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cos culture magazine COSPLAY PHOTOGRAPHY WITH

katya perin and erik paredes


diego gonzalez BODY ART


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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR I had so much fun putting this issue of the magazine together. I got to get to know so many different people with different backgrounds and skills, and have made some great friends in the process. This issue brings together armour-makers, cosplayers, photographers and body-painters, and includes great tutorials on both crafting and photography. It’s an incredibly diverse issue, and I’m excited to be able to the amazing work of these artists with our readers.

As always, I love to hear from our readers. If you have feedback or suggestions on how I can make this publication better, please send me a message! I do this as a way to give back to the cosplay community, so any tips of words of wisdom are always appreciated. Also, if you’re interested in doing an interview or submitting content for the magazine, don’t be shy! Reach out via Facebook or Twitter, and let’s chat about it. I’m excited to see your work!

Organic Armor is a talented duo from the United States that creates absolutely breathtaking props and armour. Their work is exceptionally intricate, and has become iconic in the cosplay community. They do commissions, so if you’re interested in getting a piece for yourself, give them a shout! We also feature the work of another amazing duo, Katya Perin and Erik Paredes. Both are incredible cosplay photographers, and we included an extensive feature on both of their work in this issue. They even provide a tutorial on how to make your skin look flawless through Photoshop retouching! StarsOfCassiopeia outlines some really great tips for us in this issue about cosplaying in and around water, which is just in time for summer. If you’re planning on doing water photo shoots with your cosplays, or attending conventions such as Colossalcon that often involve being in or around water, be sure to read through her useful tips. Last, but certainly not least, we feature the truly amazing work of body painter and artist, Diego Gonzalez. He creates amazing works of art through airbrushing and painting on the human body. I’m so excited to be able to share his work with you, and really hope to see more body painting being incorporated into cosplay in the future.

Alright, I’m sure you’re sick of me going on about how thrilled and excited I am to feature all of this amazing talent, so let me leave you with ONE thing that drives me beyond crazy about this magazine. The different spelling of the word ARMOUR! The silly differences between UK/Canadian and American spelling makes my skin crawl, especially when both spellings appear in the same sentence. NO it’s not a mistake on our part, but it keeps me up at night just the same. Having the word Armor (like in a company name such as Organic Armor) and armour (UK spelling of armor) in the same sentence just seems absolutely ridiculous to me. Oh well, c’est la vie! I hope you enjoy this issue and manage to see past the hilarious teeter-tottering between Canadian and American words. With love, Nikko Marie Editor-in-Chief

velement cosplay as super sonico photo by erik paredes photography 2


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TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S 6.

Cos Culture Magazine is owned and operated by NH Creative Inc. EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Nikko Marie ASSISTANT COPY EDITOR: Patrick Webb PUBLISHER: NH Creative Inc.

organic armor


oogoo mould making tutorial




skin retouching TUTORIAL







NH Creative Inc. June, 2016




Copyrights of all included text, photos and other material used in this edition of Cos Culture Magazine are the property of their respective owners, and have been graciously provided to us for use in this magazine by the owner of each work. All efforts have been made to credit sources of inspiration and owners of original characters for each cosplay. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our publisher at


Katya Perin as a Sith, StarWars Photography by Erik Paredes Photography



Erik Paredes as Delsin Rowe, Infamous: Second Son Photography by Katya Perin - Cosplay Photographer


PixelBabe cosplay as gwen stacey, spider-Man photo by erik paredes photography 4


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maleficent. model: Vida Peppers Photo by tempus fugit design 6


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Cos Culture: Can you introduce Organic Armor to our readers? Organic Armor: Organic Armor is a costume studio based in Asheville, NC. We have been making commissions for creative people all over the world for almost 10 years. My husband Paul Hersey is the founder and designer. He developed the combination of materials and methods that give our work its unique style. He and I run the company together with some help from a studio assistant. We work primarily by commission but have some items for sale in our online shop. Last fall we launched an online course, teaching other artists how to work with these techniques. We’ve started holding live workshops as well. Cos Culture: When did armour crafting first become of interest to you? What inspired this whole project? Organic Armor: When I met Paul he was a mainframe programmer by day who loved to dress up for raves and drum with his prankster friends on the weekends. He loved the way a costume could shift the reality of the person wearing it - bringing out hidden, powerful aspects.

mermaid bra and belt set. model: kim berrier Photo by nic adams 8


We lived in Los Angeles then. He started attending the Burning Man festival in the mid 90s and found his creative tribe. He began making elaborate costumes for it and experimenting with materials. Since he wore the costumes for hours, dancing through the desert in all kinds of weather, he strove to make them comfortable and durable. During

this time he hit on the use of latex over fiber as his perfect medium. It’s kind of like paper mache but more flexible and light. People loved what he made. He started doing some theater costuming and won an LA Weekly award for it.

“He loved the way a costume could shift the reality of the person wearing it bringing out hidden, powerful aspects.” - Jennifer Murphy, Organic Armor

In the mid 2000s the off-shoring of most mainframe jobs put him out of work. He thought about re-training in another programming language but hated the idea. I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so we decided to take a chance and start a business together. That was in 2007. He has been developing his sculpting and costuming techniques ever since.

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Cos Culture: What types of pieces do you create? Organic Armor: We make so many kinds of things! From belly dance costumes to horned headdresses, crowns, and breastplates, armbands, greaves, pauldrons, corsets. We make things for performers, cosplayers, and festival revelers. Cos Culture: What are your favourite materials to work with? Organic Armor: We exclusively use a combination of liquid rubber, various kinds of fibers (from denim to dryer lint), and acrylic mediums and paints. We sometimes enhance the pieces with glass, semi-precious stones or chain. We started using a wonderfully simple moldmaking technique about 5 years ago called Oogoo. It’s silicone-based, cheap, and fast. This allowed us to cast the rubber into repeatable elements that we add to the armour, like the original cameos that Paul has become famous for. Cos Culture: What has been your most challenging piece so far? Organic Armor: The cosplay armour is the most challenging. Translating a digital character, like World of Warcraft’s Queen Soridormi, into a real

Models: Jessica Baber, Melissa Kay Glaze, Samantha Singleton, Jeshua Morningstar, and Drew Zen Photography by tempus fugit design 10


life, wearable costume requires a lot of problem solving. There are many pieces that have to smoothly fit together. Building the forms to build the costume on top of is tricky too. Cos Culture: Can you share some of your favourite memories that relate to your craft? Organic Armor: There are so many! One that comes to mind is a sweet festival in Pennsylvania called Spoutwood Fairy Festival. It was one of the first ones where we sold. The other vendors there were so welcoming to us, offering us newbies help, tools, advice, and meals. We made lifelong friends there. Many good memories come from Dragon Con in Atlanta, Georgia. It is an intense long weekend of fun that we’ve attended six times so far. The last two years Paul was on a panel there and hopefully this year we will be doing a workshop. Two years ago we organized a Dragon Con Maleficent meet up and photo shoot. We handed out invitations to every Maleficent we saw over the weekend and brought three of our own models wearing our headdresses. Almost 50 “Mals” showed up and we got some great pictures of the crowd!

model: jessica baber Photography by Tempus Fugit Design JUNE / JULY 2016


Cos Culture: If time and money weren’t an issue, what would your absolute dream project be? Organic Armor: Paul has a vision of a firefly parade. A few years ago he made a wonderful firefly costume with elegant filigree all over it and LEDs shining though on a programmed circuit. He wants to create a whole Midsummer Night’s Dream type pageant with a swarm of fireflies. And of course, a lifelong dream would be to make pieces for something big like Game of Thrones. Cos Culture: Do you have any advice for someone wanting to get into armour making? Organic Armor: I recommend experimenting with lots of materials and different techniques. Try to see it as a process rather than a product. Each costume will teach you things to be applied to future costumes. Paul developed Organic Armor by fooling around with whatever he came across. There are so many new materials available now, some with their possibilities have been barely explored. Of course we’d love for you to add Organic Armor Arts to your learning curve!

Cos Culture: If our readers want to commission a piece from you, what would they have to do? Organic Armor: We take good care of our custom clients and they are loyal in return, often coming back for more pieces. People inquiring about commissions should send us an email or Facebook message with a description of what they want. Reference pictures or sketches are helpful. We’ll give them a price and a timeframe. If they want to move forward with it we require a 25% deposit. Then we get measurements, confirm design details and schedule the project. While making it we send work in progress photos. We have met some of the most diverse and creative people working like this. Cos Culture: Where can we find more of your work? Organic Armor: We have galleries of past work on There are pictures and stories about the course and workshops at www. We’re also on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. If you are ever in Asheville, North Carolina, we welcome studio visits. Just call first.

Cos Culture: Can you tell us about your workshops? Organic Armor: We have an online course teaching the seven basic steps of using the Organic Armor Arts. It’s accessed through streaming videos and PDFs. The demo project is a set of upper armbands. Once you go through this course you can apply the knowledge to all kinds of forms.

Photography by:

We’ve started doing a live workshop version of the course in our Asheville studio. It’s a weekend intensive with only six participants so there is ample opportunity to ask all the questions they want. We’ve done it twice so far and enjoyed it tremendously. The students have been so excited about what they learned and what they plan to make. We have a private Facebook group where people share their work in progress. They are already taking the art form in new directions.

Nic Adams



Tempus Fugit Design TempusFugitDesign

model: Alan Malpass Photography by Tempus Fugit Design JUNE / JULY 2016


model: chumo moulin Photography by Tempus Fugit Design 14


queen of the damned. model: evie wolfe Photography by my boudoir JUNE / JULY 2016


tutorial 16


model: Alan malpass Photography by tempus fugit design JUNE / JULY 2016



Workspace and tools:

• Cornstarch (the regular stuff from the grocery store). For the lionfish mould we used about 3/4 cup. • Silicone caulk in a tube. It must be 100% silicone. Some brands have a type 1 and 2. Use type 1. It releases more acetic acid but sets up well. Avoid “low odour” or type 2. It is more expensive and does not set up right for this application. There is a list of brands we have tested so far (international) in the Facebook group.

• • • • •

One smooth plastic bowl. A stiff plastic or rubber baking spatula. One small bowl for extra cornstarch. A caulk gun. A spray bottle with liquid dish soap (any kind that doesn’t have moisturizers in it) and water (approx. 1:4 ratio). • Thin latex or nitrile gloves (medical type). • A tray, smooth board, or plastic sheet to work on. • Objects to make molds of. Start with something about 3” around x 1” deep. Watch out for undercuts!

tip: Set up your work station ahead of time so you can grab things quickly when the time comes. You will only have 10 to 20 minutes including mixing time before the material sets up. You will also want a clean work area.


We use moulds for many of the small elements of our armour. Some are made from original sculpts, like the cameos. Some are made from natural objects like shells and bones, and others from odds and ends we find, like antique buttons. People had been asking us for years how we made our moulds, so last summer we decided to do a quick workshop, just for the artists in our studio building. There was so much interest that we began doing them for the public, and then we created a booklet about it.



We first discovered the Oogoo technique five years ago, in an Instructables tutorial by Mikey77, who used it to embed electronic circuits in flexible forms. Paul saw its potential for artists and began to experiment. He developed a great way to do relief moulds, and we’re just sharing the basics here. To go more in depth, you can check out our book. Oogoo is a simple, cheap, and fast process for relief mould making, with many applications. We use it to cast latex, but it’s also suitable for resin, clay, paper pulp, plaster, and more. We encourage you to experiment. That’s how we figure out just about everything we do!

step 1: Put on your gloves. Mist the outside of them and your master (what you are making your mould from) with soapy water, let dry. The soap is a release agent. Dust your work surface and dry gloves with cornstarch. Always have another bowl of cornstarch nearby, easy to dip into to dust your hands or add to mix as needed.

step 2: The proportions of mixing Oogoo are 1 part cornstarch to 1 part silicone. This is by volume but we never measure it exactly. The temperature and humidity of the room will affect the mixture: colder temps and dry air will slow the setting process, warmer temps and moist air will speed it up. More cornstarch in the ratio will make a firmer texture but it will set up faster. Less cornstarch makes a stickier mix but it gives you more working time.

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step 3:

step 5:

Start with putting the cornstarch in the mixing bowl. For a 3”x 1” object a ½ cup will be plenty. Tap the bowl so the starch settles. Squeeze the silicone caulk on top of it from the caulk gun in about the same volume as the cornstarch. Do not pile up the coils but loop them around the surface of the starch with space between the loops and the sides. You want the coils to be touching the cornstarch with as much of their surface as possible and not touching the sides of the bowl.

As soon as it’s smoothly mixed, start pressing it onto your object. Start at the highest point and roll the Oogoo down the sides, covering it with about a ¼ inch (6.25 mm) of material. Push out any air bubbles as you roll. Once the Oogoo is fully applied, let the object sit for at least 20 minutes. While you wait, clean up your bowl and spatula, scraping off residues. Don’t wash them down the sink

step 4:

step 6:

Shake the bowl gently so the tops and sides of the coils get dusted. Touch your spatula to the starch before touching the coils. Use a folding action to mix the materials. Once it’s all been coated with cornstarch use a scrape and flip action, like mixing a cake batter. It will start releasing acetic acid fumes at this point, which smells like vinegar. This can be strong, but will dissipate quickly. A fan or an open window is recommended.

The soonest you can pull the object out is when you can push your fingernail into the Oogoo gently and it bounces back. You can leave it in there overnight with no problem. Pull one side of the mold away from the object and gently pry it off. Examine it for flaws: places where the Oogoo didn’t get pushed firmly enough onto the object, bits of crud that got onto the surface, or air bubbles that formed. If there are small flaws you can clip them off or patch them. Oogoo sticks to itself very well. Make a small, slightly sticky batch and use it fresh, to patch.

At first it will take on a flaky or cornmeal look. Then it will soften into a buttercream texture. Once it’s well blended you can use your gloved hands to knead it smooth. Don’t squeeze dough between your fingers. You might need a little more cornstarch at this stage. The mixing should take 3 to 5 minutes. You will now have 10 to 15 minutes to press the Oogoo over your mold.



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Learn more ... If you’d like to read more about what kinds of objects to use, the science behind how it works, and ways to take it further, check out the 23 page downloadable book at www.OrganicArmorArts. com. We invite everyone to join the “Do you Oogoo?” Facebook group to see what other artists and costumers are making with Oogoo.

model: Alan malpass Photography by tempus fugit design 22


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lady death by lady sith cosplay designs Photo by katya perin - cosplay photographer 24


cosplay photography with katya perin and erik paredes JUNE / JULY 2016


cosplay photography lara croft, tomb raider by pixelbabe cosplay Photo by erik paredes photography 26


Katya Perin - Cosplay Photographer + E r i k Pa r e d e s Photography Cos Culture: How long have you been doing photography? Katya: I picked up photography at a very young age, starting with disposable cameras back in elementary school. Since then my interest in photography developed to using point and shoot cameras and doing mock photo shoots with friends as teenagers, to purchasing my first DSLR in 10th grade and building up from there on a more professional level. Erik: I’ve been doing photography for two years now. It’s never been part of my plans to become a photographer. I didn’t grow up dreaming of taking pictures for a living. I kind of stumbled into it, haha. My passion was to make videos, and my dream was to make a feature film. I was making YouTube videos, but it was really hard to make them alone. So, I needed something else. Something I could handle alone and be able to deliver results fast. That’s how I got into photography. Cos Culture: What first inspired you to get into cosplay photography specifically? Katya: When I attended my first Comic Con in 2010 I cosplayed as Black Cat for fun, but since then I was introduced to this whole community of people who dress up as fictional characters. In the

beginning that was the main appeal: dressing up. However, I started seeing beautiful photographs of these people in their costumes on social networks and I just told myself, “Well, I know how to take pictures and I just got introduced into this community. What if I were to combine these two things?” Erik: Funny story. Like I said in the previous answer, I was never into photography. One fateful morning, my friend wakes me up from my deep sleep with a phone call. All excited he tells me, “Let’s go to Comic Con!”. Half asleep, I think about it. I had never been to a convention before. I knew about them, and I was already following awesome cosplayers online, but I never made the jump into actually going to a convention. So I agree. We only went to the Sunday of Montreal’s Comic Con. I was really surprised! I didn’t know there were so many talented cosplayers in and around Montreal. I thought only Japan and the US had the best cosplayers. After that day, I decided to become a photographer. I had a DSLR for my YouTube videos already. I told myself, I might as well take pictures with it. So, for the next couple of months, I decided to learn everything I could about photography, starting with the very basics. Two years later, I travel to conventions outside of Montreal and book photo shoots! I haven’t looked back ever since.

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Cos Culture: Do you guys ever collaborate together on projects? If so, what is your best memory working on a cosplay photo project together? Katya: We’re constantly collaborating together, even if it’s just behind the scenes, and we’re constantly helping each other during shoots. The fact that we’re both photographers makes us the perfect assistants to each other. We both know how the gear works, how to set up lighting, etc. I don’t have a specific memory that would be my favourite; however, it’s always an awesome feeling when we teach each other something new. I could teach him lighting techniques I learned in school and he can show me a cool Photoshop effect he found a tutorial for online. That’s where the true collaboration lies.

Cos Culture: Would you say you have a particular ‘style’ when it comes to photography? Katya: For the longest time I was trying to find what my ‘style’ is (these things are developed and shouldn’t be rushed) in photography. And I think I have finally figured it out. I love colours! I never go to a shoot without my coloured gels for my flashes. I love using them to accent, to provide a spotlight, or to add a mood. I also lean towards darker, moodier photos. I would much rather shoot in a dark alley than in a sunny cornfield, for example. Just a personal preference. Erik: I always have a hard time answering this question, because I never really think about my “style” when I’m editing. I’ve asked a few of my friends and they say my style is very colourful and dynamic, with lots of editing - I agree! My favourite part is post production. I love using Photoshop to “level up” a picture. I studied 3D animation and visual effects in school, and I love adding effects and making the characters come to life. A lot of characters that people cosplay have super powers. If I can give them the powers with my editing, I do it. But, I don’t always go overboard with my edits. I also enjoy simple and soft edits such as fixing the skin, cleaning the background, and adding some colour to the picture. I’d say I have two styles: my visual effects and composites, and then my subtler and softer edits. However, I lean more towards my visual effect side. I also get inspired by other amazing photographers and re-touchers like Jay Tablante and David Love Photography. I want to bring my client’s visions to life with my photography.

“Having Katya around when I do my photo shoots is the best because she can film behind the scenes, assist me with the gear, and also give me ideas. ”

Erik: Yes, all the time! Since we’re both photographers, we can easily assist each other. My best memory would have to be the first time she filmed a behind the scenes video of one of my photo shoots. I never gave up on my YouTube dreams. When I became a photographer, I - Erik Paredes knew I would find a way to transition back to YouTube. So, I decided to create a new YouTube channel with my photographer’s name. Having Katya around when I do my photo shoots is the best because she can film behind the scenes, assist me with the gear, and also give me ideas. Another thing that helps is the fact that I have a female assistant, because there are some people that can get uncomfortable with men posing them. So, having a woman there to help me and put the models/cosplayers at ease is always helpful. She also takes my pictures when I’m cosplaying or just want to look fabulous as a model, haha. It’s great to have a photographer as a girlfriend. 28


shion and yayoi , psychopass by nyctophobic cosplay and cosplayer nanami Photo by katya perin - cosplay photographer JUNE / JULY 2016


“I decided to learn everything I could about photography, starting with the very basics. Two years later, I travel to conventions outside of Montreal and book photo shoots!� - Erik Paredes

firelord zuko, avatar: the last airbender by shinymaguro photo by katya perin - cosplay photographer 30


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Cos Culture: What have been some of your favourite cosplay photo shoots? Katya: Oh gosh! Tough question! I really enjoy shooting Scarlet Cosplay in her armour. She was my first ever ‘client’ and we’ve worked together on so many projects ever since. Because of our history, we have this chemistry during shoots where we’re just so in sync. She gets me, I get her, and everything works out perfectly. Her armour cosplays are also always beautifully made, so it’s actually an honour to photograph them. Erik: This is a very hard question to answer. There are so many! I have met some amazing people through cosplay photography. One that comes to mind is my shoot with Minedoko in her Farore cosplay. We went to the Mont-Royal, a large wooded mountain here in Montreal, because I wanted to shoot her in a forest. It was so cold! We didn’t wait until summer, not even until spring. She was a total trooper. We had such a good time. She’s always super energetic and happy despite freezing. I was so happy with the result of that photo shoot. I’m very hard on myself as a photographer and rarely like my own art. That shoot was one of the few times I really liked what came out! Cos Culture: Who would be your dream character to photograph? Where/how would you shoot it? Katya: Probably something from World of Warcraft. I love the intricate armour, and I would love to shoot a huge group of WoW cosplayers in the middle of the woods near castle ruins in Europe or something. The city of Montreal is sort of lacking in castle-like buildings.

Erik: I don’t really have a specific character in mind. I do, however, have a series I want to shoot: Dragon Age! It is one of my favourite series ever. There are so many cool characters. I’ve been talking to some people that do LARPs around Montreal. They told me there are some good locations with medievallooking houses and all! It got me so excited. Now, I just need to find the characters I want to shoot. I have a specific cosplayer in mind. She would be perfect for what I’m planning. I would also need some new gear like smoke machines, and a small crew to help with my biggest shoot yet. Aaah! Just talking about it is getting me all excited! I want to photograph Dragon Age so bad! It’s such an awesome universe! Cos Culture: Do you do mostly studio shoots or convention shoots? Which do you prefer, and why? Katya: I definitely prefer shooting cosplay onlocation, whether it be during a convention or not. It can even help the cosplayer get more into character if the location is relevant enough. Studio is fun for fashion and portraits and for subjects you know are going to remain stationary, but if you want to photograph a barbarian tearing through jungle vines... Well, there’s no real way to do that in a studio without adding at least three more hours of post processing. Erik: I used to do mostly studio shoots because that’s what I taught myself first. I was only comfortable in my home studio. Even the first time I tried taking pictures at a convention (my second Montreal Comic Con), I had no idea what I was doing.

captain fortune, league of legends by element cosplay photo by katya perin - cosplay photographer 32


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“I really enjoy shooting Scarlet Cosplay in her armour... Because of our history, we have this chemistry during shoots where we’re just so in sync. She gets me, I get her, and everything works out perfectly.” - Katya Perin

erza scarlet, fairy tail by scarlet cosplay Photo by katya perin - cosplay photographer 34


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I tried doing hall shots, and by some miracle I had two scheduled shoots. One didn’t really work out as planned. But, the other one was sort of my first successful on-location photo shoot. After meeting Katya and assisting her on her location shoots. I started looking into getting better at it myself. So, I bought some portable flashes and began learning how to use them. As my convention bookings started to grow and location shoots were more and more present, I switched from only wanting to do studio shoots to wanting to explore Montreal and finding awesome locations for photo shoots. So, I would say, I prefer doing on-location photo shoots. I wish I could travel the world with models and cosplayers to do photo shoots in amazing locations. Except during winter, haha! Shooting in Montreal when it’s minus 20-30 degrees isn’t the most fun thing ever. But, sometimes, you have to take one for the art! Cos Culture: Any advice for people trying to break into the cosplay photography business? Katya: It’s extremely competitive. We used to be just a handful of us in Montreal when I first started. Now more and more photographers are popping up in the cosplay scene. Even cosplayers who are deciding to take it on. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s great to see some fresh talent in the community; however, you’re going to have to be ready to go up against the competition. Also, it’s okay to start small and simple and grow from there at your own comfortable pace. During my first con I shot, I only had 2 shoots booked. The next one after that I had about 7, and finally I started getting in 15-18 shoots over a weekend. Oh, and the most important thing: EAT! Don’t forget to eat and stay hydrated.

armin, attack on titamn by murasaki wolf Photo by katya perin - cosplay photographer 36


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flareon battle mage, pokemon by nibu.cosplay Photo by erik paredes photography 38


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Erik: A very good thing to do is to approach cosplayers when you start. Don’t stay far from them and take pictures. Approach them and introduce yourself. It took me a while to do this. Even now, I’m always a bit shy the first time I approach someone new, especially with the more ‘famous’ cosplayers. My first cosplay photo shoot happened because I convinced myself to send a message to a cosplayer on her Facebook page. The cosplayer Alexanne Darkholme posted on her page that she was looking for a photographer. Back then she had almost reached 5k likes on Facebook. I was no one, and I had just started my Facebook page and done a couple of normal modelling photo shoots with friends. But, I saw the opportunity and took it! I sent her a message and she replied right away! I didn’t even know that she lived in Montreal. But, thanks to that, that weekend we did my first cosplay photos hoot! Thanks to her, I opened the door to cosplay photography and stepped in. So, don’t be afraid to ask cosplayers for photo shoots. Most of them will be happy to help someone that is starting in photography. Cos Culture: What’s the best way for someone to get hold of you if they want to see more of your work or book a shoot with you? Katya: Facebook. I’m pretty much glued to my phone when I’m out, or glued to my computer screen when I’m at home. My main form of communication and networking is definitely through Facebook. Look for: ‘Katya Perin - Cosplay Photographer’ in the search bar. If Facebook is not available to you, I can be contacted through the contact form on my website at

Erik: The best way to get a hold of me is to send me a message on my Facebook page. I always have my phone on me. So, as soon as I have some time I answer my messages. I do photography full time. People can book shoots with me any time! To see more of my work you can find me on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and my website. I will put the links at the bottom. I have many more projects in mind. You will be able to follow my journey on all those platforms!

You can find more of Katya's work here: katyaperinphotography

You can find more of Erik's work here: erikparedesphotography erikparedesphotography/

belldandy, ah! my goddess by khiral cosplay Photo by erik paredes photography 40


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Spider-gwen by undead du Photo by erik paredes photography 42


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TUTORIAL skin Retouching by k at ya a n d e r i k

farore, legend of zelda by minedoko photo by erik paredes photography 44


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skin retouching by Katya and Erik



Take a look at your photo on a whole and identify the imperfections. Since we’re discussing skin retouching, we will be focusing more on skin imperfections. This may include acne, scars, scratches, bruises, etc...

Cosplayer: minedoko Cosplay: farore, legend of zelda


You can correct these in a number of ways, but the fastest way would be by using the spot healing brush. It’s a good idea to start with a small brush size when using the spot healing brush, because it can easily get out of control if your brush is too big. Other tools you can use are the simple healing brush tool, the patch tool. or the clone stamp tool. However, as we mentioned, the spot healing brush tool is definitely the fastest and easiest.


When it comes to retouching a photograph, whether it be for cosplay or for anything else, the most important thing to do is set up a proper workflow. A workflow is basically steps you follow in a set order that allows you to work faster and more efficiently. However, what we’re going to focus on for the purpose of this tutorial is skin retouching. It’s a step in the post production process that is vital and can really make a difference in terms of making a photograph have a more professional feel to it and generally makes it look cleaner. This tutorial will be done within Adobe Photoshop CC.

Duplicate your background layer (Cmd/Ctrl + J) and name it ‘BLUR’. On the new layer, start correcting the bigger imperfections. Bigger imperfections are things like big red pimples, scratches, etc.





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STEP 3 This step can get a little complex, so make sure to follow it properly. Start by duplicating your ‘BLUR’ layer and name the new layer you just made ‘TEXTURE’. You should now have 3 layers. Select the ‘BLUR’ layer and make your way to Filter/ Blur/Gaussian from the drop down options at the top of the program bar. Adjust the blur to about 5. This value might be different for other photos, but basically what you’re looking for is a blur where the texture of the skin is barely visible. Click OK. Now select your ‘TEXTURE’ layer, and go to Image/ Apply Image from the options at the top. A new window will appear. Where you see ‘Layer’, from the drop down menu, select the ‘BLUR’ layer. In the same window, where you see ‘Blending’, select ‘Substract’ from the drop down menu and change the value of ‘Scale’ to 2 and ‘Offset’ to 128. These values will never change. They will be the same no matter what type of photo you have. Leave everything else as is in this window and click OK.

STEP 4 Select your ‘BLUR’ layer. Now it’s time to get a little more hands on. Select your lasso tool, and at the top change the ‘Feather’ value to about 20px. Using your lasso tool, start making selections around parts of the face/body where it is just skin. You may have to do several selections to get all parts of their face/body.

Now your image will be grey with all these weird outlines. Totally normal. In your layer window, where you see ‘Normal’, select ‘Linear Light’ from the drop down menu and your photo will go back to what it looked like before. Your layer list should look something like this: With a section of the skin selected with the lasso tool, got to Filter/Blur/Gaussian again and pick a value between 8 and 13 (this varies depending on the photo and how smooth you want the skin to look). The higher the value the smoother and more unnatural it will look. When making your selection, the trick with this is to not get too close to edges that are not skin. Getting to close and then blurring will create a sort of halo around your selection with unwanted color bleeding onto the skin. It may take a few tries before you get the selection down properly without creating halos or without making it look unnaturally smooth. Continue making selections for the rest of the face/body. The skin should look way smoother but with still some visible texture. 48


STEP 5 Once your done with all your selecting and blurring, we are going to start fixing those smaller imperfections we didn’t take care of at the beginning. Small imperfections can be dry flakes of skin, large pores, smaller pimples or bumps.

Select your ‘TEXTURE’ layer and then select the clone stamp tool . Adjust the opacity of your clone stamp tool to 100% and your flow between 10 and 20 (it may vary). Hold down the ALT key and select a clean area of the skin you want to use to ‘clone’ on top of the imperfection. Do this for any small tiny imperfections.You should still be using a small brush size otherwise you will have patches of overly smooth skin all over. In our example, we also used this technique to smooth out the lines around her nose and under her eyes.

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That was the final step! Your model should now have visibly smoother, cleaner and blemish free skin! Here is a side by side comparison

farore, legend of zelda by minedoko photo by erik paredes photography 50


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water guide for cosplay

Working With Water: Summer Photoshoot Tips

by Cassie L., aka S tarsOfCassiopeia

Summertime - it’s warm, wonderful, and wet! For cosplayers, summer is ideal for breaking out the bathing suits or shooting seaside, but when playing with sand and surf you need to know how to handle the turf. Here’s how to be prepared for your beach or pool photoshoot! Before the shoot: • Make sure your costume is sensible for the location. Swimsuits are ideal for water locations, and lighter clothing will help keep you cool in the heat. Costumes that involve heavy dye on either fabric or wigs may fade or become discolored. Body paint, even when sealed, is likely to still run off and potentially make a giant mess in pools. If you’re set on shooting in full-coverage outfits or costumes that rely mainly on heavy materials like fleece, pleather, or vinyl, make sure you have shade to rest in and lots of water on hand. • Take special note of the materials that make up your shoes, closures, and accessory pieces. Rubbers and plastics will be fine in the water, but metals may rust and washable glues may lose some hold. Foam and plastics like worbla will be fine if sealed correctly, though they have a tendency to float and can make swimming more difficult.

• Seal (almost) everything. Sealant helps prevent damage from the elements, and is something I would recommend regardless of shoot location. Spray sealants or “clear coats” come in cans and can generally be found with other spray paints, and are great for quick coverage on props. For more delicate areas or foam-based pieces (which will be eaten away by aerosols unless pre-treated with another layer), gesso, white glue, and Plastidip are options. Gesso and Plastidip among others should be applied before painting and then covered with a clear coat, so plan accordingly during the construction process! Clear nail polish is another alternative for small areas, like hand-painted decorations or resin-cast jewels. • Make good makeup decisions. Oil-based or wax-based makeups are less likely to run off in water. Alcohol-based makeups are nearly completely waterproof, but can be irritating to the eyes. Be bold with the makeup and define areas well, as some will come off regardless of any precautions you take. Finish off with a spray sealant to keep things from running or fading. Mermaid recommended options include Krylon Fixing Spray, Sephora All Nighter Spray, and Ben Nye Final Seal (my personal sealant of choice).

starsofcassiopeia and blue stockings cosplay photo by jess hargrove photography 52


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Princess brigade cosplay as the avengers photo by jess hargrove photography 54


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• Plan your poses. If you know you want to do some poses poolside or in beach chairs, do those before you involve any sort of water. This way, you’ll still have shots where everything is perfectly in place before you potentially get covered in sand or soak yourself all the way through. • For shoots in bays and oceans, check the tide times. Seashore areas can look drastically different at high and low tides, or become inaccessible altogether. These also change day to day, so pick a time where the tide and lighting will be on your side.

• Have a backup plan. Summer storms can roll in at any time, and having a shelter to duck into until it passes can save a shoot. • Prep your repair kit. This is important for any on-location shoot, as you’ll have limited options to fix broken parts while away from your work space. My favorite fix options that will hold up in water are duct tape, hot glue, and fishing line/clear thread.

Valiant Cosplay and starsofcassiopeia photography by Vicissijuice 56


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During the shoot: • Voice potential concerns. If you feel uncomfortable at any time or even just need a second to adjust your cosplay, say something! Photographers are generally very happy to work with you for the best shots possible, and that’s very hard to do when there is not good communication. If you need a minute to fix something, let your photographer know so you can do that before the shooting resumes. • Do quick checks. Take a couple of seconds between changing poses or moving around in the area to make sure your costume is still in one piece and sitting correctly. • Use a towel! If you get unintentionally sprayed or splashed, dab a dry towel on the wet areas to help prevent the darker spots or dew from showing up in the next shot. After the shoot: • Be smart about storage. Ensure everything is totally dry before you put it away. This helps prevent mold from growing, particularly if you store your costumes in boxes or in places like attics or basements. • Do repair, if needed. Doing repairs immediately after the damage happens helps you remember exactly where the problems are, and what you might need to do to fix them. Unless you note these problems down for later, you could end up having to do additional work before wearing that cosplay at the next con-- and doing extra work under a time crunch is never fun!

• Washing and re-styling wigs: Many wig retailers will sell special wig shampoo, but regular brands also work well. Gently comb the shampoo through the wig and rinse, taking care to not rub or scrub the wig, as this often creates more tangles. For tangled or frizzy wigs, there are a couple of options. Heat-safe wigs (such as kanekalon or hiperlon fibers) will benefit from combing (starting from the bottom and working up), and being treated with heat (straightener on low or even a hairdryer) to straighten out any kinks in the fiber. Putting hot water on the wig section-by-section (the “hot water method”) works for frizz as well, but all combing should be done when the wig is dry to avoid stretching or breaking the fibers. For wigs that aren’t heat resistant (such as acrylic wigs), soaking them in lukewarm water with a cup of fabric softener overnight will help with detangling. Fabric softener works for heat resistant wigs as well. • Enjoy your photos and memories!

Article written by Cassie L., who also goes by StarsOfCassiopeia. (More about Cassie on the following pages!) Photography by: vicissiJuice Jess Hargrove Photography

Valiant Cosplay, Starsofcassiopeia, and Dankaas cosplay photography by Vicissijuice 58


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About the author: Cassie (StarsOfCassiopeia) began cosplaying in 2007, and helped form the group Princess Brigade Cosplay in 2010. From armour to applique, beach gear to ball gowns, and corsets to crossplay, Cassie has created over 30 unique characters and costume variants since she joined the community. Outside of cosplay, Cassie is a student at Harvard, studying Engineering Sciences (biomedical focus) with a secondary focus in East Asian Studies. When she’s not carefully crafting her next costume or crying about fictional characters, she spins fire (poi), runs a Quidditch team, and cuddles her very large, very fluffy Newfoundland puppy. You can find her cosplay work under the name StarsOfCassiopeia on Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram,, YouTube, Twitch, and

Starsofcassiopeia photography by Vicissijuice 60


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diego gongzalez bodypainter

Deadpool. model: Chaylin Giertz photography by Robert camera 62


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body painting

with Diego Gonzalez Cos Culture: Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Diego: My Name is Diego Gonzalez and I’m an artist from Chicago. I am a professional body painter and airbrush artist. I studied art at the Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis and graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelors in Design. My favourite colours are hot pink, blue-violet, and burnt sienna. My website is and you can find my channel on YouTube under Airbrush Monsters.

it I quickly realized how hard it is and now I have a tremendous respect for the art form. It’s challenging and different. Really I just like being different. Body art grants me access to many different worlds. Art, photography, modelling, music, entertainment. Body art is like the all access pass to anywhere you want to go in the art world.

“I like artists that don’t follow traditional art forms and practices. I admire those that set the trends rather than follow them.”

Cos Culture: How did you get started with body art? Diego: I was auditioning for Skin Wars, a TV Show in LA. I kept on making body art to get on the show, upping the ante every shoot, hoping to get noticed. Unfortunately I didn’t make it on the last season. I was crushed, but a funny thing happened. I did so many shoots that I got really good at body painting. This intense practice and obsession launched my career in body art and since then my work has been published in several magazines, and I have been traveling across the country doing amazing shoots. Cos Culture: What first drew you to body painting? Diego: You mean besides the obvious of painting beautiful woman? Well I didn’t seriously think of it as a legitimate art form at first, but the more I did

Cos Culture: What sort of products do you use? Diego: I’m an airbrush artist so I use mainly airbrush body paints. There’s a company that I really love called ProAiir that make professional makeup, and their airbrush body paints are amazing and spray so well. It actually is liquid makeup but we call it paint. I also use some paint brushes and water based makeup cakes to add some line work for the detail.

Cos Culture: What are your biggest artistic influences? Diego: Pop culture, really. I was really into all the comic art growing up like Todd McFarlane’s Spawn and Spider-Man. I also read a lot of Airbrush Action Magazines and aspire to paint like the best custom painters in the country. I am heavily influenced by illustration, but combine that with my love of traditional painters also. I like artists that don’t follow traditional art forms and practices. I admire those that set the trends rather than follow them.

storm trooper. Model: mia grey photography by sultan ghahtani 64


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Ghost in shell. Model: mia grey photography by diego gonzalez 66


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Cos Culture: What has been your favourite design so far? Diego: I don’t know. Everything that’s most recent I say is my best, and quickly becomes my worst. I’m really hard on myself and never really allow myself to get too complacent and self-congratulatory. I guess I’m still working towards my best if that makes any sense. I really liked the Captain America: Civil War one I painted recently, though. Cos Culture: What is your dream design or project? Diego: I want to paint Katy Perry. Like in a cool music video. Sounds crazy but I think she would be into it. I am already planning to work on set of some music video shoots this year with some major bands, so I’m getting one step closer. I would also like to start working on set of shows like The Walking Dead, Star Wars, and other movies. That would be a dream! Cos Culture: Any advice for someone who wants to do body painting for a cosplay? Diego: Paint characters that you really love, and pay attention to the details. Cosplayers are the harshest critics so if you get one detail off they may slam you for it. I learned that the hard way, haha. Cos Culture: Could body painting survive a full day convention? What sorts of products should people use if they want their painted cosplays to last a full day? Diego: Yes, cosplay body paint lasts all day. I did a demo this year at C2E2 in Chicago and the model’s paint lasted all day. I use ProAiir professional makeup, which can be bought at

Cos Culture: Do you teach any classes? Diego: Yes, I teach classes and host workshops at Chicago Airbrush Supply. If you’re interested in learning or taking a class, they are a ton of fun! E-mail me or signup for my classes on my website.

To see more of Diego's work online, you can visit him here: airbrushmonsters

Photography by: Robert Camera Sultan Ghahtani Diego Gonzalez

They feel light on the skin, last all day and smell like bubble gum! Always a plus.

Rogue. Model: Sabrina eve photography by Diego Gonzalez 68


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captain america: civil war. model: chaylin giertz photography by diego gonzalez 70


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Cos Culture Magazine - June/July 2016  

This is a free sample of Cos Culture Magazine issue "June/July 2016" Download full version from: Apple App Store:

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