July 16, 2017

MH4U Eldaora's Taus Hunting Horn cosplay prop [part 4]

Hello all cosplay and MonHun fans! 

What you're now reading is the fourth part of my big Monster Hunter cosplay project – I'm making a Hunting Horn called Eldaora's Taus from Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. I've been a huge fan of the game series since Freedom Unite and now I'm finally slowly making one of my cosplay dreams a reality – a MonHun costume!  
I decided to start with the weapon prop and I will do the armor separately, later. I'm fairly certain on what armor I'll do but I'll keep it a secret for now, hehe. It's gonna be from 4U too, of course.
For the previous parts of this project you can find them here: 1, 2, 3

Note: this project is split into several parts because otherwise it would turn into a kilometer post; I need to document my progress carefully (many photos etc) since it's a school project. 

Let's get to it!

Reference of the end knob's shape. Enjoy my hunter's manbutt.
I left off last time with shaping the end knob and yeah, it was rage-inducing because of all the angles. xD The next day when I went back to my working space I noticed that I hadn't carved it in the right shape, bummer! I had done it from memory the last time (didn't have references at that time) and I thought that it was shaped like a rhombus but no, not quite. So yeah, I corrected it a little and then shifted my focus elsewhere – namely to those protruding parts on the shaft of the Hunting Horn. I'm not sure what their purpose is but I'd assume that in the games its either the sound pipes or some kind of buttons that the hunter presses to create the different notes. I might be horribly wrong on both though, but whatever they are supposed to be I had to add them to my creation!

Notice the protruding parts on the lower half of the shaft.
A slightly better angle to view them from.
They are placed so that the outermost ones still show when
viewed from the other side.
To create these, err, let's just call them pipes, I had to sacrifice my stepdad's old broom. Good thing he planned to replace the shaft of it anyway and so I didn't have to feel bad about it. The wood itself had seen better days (it had cracked on top) and so I had to use the middle of it because it was the most healthy part.

Rest in pieces, broom. ;_;
Three pieces, each of 10 cm, were cut out. I left the handling of those for later (filing, sanding) and I started to think of what to use to cover the Hunting Horn with. As far as I know the most common material that cosplayers use for covering is a combination of masking tape and papier-maché. It was an instant no to me because I don't even want to imagine how hard it would be to tape around a prop of this size! Not to mention how many rolls it would take. So yeah, had to come up with something else – and then I remembered that back when I made Harada's spear a couple years ago I coated the spearhead with filler/putty/whatever-you-call-it and it worked amazingly. Sure that the Hunting Horn is on a completely different size scale but at least it seemed like a better option than the tape and papier-maché.

Test-run of the filler, to see if it can also
cover up the bigger holes.
Stepdad showed up, fetched the bucket of filler and we test applied it to some particularly hole-filled/uneven parts of the Hunting Horn. He said that, because of the depth of the horns, the filler might sink in when it attempts to dry and, if that happens, another layer will be needed. No big deal I thought and, besides, it seemed to apply effortlessly and neatly – looked really promising, in other words! Now I just needed to wait a full day for it to dry.

The next day dawned and I headed out to check what the filler had done over the night. I noticed that where the deeper holes had been covered (aka where there was a big amount of filler) the filler had cracked a bit. Nothing that can't be hidden underneath a second layer though! I also noticed that it wasn't completely dry yet.
Being quite pleased with the filler result I took some more of the gray stuff and started patching up the Hunting Horn, focusing on covering the bigger holes (air bubbles left by the foam, mainly) and such first. I made sure to not accidentally put a second layer over a spot that hadn't completely dried yet, because otherwise the drying time would get slowed down a lot more.

Patching up the worst holes with filler.
I didn't cover it up properly because I still need to carve out holes for the pipes so that I can sink them into the shaft. Speaking of the pipes, I rounded and sanded them down a bit before I left to go back home to my apartment. I left the other end untouched since it won't matter because it will be embedded into the shaft anyway.

Sanded pipe things for the shaft.
After almost a month, in mid-July, I returned to work on this project (I got a summer job! I mainly continued with covering the whole shebang in filler, which is quite a time-consuming project because of the shape and size. I also carved out the holes for the pipes (with a knife) and attached them. I had marked out the position and instead of using glue I just sprayed a click of PU-foam onto the bottom of each hole and then just planted the non-sanded end of the pipe in there. It stuck very well.

Pipe placement test (not attached) and filler progress.
After "gluing" on the pipes I used the remainder of the foam can (maybe 1/4 left) to fill in holes in the foam to make my filler life easier. I also added some foam to a couple of the back mane's spiky ends because there were huge and/or missing gaps. 

Foam, what are you doing? Foam, stop.
Above is one of the back mane spikes that I wanted to thicken, since it was super flat at the end. The problem was that I couldn't rotate the thing so that this particular area was facing straight up (because there were other newly foamed areas on other places), straight up is of course the ideal curing position because of avoiding gravity screwing things up. The consistency of the foam was a bit funny as well (this was the very end of the can so yeah, extra runny) and so it slowly just started gliding downwards and all I could do was watch, since I had already tilted it as much as I could (without fucking up other areas) and turning it any more would end up with some other foamed areas hitting the ground and/or falling off, including the pipes.
Oh well, luck in misfortune was that the area that the spike foam ended up covering by accident was actually a spot that needed some fixing anyway – there was a visible carving mistake there that I didn't notice until after I had put filler on it, which made it more obvious. *shrugs*

Foam added to cover holes, pipes attached
and continued to put filler on head area.
My empty foam can wanted to be artsy til its dying breath. xD
I had put some quite thick layers of filler to cover up the unevenness of the foam, which means that it'll take some days for it to dry completely. I also covered up some of the earlier cracked spots with a second layer.
I also realized that I shouldn't attacht the horns and ears until I've completed the filler episode because yeah, once the horns and ears are set I won't be able to rotate the Hunting Horn as freely as I can now without risk of breaking off the protruding parts.

The next day I came back to tidy up the foamed areas, which mainly meant cutting off the excess foam wherever needed and then (re)shaping and improving the back; a couple of the back mane bananas had huge gaps in them, especially close to the tips (because of the foam randomly leaving big holes when it cures). I had also used foam to thicken the handle a bit.
After the foam episode was done I continued to apply filler.

A lot of filler later.
And then I ran out of filler. :'D So. Much. Filler. You might notice that on the photo above I left one of the middle mane's without filler, that was simply so that I had somewhere to hold the damn thing to keep it from moving while I put filler everywhere else. Stepdad brought a new tube on the day after and so I used it to cover that bare spot and some other stuff. 

I still have to put more filler on this thing, before I can start sanding, but I feel like this post is getting a bit long and so I'll end it for this time. ^^; Part 5 coming up later so keep checking back in, yo!

July 7, 2017

New gray hakama for Yasusada and Kenshin, finally!

Hello peeps ~

After almost 2 years of searching on and off I've finally found some new gray vintage hakama that I can use for improving my battousai version Kenshin Himura (Rurouni Kenshin) and nimihirviö Yamato no Kami Yasusada (Touken Ranbu) cosplays! 8D I'm so happy I finally have a suitable hakama because I've been searching for soooo long for the right one to show up and with the right price! It's been stupidly hard to find, I tell you. -.- What's even better is that this one is made of cotton, which is more convenient for cosplay purposes because I can iron and even wash it, if needed! Most times vintage hakama are silk, meaning that cotton is hard to come by.

When I originally debuted Yasusada back in 2015 it always bothered me that the cosplay hakama that I used (same one that I've used for Kenshin and Hakuouki's Hijikata) was way too light. I always wanted a darker pair and preferably a vintage piece, to fit better with the kimono that I use for him, which is also vintage. The wrong hakama is the main reason I haven't reworn Yasusada since then, even though I've wanted to rewear him all along!

New hakama, so excited! >u<
I'm sorry for the crummy mirror photo and the yellow light but yeah, the hakama is a dark-ish gray. I also tied the hakama knot differently from Yasusada's (didn't check references) but it doesn't matter since this was just a quick test. I basically just did a proper knot instead of an "anime knot", lolol. 
It's also andon (skirt) style, which is the type that Yasusada is also wearing, according to the art book – if one wants to be precise.

Yamato no Kami Yasusada reference.
As I said I will also use this new hakama for my battousai Kenshin cosplay, which will see the light of day again once I remake his (or well, actually Ichito's) gloves, aka tekkou. They actually broke at Närcon Vinter last year. :'( I want to make sturdier ones that are easier to wear because the now dead gloves were quite a bitch because yeah, they kept warping around and undoing themselves. Then again, I made them in fucking 2012 so totally not the freshest build I've done, lmao. I should make a new pair specifically for Kenshin and then another for Ichito too...

That's all for this quick update post, see you!

June 29, 2017

I now have a Twitter account!


I finally gave in today and made a Shitter Twitter account! I've been considering it for a long time and yeah, now it happened. xD It's basically a mix of all my three blogs combined (cosplay, kimono and lifestyle) along with funny memes, video game screenshots, shitposting and much more. I won't be writing any deep text walls (you can't even do that because of text limits lol) and such, just quick and silly stuff. I will also of course link my blogs and perhaps throw some smaller convention updates, cosplay WIPs, potential selfies and such time will tell ~

So yeah, if you wanna follow me then here's the link:  

June 18, 2017

Lens review: Flora Diva Gray

Hello folks! 

I have prepared a circle lens review and it's gonna be about the Flora Diva Gray!
I haven't seen the Flora brand of lenses for sale anywhere else than at HoneyColor, just in case anyone wonders where to get these pretties ~

Let's get on with the review!

Base curve: 8.6 mm
Diameter: 15.0 mm
Water content: 55%
Life span: 1 year (I recommend 6 months)

The design is sort of simple but it's really appealing to me! It's a pretty lens with a flower petal-ish print and a thin black limbal ring. There's some irregular black streaks reaching towards the pupil hole, which gives the lenses some character. It's a beautiful and mesmerizing design that is great for many different occasions and purposes!

One lens in.
My natural eye color is a light blue-gray and these go really well with my real eyes. The color is vivid and opaque and thus won't blend much so yeah, if you're looking for a natural color effect then these lenses won't be the best choice – I would recommend them for cosplay though. It's a lens that looks really lively and sparkly once worn and I'd say that these are perfect for cosplaying bishounen characters. ^_^ It's a really gorgeous lens that looks amazing on photos as well ~
The color is a pretty and fresh light gray. Normally I'm not the biggest fan of gray circle lenses but I'm really digging these!
The enlargement boost is noticeable but it's not over the top in any way. It's a size that is versatile and, although this is not a natural lens, it doesn't look freakishly unnatural either.

Lens photos below!
All photos taken by me during a June evening with a semi-clear sky. All close-up photos are free from color filters and such and that's so that the colors would be as true to real life as possible.

Bathroom light.
Flash photo.
Facing a window in the corridor. (not sun side)
White light in the corridor.
Yellow light in the staircase.
Indoors storage room. Only natural light from the side.
Outdoors, back against sun.
Outdoors, facing sun.
When it comes to comfort these lenses made my eyes watery after insertion, but not in an uncomfortable way. I could feel them slightly for maybe a couple minutes (no scratching, stinging etc though) when I moved my gaze around but my eyes soon got used to these lenses. I had a couple minor dry bouts but otherwise I found these decently comfortable – I could wear the lenses for 3 hours before they started drying, which is quite good considering how horribly dry my eyes have been lately. So yeah, I could perhaps have worn these a couple hours more but I decided to play it save because my eyes are so dry and sensitive.

Distance photo! 

Interested in reviews of the Flora Diva lenses in other colors?
Check out these: Violet

Short summary:

Color: 8/10
Beautiful and lively light gray color! Fresh and youthful!
Design: 8/10
A really pretty and versatile design with a flower petal-ish print.
Opacity: 8/10
Solid coverage, really good for costuming purposes!
Enlargement: 7/10
The size is there but it's not overpowering at all.
Comfort: 6/10
Average-ish. Makes my eyes tear up after insertion but comfy otherwise. Around 3 hours of wear on dry eyes without eyedrops.
Naturalness: 3/10
Too colorful to pass for real eyes but otherwise not bad.

Thank you for reading and, if you have any questions, just leave a comment!

June 12, 2017

Lens review: Angelic Eye Princess Blue


I'm back with the circle lens reviews and today's pair that I'll show you guys is the Angelic Eye Princess Blue! The Angelic Eye brand is perhaps exclusive to HoneyColor so yeah, just thought I'd mention it in case someone wants to try these as well and no, this is not a sponsored review.

Let's get reviewing ~

Base curve: 8.6 mm
Diameter: 14.5 mm
Water content: 45%
Life span: 1 year (I recommend 6 months)

I don't have so much to say about the lenses themselves I mean, the design is sort of generic (aka I've seen similar circle lenses before) and it looks like it's trying to mimic a real iris, except in a more semi-realistic way. It's not a bad design in any way and because of its simplicity I can imagine that these would be good even for more casual outfits, classic lolita and the like. It's an ideal lens if you want pretty eyes but don't want them to be so obviously fake-looking that you'll scare away that nice grandma next to you.

These lenses definitely appear big if you look at them in the vials but, once worn, then at least on my eyes they're not quite as huge as I was led to believe. x) The size boost is still there of course but it's not eating up my eyes yet, lol.

One lens in. Notice size difference.
When it comes to color I think that the blue shade is really pretty – it's a rich and surprisingly vibrant blue! When compared to the green and brown pairs from the same series I have to admit that the blue one is my favorite but, then again, natural eye color is a factor worth noting because it does greatly affect how different lens colors show up on different eyes. My natural eye color is a light blue-gray (gray-blue?), by the way
It's funny because always when I buy several pairs from the same series I always go for green first and then take blue and possibly another color as reserves but, once I get to wearing the lenses, it's often the green that is the disappointing one and the blue that impresses me, lol. So yeah, blue lenses is a pretty safe card if you have a similar eye color as I do. xD

Lens photos ahead!
All photos taken by me during a June afternoon with a semi-clear sky.
There's no color filters or such on the close-up photos and that's so that the colors would be as true to real life as possible.

Bathroom light.
Flash photo.
Facing a window in the corridor. (not sun side)
Yellow light in the staircase.
Indoors storage room. Natural light coming from the side.
Outdoors, being on the shadow side of the building.
Outdoors, back against sun.
Outdoors, facing sun.
Comfort is pretty average. Felt a bit scratchy and uncomfortable upon insertion but it went away after a minute once the lenses settled. I could always feel them in my eyes when I moved my gaze around but otherwise they're quite okay, except that I experienced a couple dry bouts and some sudden stinginess (which could just have been a wig fiber poking my eye). I wore these for 2,5 hours before I felt the first signs of dryness kicking in, which is a rather average time for me and my sensitive eyes lately. If you don't suffer from dry and/or sensitive eyes I don't think you'd have much problems wearing these for notably longer than I did.

Again, what brings these lenses down for me is the big pupil hole. It's so big that it foils the color impact of the lenses on my light eyes, especially when viewed from a distance. It looks like I have big fancy eyes but yeah, the color is not instantly noticeable because the watcher's attention will first go to the huge pupil hole that completely reveals my true eye color first. It's a bit of a bummer because the blue color in itself is incredibly beautiful. :/ I just wish that the blue of the lens reached further into the middle because then these would be so much more awesome. It's still a pretty lens but I do think that the Angelic Eye Princess series would show their best side on dark eyes.

Distance photo!

Interested in these same lenses but in other colors?
Check out my other reviews here: Brown, Green

Short summary:

Color: 7/10
Beautiful vivid and rich blue color! Shame it doesn't reach further into the center of the lens...
Design: 6/10
Nothing out of the ordinary but it does its intended job well.
Opacity: 7/10
Wherever the blue is printed the coverage is good. It's a tiny little bit transparent, occasionally making a slight halo effect visible.
Enlargement: 7/10
Big enough to work for dolly eye looks, if you're into that.
Comfort: 4/10
Average-ish. I feel them in my eyes when I move my gaze around and wearing time on dry/sensitive eyes is about 2,5 hours. I experienced occasional dry bouts.
Naturalness: 3/10
Too bright and too big to really pass but they're not completely doomed either, thanks to the semi-realistic design.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this review! ^_^

June 8, 2017

MH4U Eldaora's Taus Hunting Horn cosplay prop [part 3]

Hello cosplay fans and monster hunters alike!

Here comes the third part of my Monster Hunter cosplay project. I'm building a Hunting Horn weapon prop from scratch as part of a big school project. I've been a major fan of the MonHun games for years and I thought that it would be high time that I made a costume to make my love for the games visible, haha. The Hunting Horn that I'm making is the Eldaora's Taus from Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate and, if you missed the previous parts of this project, you can find them here and here. ^_^

Note: this project is split into several parts because otherwise it would turn into a kilometer post; I need to document my progress carefully (many photos etc) since it's a school project. 

Let's get to crafting this thing!

Starting position. I know that the end knob
is crooked but it was unavoidable. I will
hopefully fix it later.
Okay, so I left off last time with my Hunting Horn looking like a sleeping foam mummy. I had run out of the two extra cans of PU-foam (aka expanding foam) that I fetched from Säästötex earlier and, meanwhile I was busy with school since I left, mom actually went and bought more of the sale cans for me. Once I got back to mom's on 4th June five cans of foam were waiting for me. The sale 5 cans for 10 € was still available, God bless. 
I continued applying expanding foam to the build, mainly the knob at the end of the shaft, the back of the "horse head" and the thickest part of the shaft's backside. I left it to dry for some hours and when I came back I noticed that the foam had hardened but it wasn't ready to be cut. I checked the knob and noticed that the foam had indeed fallen off and was partly stuck to the ground (thanks gravity) and so I separated it from the floor which thankfully I had covered in plastic before, for protection and decided to turn the prop so that it laid on its side, to allow for the "inside" of the knob to dry. You see, where the foam had fused with the ground it actually was all wet on the inside, and when I turned it I accidentally grabbed on that non-hardened spot and my fingers just sank into the sticky goo. Eww. Protip: if you ever get PU-foam residue on your hands (it sticks like a second skin and feels like really sticky glue that won't go away) you can get rid of it by applying nail polish remover onto a cotton pad and swiping the affected areas with it. It's important that the remover contains acetone.

The following day I returned to start shaping it. I started off with the back half of the mane and just cut it somewhat into its general shape. I noticed at some point that I'd need to to make each of the mane hairs (there would need to be 7 +1 on the back of the final product) deeper.

Started carving out the back mane.
While I was working I suddenly caught a sniff of that strong distinct smell of fresh PU-foam. I stopped in my tracks and checked where the smell was coming from – it didn't take many seconds before I noticed that some thick, yellowish and unhardened foam was bubbling up from the inside! It was all gooey and sticky and I used whatever scrap pieces I had at hand to wipe it off, but it just kept coming out slowly but steadily. I was just standing there like "oh come on..." because it had gotten about 24 hours to dry but it was still, seemingly, not enough.

Red arrow points to the fresh foam bubbling out.
(note: this was taken directly after I noticed it, it grew a lot more since then)
No can do but put the carving on hold until it has completely hardened. What a bummer, I don't have so much time to finish this project.
During the remainder of the day I went out a couple times to check on it and there had formed a pillar of foam! It was probably close to 10 cm in height and had this weird I've-kinda-hardened-on-the-surface-but-still-gooey-on-the-inside consistency like I could touch it without making a sticky mess but I was sure that my finger would crush the surface if I applied even a small amount of pressure, aka I could feel it give in under my fingers. I decided to rip off the protruding pillar of foam (using tools and not my own hands) to make sure that, if anything else would flow out later, it would be able to come freely.

The next day I checked the hole that the foam had been flowing out of; it had hardened and so I continued work. I continued to shape the "hair bananas" in the back, aka the back mane. :) As I've mentioned before I'm not even trying to make this thing 100% accurate to the game (which would be a pain in the butt because of all the symmetry) and so all the mane bulks are free-handed; I kinda wanted them to have a natural "flow" to them, if that makes sense. I did make sure that there were 7 of them though and I'll add the small pointy tip one later.

Mane carving in progress.
Once the back mane was somewhat in shape I decided to test out the papier-maché ears that I had made in school earlier – turned out indeed that they were a tad too big. :/ It's really hard to get the size right when you don't have the head there to compare with and have to go by memory and a note.
I quickly made some new ear bases out of chicken wire, slightly smaller.

Comparing old ear(s) to the head.
Comparing new ear(s) to the head.
I decided to skip the papier-maché approach on the new ears because I don't have the equipment for it and I think I might get better end results with the foam anyway, since the whole build is covered in expanding foam. I'll save the old ears for another project so they won't go to waste.

New and old ear side by side. For size comparison.
I didn't attach the ears yet and instead continued on carving out the shaft (handle, whatever you want to call it) of the Hunting Horn. I thought that this would be easier to do than the manes but lolnope. :') So yeah, I started carving as usual and then, at some point, I realized that those separating lines (showing where each of the three levels end) didn't meet! It was really annoying to notice it after I had already done a majority of the work. Even the slightest difference would add up and then when you had spun the thing around completely the separating lines, at worst, had more than a 10 cm difference. -_- It was impossible to keep track on if the line was straight or not because of the foam's bumpiness and the circular shape, aka I had to constantly rotate it to do any progress and thus couldn't get a good grip on if I was cutting it straight or not. I had to improvise a lot and it's not perfect nor symmetrical good thing it's not super noticeable because of the shape.

Started carving out the shape for the shaft.
I took the can of foam and filled in some uneven spots on the manes, on the shaft and wherever else there wasn't enough foam. Meanwhile it was drying I made the horns in the same way as I made the ears. They had to be 50 centimeters long each.

Horn bases done.
You might notice that the horn sketch is under and that the curve on it is different. I can say that I drew the reference image way too big for the paper (common mistake that I do, lol) and thus the proportions were off (I had to fit it in); I wasn't planning on doing strictly the same shape anyway, just drew it to get a general idea and as a reference for details, once I get to painting the horns.

I left the horns for later and left the Horn (hihi) for drying overnight. The following morning I continued carving – this time doing the rest of the shaft, except for the end knob. Now it's starting to look like something!

Shaft carved out and new foam added to uneven spots + end knob.
I can't help but think that it looks like an oversized fancy chess piece. It's quite noticeable that it's not exactly like in the games and yeah, I had to make it different for a number of reasons and hey, taking some artistic liberties every now and then is fine~! The main difference is the shape of the upper neck (where the head attaches to the shaft) and thus the head's position, as well as the position and shape of the manes. It just ended up differently and I don't even mind – I made it my own and it will still be easily recognizable. It's like, maybe 85% accurate, haha.
I have used so much money on this that I don't want to butcher half of my hard work just to correct some proportions and/or placements. I can't change the shape of the head/neck part anyway (which is the only thing that slightly even bothers me) because it's a placement miss that happened so early on, aka already at the cardboard base. Because of that, and how I started with the front mane hairs, the head is pretty much doomed to be almost stuck to the neck instead of being more up and free like in the game. No can do and no big deal – it will be awesome anyway! 

Before I left it for the day I added some foam to even out the end knob and to patch up some small spots on the shaft that were uneven. The following morning I went out to carve the end knob and oh boy, it was a pain in the ass! I was thinking all along that "it can't be so hard" but I swear this was the most frustrating part of the project by far.
I quickly gave up on trying to get the knob to be identical on all angles because it was flat out impossible! Every time it looked good, when viewed from a particular angle, I would spin it around and then the opposing side looked like a case of "end my misery". The more I tried to correct one side the more it messed up when viewed from a different angle... or when compared with another side; it basically needed to have the exact same angles on all four sides to be perfect. It just wouldn't line up nicely no matter what I did and I ended up losing my patience, which is rare. Yeah, I was at the verge of ragequitting.

Fuck this shit, let's call it close enough. 8C
So yeah, the knob is far from symmetrical and it's obviously tilting more towards one side than to the other but oh well, I did what I could. It's not bad enough to be a complete eyesore but it does trigger my perfectionist side a bit, lol. It could be worse though at least that's a consolation!

That's all for this part and next time I'll get to start on the surface treatment! Be sure to follow my blog if you don't want to miss it. ;)