a Card Captor Sakura costume full of pink satin and ruffles that we put together within a week. My high school Japanese teacher was promoting Animania, which was coming to Brisbane and I realised there was somewhere for me to dress up and embrace my love of anime with other people. I’ve been a nerd for just about forever; video games are my jam (up to the point where I studied Games and Interactive Media at the Queensland University of Technology) and I have a solid love of anime and manga, but I never seem to have enough time to read and watch them.

During 2008-2011 there was a bit of a convention dry spell due to health reasons and I only got back into the swing of cosplay at Brisbane Supanova, 2011 with my classic Sona costume from League of Legends.

Mostly I just lurk at conventions to catch up with friends and drool over pretty costumes but this past year has seen me taking the whole thing a lot more seriously, having opened an online store on ZaphyCosplay.com, taking prop commissions and selling 3D prints I’ve made.

 

What inspires you to cosplay?

IMG_1112s

I love making impossible things. Cosplay allows me to have a creative outlet where I can experiment and learn new techniques, puzzle out problems and get to showcase my love of the subject I’m creating. I tend to gravitate towards characters I’m passionate about and feel that I can try to represent well (but sometimes I’ll make something just because it’s cool looking)!

Secondly, I’ve made some of the most incredible friends through cosplay and shared amazing experiences with them. Knowing I’ve got a group of like-minded friends that will be there to help me when there’s work to be done, are always ready to cheer each other up especially when the end of a project seems so impossibly far away and will be willing to pull constant all-nighters to help each other out is the best. Being able to share with your friends makes this hobby and attending conventions together the best!

How did this build go for you?

DJ Sona was a bit of a nightmare. Each stage of the build seemed to hit a new challenge that had to be overcome. This project was a big collaboration between my friends and we were all extremely proud of the result!

Starting in late September 2015, DJ Sona’s bodysuit was initially based on Yaya Han’s bodysuit pattern which I assembled, drew the new seams and panels I needed to match DJ Sona and cut it up for my new pattern. Initially her suit was made entirely from black and 4-way white stretch vinyl (which was absolutely the most disgusting thing I’ve ever sewn with), completed early October and put to the side while I picked up some commission projects. Taking it out of storage in early March 2016 I discovered that the fabric dye from the black vinyl had transferred dirty marks onto the white vinyl and the suit was very frustratingly remade, substituting in white spandex which caused a whole host of issues with the fit of the suit.

The visor was a bubble scooter visor that was purchased on eBay, as I didn’t have access to a vacuum former which was the initial plan to shape it myself. This buy turned out to be surprisingly perfect as it gave the helmet the super reflective surface I was after.

I modelled and 3D printed the earbud pieces and covered them in Worbla for DJ Sona’s helmet and had intended to attach them to a white store bought scooter helmet, but when it arrived and I tested everything, I looked like a bobble head doll with an oversized head. This lead to me building my own more slim fitted helmet out of EVA foam, Worbla and an ungodly amount of filler putty and sanding as the base for everything to be bolted into.

IMG_1107The hands-down coolest part of costume – the LED visor screen powered by an Arduino that sits inside one of my earbuds – was assembled and programmed by my friends Jamie (from Carson Cosplay) and John (Arduino and coding wizards respectively). It would have taken me probably half a year at the very least to write the code and safely put together my version, so I’m very grateful to my talented friends for helping me make this 110% more awesome! Originally I was using a battery powered light-up equaliser sticker stuck inside the visors (which was absolutely the dodgiest thing ever) to replicate the effect of Sona’s Kinetic design.

I released a teaser video online of my helmet lights switching effects that was viewed over 53,000 times and shared over 360 times on Facebook alone and suddenly this became the most hyped costume that I’d ever built and the anxiety kicked in that we might not be able to deliver on the result.

DJ Sona’s prop was built in a week and is a part of the costume I will absolutely be revising in the future! The speaker and turntable deck weighs about 15kg as it is built from EVA foam, MDF, LED strip lights, an ungodly amount of clear acrylic and Worbla’s Finest Art and the whole prop was not at all planned well. My helmet LEDs plugged into the prop so the lighting colour changes on the earbuds were synchronised with those of my prop turntable.

Many sleepless nights were had during the week leading up to the convention with the help of several friends enlisted to fill and sand, help with the painting and full assembly of the prop (thank you Cameron, Courtney and Cat for being incredible support throughout the build and also on the day of the convention). When we got up on stage in the full costume and I started my performance we were all teary eyed that we had actually done it (I’m very grateful that no one could see my eyes under the visor)!

Got any plans for your next build?

I have several costumes on my list that I’d like to work on this year! Currently, I’m in the middle of a fan-made design from League of Legends based on Loiza’s Chinese New Year Irelia artwork, and have plans to make a Blood Moon skin group with my friends (again from League of Legends). Wizard from Diablo 3, Maiev Shadowsong from Warcraft 3 and Mercy from Overwatch have also been sitting on my dream list since forever and I think 2016 is the year to tackle at least one of them! I’m excited to improve my sewing ability and getting a chance to level up my moulding and resin-casting skills. There are already some commission projects on my books and pieces of my next costumes strewn about my house and I haven’t even finished cleaning up from DJ Sona!

Well, that’s it for this week from Gold Coast Supanova.  Thanks again to the cosplayers who took the time to chat about their creations!  All photos were supplied by Magic Missile Studios (that’s me!) and I’m looking forward to meeting more costume constructors later this year:  You can expect to see me at Sydney Oz Comic-Con, SMASH!, Sydney Supanova, Brisbane Supanova and PAX (assuming I don’t die of exhaustion en route).

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