Monday, September 29, 2014

The Golden Crown of Bethmoora

Luke Goss as Prince Nuada with the golden crown
Materials used:
- Paper
- 2mm craft foam
- 4mm craft foam
- Acrylic paint
- Gloss laquer/varnish
- Flat surfaced paint brushes
- Pen and scissors
- Worbla (optional)
- Crafting knife

When me and my boyfriend decided that we would cosplay as Nuala and Nuada from Hellboy 2 this autumn, we were well aware that a variety of props and accessories needed to be made.

Seeing as Erik (boyfriend) would have the most challenging costume with many different parts, both armor and cloth, I volunteered to make the golden crown. Because the only thing I dislike about Nuala's outfit is its lack of details and hard props, which is why I'd gladly make the crown for Erik, just for something to do, haha. I'm not a very good seamstress and I seriously needed some good old-fashion crafting to take my mind of all the sewing!

The first thing I had to do was actually the hardest - gather reference photos. There are -no- good close up photos of the crown, so I did the next best thing; I bought the movie and played it in high-res on my tv, pausing to snap photos of the crown in detail! Trust me, it was an eeeendless process of rewinding, zooming and pausing. If anyone needs a batch of gazillion photos of the crown of Bethmoora, let me know. 

Drawing out the patterns in paper
After I got the reference photos, I started drawing out the pattern on paper. The crown needed to fit Erik's head - with a wig on - so I measured around his head and cut out a paper circle that fit his head, which I then used to measure and work on as a base for the crown.

I created a paper mock.up of the general shape of the crown's three parts, and obviously I had to adjust the shape a bit to fit Erik's head. When you make this type of prop it's important to take into account if the person is going to wear a wig/hat/other under it, to make sure the size fits!

After the paper crown was finished, I cut out the three general shapes in the thick craft foam (4mm). I chose to make the crown in foam because it's easy to cut in and work with, and it's easy to coat and varnish afterwards. However, as most of you know who has ever worked with craft foam, it's also very floppy and not very sturdy. This is why I attached a backside of worbla to the crown, to give it some stability. 

Finished paper crown, looks huge on my tiny wig-head.
Wig is the base of my Nuala wig.
I cut out a shape of worbla just as big as the backside of the foam, and shaped it around Erik's head. If you won't have access to Worbla, there are many other materials that work just as well. Stiff cardboard, pizza boxes, foamboard, plastic, just about anything stiff you can find.

With the base of the crown cut out in thick foam, I started with the never-ending work of making the details in the thin foam. This took a lot of time. I chose to make a texture in the crown with thinner foam just because it's nice to get a 3D-feeling of it, rather than to just paint on the pattern on the thick foam.

I experimented with cutting with both scissors and crafting knives, and really both work, it's just a matter of your own preference.

Some pieces of the thin foam.
It helps to have the two foam types in different colors!
Luckily, the crown is made out of three repeated pieces (plus the front piece), which meant that I only had to make three patterns that I could repeat over and over.

I think I watched through almost an entire season of Family Guy while drawing out and cutting these pieces. This type of craft foam is so thin and fragile, some parts are impossible to cut with a knife and you'll have to use a scissor.

Of course, this is not something you HAVE to do, if you want to you can just draw out the pattern onto the thick foam, but I wanted the crown to cast natural shadows (I have a thing for natural shadows) so that's why I went through all this work. It really pays off in the end!

Placing the thin foam on the thick to get a sense of it!
With all the pieces cut out, I placed them on top of the thick foam, just to get the general shape. After I was satisfied with how it looked, I glued the thin foam onto the thick foam (which I already cut out).

When it comes to glue, I tried out different types and techniques. It's almost impossible to apply the glue onto the thin foam without having the glue dry before you're done applying it, which is why I chose to glue on the thick foam instead and then just press the thin foam on to it.

This was impossible with hot glue, since it dries super fast and is very thick and hard to spread over the thick foam without getting a rough surface. So in the end I opted for clear all-around glue, which takes longer to dry, giving you more time to adjust the placement of the thin foam bits.

Before and after first layer of detail paint. To the left is
only spray paint, and right is first layer of acrylics.
After all the pieces were glued together, I sprayed a layer of gold on it. For spray paint I always use Molotow paint, it lasts longer, attaches to basically everything and is of great quality.

When the thing was sprayed, it was time for detail paint, my favorite! I always work with acrylics for this type of detail on foam. Starting out with the dark colors, I filled inthe corners and nooks of the crown, creating shadows. Then I work my way on to lighter and lighter colors, ending up with almost white on the outer edges.

For the black lines on the crown I simply used a black gel-marker. It applies color and also dents the foam to create a crevice-effect. Perfect.

When it comes to detail painting gold, I love LOVE using different shades of gold. Just mixing gold with silver or black creates gorgeous colors which you really can lift a piece with. Remember, a good paint job can cover up a crappy craft job.

After it was painted, I applied many layers of laquer/varnish to give it a stiff surface and some shine. There are maaany types of laquer, so you really just have to test on small pieces of foam and chose the best one for yourself :)

This is how the crown ended up (it's not attached to each other in this photo, only taped together). As you can see it looks HUGE on my tiny head, but this is why I shaped it around Erik's head and not mine :) 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Griffith - Berserk

Griffith Millennium Falcon armor - Berserk
Character: Millennium Falcon Griffith
Origin: Berserk
Year constructed: 2013
Debuted at: ConFusion: 13

I could go on and talk for yeeears about him, but I won't. I chose to make this costume because it's absolutely beautiful. My boyfriend is actually the one who talked me into doing Griffith in the first place since he wanted to do Guts, so I started reading it because I was asked to, and then I was stuck. I chose the Millennium Falcon armor because it's my favorite, and since my boyfriend was making the Berserker's Armor thye would fit well together. After a while, our Berserk group grew and grew and culminated at NärCon Vinter this year where we had a huuuge Berserk group, a real dream come true!

The first thing I did was to draw out the patterns for each armor part on hard paper. I did this even before ordering my material, to get a feeling of how much I would use. I had already decided that I would do the costume in Wonderflex, due to several reasons. The most prominent reason being that Wonderflex is better than Worbla when it comes to larger, flat surfaces, which Griffith has a lot of. It's also easier to carve and make patterns on since it's thicker.

Various armor pieces in paper.
I also drew out each feather form directly onto the pattern, again to get a feeling of how the end result would look like. These would later be carved out in the Wonderflex to give a sense of texture.

What's really important when you're making a full body armor is that the pieces resonate with each other and gives you full movability, hwnce you need to try on the pieces in paper before you actually make it (or you don't HAVE to but it helps). The pieces also need to look good size-wise next to each other, which is extra important with a costume with this many pieces.

After I made all the patterns I got some help from my boyfriend to tape them all together to try them on. Obviously you only need to make one set of patterns for legs and arms.

Trying on the finished paper-armor!
When everything fit as it should and I felt like I could move properly, I ordered my material and got ready to work. For this costume I required 2 jumbo sheeths of Wonderflex (a thermoplastic which can be heated and shaped) and around 50 A4 sheeths of craft foam, mainly.

Working with Wonderflex is time consuming and really tests you patience if you haven't worked with it before. It takes a lot longer time to heat than Worbla, and hence takes longer to cool down, which can be both a good or a bad thing.

I used a half-sandwhich method for this costume (you take a piece of wonderflex, put it on top of a sheeth of craft foam which is just a tad bit smaller, and wrap the Wonderflex around the back of the foam, hence creating a sturdy piece with Wonderflex on the outside), because since Wonderflex is so thick I won't think it neccessary with a double sandwhich method (where you use Wonderflex on both sides of the craft foam).

Chest plate almost finished, unpainted.
The hardest part was to get really flat surfaces, since Wonderflex tend to create air bubbles between the Wonderflex and Craft foam, but I found out that heating the Wonderflex and pressing it on a hard, flat surface until it cooled off was the easiest way, and it turned out great.

The feathers were hard. I tried a variety of different methods and tools, and in the end I ended up with using a cheese slicer and a bread knife to make the little dents, folds and lines. I wanted to make the feathers elevated enough to cast natural shadows, which you can clearly see on the picture of the unpainted chest plate here.

The two external feathers on my collarbones were elevated out from the chest plate, allowing me to tie my cloak around them :)

The arms took a lot of time since they have the largest amount of feathers on them. The upper armguards are fastened with D-buckles and velcro, and so are the lowere guards. The elbow guard is simply held in place by the sheer pressure of the other two pieces :) I was actually able to move quite well in the arm pieces, something that was very important since I wanted to be able to flip my sword around a lot! The shoulderpads were also fastened very loosely for the same reason.

For the elongated parts (like the four long feathers on the elbow) I used wonderflex to cover the back of them as well, since the back would be visible from behind me. I did this with all feathers that were long enough to show their back.

The legs were a challenge. I needed to be able to move around freely and walk normally, and I didn't want the pieces to be heavy either. The legs are made up out of five pieces - feet, shin guards, two knee-pieces and upper leg armor. Since Griffith fights a lot from horse back, the back of his armor is completely bare (making things a lot easier for me!). Every leg armor piece is fastened separetely to the leg, but also latch on to each other. To make it all stay up, I have long velcro straps that hangs from below my chest piece, and that goes under my shirt and tights to hold up the upper leg guards, like a pair of invisible super fancy stay-ups. It spreads out the weight of the leg armors to my shoulders and back, making it easier to move and walk in the armor pieces. Everything is fastened with D-buckles and velcro.

The base blade of the sword is made out of oak, courtesy of my boyfriend. I sanded it and coated it and painted it in silver chrome to make it shiny and pretty. Even though it's very thin it's super sturdy, oak is a very good material for swords, even though it might be a tad expensive. The hand guard and golden ornaments are all made in worbla, and I also padded the handle to get a better grip on it. The sheeth is made out of fake leather, and is attached to several leather straps that goes around my waist.

The only part of the costume that isn't worbla is the "skirt" part, which is worbla. Seeing as Wonderflex is very sticky and fastens to itself very well, I didn't use any glue at all for this costume, except to fasten the velcro and D-buckles.

I also used two different wigs for the costume; one that is very mang accurate and super curly, (I curled it myself by braiding it strategically and the nboiling the wig). But for NärCon Vinter I wanted a new wig since I wasn't very fond of the sheep curls, so I bouth a beautiful long wig from Arda wigs which I tousled and cut, and I'm much happier with that wig, even though it's less accurate. It simply looks better.

I had so much freaking fun in this costume it's insane.We had the opportunity to shoot with several talented photographers in these costumes, such as Mattias "Artano" Persson, Shila Forsman and Gabriel Kulig. The photos are all gorgeous and you can view some of them just below here.

Sadly, I no longer own this cosplay. It was stolen from me when someone broke into our car and stole it, and I haven't seen a trace from it since. It's very sad seeing as I put a lot of work into it, but "luckily" it was stolen after I had worn it many many times, and I'm not sure if I would have worn it again anyways. Still sucks though!

I'm certainly not done with Griffith, I really want to make his Golden Age armor as well as his Ball outfit, along with my wonderful group and friends that is my Berserk-family, haha <3

Click for larger versions!

Photos by Tomasz Niewiarowski, Shila Forsman, Mattias "Artano" Persson, Gabriel Kulig and various others that I don't know the names of sadly.

LOVE this photo of me and my boyfriend taken by Shila Forsman

Back shot taken by Shila

Knee detail by Shila

Not the entire group, but almost. Guts and Schierke on the good side
and me and my apostle-bros Irvine, Grunbeld and Raskas on the evil side!

From the stage at NCV

Griffith v.1 taken on ConFusion by Artano

Photo from Gamex by Shila Forsman

Herpin and derpin with Guts

Was judging the cosplay show and apparently
it was very interesting.

Burger King Griffith

Early makeup test, me and boyfriend.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Maiev Shadowsong - WoW

Reference - Maiev Shadowson
Character: Maiev Shadowsong
Origin: World of Warcraft
Year constructed: 2014
Debuted at: DreamHack Summer 2014

Why not??? Maiev is one of my favorite characters from the entire Warcraft-series, and with her new sleek armor from the Outland loading screen, I really had no choice. I love that she's not as over-sexualized as many of the other female WoW-characters, she has these badass freaking shoulder pads and this imposing helmet, not to mention her -weapon-. Love her from the bottom of her boots to the top of her fuzzy little white ponytail <3

Maiev proved a challenge because I only had less than two weeks to actually finish the costume. All of a sudden I decided I should try competing in the Dreamhack Cosplay Championship with this costume, and because of work and other grown-up-biz, I had to finish her in twelve days.

I started with drawing up all of her armor pieces on cardboard, to get all the proper measurements and get a sense of how the pieces would look together. This is something I always do for all my armor costumes, to save material and in the end, time. After that was done, I started with building her chest piece, seeing as that would be one of the three hard parts of this costume (the helmet and shoulders being the other two.) Please note that I worked only with the artwork as reference, and it differs a LOT from her in-game model. I tried combining them at first, but quickly realized they were much too different, so I had to improvise on the parts that are poorly shown in the artwork.

Chest piece in the making.
Please do not note the mess in the background.
The base is made out of worbla, which I shaped over my mannequin. The edges are simply made in craft foam - I had very little time and even less worbla to work with, so we were back to the BASICS while making this costume. I covered the entire thing in several layers of wood glue -it's great for smoothing out craft foam, if you mix it wit ha little water to prevent the brush fomr making brush strokes. After that was done, I jumped directly onto the helmet. I made it out of paper first, just as with the other armor parts, and it took me a little more than a day to get the beak in a good looking size, as well as make the "ears" on the helmet even and well balanced. The helmet was also coated in wood glue.

Testing the shoulders for size.
In this photo they look very uneven
due to a crappy angle though :P
The shoulders were hard. They are very signature for this character, so I had to get the shape right, but still curve the sholder "blades" enough so that I would be able to turn my head without the helmet ears bumping into the shoulder blades. Also they blades had to look symmetrical, so the shoulders really had to be -identical-. They are made out of expanding foam, which I then covered in paper clay, sanded, sanded some more, sanded even more, and finally painted and coated. They are stuffed with upholstery foam to help my weak, small real shoulders to support them. They look a lot smaller in photos along with the rest of the costume, but when I wear only the shoulders they are HUGE. The shoulder blades are made in worbla, with craft foam to texture out the details. They were covered in several layers of wood glue as well.

Glaive-blades before being fastened
onto the hula-hoop
After the three main parts, I kind of threw together the remaining pieces - claws for her gloves, armguards, leg guards, shin guards, belt and a few other things. The cape is HUGE and is attached directly onto the shoulder pads, giving me a huge and scary frame. Sadly, her iconic knives which are attached to the cape were what suffered the most from my lack of time, and they were simply cut out in worbla with foam to texturize them.

The glaive is made with a hula-hoop (!) as core, and worbla blades added around it. I covered it in fine filler to make it sturdy enough to throw around, sanded it and covered it in wood glue.

After all the pieces were done, I spent a day painting them, and this is where I wish I'd had have more time, because a good paint job can save a rushed design, but sadly I had to rush the paint job as well. Some day I would love to repaint it, and remake all the details I fell I rushed too much. This costume really looks better from a distance, if you look close you can tell I hurried it. But it doesn't really matter, because I'm proud as heck I managed to do it in such a short time anyways.

Finished glaive

Despite rushing this costume so badly, I came in 2nd place in Dreamhack's cosplay contest. I did NOT expect that, since the single reason I even entered the contest was because both Yaya Han and Kamui were judging the contest, and them being two of my largest inspirations when it comes to cosplay, I really wanted to meet them. Ending up in second place in a contest judged by them was just a bonus, the real prize was knowing they actually looked at my costume (senpais noticed me!).

Even though there is a LOT that can be done better with this costume, I love where it took me and I love that I proved to myself that I can work really fast under pressure. Never want to rush a costume this badly ever again though :P 

Click for larger versions!
Photos taken by Shila Forsman Photography and Dreamhack's Flickr. 

All the winners posing with Yaya Han and Kamui!


First time trying the half-finished costume on!

Yaya Han instagrammed me /dies


Lovely stage photo by Shila Forsman

On stage

On stage
Almost finished helmet and glaive

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Character: Maleficent
Origin: Maleficent Film
Year constructed: 2014
Debuted at: NärCon 2014

Reference photo - Angelina Jolie as Maleficent
I've always wanted to do Maleficent from Disney's Sleeping Beauty, I've just never gotten around to do it. But when the first trailer of the new Maleficent film was realeased, I made up my mind. This was it. I love everything about this movie, Angelina Jolie's portrayal of her character and all the gorgeous costumes. My friend Rebecca and Karu agreed to make a group as Aurora and Diaval, and all of a sudden we were set.

I suck at forgot to take reference photos of many parts of this costume, but I'll talk about the accessories instead. The dress is basically just a long dress with sleeves long as hell, sewn in a ridiculously pretty fabric I just happened to stumble upon. The cloak's train measures roughly three meters, and that along with the huge arms made the costume weight almost ten kilos haha.

The headpiece is made out of a ton of different materials - however I have a tutorial just on this specific headpiece over at my tutorials section, so I strongly suggest you go over there if you want to see exactly how it's made! The base cowl is worbla, and the horns are craft foam. It's all wrapped up first in rubber tape and then wrapped in shiny pleather to get the wrap effect. The front piece is purple snake skin which I dyed the proper color. The headpiece is also lined with soft foam on the inside, to prevent me from getting rashes or headaches  :D

The collar is simply craft foam lined with aluminim string (to be able to hold the leaf-shape) and then covered in matte fabric.

The ring and chest-gem is made completely out of worbla. I experimented a bit with self-crackled paint to get a stone surface, and then added color streaks to make it look prettier and more realistic.

As for the makeup on this costume, I casted latex cheekbone prosthetics to get Angelina's sick cheekbones, but in the extreme heat that was during NärCon, they melted :( Which is why I don't have any photos of them, sadly.

The staff is just a wooden staff that I gave texture by drawing lines with a hot glue gun, and spray painting. It turned out pretty wood-like actually! The orb is light which shifts into three different colors, red, blue and green. The vines growing on top of it is just rolled up worbla pieces painted black :)

I loved wearing this costume, because my group was awesome. I was very worried about wearing it because I have a lot of self confidence issues, and to me to wear a costume that is very form-fitting and has a cowl that shows off aaaall of your face was challenging. And with my cheekbone prosthetics melting and all, I really wasn't very happy when I changed into this costume during the con, haha. But my amazing group made up for it, and in the end I am so damn proud I pulled this costume off haha <3

Click for larger versions!




Reference photo - Bunny Bennett as Rabbit
Character: Rabbit
Origin: Steam Powered Giraffe
Year constructed: 2014
Debuted at: StorCon:14

Rabbit is one of my dream cosplays, I have so much love for Steam Powered Giraffe, their music is great and their portrayal of their characters is truly mesmerizing, I had never thought mime could be cool until I learned about them. And Rabbit's amazing makeup and wardrobe over the years has been equally amazing, so when this design of the female Rabbit was released I knew I had to cosplay her. My boyfriend and little sister joined up as The Spine and Hatchworth, and suddenly we had the entire band. Best day ever.

Rabbit's main focus point is her head, with the makeup and headpiece. So I naturally started by practising the makeup a gazillion times to see if I could actually pull her off. I even made a mock-headpiece just to see how the makeup fit. The makeup I ended up using in the end was Temptu's Dura Pro palette in metallic. It's an alcohol-based makeup, which practically means it's hard to apply, and harder to wash away, but stays put like a tattoo once applied, something very nice for someone used to shitty creme makeup that wipes off after an hour or so.

I made the dress out of a modified shirt pattern along with a circle skirt which I then sew together. The bolero is lined with red faux silk and the arms are matte pleather. Instead of adding buttons to fasten the jacket I attached neodyme magnets for easy and secure fastening onto the dress and because I was lazy. The exhaust vent on her chest was made out of foam and worbla. The ribbon on her back was made with the same fabric as the lining, with only one layer of interfacing to get the "sagging" bow that Rabbit has. I also added a fluffy underskirt in red tulle for the skirt. The stockings are self made, however only because the ones I ordered didn't make it in time, so for NärCon I'll not be wearing the ones I made, but the bought ones. Shoes were my ever loved black London Underground steel-toed boots, which have already been used for so many costumes, and even more to come <3

The headdress was made with a base out of worbla, to make sure it fit my head. Then I made another
mock-up in paper, to make sure all the pieces fit as they should. For the back I bought tons and tons of cables, cable holders and other cables and wires. To be able to shape them I put strings of steel wire inside each of them, before I attached them to the headpiece. The whole piece was first spray painted with a layer of chrome silver, and then hand painted with acrylics to add the weathered metal parts and high/lowlights.

Finishing touches were adding blue LED lights into the headpiece, with two settings - blinking and fixed. I know there is only one known photo on Bunny's instagram where it actually glows, but seeing as I loved the idea and the thought of her blue matter shining through made me add the lights.

Apart from the makeup this costume is very easy. So the funniest part of this costume was all the shenanigans that were made during StorCon <3 I'll be wearing this costume again at NärCon, with upgraded makeup and a few new accessories and props. The best part about wearing this costume is no doubt being in-character and make silly robot movements and sounds while walking around the con! Also love photographing as more or less crazy characters - it's so much easier to find fitting poses and facial expressions!

Click for larger versions!