Cosplay GEN #02
Cosplay Gen is an independent magazine distributed worldwide, entirely dedicated to the extensive phenomenon represented by cosplay, intending to promote cosplayers from around the world, cosplay events and Japan fashion as a whole. Cosplay Gen is entirely non-profit, self-financed and contains no advertising, therefore its purchasing contributes directly to the next issue.
EDITORIAL Front cover credits: Cosplayer: Skye Character: Hatsune Miku (Vocaloid, Hagane Miku version) Photo by Kaze Inside cover credits: Cosplayer: Precious Character: Raiden (Metal Gear Solid 4, Figumate Sweet Snake version) Photo by Eric Ng I am Whoever I Want To Be Different characters, different stories, different backgrounds, even different countries. And yet the same person. This is the chameleonic beauty of cosplay, being able to be whoever you want to be, to shed your skin and gracefully embrace another that can radically transform you into a completely changed person. Cosplaying doesn't necessarily mean performing � only at a very superficial level. In fact, it's a matter of transfiguration, of incorporating other being within yourself. When cosplaying, one gives up his/her own story and assimilates the story of another; and another; and yet another.... It's a never-ending process, in which the only boundary is imagination. You become what you choose to become; it's the ultimate freedom, that of trying on different personalities the same way you try on clothes. And this is the case when one involves the other. Unlike in theatre, a cosplayer doesn't play a character just to perform a role, but because he/she is willing to become that particular character; it's another way to approach identity. Versatility of cosplay is most certainly one of its most interesting and attractive features, a kind of all-inclusive. One person, in one single day, can be a game warrior, a vocaloid, an anime goddess or a manga villain and tell four different stories. An elaborate mask that becomes one with its user, and which exerts its magic to the point of lifting him/her from the status of mere container to that of the cosplayed character itself. A transition from ordinary to surreal, from the average kid to an imaginary hero. Cosplay is thus a weapon of fantasy, the modern "Open Sesame" that brings to life the heterogeneous army of 2D and 3D characters. Moreover, cosplay is also a mean to evolve, in terms of inner strength and personality. Each character leaves its own mark upon the cosplayer, helping him/her to become a more complex individual. Cosplaying doesn't mean wearing clothes, but much more than that. It's about treating that particular character as a real person, understanding its story and attitude, and thus completing the process of becoming him/her. A cosplayer isn't modeling, but expressing. That's why, when seeing a cosplayer, one doesn't shout "Hey, look, that's Jane dressed as Hatsune Miku!", but "Hey, look, that's Hatsune Miku!" Cosplay Gen continues its adventure and brings some of these wonderful impersonators, each with his/her own many stories. They will tell you about their power to transform themselves, about the way they completed that metamorphosis into the imaginary characters they've chosen. And they will also give you some tips about what it means to be a cosplayer or, in other words, about how to be whoever you want be. // Ruxandra T�rc 1 TABLE OF CONTENTS PROFILES Yolkler p. 4 Zam p. 6 Kyle Mathis p. 8 REVIEW Cosfest Report p. 12 INTERVIEW Kanda Midori p. 16 ARTICLE Camera Lenses p. 20 PROFILES Crystal p. 24 Kirisaki p. 28 Monique Dimanlig p. 32 DIY Wig Spiking Tutorial p. 36 INTERVIEW Harrison Krix p. 40 COVER STORY Skye p. 44 ARTICLE Commonly Mixed-Up J-Fashion Styles p. 52 PROFILES Phoenixiaoio p. 58 Pamela G�ngora p. 60 Endiru p. 62 Giorgia Vecchini p. 66 DIY Quick Staff Tutorial: Syaoran's Night Staff p. 70 INTERVIEW ShanHuang p. 74 REVIEW Anime Expo p. 82 EU EVENTS London MCM Expo & Japan Expo p. 88 DIY Wings Tutorial: Angel Sanctuary's Alexiel p. 92 COMIC How To Make Friends with Cute Cosplay Girls p. 96 Publisher: Otaku Entertainment � Editor-in-chief: Ruxandra T�rc � Coordinating Editor: Cristian Botea Art Director: Cyril Rictus � Photographer: Bela Benedek � Translator: Oana Cristina Butta � Contributors: Kenneth Wong, Nicholas Kwan, Thomas Kuan, Malinda Meredith, China Mungcal, William Wong, Shiroin, Etaru, Mihai Marcu � Proofreader: Steven Diggs Jr. � Print& Pre-press: IDEA Design + Print PROFILE Yolkler Years of Cosplay: 8 Bangkok, Thailand dearsgarden.co.nr Cosplay Gen: What is your favorite cosplay up till now and why? Yolkler: I don't have a favorite cosplay, because I always think I can make another one that's better. But, up till now, maybe Kusuriuri from Mononoke, because Japanese people told me that my Kusuriuri cosplay is the same as the Kusuriuri character. CG: How has cosplay changed your life or who you are? Yolkler: Cosplay changed my life very much. If I didn't cosplay, I wouldn't be into fashion or choose the fashion design school. Cosplay made me care about myself and made me self-confident. And yes, cosplay helped me make a lot of foreigner cosplayer friends. CG: What do you do with the costumes from previous cosplays? Do you keep them? Do you recycle them for future cosplays? Yolkler: I keep all costumes from previous cosplays. If the costume is bad, I leave it (but I haven't done that yet), and if some part can fit for other costume, I recycle it for future cosplay as well; for example, for my Angel Sanctuary (Mudou) and Otomen (Hanamasa) I have the same costume, I just modified it a bit. CG: What can you tell us about the cosplay community in Thailand? Yolkler: If it's about the public, I think the community looks like an entertainment industry. What you see in the entertainment industry you can also see in the Thai cosplay community (gods! the secret!! hahaha). If community means Internet, Thai cosplayers have nowadays memberships on the Cure website (but it's basic, because almost all the cosplayers in the world have Cure memberships), and mostly on Exteen. And yes, Facebook is popular too. CG: Since you're into a fashion school, do you have any favorite Japanese fashion, brand or designer? Yolkler: My favorite Japanese fashion designer is H. NAOTO. I love the textile, leather is really good. And Yohji Yamamoto too; he's very famous, I love his work. And the last one... is Kilgour. I really love Kilgour, it's his work I sew for the first time. Maybe I like a simple style, and his work is very simple but dignified altogether. But too bad I sew only one collection. CG: Do you have any cosplayers you look up to or inspire you? Yolkler: I have cosplayers who inspire me and who can depict a lot of different characters; I think that's great for cosplay. I like Kei, she's a great cosplayer. I love her and all the things she does: her acting, make up, costumes � all are great, and her photographer is great too. Harumi is another great cosplayer; I love when she changes her characters; she chooses very different characters, but she manages to do it. Other cosplayers I like are Hasu 82 (melchiorhp.web.fc2.com), and Nami (homepage3.nifty.com/nam1lb/). I think they are very beautiful! 1 4 Photo credits: 1. Messiah (Persona 3) by CHiNG 2. Fay D. Flourite (Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE) by CHiNG 3. Gian Carlo (Lucky Dog) by DK (bluedknn.deviantart.com) 4. Genkishi (Katekyo Hitman Reborn!) by DK (bluedknn.deviantart.com) 5. Kusuriuri (Mononoke) by CHiNG 6. Nogami Ryotaro (Kamen Rider Den-O) by CHiNG 7. Ciel Phantomhive (Kuroshitsuji, Noah's Ark Circus Version) by SOKETSU 4 2 3 5 6 7 5 PROFILE Zam / Gixxer85 Years of Cosplay: less than a year Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia zamsjournal.com Cosplay Gen: How did you make the Master Chief suit? Zam: The process is actually simple. The base layers are made from a thick 250gsm matte card. Here, the details and main structure come to life. After that, all the finished paper structure is covered with fiberglass resin to make it rigid. Matte Card absorbs it and becomes rigid from inside out. Fiberglass mat was used in the inside to avoid the details on the outside getting covered. The fiberglass just makes the paper structure more rigid so it can withstand some sort of damage when wearing it. Next step would be poly putty. Poly putty is the same stuff most paint shops use to make the surface of the car smoother. Usually they use the brand Bondo outside Malaysia. This step is to make sure the outside surface is smooth and aligned with the rest... next would be prime and paint ... Wirings are really simple. The resistor value used depends on the amount of the LED used, battery voltage input, and how it was wired. Most of the stuff on how to make it I learnt from 405th.com. It's the biggest Halo related community on building your own armor. Malaysians can go to 901st.com. I was its founder, and I would love to help anyone who wants to make their own stuff. The reason for which I made that community forum is because most of the stuff or material used by the 405th isn't really easily available here in Malaysia. So we would need to find a replacement for them. Since I've done it, I can help guide them on making their own stuff. Pictures of the process are also available on my blog: zamsjournal.com. Just use the tag HALO, Cosplay or DIY. CG: What kind of mobility did you have in such a suit? Were you able to move freely? Zam: Mobility can be tough. I can't run or jump. I can walk up and down the stairs and sit down at the edges. I can't bend down, knee down or even turn my head more than 25degree to each side. Since I'm an Asian, I have rather short neck. My head movement is limited. The armor also is quite heavy, so I do have a limit on how long I can be in it, depending on the weather. CG: Do you have any other hobbies besides cosplay? Do they help or inspire you in any way in cosplay? Zam: My favorite hobbies would be as a car and bike enthusiast, Do It Yourself (DIY), and Electronics. Since I love DIY, I have experience in fiberglass, which I use to make the armor. Electronics does help as well, such as the lightings on the suit and air circulation/ventilation inside the helm. In the future, I would love to try putting an actual computer inside a compack like those ODST in Halo and make it functional. Photo credits: Anion (timestudios.blogspot.com) 6 7 PROFILE Kyle Mathis / Ex-Shadow Years of Cosplay: 6 Jefferson City, MO, USA ex-shadow.deviantart.com 8 1 9 PROFILE Cosplay Gen: Why and how did you make this costume and what sort of mobility did you have in it? Kyle: I made this outfit a couple of years ago, not long after seeing The Nightmare before Christmas for the first time. I had also been playing Kingdom Hearts at the time and wanted to create a Jack Skellington who truly towered over everyone else. Thus, I built my costume to have stilts and arm extensions to give proper height and lanky proportion. The stilts are dry-walls purchased off of eBay, and I cut the toes off of some old dress shoes and attached them to the feet of the stilts to make them have a nicer appearance. The arms I created with some cheap rods, wire, foam, and masking tape. The head was created using a technique of sculpting with hot glue. I started with a craft opera mask and built up layers of hot glue until I had the desired shape, then applied a layer of vinyl scraps to smooth out the texture a bit. Finally, I stretched a white knit fabric over all of that to give a better finish to the head, and painted it with gesso paint for a dry and bony texture. I used foam to round out the sides and back of the head, and stretched black knit fabric on the inside of the eyes and mouth to hide my real face and give a more movie-accurate look. I used black acrylic paint to accent the eyes, nose, and cracks in the mouth. I used fake fingernails for the teeth, filled them in with hot glue for dimension, and painted them yellow so they'd stand out more. The Jaw is made so as to move when I move my mouth, so that I can show a limited expression change in pictures. The Tie is made from a heavy interfacing that I painted with gesso and black acrylic paint. The bat head on the tie is foam covered in black knit, with the eyes cut out of white vinyl. The Pinstriped outfit was constructed from scratch using a pattern that I heavily modified. The white pinstripes were all hand-painted on using gesso paint. The white shirt that I wear under the tuxedo was initially a white turtleneck, but has since been changed out for a white button up, and more recently a white tuxedo button up. All three were store bought and modified to fit me more closely. This outfit has perfect mobility. I have extensive practice in stilt walking and have only fallen down a few times in the years that I have worn this outfit to conventions. I am able to accomplish a fair mixture of poses, and my only noticeable impairment would be a slight loss of peripheral vision while wearing the head. To this day I still consider Jack Skellington to be one of my favorite costumes created. CG: What was the first convention you ever attended and how has the experience changed over the years for you? Kyle: My first ever convention was Coscon in Oklahoma; it was a very small convention of only 100 or so attendees. I have since gone to over a dozen conventions throughout Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, and Illinois, as well as one in Ohio. My experience has continued to be positive at nearly every convention I have attended, if not for the con itself, then for the fun times had with friends while there. I only hope that I will continue to enjoy every convention I go to in the future as much as I have enjoyed the ones that I have gone to so far. CG: What keeps you going in cosplay? (friends, the challenge in each costume, experience, attention) Kyle: My friends are definitely the primary factor that keeps me in cosplay, with the challenge and experience at a close tie for second. I have made and maintained many friendships through conventions that I hope to never loose. I am also lucky enough to have a girlfriend who loves cosplay as much (if not more) than I do. We are partners in crime with most of our projects these days, and we have many unforgettable memories from conventions that I wouldn't trade for anything in the world. Honestly, the biggest reason I look forward to any Anime convention these days is for the time I get to spend with my friends, and the opportunity to make new friends as well. The cosplay community is ever growing, and nothing pleases me more than to be a part of that community. It is my family, and the conventions are my homes away from home. Photo credits: 1. Eric 2. SaraaaMarie (saraaamarie.deviantart.com) 3. Kuragiman (kuragiman.deviantart.com) 2 10 3 11 REVIEW Cosfest Report `Let's Make Friends' was the theme for this year's Cosfest. The biggest and most looked forward to cosplay event in Singapore, Cosfest is back for the ninth time. This time around, it is particularly special as the event celebrates the 10th anniversary of the SCC, (Singapore Cosplay Club) the people behind the event. SCC held a few events over the past few months to prelude and hype the event. I am very glad to say that the SCC was successful in raising the hype. 1 12 Once again, Cosfest was held for two days at D'Marquee, located at Downtown East, in the eastern side of Singapore. Even though, this year, there were pockets of rain showers, the cold, wet weather did not dampen the spirits. During the early afternoon, the grass and dull, grey concrete floors were painted a vibrant tapestry of colors as the multitude of cosplayers displayed their costumes from various anime, manga and games. Cosplayers congregated both outside and inside D'Marquee, allowing cosplayers to meet up with old friends, forge new ones and take time off to pose for pictures. There were also performances by cosplayers on stage, as they took part in the inaugural Asian Cosplay Meet, as well as the World Cosplay Summit selections. ASIAN COSPLAY MEET The Asian Cosplay Meet was an individual competition where cosplayers from Malaysia, Philippines, Korea and Singapore showcased their well made costumes, while putting on memorable stage performances that garnered audience support. It was such a tough fight, that not only one, but two winners took home the title and the prize of a 2-way ticket to Japan. WORLD COSPLAY SUMMIT The World Cosplay Summit for Singapore was held during Cosfest. From the preliminary selection, six teams were selected. They flew to Korea where the second round of judging took place, and the remaining five teams performed on stage during Cosfest. It was a difficult decision for the panel of judges as all the competitors stunned everyone with their amazing costumes and props. In the end, after a tough decision, it was the Final Fantasy 13 pair of Yun Fang and her guardian Bahamut who won everyone over. It was a well-deserved victory for them, as they gave their all to perform an emotional adaptation scene from the game. But of course, the stage events were just but one bit of what Cosfest is all about. To truly enjoy the entire event, just venture to the grass patches outside to the sheltered areas behind the back of the stage area where every open patch of grass held cosplayers mingling or posing for the photographers and cosplay enthusiasts. There were reasons to attend both days, as most cosplayers prepared different costumes to wear on the second day. One could find cosplayers portraying characters from the ever popular Vocaloids as well as mainstream anime and games such as Bleach, Full Metal Alchemist, Blazblue, Street Fighter and Final Fantasy. Non-mainstream anime were cosplayed as well as Fairy Tail's Natsu & Lucy, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann's Yoko, Macross Frontier's Ranka Lee and Sheryl Nome, as well as characters from Hakuouki Shinsengumi Kitan were spotted among many others. Time sure passed by quickly as one took snapshots of the colourful costumes and props lovingly crafted by the cosplayers. With that ends the short report for this year's Cosfest, and if you are ever planning a trip to Singapore in the early part of July, do remember to make time for Cosfest. It is a not to be missed Cosplay event, and, for sure, one to remember. // Review by Kenneth Wong and Nicholas Kwan 2 1, 2, 3. Shiro Ang (shiroang.deviantart.com) 4, 5, 8, 9. Kenneth Wong (kwsw.deviantart.com) 6, 7, 10, 11. Nicholas Kwan (slitwristandlive.deviantart.com) 3 13 REVIEW 4 5 8 9 14 6 7 10 11 15 INTERVIEW Kanda Midori Years of Cosplay: 4 Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan yaplog.jp/kandam00 Cosplay Gen: What was your first cosplay, why did you choose that character to cosplay and at what event did you debut with it? Kanda Midori: The first cosplay I ever did was Asuka Langley Shoryu of Neon Genesis Evangelion. I'd been a fan of her character for quite some time, and I decided that if I ever did cosplay, I wanted it to be Asuka. The first event I ever attended was Harumi. CG: What sort of treatment do cosplayers get at conventions in Japan? KM: First and foremost, you have to apply and pay the participation fee. After that, you put your costume on inside a changing room. There are usually private spaces available for make-up, too. The rules depend on where the event is being held; for instance, at Comiket, you can't bring any big guns because that would be dangerous. CG: Where does your inspiration come from? Do you have any favorite artists or favorite fellow cosplayers? How do they inspire you? KM: My friends who are into cosplay and photography have always been an inspiration in everything, from make-up and posing to make-up and styling and everything else. CG: Evangelion is a classic pretty much anyone should know now, and you've cosplayed it quite a bit; how has this series influenced you? Does it hold a special significance? KM: When I was around 12 or 13, I saw Neon Genesis Evangelion for the first time. It was shocking, really, not only because of the world it presented, but also because each and every character was very powerful individually. I started cosplaying because I liked Asuka very much, but making the costume and coming up with the right kind of make-up was very hard work. Still, I really wanted to portray her character right. Then again, I guess I can say that about every single character I've cosplayed as. Portraying an actual character as accurately as possible is a lot of hard work. CG: Can you tell us about your process of creating a costume, from concept to the actual costume? KM: I often buy my costumes from a specialized shop rather than make them myself. When I make 16 17 INTERVIEW a costume, I start by sketching it while watching the anime or reading the manga. Once I have an image to work with, I search the shops for the right kind of fabric and accessories and I order a wig (usually online). While I work, I listen to the soundtrack of that anime to become more motivated. CG: What is the most difficult costume you've made until now and how did you do it? What was the most difficult part in it? KM: I think it was Yuri from Million KNights Vermilion. Sewing the sleeves and collar was really hard for me because I was so clumsy ; I also had trouble with the big scissors attached to the weapon. Those were supposed to be made of wood, but I mistakenly picked a hard and heavy wood variety that was very troublesome to work with. The weapon was 1,70 m long, so even carrying it around meant a lot of effort. As I said before, I'm not very good with making my own outfits, so if I try to make an outfit from scratch as fast as possible, I usually end up dropping it altogether. That's why I try to work a little every day and do everything properly. CG: How do you think a cosplayer's relation with the photographer influences the outcome of a photoshoot? KM: I think this relationship is very important, maybe the most important when it comes about cosplay. The cameraman and the cosplayer have a different vision in mind from the start. For example, the cosplayer may think that Asuka is a bright and lovable young girl, while the cameraman sees her as a darker sort of character. The photos couldn't possibly reflect both views. If the cosplayer and cameraman don't get along well, they can't possibly reach a consensus. I'm very happy when I can share my own image with my fellow cosplayers and photographers and tell them, "This is the kind of photo I want you to take!". CG: What do you think you currently lack in cosplay? Where would you like to improve yourself? KM: I'm happy with the way things are right now! CG: How long do you think you will continue with this hobby? Will you stop it at some point? Did you ever or are you considering making cosplay your job/lifestyle or do you have other plans for the future? KM: If I'll ever look at my own photos and think, "I can't do this anymore," (because I'm getting older, or my skin isn't looking that good anymore, etc.) then I'll stop. Cosplaying is just a hobby, so I don't think I'll ever turn it into a paying job. CG: What sort of advice can you give to cosplayers outside Japan and in general? KM: I always look at photos of cosplayers from Europe and other parts of the world. The models, costumes and locations are simply wonderful! As a Japanese person, I'm very proud that our manga and anime are being loved by so many people around the world! // Interview by Cristian Botea Translator: Oana Cristina Butta Photo credits: Mr. HIRO (kimokamehirosyu.blog93.fc2.com) 18 19 ARTICLE Camera Lenses For those of you who have just started out on your photographic journey and have purchased your first DSLR camera, congratulations! The DSLR offers a flexibility not found on an average digital camera because you have the ability to change lenses, which allows for different kinds of imagery to be produced. But with many types of lenses available, it is a very daunting task to decide on which one to use for specific situations, especially when it comes to cosplay events and photoshoots. So how does one start? Here's a list of some of the different types of lenses available, which is by no means an exhaustive list. Standard Zoom Lens Commonly used to describe lenses that can extend to variable focal lengths, the standard zooms can range from the kit lens found on most beginners' camera gears, to the expensive constant aperture versions that are usually big and bulky. A jack of all trade, but master of none, you can count on these lenses to cover the general/walkabout shots. 1 20 Telephoto Zoom Lens The next common lens after the standard zoom lenses would be the telephoto versions, which are able to compress perspective and create a tight crop on distant subjects. These lenses are well-favoured by many photographers. Although it is good in getting framefilling shots, telephoto lenses are generally very bulky and heavy to use, causing camera shaking unless you are using a fast shutter speed or have some form of image stabilization built-in. Do note that these lenses are also generally slower in terms of the maximum aperture so they are harder to use at night or at low-light conditions. Constant aperture telephoto lenses are good alternatives, but are also very pricey. 2 Wide Angle Lens Known to give a wide perspective of objects, these lenses prove their worth in the cosplay scene. Usually offering angles of view between 100 � 180 degrees, the focal lengths are much wider than what our normal eyes can typically perceive. Therefore, this means that the lens is good for creative portraiture shots, especially in areas where space is at a premium. In addition, there is a good amount of DOF (depth of field), which results in excellent sharpness from the center to the corners of the image. However, do beware that cosplayers may look overtly distorted or appear abnormally large in the final image. 3 21 ARTICLE Fisheye Lens Considered as one of the more uncommon lenses being used in the cosplay scene, the fisheye lens serves as yet another outlet for creative photography. The images made were extremely wide and hemispherical in shape. The distortions from these lenses are very popular especially when making `omake' shots. Also, because the lens tends to be of a focal length shorter than even the ultrawide ones, working in a low-lighting condition is not much of a problem. Photo credits: 1. Setsuru as Kagami (Lucky Star). Photo by Hexlord (hexlord.deviantart.com) 2. Ryukku-K as Yomi (Black Rock Shooter). Photo by Kuzuryu (kuzuryu.wordpress.com) 3. Yuuka- as Alice (Pandora Hearts). Photo by Hexlord (hexlord.deviantart.com) 4. Aiko Shorin (aikoshorin.deviantart.com) as Kagamine Rin (Vocaloid). Photo by KC Lee (kclee2002.multiply.com) 5. Shuki as Azusa Nakano (K-On!). Photo by Hexlord (hexlord.deviantart.com) 6. Yang as C.C. (Code Geass R2). Photo by Hexlord (hexlord.deviantart.com) 4 22 Prime Lens In the earliest days of photography, lenses were originally created to be of fixed focal lengths. Originally called `Primary', it was shortened in time to the word Prime. Such lenses offer a very high optical quality in general, usually due to the minimal obstruction of light from the time it enters the lens to the imaging sensor itself. Due to this very reason, prime lenses tend to have a larger maximum aperture as well, allowing for very shallow depth of field that blurs the background (known in many places as `bokeh') and allowing you to shoot in low-light conditions. Prime lenses come in many different focal lengths, from the ultrawide to the higher telephoto end. The most common of them would be the 50mm, known for reproducing a natural perspective similar to what our eyes see. 5 Macro Lens Similar to prime lenses, macros are mainly used for closeup photography, but the inherent sharpness of the images produced by such lenses made them useful for photographers trying to capture intricate details of a cosplayer's outfit. Be careful when using such lenses as the sharpness sometimes emphasizes skin and facial features too much. Macro lenses are also generally slower to focus than other type of lenses. Conclusion There are still a few more lenses, which I did not cover here, mainly because some of them overlap the features explained here. Each of these type of lenses are capable of helping you take better shots, but it is really based on your preferences and budget as well. I hope you can learn something useful from this article to help you decide on buying cameras lenses that suit your needs. Enjoy your photography! (Extra) Are third party lenses viable? Many friends and photographers have asked me if buying a third-party product (in comparison to the ones made by the manufacturers) is a viable option. I would safely say that there are no absolute yes or no in this because the quality from thirdparty manufacturers has been steadily improving during the last few years. Third-party lenses tend to be cheaper. They also have a slightly different quality and variable autofocus (AF) performances when compares to the manufacturers' versions, but the gap is closing, so try them. Just remember to read the online reviews and get feedback from other third-party owners if possible. 6 // Article by Thomas Kuan aka Hexlord (hexlord.deviantart.com, hexlord.daportfolio.com) 23 PROFILE Crystal / Precious Years of Cosplay: 6 San Diego, CA, USA preciouscosplay.cleanfolio.com Cosplay Gen: Your Sweet Raiden cosplay is based on the Figumate Sweet Snake figurines from Konami; why did you choose this version over the original Raiden? Do you have any plans of cosplaying the original Raiden as well? Crystal: I saw the Sweet Snake figurine set and instantly thought the designs were super cute, and I wound up buying the set. Later on, a friend mentioned she was doing Sweet Snake, and I thought it would be fun to cosplay with her! It was an enjoyable challenge to make since I typically just work with fabric, and Sweet Raiden required many hard pieces to attach to the bodysuit. Of course, I still want to make the regular version of MGS4 Raiden. I actually really like Raiden as a character, so I hope to work on that version sometime next year. I have to figure out how to make myself look convincingly like a guy though, haha! CG: How did you make your Selvaria Bles costume and the props for it and how long did it take? Crystal: I began working on Selvaria at the end of January this year, so I worked on it for a total of about four months off and on. The construction process was pretty difficult. I had to wear gigantic fake breasts to get the character's bust-line, and this caused some troubles with getting the blouse to fit right. I made two failed blouses with a slightly stretchy fabric, so I had to resort to spandex in the end. The sleeves I had to pattern over and over because of their strange connection to the blouse, and I made them out of my original fabric choice and partially lined them with red velvet. The cuffs are also made out of red velvet, and I used a combination of embroidery, puffy paint, and trim to give them the beautiful design seen in the games. Finally, I hand-drew the pattern on the legs. It was a slow process that took a lot of measuring, but I am so pleased with the results! The lance and shield are made out of insulation foam and craft foam. Each ridge you see is an individually cut piece of craft foam! It took days and days of mind numbing work to cover both sides of the shield and lance, but it was worth it! After that, the foam was sealed and painted. It looks awesome, but unfortunately the lance is really heavy! CG: What is your favorite type of character and on what basis do you choose the next character to cosplay? Crystal: My favorite type of character would definitely be strong women. Moe blobs are cute and all, but a badass woman is much more interesting! When choosing cosplays, I try to stick to characters and series that I really love, but how much I resemble a character and how much I like a design are also big factors. I'm really tall, so I look ridiculous as young or short characters, so instead I try to cosplay more mature women. Photo credits: 1. Raiden (Metal Gear Solid 4, Figumate Sweet Snake version) by Eric Ng (bigwhitebazooka.com) 2. Raiden (Metal Gear Solid 4, Figumate Sweet Snake version) by Andy Lee (asianschoolboy.com) 3. Selvaria Bles (Valkyria Chronicles) by Shiroin (shiroin.deviantart.com) 1 24 25 PROFILE 2 26 3 27 PROFILE Kirisaki Years of Cosplay: 3 Singapore k-iricos.deviantart.com Cosplay Gen: What inspires you the most when choosing the characters you cosplay? Kirisaki: Their (background) stories. It helps one better understand the character. Personality, behaviour wise. It gives inspiration for the kind of portrayal you want to carry off, and the kind of shots you want to have. CG: What is your favorite cosplay until now and why? Kirisaki: xxxHoLic. The series has an excellent storyline by CLAMP. I think I was able to carry off the character (Watanuki) better than my other cosplays. No doubt I got to work with a brilliant photographer, and my partner was more than awesome. I would say that, most importantly, we were able to get the proper atmosphere of the series, as well as character portrayal. The costume was one of my favorite as well. CG: How much time do you usually invest into making a costume? Kirisaki: Depends on the costume complexity and on the amount of time I have at hand. I'm definitely not an expert when it comes to making costumes. Take my Alice (Pandora hearts) costume for example. I spent a total of 4 days, more or less. It had a lot of frills, and the details were complex. Usually I don't spend more than a week for costumes, excluding those with armors and complex props (weapons, big props) etc. I have not yet sewn big gowns, though I would love to try. CG: Do you think you have any weak points as far as cosplaying goes? Kirisaki: A lot of them, in fact. I have problems with character portrayal. I am not good when it comes to cosplaying guys. Which explains why my cosplays revolve around shota, girls, chibi and everything else. I am a very last-minute and fussy person. I don't start on my cosplays till 2 weeks before an event. I tend to change my plans a lot, for both photoshoots, and events. Many thanks to my teammates for putting up with me until now. I tend to leave out many small details when I do not have enough time (my fault), therefore my costumes tend to have inaccuracies etc. However, i do keep the accuracies of my costume to at least 90% (roughly). Also, i need to learn how to do better makeup to suit different characters. Sooner or later I will end up looking the same for every cosplay if i don't. Photo credits: 1. Hatsune Miku (Vocaloid, World is Mine version) by Swiftwing (swift-wing.deviantart.com) 2. Kagamine Len (Vocaloid, Setsugetsuka version) by Ahbu (ahbu.deviantart.com) 3. Rikku (Final Fantasy X-2) by Swiftwing (swift-wing.deviantart.com) 4. Kagamine Len (Vocaloid, Imitation Black version) by Swiftwing (swift-wing.deviantart.com) 5. Kagamine Len (Vocaloid, Sandplay Singing of The Dragon version) by Ahbu (ahbu.deviantart.com) 6. Aoyagi Ritsuka (LOVELESS) by XkaOnslaught (xkaonslaught.deviantart.com) 7. Watanuki Kimihiro (xxxHoLic) by Sim Li Fen (dooodleslove.com) 8. Hope Estheim (Final Fantasy XIII) by Swiftwing (swift-wing.deviantart.com) 1 28 29 PROFILE 2 4 5 6 30 3 7 8 31 PROFILE Monique Dimanlig Years of Cosplay: 2 Pasig City, Philippines morningmiracle.deviantart.com araboth.multiply.com Cosplay Gen: You specialize in geisha costumes and traditional cosplay; how long did you research geisha and traditional make-up and fashion in order to reach this level? Monique: Two years and ongoing. It's a learning process and I can safely say that, considering the amount of information and the depth of this particular culture, I am still a beginner. I don't believe I have the right to say that I am any more than that � I believe that I'm always learning new things and trying to get better as much as I can. Cosplay Gen: How long does it usually take to make a costume and what do you use as a reference when making them? Monique: I usually look at photographs of real geiko and maiko found on deviantart and flickr. There are multitudes of them and I'm able to study carefully how they look like and do what I can (with my limited resources) to emulate them as best as I can. I also look at tutorials and other explanatory images about the different parts of their wardrobe and accessories. It takes me a couple of weeks to a month to put together a new ensemble. Cosplay Gen: Why did you choose to depict Fujitsubo in particular? Monique: I think it's because she was the one who Genji really loved, and their relations ended sadly. She had feelings for him and he returned them, but their match was impossible, and when it ended, Genji sought out someone who reminded him of her. It was a melancholic approach that I didn't really try before and I wanted to see if I could do it. Cosplay Gen: From what point of view did the Heian period and Tale of Genji inspired your work? Monique: I learned from a documentary that geiko makeup and style were derived from the Heian period, when people would wear that white makeup in the presence of the Emperor. I decided that I wanted to delve more into a "traditional Japanese" type of look. I chose Tale of Genji because it was the quintessential Japanese novel to read, and it was set in that period. I've read it before as a requirement in one of my Literature courses. So I tried that approach. It was actually difficult for me because I had a limited number of kimonos to choose from, and the style during the period was marked with many kimono layers. I decided to compensate by taking the colors (on several images, I saw Fujitsubo depicted in white, red, black and green), which I fortunately had in my collection. It wouldn't give me a completely royal appearance, so even though it wasn't the norm during that era, I placed flowers in my hair and added long flutters in the style I used in my geiko costumes. I was initially worried about it, so I was very delighted that it was nevertheless quite well-received. 2 1 32 3 33 PROFILE 4 34 5 7 6 Photo credits: 1, 2. Jon Tapalla (moonlitedx.deviantart.com) 3. Robin Lavapiez (rovxz.deviantart.com) 4. Lady Fujitsubo (The Tale of Genji) by Eman Espino (www.flickr.com/photos/giantsiopao) 5, 6. Meng Hua Shen (flickr.com/photos/meng_hua7/) 7. Lady Fujitsubo (The Tale of Genji) by Kira Hokuten (kirahokuten.deviantart.com) 35 DO IT YOURSELF Wig Spiking Tutorial When picking out a wig to spike, it's highly recommended you choose one with lots of volume. Wigs that have frizzed roots at the base have more "lift" and tend to have less gaps where you separate the hair. You also might have to add in extra wefts in advance so you have more fibers to work with. Do some research on your wig's fibers to see if they are of good quality. Some of my favorite wigs for spiking are Punky styles (sold at both Cosworx and Amphigory online) and Silky Spikey (a cheaper version of Punky, sold on Amphigory) because they are good quality and have a frizzed-rooted top. I'm using a custom-dyed Silky Spikey wig for this tutorial. Pin your wig to a Styrofoam head and stick it onto something that will keep it from tilting over while you work. Some recommended tools you'll need to spike your wig: - Bobby pins and/or hair ties - Blow-dryer (do a test on a small piece of wig hair first to make sure the fibers can take the heat. Low quality fibers may melt). - Comb - Tacky Glue or Got2b spiking glue - Hairspray (Got2b and Aqua Net are my preferred brands. Never use hair gel) - Scissors - References of your character 01 Separate the wig's hair into sections with bobby pins or hair ties. This allows you to see how much fiber you have to work with and visualize how it will look before you style it. Having a figurine of the character can be really helpful here, but you will have to think outside of the box if you are translating a 2D reference into a 3D form. 36 02 Pulling one spike into the direction you want it to go, comb it and lightly spray the base of the spike with your hairspray. Too much spray will make your spikes heavy and stringy, and custom-dyed wigs could bleed if they get soaked with spray. Blow-dry the spike on a low setting until the hairspray is dry. Trim the end of your spike to the desired length by cutting towards the base of the spike. This thins out the hair at the tip so it will transition to a better point, and it will look a lot less choppy than just cutting straight across. 03 04 At this point, you have a few options to finishing your spikes. I dotted a small amount of tacky glue at the very ends of the tip before pinching it together and blow-drying it. The glue dries clear and keeps the spike from breaking up, but it is a bit more permanent, making it harder to fix later on if you decide to re-style the wig or use it for another cosplay. You can use Got2b styling glue instead or use heavier amounts of Got2b hairspray in the tips, but hairspray alone might not be enough to keep the tips together for extensive wear or after a fangirl glomp. 37 DO IT YOURSELF 05 Once the tip is dry, carefully trim it to a clean, smooth point. If it was thinned out properly before glued, you probably won't have to trim much here. Once you are done, do a very light coat of Got2b or Aqua Net hairspray on the entire spike to finish it. You do not need to overload your spikes with hairspray since it is really the tip that is holding it all together. The hairspray helps strengthen it, but too much can ruin your spikes. Repeat what you did on the first spike to the entire front and top sections of the wig. 06 07 Spiking the back of the wig can sometimes be the hardest part because you have fewer fibers to work with, and there are no frizzed roots to hide gaps. If you added in extra wefts before styling, this might be easier to pull off, but you can also hide the gaps with the placement of the spikes themselves, and/or wear a wig cap in a matching color to make the gaps less noticeable. 38 08 As you can see in my now finished wig, there are still gaps showing between the spikes, but it is not something that people will notice unless they are up-closeand-personal to the back of my head, especially since I use a brown wig cap when I wear this wig. The wig is now done and ready to wear! It is highly recommended you use a wig cap of some kind to contain your hair and keep your wigs cleaner longer. You can also hook bobby-pins around the edge of your wig and wig cap to keep it from falling off and hide the hair that might peek out on the back of your neck. To keep your wig in top-shape, you might want to keep it on a wig-head when not in use, and store it someplace where it will not get squished or fall over. Never leave it in a hot car, and be mindful when traveling (you might make a wig-stand to hold it upright in your vehicle, or even wear it to your convention/photoshoot/etc). Happy styling! // Tutorial and tutorial photos by Malinda Meredith aka Malindachan (malindachan.deviantart.com) Malindachan as Gary Oak (Pokemon) Photo by Liz Cecil 39 INTERVIEW Harrison Krix / Volpin Norcross, GA, USA volpinprops.blogspot.com 1 Harrison Krix, known better in the costume props making scene as Volpin, started making props just a few years ago when he and his wife wanted to cosplay as Link and Midna from The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess. Afterwards he started honning his skills with his works seeing immediate positive response from the media and fans. You might've already seen his Portal Gun or Big Daddy costume as well as his recently finished, seventeen months project, Guy Manuel's helmet from Daft Punk. We asked him a few questions about this hobby, some of his current works and his future goals. Cosplay Gen: When did this hobby start for you and why? Harrison Krix: It began in October of 2007 - my wife (girlfriend at the time) and I had just finished playing Twilight Princess and really wanted to go as Link and Midna for Halloween. I started doing some research online about costuming and prop construction, and that's where I found out about Cosplay as a hobby in general. She decided to tackle the sewing bits while I attempted to make our props in about a week. Looking back, those first ones were done super cheap, but they got me introduced to a lot of new materials and techniques. A lot of our friends told us we should try out DragonCon in `08, and after visiting that once, we were hooked. A little while after, I started work on the Portal gun, which was a lightning strike. It got a ton of press pretty much overnight and suddenly people wanted 40 2 3 me to make stuff for them! I've been taking commissions for prop work and expanding my skills ever since. CG: You have quite a portfolio of props, whether it's personal projects or commissions for others; do you choose mainly projects that you can do with your current abilities or choose projects that are also a bit challenging for your skills and imagination? Harrison: I think my commissions are a bit different than most people. Since I do this in my free time, and not really as a source of primary income, I tend to pick commissions that I'm personally interested in making. I think that the greater my affinity for a build is, the better the eventual product will be. The idea of challenging myself is also something I look for when I take on a project, which is why I rarely build the same thing twice. I like learning new materials, techniques, and skills. I prefer to push myself to try new things and constantly expand my skillset, so I can continue to make more complex and intricate pieces with each new project I attempt. CG: The first I've ever seen of your works was your Big Daddy from Bioshock costume, a costume I think you're well known for. Why did you decide to make that costume and what sort of reactions did people get when they saw it? Harrison: The most unfortunate part of wearing that suit is that I didn't get to see people's reactions! The inside of the Big Daddy had poor visibility at best, and it was also pretty difficult to hear and speak to other people as well. My wife 41 INTERVIEW (who was the Little Sister) tells me that everywhere we went, people just went nuts over it. Most times, we would need to walk somewhere, and I was blissfully ignorant of photographers nearby, just lumbering through the hallways knocking people over. Fun times. As for my inspiration, I love the theme, aesthetic, and plot of Bioshock. Bioshock 2 gave us a little closer look into the minds of the Big Daddies, and I like those characters even more now. The costume presented a fantastic challenge of trying to work within the dimensions and scale of the Big Daddy character while still making it a wearable suit. I had to come up with solutions for the height, the length of the arms, the thickness of the limbs, and a rig for a spinning motorized drill arm. I also had to finish it in 7 weeks! Ultimately, my motivation was to bring the character to life as accurately as possible. I'd like to think that's why most people choose the characters they want to cosplay. CG: Tell us more about your most recent finished project, Guy Manuel's Daft Punk helmet, how long has it been in planning, how long did it take to make and what happened along the way? Harrison: Oof. Guy was a beast. I started research for it back in February of 2009 and started the actual build in March. It took a very long time, but during the process I taught myself complex moldmaking, slush casting, PCB design and layout programs, a ton of electronics wizardry, the ins and outs of chroming and vacuumforming... I have learned more from Guy than perhaps all my other projects to date. In the end, 17 months passed between the start 4 5 8 42 and finish of that project - during which I also worked on about a dozen other props. I can see now why the "real" replica helmets are listed at $64,000. I wouldn't charge that much to make a second, but I would definitely hike the price a bit form my initial estimates. I also learned a lot about dealing with vendors - since I can't do the chroming myself, I had to outsource it. There are some companies out there that just care about the money, and some that really care about customers. Figuring out which ones were which cost that project about 6 months and ended up destroying 8 helmets. I also paired with other fantastic craftsmen for the vac-forming and programming side of things, and it was really cool to bring other DIY-ers into the project. In the end, I learned a ton from Guy, but it would be a hard sell to get me to do it again. CG: What is your ultimate goal? Harrison: Well, for right now I just want to keep making cool things the community enjoys, and learning from the process. As ridiculous as it sounds, my current "goal" is to have a wikipedia page about me that I didn't write! That's kind of a strange goal, but eventually if I keep making things that people like, it might happen. In the long, long, long term I'd eventually like to work for a production studio and make custom projects like this full time. I have this equally insane idea of working in cinema and winning an academy award someday... but man is that a pipe dream! For now, I'm just a dude in his garage and the only real thing I'm trying to do is continue to build neat stuff. As long as I can keep learning and expanding my skills, I'll be happy. // Interview by Cristian Botea 6 7 Photo credits: 1, 2, 3. Jennifer Barclay 4, 5, 8. Dim Horizon Studio (dimhorizonstudio.com) 6, 7, 9. Harrison Krix aka Volpin (volpinprops.blogspot.com) 9 43 1 Skye Years of Cosplay: 7 Singapore / Melbourne (Australia) astellecia.deviantart.com A very talented cosplayer, Skye is already known among the cosplay fans for her beautifully portrayed characters. Her characters of choice are mostly sensual and charming women, such as Soah from The Bride of the Water God, Himawari from xxxHoLic or Sheryl Nome from Macross Frontier. She always challenges herself with difficult to make dresses and outfits, and the results show her talent not only as a cosplayer, but also as a costume-maker. We asked her a few questions to find out more about how she works and what does cosplay mean to her. Cosplay Gen: What was the reason that has drawn you into cosplay and what was the first cosplay you've ever made? Skye: I was first introduced to cosplay by a senior in secondary school, and as I was an avid fan of anime, manga and RPG games. The idea of dressing up as my favorite character seemed quite appealing. I went to have a look at a cosplay event organized by AXN, and I was so awed by Yuanie's Yuna cosplay that I thought I'd give it a shot. My first cosplay was Miyu from Kyuuketsuki Miyu, I roped a couple of schoolmates to accompany me and we got help drafting patterns from a friend's mom. When I look back, I cringe at what an absolute disaster it was, because I used cheap gaudy satin for my yukata top, and it reflected camera flashes from a mile away, 44 but it was an amazing experience and I've been addicted to this hobby ever since. CG: You live in a country where cosplay is given very much importance. How does this high standard influence you? Skye: I started cosplaying about eight years ago, back when the circle was still new and rather small compared to now. At that time we all did it for the fun, and standards didn't really matter to anyone, so I've never consciously given it much thought. When I cosplay, I'm not so much concerned as to meeting the standards in Singapore, but rather I try to do everything to the best of my abilities. I've been really lucky to have travelled to quite a few countries in the past few years because of my studies and WCS and I've seen some really amazing things from cosplayers around Europe and Australia, and they've been a really great inspiration. I hope that someday I can make costumes that can match up to their level of detail and workmanship. CG: We see you prefer long and elaborate dresses (you tailored quite some of them). Is there a specific reason behind it? Is it the character, the visual aspect or simply the challenge to make a difficult costume? Skye: It's usually a mix of both. I only cosplay characters that I consider interesting, and most of them just happen to have big gowns; but I also love intricate designs, so when faced with a variety of versions of a particular character to choose from, I have a tendency to make the most difficult ones. For me, one of the strongest draws of the hobby is reenacting out something from the imagination so I like making and wearing outfits that I would never wear in my daily life. Although I usually whine a lot during the costume making process, I enjoy the challenge of making something exceptionally difficult because the sense of achievement when everything works out is greater. I make it a point to do at least one costume a year that involves me making something that I've never done before, like figuring out how to do Seth's squid-shaped hat or learning how to make armor. CG: One of these elaborate dresses is that of Soah from Bride of the Water God. Can you please tell us something about how did you make this costume? 45 COVER STORY 2 3 Skye: I actually had to rush Soah out in 3 days before the event because of time constraints from my travelling schedule. Doing the preliminary sketches for the costume was challenging because this dress is from a rather obscure blackwhite image. I had to colour-coordinate everything with my partner Ashteyz, and design the parts that couldn't see to match her Mui outfit. I was really lucky with my cloth because I found a beautiful purple-gradient fabric which saved me hours of hand-dying, but I ended up having to line the outer coat with black satin because the gradient cloth was too thin. Drafting wise, I just modified really basic top patterns for the outer coat and drafted everything else from scratch. My favourite part of the costume is the wrap-around sash, it floats around Soah at elbowheight and I wanted to get a similar effect rather than just letting it flop, so Ashteyz and I spent an hour just inserting wire through the edges to make it stand, but the effect turned out really well! The hardest bit of the costume was the wig, because I have never done anything like it before, the extensions, flowers and pearls are all sewn onto the wig base and it took me about 4-5 hours to position and attach on everything. Before that, I had to use ink to dye the peony petals because they were originally a bright pink, paint the hair sticks, string the pearls and make the braided extension and glue on extra pearls and flowers. I spent around 9 hours in total on the wig, which is quite possibly almost the same time it took for the rest of the costume. CG: Can you tell us something about how you choose the fabric for your costumes? Are there certain criteria for matching a certain type of fabric with a certain costume? And what is your preferred fabric to work with? Skye: The two criteria I look at when I choose fabrics are accuracy and suitability for the character. If the character has a very clear outfit reference, for example like in Final Fantasy where even the textures in the cloth are obvious, then I'll try and match it as close as possible to the original, if it's something more vague that is up to personal interpretation, like a manga drawing, I'll look at the character and the nature of the costume itself. I've seen a lot really huge range in the cloth people have used for the Diamond Crevasse concert version of Sheryl Nome ranging from organza over satin to sequined cloths. When I looked at my references those were immediately out for me because of the way the dress fell in heavy waves and the gorgeous colour. Being a galactic popstar I envisioned Sheryl wearing a gown made of an expensive (because she can afford it even if I can't) and sophisticated looking material, so I decided to use velvet because I thought it best replicated the look and the feel of the original reference. The scene where she appears in that outfit is really emotion-fraught and the heaviness of the dress really emphasized that so I thought that velvet best brought that out in its rich depth. Generally I prefer stiffer fabrics for the simple reason that they are easier to sew, PVC and lycra are my sewing machine's worst enemies so I try to avoid them as much as possible, but if I really have to use them, I'll either get them tailored or I hand-sew the entire costume. CG: Judging from the looks of your wigs, you pay very much attention to this aspect. What was the most difficult wig you styled and how did you make it? Skye: I've only started styling my own wigs in the past year or so; before that, I had friends who helped out and they taught me a lot about what works with 46 4 wigs and what doesn't. In terms of normal styling (unlike Soah, where much glue was used), the most difficult wig I've done is Vanille from Final Fantasy XIII. I ordered a 1m wavy wig rather than getting a prestyled one because I thought the colour was beautiful for the character; this was a really bad move. I enlisted Melriza's help to cut the wig and we mutilated it so much that there was probably enough fibre left over for a whole new wig after we finished layering it. When we were done, we realized to our horror that the wig was far too thin to be tied up in two pony tails and it was sorely lacking in volume. I gave the wig a custom dye job to tint in some orange so it would be more accurate before we embarked on our quest to try and save it. We had to re-curl the wig and comb it out again before we started making wefts from the leftover strands we managed to save. After re-attaching most of the hair we layered out back in strategic locations, we did another round of trimming and layering. It was really nerve-wrecking, because we had to be really careful not to pull out any of the wefts and then it was back to curling the wig and trying to force it to fluff out into the balls of ponytails with hairspray. The entire process took both of us working together about 9 hours to complete and there were some really horrible moments when we thought that wig was beyond all form of salvation, but somehow, we managed to turn it into some semblance of the original reference. It looks almost nothing like what it was when it first came in the mail. CG: What was your favorite costume to make? Can you share some tricks and tips of the working process? Skye: Will of the Abyss from Pandora Hearts because it was the most challenging costume I've done. Although the costume isn't particularly difficult, she has this ridiculous skirt that maintains a bell-shape despite being hollow and has a massive V-cut down the front. It took me about 1 month to figure out how to do it, and another 1 week of non-stop work to make it, with a lot of modifications along the way. I made a modified hoop skirt from scratch and used a lot of wires and fishing string to keep the skirt in place and in shape. For me, the most important is to always keep in mind your final vision of how you want your costume to look like. Have an idea from the start of what you want in terms of what you want the cosplay to convey and how you want the costume to look. I like to look at how other people have made theirs, to see what works in real life and what doesn't, because not all drawing translates to real life in the same way. CG: You have quite a gallery of various and very different characters. What are the main criteria for you when choosing what to cosplay? Skye: I don't really have any particular criteria; I pretty much go by what Singaporeans call "hui ling" which roughly translates to having the correct "feeling" for the character. Sometimes it's because I can relate to the characters, or aspects of them, like Sheryl Nome. I'm very showy when I cosplay and I love singing and performing so I really enjoy cosplaying her. Sometimes I surprise myself by doing characters that I would never have even considered, like Mio from K-On. I found her ridiculously annoying because she was so soft-spoken when I first starting watching the series, but somehow she just wormed her way into my heart (and my cosplay list). There are also the rare cases where I get emotionally bribed into doing a character because the team is too epic not to be a part of (e.g Majoko from Zone 00 with Kanasai, Lenneth and Kazeki). 47 COVER STORY CG: How do you manage to look so differently in each of the characters you portray? From your point of view, what would be the secret of a "perfect cosplay"? Skye: Make-up!! Doing your make-up well is definitely an important key to looking like your character; over the years I've learnt a lot about highlighting and shading the facial contours of your face from fellow cosplayers like Kanasai, Cvy, and even photographers like Miki. Even the way eyeliner is drawn on can really make a huge difference. To a certain extent, I think costume cutting also helps, like for a younger character like Elizabeth, I'll try and hide my figure as much as possible with a bigger bolero and a huge skirt on the bottom, or emphasize it with an older, sexier character like Sheryl with a slimmer cut. To me, the `perfect cosplay' has to be all-rounded, and I pay attention to every aspect of the hobby. Not only must the costume be done well, but portraying the character in posing and expression is equally important. Because photos are currently the most widely-used method for us to share our cosplays with others, I feel the photo-shooting process is also important, from conceptualizing the shoot, finding a suitable location and good photographers who you can work with, up to the post-processing. CG: What is cosplay to you and where do you see yourself as a cosplayer in the future? Skye: It's something I enjoy doing and something I'll keep doing as long as I still enjoy it. Ever since I started this hobby it has really enriched my life with tears, joy and excitement. I've never really thought of the future except that I'm going to just cosplay what I like, and to the best of my abilities. // Interview by Ruxandra T�rc 5 7 Photo credits: 1. Sheryl Nome (Macross Frontier) by Zerartul (zerartul.deviantart.com) 2. Hatsune Miku (Vocaloid, Hagane Miku version) by Kaze (kazex.deviantart.com) 3. Okino Majoko (Zone-00) by Shiroin (shiroin.deviantart.com) 4. Sheryl Nome (Macross Frontier) by Shiroin (shiroin.deviantart.com) 5. Hel (Matantei Loki Ragnarok) by Macross (macross-n.deviantart.com) 6. Myoubi (Alichino) by Zerartul (zerartul.deviantart.com) 7. Himawari Kunogi (xxxHoLic) by Sim Li Fen (dooodleslove.com) 8. Elizabeth Middleford (Kuroshitsuji) by Togusa (togusa208.deviantart.com) 9. Seth Nightroad (Trinity Blood) by Ahbu (ahbu.deviantart.com) 10. Soah (The Bride of the Water God) by Garion (garion.deviantart.com) 11-12. Mio Akiyama (K-On!) by Zerartul (zerartul.deviantart.com) 13. Will of the Abyss (Pandora Hearts) by Shiro Ang (shiroang.deviantart.com) 14. Sheryl Nome (Macross Frontier) by Garion (garion.deviantart.com) 15. Sheryl Nome (Macross Frontier) by Garion (garion.deviantart.com) 10 11 12 48 6 8 9 14 13 15 49 STREETFUL OF STORIES Commonly Mixed-Up J-Fashion Styles by China Mungcal For people who are unfamiliar with the many subcultures of Japan, it is difficult to differentiate between the many styles, because to the untrained eye it is easy to mix one style with the other. Therefore, it is best if we not only look at what makes the various Japanese fashion styles similar, but also what makes each style unique. It is also best to remember that aside from the clothes, each group also has its own culture. Keeping that in mind will make it easier for us to learn about the different J-fashion styles. If we try to dissect every subculture there is, we will probably reach the end of this article and still not be able to finish. Instead, we will try to compare and differentiate the most commonly mixed-up fashion styles at the moment: Decora, Fairy Kei, Lolita, Mori Girl, and Dolly Kei. 52 DECORA � ALL ABOUT NEVER GROWING UP Decora is short for the English word "decoration". It is a very loud style, using brightly colored clothing and accessories. The point of this fashion is to be as bright and cute as possible. This style is one of the earliest known subcultures to appear in Harajuku, the Japanese fashion capital, and also the sole reason why the fashion magazine, FRUiTS, was created in the first place. Layers upon layers of accessories and clothing are used to create a rainbow of cuteness. Decora favorites are cartoon-print clothing, animal pajamas, fluffy petticoats, colored tights, character pouches, toys used as accessories, plastic necklaces and bracelets and lots and lots of hair clips. Model: Jin How (ameblo.jp/jinhow) 53 STREETFUL OF STORIES FAIRY KEI � POP & LOVELY FAIRY FASHION Fairy Kei, or Spank!, is a style promoting the girly, sweet clothes that were worn in the 80's. The themes of Fairy Kei according to Sebastian Masudea, the founder of Fairy Kei shop, 6% DOKI DOKI, and one of the pioneers of this fashion style, are "sensational and lovely," "not only cute but also happy" and "have a feeling of unreality". As with Decora, layering is also used, however, instead of using the bright neons of Decora, Fairy Kei prefers the use of soft, feminine pastel colors of the 80's. There are lots of pink variations, also: pink and red, pink and white, and pink and black, among others. The style also gets its inspiration from cartoons such as Jem and the Holograms, My Little Pony and the Care Bears. Fashion points: nighties with cartoon prints, candy-colored trinkets, pastel-colored stockings, socks and sneakers. Makeup is minimal. Hair is usually colored with highlights of pink, mint green, baby blue or other pastel colors. Fashion inspiration: U, vocalist of the band PEEP 4U. Models: Camila Rose (ai-masayume.deviantart.com) Leny Astralis (astral17.deviantart.com) Ciarra Del Rosario (f-ayn-t.deviantart.com) 54 LOLITA � PRETTY LITTLE MARIONETTES Lolita fashion is a style inspired by Victorian clothing, mainly the costumes during the Rococo period. They follow the look of porcelain dolls, appearing deliberately cute to the point of looking childish. Amongst all of the Japanese fashion styles, Lolita is one of the strictest with its rules of dressing, although the appearance of magazines such as KERA hav made it less so. A basic Lolita outfit usually includes: onepieces or jumperskirts typically decorated with ribbons and lace trimming, blouses with Peter Pan collars, skirts worn with a petticoat or a crinoline underneath, kneehigh socks or stockings, Mary Janes or boots with high heels. Other popular Lolita items are: rocking horse shoes, tiny top hats, parasols, lace gloves, and lace headpieces. Make-up is minimal. Hair is usually curled to give that babydoll look, though some prefer to wear wigs. Fashion inspiration: Mana of Malice Mizer, Kitade Nana, Momoko from the movie Shimotsuma Monogatari. Models: Louise Manuel (pinuna.deviantart.com) Cyril Lumboy (dolldelight.deviantart.com) 55 STREETFUL OF STORIES DOLLY KEI � REAL PORCELAIN DOLLS Dolly Kei is probably the hardest to understand and to explain out of all these fashion styles because it is still in its infancy. The style plays on the look of porcelain dolls, as does Lolita fashion, but Dolly Kei gets its inspiration mainly from the style of East European clothing. As with the other styles, it also uses many layers of clothing, but this style focuses more on the overlaying of prints rather than the pieces of clothing themselves. Mixing of strong patterns is common, and a certain harmony is achieved by doing so. Vintage accessories are also popular, so are rocking horse shoes. Other popular fashion items are corsets, rosaries, tassels used as neckpieces or belts, patterned stockings, long gowns and princess-type blouses. Make-up is simple: very minimal with just a touch of pink for the cheeks, and maybe eyeliner and curled eyelashes. Model: Leny Astralis (astral17.deviantart.com) 56 WHAT MAKES THEM SIMILAR AND WHAT MAKES THEM UNIQUE? Looking at all these styles, there is one obviously similar point--layering, lots and lots of it. Out of all the styles, Mori Girl is probably the one that uses the most layers of clothing. Layering is done to create the perfect silhouette for their specific styles. Accessories are also very important. Layers upon layers of accessories are piled on. This is most prominent in the Fairy Kei and Decora Kei fashion. To make things easier for everyone (including myself), I've decided to split the five styles into two. I split them according to the fashion styles that have the most similarities. DECORA KEI AND FAIRY KEI Decora Kei and Fairy Kei, what makes them similar? One apparent common point is the styles' emphasis on themes that are "cute" and "happy". Color, texture, and patterns all differ to create a rainbow of happy colors. Also, as I've mentioned earlier, they love to pile on lots and lots of accessories. Cute bracelets and necklaces, plastic rings, and cartoon character pouches are prominent. Toys are also used as accessories. The use of makeup is also very minimal; usually only a bit of blush and mascara is used. These two styles, out of the five, are probably the most similar. In fact, when you put the two styles side by side, you'll probably only be able to tell one from the other because of their one very noticeable difference--their color palettes. Decora Kei uses bright and loud neon colors while Fairy kei prefers a lighter and softer palette of mostly pastels. LOLITA AND MORI GIRL AND DOLLY KEI Mori Girl, Dolly Kei and Lolita fashions have one important common point: they all take inspiration from the fashions of old Europe. In particular, these are the gothic and doll-like appearance of both Lolita and Dolly Kei, and having the appearance of something out of a fairytale and a somewhat otherworldly feeling given off by Mori Girl and Dolly Kei. If you look at Dolly Kei as the middle point between Mori Girl and Lolita, it is easy to understand why many people think of Dolly Kei as the merging of the two styles. Mori Girl and Dolly Kei are the two styles that are most commonly mistaken for each other mostly because of their taste for fabrics and vintage pieces. Lovely flower prints and quaint accessories are another common point. Despite these commonalities, these two styles have almost nothing else in common. They may look like they are related, but they are actually quite different. Lolita and Dolly Kei, on the other hand, have a more similar look because both copy the appearance of porcelain dolls and women from Europe's Middle Age. Dolly Kei also uses almost the same accessories as in Gothic Lolita--crosses, rosaries, corsets, etc. The rocking horse shoe is also a common point for both Lolita and Dolly fashion. Makeup used for Dolly Kei and Lolita is also similar as doll-eye contact lenses and eyelashes are used to create that dolly look. A new style of Lolita that is also relatively new to the scene takes the cuteness of Decora, and mixes it with Sweet Lolita. This look follows the guidelines of Sweet Lolita but with all the childish touches of Decora, with its bright colors, hairclips, jewelry and characters. The result is a style that is more vibrant and brighter version of Sweet Lolita, Decololita. Because fashion is always evolving, many of these fashion styles have started splitting, changing and growing into something different. One style takes inspiration from another and mixes clothes to create a whole new trend. With all this happening, it is easy to forget one fashion style and mistake it for another, but we should remember that no matter how certain fashion styles change, they still somehow manage to maintain the points that give them their unique charm. Uniqueness is, after all, the essence of Japanese street fashion and is the one thing that has captured the heart of everyone who follows any style of Japanese fashion. MORI GIRL � FAIRYTALE FOREST WANDERERS Mori is a Japanese word meaning "forest," so Mori Girl is actually a fashion style imitating the look of a girl if she lived in a forest. The overall look is pretty and natural with a sort of ethereal feeling. Dresses are loose and volume is created by layering different pieces of clothing. Flower prints and lace are common, but unlike the Lolita style, they take on a more neutral palette. Accessories are mostly antiques. Brooches, scarves, earrings, necklaces and other trinkets are popular items. The color palette of this style is simple: neutrals, muted colors, and other colors that can be found in the forest. Patterns inspired by nature are also common. Almost no makeup is used, because mori girls prefer the fresh and natural look. Fashion inspiration: Yuu Aoi, Hagu from the anime Honey and Clover. Model: Sancriti (sancriti.deviantart.com) Photo credits: China Mungcal (shinyredballoon.deviantart.com) 57 PROFILE Phoenixiaoio Years of Cosplay: 8 Beijing, China phoenixiaoio.blog.163.com Cosplay Gen: There are a lot of versions of Hatsune Miku; what did you see in the 1925 Hatsune Miku version? Phoenixiaoio: As you say, there are lots of versions, and I think they are extremely different from each other. 1925 is such a cute song and its lyrics contain the historical fact of the year 1925 in Japan. It is the first year when female conductors were used for the trains of Japan. Also, the year was marked by unrest and civilization crowd. People started to reflect whether money is important or not. I think that is what I see in the 1925 version. CG: How long did it take you to make the Hatsune Miku Cantarella dress and what were the most difficult parts to do? Phoenix: In... about 3 months I think...In fact, I don't remember exactly because it really took lots of time to make. The most difficult part was the corset. The corset has plastic rings to keep its shape. CG: If you were to cosplay a male Vocaloid, which one would it be and why? Phoenix: I don't think I will cosplay any male Vocaloid. Never. 58 Photo credits: Franseca aka Hybridre (hybridre.deviantart.com) 59 PROFILE Pamela G�ngora / AiKiren Years of Cosplay: 6 M�rida, Yuc, Mexico ai-kiren.deviantart.com Cosplay Gen: What made you choose this character from the Alichino manga series? Pamela: The first time I saw the Alichino manga, a few years ago, I fell in love with Myoubi right away! The style of drawing and the garments design are just gorgeous, so when I got the chance to make a cosplay from the manga, I took it! CG: How long did it take you to make this costume and what sort of fabrics did you use? P: It was the first cosplay made by me. I think it took me around one month and a half to complete it. One of the things that took me a little more than expected was finding the right fabrics for the character, mostly because the shops in my city are poorlystocked, so it was more like scavenger actually. I used two kinds of satin: a light, shiny and golden satin for the sleeves, underskirt and bloomer; and another one, a little heavier, opaque and burgundy colored, which I used for the entire dress and the hat. I made the collar of dark brown velvet. Also, I used several types of golden trim lace, lots of peach ribbons and white marabou for the final touches. CG: Was it hard to find such a fitting place for the Miyoubi photoshoot? P: Originally we thought about taking the photoshoot on an elegant place; however, in our city it's hard and expensive to find a place like that. After some thinking we decided to try going to one of the biggest graveyards of the city. At first we had a bit of trouble selecting the proper places to take the photos, but thankfully my boyfriend and the photographer had excellent ideas for the location and composition. CG: What can you tell us about the cosplay community in Mexico? P: Here in Mexico cosplay is still quite unknown compared to other countries like USA. However, due to the increase of anime conventions and related events, more people are getting into this hobby. I must admit that it's pretty hard to begin doing cosplay due to the lack of materials at our disposal; most of the time we need to improvise and use our creativity to be able to bring our favorite characters to life. CG: How did you get into cosplay? P: I've been an anime fan even before knowing the term "anime", and a gaming fan ever since I could hold a controller with my hands, summing that with the fact that I also loved costumes and to wear them... I guess I was just the average 7 year-old girl, huh? It was when I was about fourteen years old that I discovered the term anime and cosplay to the full extent, and all I can say is... I loved it. I was just dazzled with the idea of wearing costumes of my favorite characters and acting like them! However it took me some years before deciding to go to an anime convention and cosplay, mostly because I was a little bit shy (still am); so, when I turned 18, I took the first step into this addictive and magnificent world of cosplay. 60 Photo credits: Claudia C�rdenas aka Vanimelir (vanimelir.deviantart.com) Mario Ricalde aka Kuroir (kuroir.deviantart.com) 61 PROFILE Orochi X (Group Leader) Years of Cosplay: 7 Melbourne, Australia theendlessillution.multiply.com Pinky Lu Xun Years of Cosplay: 12 Jakarta, Indonesia pinkyluxun.deviantart.com Shinji X Years of Cosplay: 5 Jakarta, Indonesia theendlessillution.multiply.com Endiru is a group comprising of three girls - Orochi X, Pinky Lu Xun and Shinji X - who consider cosplay as a very complex form of art that combines various related fields. Their philosophy as a team is that one should make up for whatever skills the other lacks, in order to complete the whole. Their cosplays range from fantasy game characters such as Animus Isis from Rising Force Online or the Dynasty Elf from Lineage II to anime or manga characters such as Ashura from RG Veda or Ion Fortuna from Trinity Blood. 1 Cosplay Gen: In your opinion, what are the benefits of cosplaying in a group rather than cosplaying individually? Pinky Lu Xun: For me and my teammates, cosplaying in a group is merrier than cosplaying alone... Each of us cannot afford to make a 100% completed costume and props all alone; there are some parts that we really cannot do. So we need the other team member, our friend, to come and help us with it... For example, Orochi X is the best among us for crafting armors and props, but she can't do make up, so usually it's me who's helping her with that. Otherwise, she was helpful in teaching me and the others how to make our armors and props when we needed... We called it team work; we always worked on our costumes and props together. If we succeed, we laugh and are happy together; if we fail, we will still laugh while cheering up one another to create a new one. We can always make it better if we learn from our mistakes right? Here we can learn to appreciate others' feelings and suppress our egos to work together in a team CG: What did you want to express in the Animus Isis cosplay? What can you tell us about the props for it? Pinky: I want to express an un-human character with a human feeling inside. This Animus Isis once was a goddess of magic and healing, but then she cursed her husband's murder and 3 62 2 4 63 PROFILE received the power to bond herself, remaining in her husband's body, and became an animus so that she may seek her revenge. But although she did get her revenge, she was forever bonded to the title of animus and is forced to serve whoever should call on her power. I think it's so challenging to portray this character... Now, about the making of this costume, I had Orochi X helping me with this. First I drew again that round and gigantic gold stuff with engraving, in a program called Autocad, so that I could get the engraving pattern. Afterwards we used many kinds of materials, such as cardboard, light clay, paper, foam, and fiber glass to mold it. It took around 4 months to completely finish it. CG: Can you tell us a funny or embarrassing moment you faced in cosplay? Pinky: Well, this happens almost all of the time... Our group is mainly a `Crossplayer' group, all of us are females, but some of us don't really look like females, many people still insist and doubt about it, although we have already told them the truth about our gender... Many people also like to touch my teammates' chest at events, just to make sure they really are females... that is so embarrassing... CG: How do you see cosplay now comparing to when you first started cosplaying? Pinky: During my early years of cosplay, I only felt it's cute and fun to dress up as my favorite character for a day... But now, after a long time of doing this, I feel like it's more than just cute and fun I can get from this hobby... I gain a lot of experiences, I learned many things I would have never known without courses like sewing, molding props, make up, acting, wig styling, photography and photo editing, etc. It is also a great satisfaction for me and my team because, in our opinion, cosplay is a complicated art � art of fashion, art of craftsmanship, art of make up, art of acting, art of photography, and still more... And last but not least, I can say that the most important part for us on doing cosplay is making a lot of friends from our own country and overseas. Why did we say this is the most important part of doing cosplay? Because we think this is the only thing that will remain forever, even if someday all of us will retire from cosplay. Once we retire, we are no longer cosplayers, but we are forever friends with the others... *All questions answered by Pinky Lu Xun 5 Photo credits: 1. Pinky Lu Xun as Myoubi, Orochi X as Ryoko, Shinji X as Tsugiri (Alichino) by Cin Shine (shiningcin.deviantart.com) 2. Pinky Lu Xun as Dynasty Elf (Lineage II) by Gorgeous Photography Team 3. Orochi X as Kamael (Lineage II, Blue Wolf Light Armor version) by Gorgeous Photography Team 4. Pinky Lu Xun as Animus Isis (Rising Force Online) by Gorgeous Photography Team 5. Pinky Lu Xun as Ashura (RG Veda) by Gorgeous Photography Team 6. Orochi X as Siegfried Schtauffen (Soul Calibur IV) by Thomas Kuan aka Hexlord (hexlord.deviantart.com) 7. Shinji X as Ion Fortuna (Trinity Blood) by Ahbu (ahbu.deviantart.com) 8. Orochi X as Kaito (Vocaloid, Sandplay Singing of The Dragon) by Blurmage (blurmage.deviantart.com) 9. Pinky Lu Xun as Hatsune Miku (Vocaloid, Sandplay Singing of the Dragon) by Blurmage (blurmage.deviantart.com) 7 64 6 8 9 65 PROFILE 1 2 Giorgia Vecchini / Giorgiacosplay Years of Cosplay: 13 Verona, Italy giorgiacosplay.com Giorgia Vecchini has been in the cosplay scene for quite a while now, her portfolio including a wide range of characters, from Black Cat to Sailor Pluto. In 2005 she took part in the World Cosplay Summit event in Japan in which her cosplay group won the Grand Champion award. She also won the Individual Champion award with her Silene from Devilman cosplay. Cosplay Gen: You have a wide range of characters you have cosplayed throughout the years; what sort of character is your favorite to cosplay and why? Giorgia: I usually try to depict characters that physically match my look. I think that I would not really fit a young kawaii-type girl such as Doremi or Yuu from Creamy Mami, so, as a rule of thumb, I go for the more mature/adult characters that I can impersonate and still be believable. You can still find some exceptions to this rule, such as Cure White or Karen from Mermaid Melody, which anyway still 66 reminds of me physically, or some weird cross-play like Baron Ashura (which I made for pure fun) or the recent Prince Heinell from Voltes V, but as a matter of fact the vast majority of the characters I choose are adult and strong women. CG: Do you make the costumes by yourself or do you receive any help? Giorgia: My parents are a great help in making costumes. My mother is an exceptional seamstress, and she can make a whole dress without even needing a pattern. On the other hand, my father is a very good carpenter and blacksmith, so he is invaluable when it comes to making props. I think it is a very nice thing, especially in this modern world, that we are a family AND a successful team, working together to achieve the best possible results. CG: How do you manage your cosplay expenses? Have you ever had a costume you wanted to do but didn't have money to buy the fabrics? Giorgia: You are hitting a nerve here. Cosplay is expensive, we all know this, and there have been many times in which I was close to be forced to give up a costume, but thanks to the support of my fans and to the sometimes unexpected help of some of my most close supporters, I've always managed to get through it. And I can't forget some of my friends whose help often comes in very handily. All in all, I've learned to manage difficulties, and between the "support me" that can be found on my website, and the help of my friends I get it done. The more expensive projects might take longer, but it gets done. So, as for your second question, I'm happy to be able to answer "not yet". 67 PROFILE CG: What is the most important cosplay event in Italy and how has it evolved throughout the years? Giorgia: I can say for sure that Lucca Comics & Games is by far the biggest and most important comic event in Italy. It started in the mid 60s, it had periods of crisis, but all in all it has been growing for 30 years. In the 90s it was held twice a year (around the 21st of March, and on Halloween), but starting with the new millennium the formula went back to a yearly event. I started to go there in 1997 and I was among the very first cosplayers to visit that event (or any other Italian event for the matter) wearing a cosplay costume. At the time we were about 10-15 cosplayers attending the event; now there are more than 1000. It really boomed in 2006 when, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the event, it was moved from the previous exhibit area, (located in the northern outskirts of the city) which was peaking capacity, to the old town's streets. In fact, starting with 2006, Lucca Comics & Games is held among the city streets that for four days turn into a joyful ensemble of comic stands, colorful cosplayers and people, a lot of people (approximately 140.000 attended last November's edition). If you consider that Lucca's population counts less than 90.000 including those living outside the old town's walls, you can get a grasp of what goes on there each year. The first year they had this idea, the local population was not prepared to see cosplayers in the streets and when they saw us they dressed their kids in their carnival costumes and started to enjoy what quickly became a colorful city carnival. I think this is exciting in a way because while cosplay is usually held in a closed environment like a normal event, Lucca Comics & Games is the true occasion in which you can show your work in public to a bigger (and generic) audience. 3 Photo credits: 1. Fujiko Mine (Lupin III) by Daniele Faccioli (www.danielefaccioli.it) 2. Black Cat (Spider-Man) by Daniele Faccioli (www.danielefaccioli.it) 3. Pink Cat by Daniele Faccioli (www.danielefaccioli.it) 4. Wonder Woman by Daniele Faccioli (www.danielefaccioli.it) 5. Mai Shiranui (King of Fighters) by Nicola Scarmagnani 6. Kasumi (Dead or Alive 4) by Daniele Faccioli (www.danielefaccioli.it) 7. Electra (Daredevil) by Bruno Sturman 8. Sailor Pluto (Sailor Moon) by Demis Albertacci 6 68 4 5 7 8 69 DO IT YOURSELF Quick Staff Tutorial: Syaoran's Night Staff In a hurry to complete a complicated looking prop? Only have less than a week until an event and haven't started? Here is a quick tutorial on making an emergency prop! The key to a quick and accurate prop is to take every step calmly and divide the workload. The example this time will be Syaoran's Night Staff from Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE. MATERIAL 3mm MDF craft wood, 4 PVC pipes, wooden pole, DAS modeling clay, rubber or foam sheets. 1 2 3 4 DAY 1 01. Sketch the outline of the staff head onto the MDF wood with a pencil. 02. Draw a clear outline once you are happy with the shape. 03. Draw in the markings alongside the circular staff head. Prepare the router. 04. Safety First. Wear a protective face mask, coat, goggles, and ear muffs. 05. Set the router to a shallow depth and draw the grooves. (If you don't own a router, then a craft chisel will work.) 06. Once all grooves have been carved, the head can be cut out of the wood. DAY 2 07. Attach one pipe onto the head with hot glue. 08. Cut out small strips of rubber or foam sheets for detailing the pole. 09. Heat the strips up with a heat gun or by placing them in a stove. Attach them to the pole once they are hot, but be careful. Wearing a pair of gloves when doing step 9 will keep your hands from being burned. 10. Cut out 3 pieces of the wooden pole and stuff them into one end of each PVC pipe. Join all the pieces of pipe together to get a long pole. 11. Shape a noodle of DAS clay into a ring and place it on top of the staff. 12. Paint the entire prop in black. 70 5 6 7 8 9 10 DAY 3 13. Spray over the entire prop lightly with gold enamel spray paint. 14. Finish the staff by painting sections of it with metallic black and silver paint. NOTES - Take time sketching the outline. - Carving the details instead of just drawing them on really makes a difference - A black undercoating is a quick way to give the finished gold colour an extra level of realism - This doesn't have to be done in 3 days. This schedule is useful if your prop is in urgent or impulsive need. - Always wear protective gear. MDF has very irritating saw dust. // Tutorials and tutorial photos by William Wong aka AmenoKitarou (amenokitarou.deviantart.com) 71 DO IT YOURSELF 11 12 13 14 72 William Wong aka AmenoKitarou as Syaoran (Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE) Photo by Fiathriel (fiathriel.deviantart.com) 73 INTERVIEW ShanHuang Years of Cosplay: 8 Shenzhen, China hscos.blog.163.com, hscos.com ShanHuang is not only a cosplayer, but also an artist, reflecting into his costumes a personal approach on a certain character. In his case, cosplay doesn't mean only producing a beautiful outfit and wearing it perfectly, but also transforming the chosen character according to his own sensitivity and point of view. It's mostly about a personal aesthetics that he applies on refined and mysterious characters, such as Abe no Seimei, or Lau from Kuroshitsuji, to which he adds an interesting gallery of original characters. He shared with us a few things about his work as a cosplayer and about his personal view on this hobby. 1 74 2 3 75 INTERVIEW Cosplay Gen: Where does your inspiration come from? ShanHuang: My inspiration comes from everywhere: good comics, music, histrionic stories, TV games, and daily life. CG: What is your costume making process? SH: About the clothes. First I choose a character that is similar to me; then, in order to make the character more special, I make some re-creation of it. This step is quite important to me, because it involves my own opinion about this character. For example, Imagawa is fat in history, and he has been recognized as a funny person in many ACG designs, such as Samurai Warriors 2. But I suggest that he should be elegant and well adorned. So I drew pictures of him, and my tailor made the clothes. In the end, I applied some pattern on them. CG: While others try to stay as close to the original design as possible, you often incorporate your original ideas in your cosplay costumes; what makes you do that? SH: I think cosplay is not just a copy of the original work, but rather an extension of art. I graduated from [the] CAA (China Academy of Arts), and I always have the desire for art. On one hand, a cosplayer should show the original character's soul; on the other hand, a cosplayer can interpret the character in his/her own way. CG: What is your favorite costume up till now and why? Also, what did you try to express through it? SH: I've prepared for "Mr. Butterfly Hallucination of life" for a long time. It's a continuation of my previous work, "Mr. Butterfly". I still have much more thoughts about this series. This time I tried to integrate the Carnival of Venice into my work. Golden butterfly mask, and ruined seaside elite housing were mixed with white and light aroma. I wanted to make them grotesque and full with darkness, but, first of all, everything about them must be based on my aestheticism. Everything that I feel about life goes in the work. Mr. Butterfly is a ferryman who travels between life and death. Dedicated to one of my late friends. CG: You have also released a number of cosplay albums; what made you decide to do this and how has the reception been so far for them? SH: I am well-known in the Chinese cartoon magazines, and I signed to be an author, so my book was published. Thanks to my fans' support, my book sales well. CG: Your cosplay "The Traveler from Qing Dynasty" is a personal interpretation of Lau from Kuroshitsuji. Can you explain a little how did you get to this version? What does it represent? SH: I much understand all the efforts that the author and animation producers have made, and give my entire support on simplifying his body details in the animation. However, the gorgeous elements are very important to me, as he is, after all, a character from China. I made some dress amendments on the structure details, adding a few ornaments in my design draft, in order to meet with the clothing mystery from Qing Dynasty he would like to show. I also added some silver jewelry from the domestic minority group to create the fashion of gor4 5 76 6 77 7 78 8 79 INTERVIEW geous outside material, plus detail jewelry that leads to these magnificent visual effects that pressures you, with entwining ultimate pattern and jewelries. CG: You also impersonated Abe no Seimei, the legendary onmyouji from the Heian period. Why did you choose such a character? Also, on what basis do you choose your historical-inspired costumes? SH: At that time I was reading the novel. I love this topic very much and I'm always interested in Abe no Seimei. That's why I chose this character. It's one of my early works. The clothes of Onmyoji were made according to the Japanese clothes of the Heian era. CG: When taking your photoshoots, we noticed you are very careful with the setting. Can you tell us how do you prepare your environment? What are the elements you are most careful about? SH: I pay much attention to scenery, especially when it comes to shooting indoors. It's the same like with the still life painting, where you must create a harmonious rhythm. I always consider every little detail in setting up the scenery. My aim is to make elaborately decorated, complete, delicate scenery. CG: You work for Ringdoll, an international doll brand; what do you do there? Does your job relate in any way with your hobby of cosplaying? SH: Ringdoll is the main emphasis of my work. I am in charge of making heads and whole styling of the dolls, including clothes, hairs styles, accessories. I am a big fan of toys, for example McFarlane, Gundam, BJD and so on. And my job and cosplay do have something in common, such as characters' design. Take the five dolls from the latest "Ringdoll Legion" series for example; each of them has a story. I designed their clothes according to the army, navy, air-force, guard, and police. By the way, I am going to cosplay one of them � guard Spencer. CG: As far as fashion is concerned, are there any brands that you like or any fashion designers that you admire? SH: I have no favorite fashion designers. Dior is my favorite brand. And I like photographer Chen Man's works. CG: Can you tell us any funny or embarrassing moment in cosplay for you? SH: When I was taking photos of FF7 Cloud, my photographer asked me to walk as far as I could in the sea. She just wanted to play a trick on me. The deeper I was, the wetter I got. In the end, I was completely wet, and my naughty photographer laughed at me. Then I found her mobile phone in my pocket, totally wet too. CG: In your opinion, what is the most important challenge for a cosplayer? SH: Biggest challenge: Temperature! Such as wearing very thick clothes in summer, or wearing silky clothes in a cold day... Ha-ha, just a joke! For me, the biggest challenge is to understand and perform the characters. After all, there are so many differences between characters. Performing every character perfectly is not a simple thing. // Interview by Cristian Botea and Ruxandra T�rc 9 11 Photo credits: 1, 2, 3. Lau (Kuroshitsuji) by Rabbitblanca 4, 5, 6. Count D's father (Pet Shop of Horrors) by Joly 7. King Charles (original concept) by Rabbitblanca 8. Abe no Seimei by Cong 9. Mr. Butterfly (original design) by Rabbitblanca 10. Shinichi (Nana) by Rabbitblanca 11. Mr. Butterfly (original design) by Rabbitblanca 12. Imagawa Yoshimoto (original concept) by Rabbitblanca 13. Jane Judith Jocelyn (Trinity Blood) by Joly 80 10 12 13 81 REVIEW 82 83 REVIEW The more things change, the more they stay the same. I have travelled to dozens of conventions in seven different countries; indeed, the cosplayers and locations are vastly different, but things are more or less the same. From a photographer's point of view, you arrive around noon, roam to find people you know, then maybe start taking photos or just socialize. By evening, attendees wrap up and return to their respective accommodation, sometimes accompanied by a dinner group. This is not the case for US conventions. The best way to describe US conventions, in this case Anime Expo, is a giant four-full-days of extravaganza that will entice all senses of the anime fandom, including cosplay. This is the one convention that will never bore you. As long as you retain an exploratory mind (and are awake), there will always be things to do around the clock. Day 1 is usually very quiet since most are still arriving from other states or countries (Anime Expo is known to attract many foreign participants). The highlight of the day was competing in the karaoke contest with my partner and lining up for May'n's autograph session, Sheryl Nome's singing voice actress in Macross Frontier. We ended up not getting the autograph since we were quite late in the lineup. On Day 2 we proceeded to a quiet corner near one of the hotel meeting rooms for a small Macross Frontier shoot. After the shoot we headed to the Nokia Theater next door, for May'n and Megumi Nakajima's joint concert. I had a chance to be at the front row to capture moments of the performance. Yoko Kanno made an unannounced appearance, and the audience was overjoyed. I personally think she is one of the best soundtrack composers. If the amazing music from Macross Frontier is not enough for you, then try Turn A Gundam! There was also a scheduled Macross Frontier gathering. Usually, if there are special guests from Japan, in this case May'n and Megumi Nakajima, there will be an influx of people cosplaying their characters. At US conventions, cosplayers arrange `gatherings' at a specific time and location for all cosplayers of the same series or franchise to gather and take pictures together. Some use the word `photoshoot' for those gatherings, but I personally believe photoshoots are much more elaborate than those gatherings. Most of Day 3 was quite uneventful; some roaming around, a few small shoots, an Awakawa Under The Bridge gathering, a friend's birthday dinner, then partying. Partying at conventions is a quintessential part of the US cosplay culture. It is quite enjoyable even if you don't drink, and it is a great way to meet other people in the scene. Day 4 is the last day of Anime Expo. Typically this is the day where one packs in the morning and says goodbye in the afternoon, but I made a good decision to stay for one extra night and fly out the next day. I woke up early for the second round of May'n autograph session. After two hours, I got my long awaited May'n autograph, and then spent the rest of the time at the convention, taking pictures of random cosplayers. The afternoon marked the official end of Anime Expo 2010. There is also some general information that would be helpful not only for those who want to attend Anime Expo, but also for those who want to go to other conventions in US. 84 85 REVIEW General Atmosphere and Etiquette US con-goers are generally quite extremely chill. There are little hidden rules compared to cosplay cultures elsewhere, but that does not excuse attendees from being impolite. Asking for permission and saying thank you is not required, but strongly recommended when taking photos. Photoshoots If you see some cosplayers and photographers at a less populated area of the convention, chances are they are doing a photoshoot. It is best not to disturb them, but if you absolutely want a photo, ask for both the cosplayers' and the photographers' permission. Gatherings Gatherings are basically attempts to gather cosplayers from the same series or franchise and a chance for all of them to meet each other and take pictures together. Examples: Gundam, Macross Fontier, Vocaloid. Don't expect superb photographs from gatherings since they tend to be chaotic, but it is a great way to meet other cosplayers who share the same fandom as you. Badge Unless there is an official event that you really want to attend, say a concert, panel, or an autograph session, I would say the badge is rather optional. If you just want to visit the dealer's room and/or artist alley, it is pretty easy to find someone willing to lend you a badge for a few hours. Good photo locations usually don't require badge access anyways. Do note that if you plan to get a badge, you have to register prior to the convention or face hours of lineup. Dealer's Room and Artist Alley I personally avoid those areas at all cost, because they are pretty good at drilling a hole in your wallet. But this can be a good place to find emergency supplies in case your costume is incomplete or damaged. Masquerade / Contests The cosplay culture in the US is heavily focused on masquerades, which is just a fancy term for cosplay stage competitions. During the masquerade, there will be dozens of teams giving stage performances relevant for cosplay. The most common performances are parodies, fight scenes, or dance shows. Craftsmanship contests are also held but not judged on stage. Things to Really Watch Out For - Fangirls - Protesters - Preaching voice actors - Drunk people at night // Article and photos by Shiroin (shiroin.deviantart.com) 86 87 EUROPE EVENTS LONDON MCM EXPO The London Movie Comic & Media Expo convention focuses on movies, comics, anime, manga and similar types of consumer based media. It takes place twice a year, in May and October, for two days. This year's first London MCM Expo took place during May 29-30 at the ExCeL Convention Centre. The event features all sorts of industry and guest panels, screenings, karaoke, video gaming and every year it has various media guests, artists and writers. Also, the qualifiers for the Euro Cosplay competition were held at the May event with the grand final going down at the London MCM Expo in October. www.londonexpo.com Photo credits: Thai Le aka NightmareLuffy (flickr.com/people/nightmareluffy/) 88 89 EUROPE EVENTS JAPAN EXPO Japan Expo is a convention focused on Japanese pop-culture, which takes place every year in France. It started out in 1999 with about 3200 visitors, a number that has increased steadily along the years, now gathering as much as 180.000 visitors, turning into the biggest Japanese pop-culture event in Europe. This year's Japan Expo took place during July 1-4 at Parc d'Expositions in Paris-Nord Villepinte, and featured important guests such as Tsukasa Hojo, Hiro Mashima, Morning Musume or X Japan. The event also hosts important cosplay events, such as the World Cosplay Summit preliminary contest for France, The 100 Cosplay Stage or the European Cosplay Gathering. www.japan-expo.com Photo credits: LJinto (flickr.com/people/ljinto/) 90 91 DO IT YOURSELF I wanted to make angel wings for years, but had no idea where to start from, so I wrote this for both the expert and the new costumers who want to get an idea of some ways to easily and logically construct beautiful angel wings. Wings Tutorial: Angel Sanctuary's Alexiel The turkey feathers were ordered by the pound from RainbowFeatherCo.com, and while my 3 Alexiel wings used 3 pounds (or over 800 feathers!), you may not need that many, but larger wings will require at least 2 pounds since � lb. only comes in one direction � left or right, and you'll need both. Keep in mind you may need additional tools as you go along. Start by cutting the PVC to the size you need, making sure the PVC base will be smaller than your total wing size. Bend it to your desired shape using a heat gun, heating in short intervals as you go so not to crack the PVC by bending it in only one or two spots. Also, try not to burn the pipe like I did, it won't hurt too much, but holes or large burns in the piping will make it more prone to breaking, so just be patient and heat it slowly. 92 For these wings, you will need: - 1/2 inch PVC pipe, - 2 PVC pipe connectors, - wide woven chicken wire, - hot glue, heat gun, - white batting, - white downs (small fluffy feathers you can find at craft stores), - 2 lbs. of white turkey downs (tom or hen). Next, attach the chicken wire to the inside of the piping using loose wire, duct tape, or electrical tape (if you use tape, gently heat it to seal it to the pipe). Don't worry if it doesn't look pretty, it'll get covered up anyway! Remember, keep the wire a few inches shorter than where the tips of the feathers will lie. Cut your batting and hot glue it over the pipe and wire, the fewer overlapping folds the better, because any big bumps will show when the feathers are layered on top. I've seen felt used for white wings, but I highly recommend using simple batting instead, because it will help diffuse the base outline in photographs with harsh light, so you don't get that ugly box shape in the middle of your pretty angel wings. As a personal tip, trim all of your feathers before you start! Not only will they look much better in photographs, but they're less likely to fray down the road, and doing them all at once will save quite a bit of time in the long run; just turn on a long movie like Master and Commander, and trim all the turkey rounds. Next, lay out your feathers to figure out how you want them to look before they're attached, starting to layer from the bottom and working your way up in rows. 93 DO IT YOURSELF Attach with hot glue from the bottom of the stem to no higher than the middle of the feather, and if the feathers prove too long near the top of the wing, cut some of the stem to an appropriate length to work with. I've gotten a lot of questions about where I find these "1-meter long feathers" and...they don't exist. Layer several feathers together by cutting off their stems near the base of where the white fluff starts and glue them on top of one another, overlapping enough to form one long feather, and then trim them all to the same width. The longer feathers on my Alexiel's wing tips are 5-7 feathers. Don't forget that birds' wings and feathers have a natural slight curl to them, so be sure to account for that when shaping your wings and determining how you want the feathers to fall/ curl. Once all the turkey rounds are attached, do the same on the back side of the wings, keeping the spacing the same as in the front. Remember those small fluffy feathers mentioned earlier? Now is the time to glue them on to the top and outsides of the wings, layering them in whatever way looks most natural. They need to cover the batting on the top, near the base and around the bottom between the front and back layers (this is my least favorite part, but it hides all the materials except the long feathers so they'll photograph beautifully from any angle). The harness: this was the most difficult part, and I'll offer some suggestions for alternative methods. We screwed in the PVC connectors (shaped like a crooked "L") to a wooden back-plate installed in the back of the corset, and then screwed identical holes into the connectors and the wing base pipes. They attach individually and then are held in with a pin through the hole so the wings don't rotate on their own while I'm walking. You can also screw into a back-plate a single PVC attachment (shaped like a "Y") to hold 2 wings at once. The other option is using wire instead of PVC for the base (preferably 6-gauge or higher copper wire found at Home Depot or Lowes), so that the base is a single square that both wings are attached to (bent like a "V"), and can either be slipped into a corset or clincher. Another option is wrapping elastic or cloth around the wire base to wear them like a backpack over the shoulders, or hidden under the costume by tying around the chest. (Note: if you choose to go with a wire base, do all the same steps starting from the chicken wire for the wing body.) The "backpack" method is easiest, but the straps are generally harder to hide, while the PVC method is the most difficult but produces the fullest wings able to withstand conventions, and distributes weight between your hips and back more evenly. Please keep in mind, there are many ways of making wings, this was just the method I chose that worked for me, don't be afraid to experiment through trial and error! // Tutorial and tutorial photos by Etaru (etaru.com) 94 Etaru as Alexiel (Angel Sanctuary) Photo by Idolatry Studios (idolatrystudios.livejournal.com) 95 COSPLAYGEN.COM