April 30, 2013

Dat Animucon ticket

A pleasant surprise awaited me in the mailbox today and by that I mean a letter from Urumi's store, aka my Animecon ticket order!

It is also of the fabric style (better!) and has the standard con ticket width: 1,5 cm. No megasize 2 cm like Desucon ticket. xD This ticket also has that pull-up-black-lock-to-fasten system.. when you pull it upwards it will lock itself so that you can't pull it back.
Oh, I also noticed how very similar this year's Animecon ticket is when compared to last year's. Pretty much the same colors (except this year's has a gray inside while last year's had a more green-gray), same fonts etc.

Not so much more to say, looking forward to con summer!

April 28, 2013


I've now bought a con ticket to Animecon!! ~

Honestly, I had no plans at first to go to Animecon in Kuopio this year because my con plans looked like this for July already:

5-7 July • Skecon 2013
25-28 July • Närcon 2013

Skecon first week and Närcon last week of July. I thought that would be enough of cons for that month.. until mom mentioned she had a big interest to go revisit Rauhalahti Spa Hotel in Kuopio this year too and well, last year we were in that hotel at the same time that Animecon was. Okay, my brain quickly put things together aaaaand..

le mom + Kuopio spa hotel + (free) car ride = ANIMECON HERE I COME

Okay, so now my July con summer plans look like this:

5-7 July • Skecon 2013
~ 13-15 July • Animecon 2013 ~
[19-21 July • con-free weekend]
25-28 July • Närcon 2013

What to say? July is now almost filled with cons for me.. and money is sure to burn but...

April 24, 2013

New wig and more shinsengumi for the summer

Went to town after school today and picked up a new wig from the post office, heheh. I have planned to cosplay Souji Okita from Bakumatsu Renka Shinsengumi this summer and I'm one of those persons who tend to buy the wig almost first so, yeah. It took me quite a long time to settle on what to get because his hair is this color that seems to vary from silver to light gray-blue to white-ish blue and ahkfdsjk. Don't we all just love inconsistent references so much? lolnope

Okita from Bakumatsu Renka Shinsengumi
I found a few (Japanese) cosplayers who had cosplayed him and it seemed the majority had used a light blue wig.. but I personally wanted to have some white/silver in it too. I then found on eBay this rather cheap blue-white mix wig that made me go "close enough" and I went with it because hey, the cheaper the better, heh. I don't even need to cut it or anything and I finally got a reason to buy a two-color wig, hehehe ~

I really like this wig's color and it's not too thin either.. I was afraid it wouldn't have so much fibers because it was on the cheaper side. Only not-so-cool thing was that it shedded a bunch of fibers when I touched it at first so I got a bit worried. Oh well, it stopped doing that after a while of hand-combing so it's pretty okay now.

Later at home I just had to do a very quick try-on. Excuse me the yellow bathroom light. ._. I didn't bother with make-up either. I'll take better photos later when I've made the armor and stuff.

The red collar is temporary and ghetto; I just took a wide sash I had lying around, folded it in half and wrapped it around my neck and the excess I tied around my lower chest... it was uncomfortable so I'll either make a juban or a fake kimono collar later.

Oh well, I'll reveal what con I will cosplay this portrayal of Okita at later. I'll also work on him more around June or so; I need to finish Masamune Date first.

April 23, 2013

Hair cutting scissors and Kazuma wig trimming

I bought scissors for wig hair cutting from eBay some time ago and received them today. Earlier I just cut my wigs with mini scissors and well.. it worked but it wasn't the best and my hands hurt like hell if I had to cut for a longer time. I figured that if I will cut a lot more wigs in the future, which I will, so why not get some scissors actually meant for doing just that? Okay, I had my doubts buying from a cheap-ish eBay Hong Kong seller but turned out these are actually pretty sweet.. at least for someone non-professional like me who just needs 'em for a wacky hobby ~

le hair cutting scissors
(yes, I'm left-handed and these are leftie style. Haters gonna hate ~)
And with those I attacked the wig. Sure there wasn't much to cut, I just wanted to trim the bangs a little shorter because the bangs, although pretty nice, were originally of that derp-length that makes me look, well.. derp.

Wig before cutting
(sorry, flash photo)
After trimming the bangs (also layering them slightly) and trying the wig on my head it looked like this:

Excuse yellow bathroom light..
(mirror photo)
Now the bangs barely cover my eyes and thus don't look as derp anymore. I'll do a Kazuma cosplay preview later ~

April 13, 2013

Kazuma wig test

Got my wig for Kazuma yesterday. I'm at Jäätynyt Enkeli's place right now and I will stay here the whole weekend but I took with me the kimono items needed for Kazuma so that I could do a quick wig test preview while here. Oh, and this is pretty much a closet cosplay for me.. I happened to have all the clothing items for this already thanks to my kimono hobby. xD I just bought the haori and the wig.. not like he always wears a haori but it doesn't hurt to have it ~

I barely bothered with make-up and I'm not sure if I should trim the bangs on this wig a bit or not because on the manga Kazuma's hair length varies; sometimes it covers most of his eyes and sometimes it doesn't. ._. But I think I might shorten the bangs slightly because it might look better on me.

This is the only at least semi-decent photo I got and it's taken with the help of a mirror too so yeah, I'm not actually dead. lol Oh, and it's the manga version.

(oh, yes, the mirror is dirty..)
Not so much more to say, if I decide to trim the wig you'll get a proper preview later.

April 10, 2013

Desucon ticket arrived!

I forgot to make a post yesterday but I will do so today instead..
Because I got my Desucon arm band ticket in the mail!

The ticket fastens by pulling up that black lock thingy.. when you pull it upwards it will lock itself so that you can't pull it back.. aka if you put it on and tighten it you won't get it off without cutting it up. :DD
Okay, so last year I was on my first Desucon ever and back then the arm band tickets were made of paper.. this year it's fabric and well, fabric ones seem to be quite rare in Finland. Most cons in Finland I've been to have had paper arm bands (except Animecon 2012) as opposed to all Swedish cons which sported fabric ones. Then again Finnish cons send your arm band tickets in the mail while in Sweden you print out a paper receipt which you take to the con and exchange for an arm band ticket at the con place.. after standing in line for a few hours normally. Finnish cons are good because by sending the tickets home with the mail you avoid horribly slow con queues!

I must say that when I got the Desucon arm band I was like "man, this thing has been over-nourished!" because the letters on it are much bigger than what I'm used to and the whole thing is wider than the Swedish counterparts as well as the Animecon 2012 one, aka 2 cm instead of 1,5 cm. Oh well, not like I mind. x) Fabric tickets ftw! I highly prefer fabric arm band tickets over paper ones and that's because paper ones are more sensitive to damage and they wrinkle and get in bad condition much easier. I like to save and collect all my con tickets as memories so it's better if they stay in good condition longer hehe ~

April 7, 2013

Samurai armor

Yesterday I started making Masamune's samurai style upper arm armor. Of course before starting I looked at a lot of my Masamune references and two of them were these:

Okay, inconsistent references anyone? I looked at most of my references and the color of Masamune's lacing changed from white to brown and I think I saw blue somewhere and in the anime there is none at all. Also the amount of lacing rows and armor plates seemed inconsistent too the more different pictures I looked at... oh come on!

There's just three rows of armor plates on this figure..
So instead of trying to figure out the "real way" Masamune's upper arm armor was supposed to be I decided to take some artistic liberties and just do some free designing inspired by actual samurai armor. Yeah, you could say I thought "to hell with 100% character accuracy" and saved myself more headache from ever-changing references by doing my own take on the armor. Oh, but before that I googled "samurai armor" and got inspired. I payed attention to the different ways the lacing was done.

Samurai armor
(photo found on Google)
When I felt I had an idea on what I was soon to be working on I decided to let it roll!
First thing I did was to make a mini size armor out of paper and draw a lot of dots on it; the dots would be the holes for the lacing.

Paper armor test pattern
I didn't count or plan how many holes I needed in advance. I just marked the holes while I went on and added or changed the spacing if I noticed something didn't look right. When I felt I had something that might work I cut out the paper pattern, cut it in half, took a sewing needle and thread and started to improvice "lacing it" to check if I had enough holes.

My "lacing" test with a sewing needle and thread
I decided three armor plates were enough and four rows of lacing. By the way, my mini paper armor had just two rows, I cut it in half.
   When I thought about it I figured I wouldn't want the threads to start at the showing side of the armor so I made extra holes on the top plate so that the lace would start/end on the inside instead.

Now it's better ~
After experimenting with the mini paper armor test for a while I felt confident enough to start making the real deal. I used polystyrene sheets for the armor and measured and cut out two pieces. I also marked on the inside some faint pencil lines where each plate would start and end.

Cut out armor pieces
With the pieces cut out I went outside to shape them with a heat gun. I wanted a nice bend in the middle, but not a very sharp one. The heat forming succeeded very well.

Shaped armor pieces ~
The reason why I decided to shape the armor while it was still a single piece, instead of cutting it into the three plates and heat forming them individually, was to make sure all three soon-to-be plates would have the same curve to them and fit on top of each other, with a slight overlap, when assembled later.

Next thing I did was that I cut the big piece into three parts along the marked cutting lines on the inside. After cutting the big piece I now had three separate plates and, well, I drew a lot of dots on them. I used my former mini paper armor as a reference for the hole placement.

My three armor plates filled with hole markings..
... and now to make them into, well, holes.

Hello drill ~
I took a scrap piece of polystyrene and drilled two holes in it just to check if it worked. It worked like a charm, no cracks or problems whatsoever and easy to drill through! Yay!

Drill test
I took the scrap piece with me and went inside to find some suitable ribbon or cord for lacing. I didn't find any cords so I set for ribbon instead. I took what we had at home and the best I could find was this 5 mm white glossy ribbon. I tried threading it through the holes to check if the hole was big enough for the ribbon to run through freely but still not too big and well..

.. it was pretty much perfect!
Okay, so I was ready to drill holes. But before I did that I wanted to sand the edges a bit because they were a bit rough from the cutting. Sanding worked pretty okay on polystyrene.

After smoothing the edges a bit
And now.. well.. time to drill! Of course I did the drilling (and sanding) outside.

First armor piece drilled
A lot of drilling and frozen fingers later I had armor plates full of holes. No joke.

So many.. holes...!
That was all the progress I did yesterday. Today when I woke up I went to continue with the armors and well, next up was to paint them. I used the same black semi gloss spray paint as before.. I've used up more than half the bottle already, oops. I gave the showing side a coating first and let them dry for some time on my makeshift working table outside in the "car garage".

Newly sprayed with the first coating
Some time later I returned to paint the inside of the armors after the outside had dried.

Inside sprayed with paint
When the inside was dry I turned all the plate pieces over and noticed that while the showing side had been drying the spray paint had slowly flowed from the sides towards the middle bend. Also some of the paint had gathered at the very sides and left these small build-ups.

Gravity, I hate you sometimes.

This demonstrates the "flowing paint problem" (lighter parts, not full coverage)
and the "spray paint build-up".
Oh well, a second coating easily fixed the first problem.. but the spray paint build-up was still visible underneath because well.. there is more paint there, duh. Oh well, I didn't feel like trying to sand it down or anything and it doesn't bother me so much anyway so whatever.
While the second paint coating was drying I decided to move my makeshift table, with the armors, out in the sunshine so that the paint would dry quicker. It seemed like a great idea... until a random strong gust of wind appeared and blew all my armor pieces into the snow. My face was like:

Luckily most pieces had already dried enough not to have the snow get stuck everywhere but well, one of the plates got these "snow was here" bubble prints on the surface and it bothered me.. so I sprayed over them.

Oh well, after all plates were dry I took them inside and begun lacing them together with the ribbon. I burned the ends of the ribbon each time I cut it so that it wouldn't unravel. Oh, and about the lacing, I didn't use any "historically accurate" or whatever way to lace it, I just improvised and used some real samurai armor pictures as inspiration/guiding.

Burning ribbon ends
Two rows of lacing done
The lacing process was pretty tedious and took me a few hours. I was very careful with making sure that the ribbon didn't twist itself at any point during the lacing; I wanted it to lay neat and straight. Every time there was any error I undid parts of the lacing until everything was right and the ends I just tied together in the back.

This is what my armor looked like when done:

Finished Masamune samurai armor pieces ~
I must say I'm really happy with how these turned out! I know they are not exact replicas of the ones Masamune wears (and you know that too if you read what I wrote at the beginning of the post) but I like them like this, 20% cooler ~

April 6, 2013

Polystyrene for leg armors

I've been working on Masamune's leg armor the last days but I haven't done a blog post about it yet. I'll write about it now so that I don't get one super long post.. and besides I've come to a point (read: I ran into a problem) where I must wait before I can continue working with them. *shrugs* Oh well, I'll write at least something now.

Okay, so I've had this roll of polystyrene since late November last year and on last Wednesday (3rd April) I finally started working with it. I've never worked with polystyrene sheets before and there doesn't seem to be so much talk about it being used for cosplay projects (I can find tutorials about styrene used for cosplay but not polystyrene..) on the internet either.. so with that said I had to do the trial and error approach to this one. Oh well, you won't learn if you are afraid to try something new so here goes!

Polystyrene sheet after being freed from most of the protective wrapping...
... and loose.
I don't remember the dimensions of my sheet but I'm pretty sure it was 1000x2000mm and 1 or 1,5 mm thick. Oh well, with the polystyrene rolled out I decided to check, well, how to cut it.

Here's the two candidates ~
It was pretty hard to cut, you had to use some force but it's possible to cut with ordinary (heavier) Fiskars scissors for example.
I took my leg armor patterns and drew one of them with a pencil on the polystyrene and cut it out.

One leg armor piece drafted on the material..
... and cut out.
Okay, I noticed pretty early it's hard to change directions during the cutting. You can curve if you do it little by little but any more noticeable/angled or sudden curves and you'll be cursing. Or well.. at least I was about to. Thank god Masamune's armor is pretty simple in shapes so I got by without further "perkele" storms.

Before finishing for the day I took a scrap piece of the plastic and went to check how well it would take spray paint. I didn't do anything to the surface prior to spraying and it took the spray like a charm!

Aaww yeeaah!
The next day (4th April) I took a scrap piece of polystyrene and went to test heat forming it outside with the heat gun and it was a...

(and protection gloves are pop)

With the scrap piece shaping successful I took my actual armor pieces and gave them the same treatment. The only thing you have to be careful with during the heat forming is not to overheat the plastic or well.. it will melt and be ruined. You will notice during the heating when it's getting hot enough so its shape can be changed, just turn the heat gun off when you feel it loses some of its sturdiness and keep it in its new shape until it cools down. If the form didn't turn out as you wanted you can just reheat and reshape it.. but be careful because you might get these.. err.. "heatbumps". I got a few but they don't bother me.

Oh, also, I shaped everything with just my hands. You would likely get better results if you used some sort of mold in the shape you want the polystyrene to have when done. Because I shaped mine by hand no armor piece has the exact same shape to it.. they all are slightly different, it's noticeable when you put them on top of each other. But I had nothing that was usable as a mold so yeah, freehanded for the win ~

When heat forming I held the armor something like this
Here's a comparison shot with a shaped armor piece (left) and an untouched piece (right)
I must say that compared to craft foam polystyrene keeps its new shape like mountain while it still remains as bendable as it was before. It's pretty fabulous; you can bend it if you apply some pressure but it will return to its shape when you let go.. unless heated, then it will stay in the new shape obviously. Oh, also, if you bend at some very thin point, like maybe 1 cm wide, then it might snap cleanly if you bend too much. Yes, I tried on a scrap piece and at least mine did snap.. then again it might vary depending on what thickness you have.

I went to cut out the remaining leg armor pieces (except the knee caps) and heat formed them. I gave each of them a somewhat pronounced groove in the middle. Next up was to paint them and again I made myself a makeshift working table ~

All leg armor pieces shaped and ready for painting
I gave them a coating of the same black spray paint I used for the arm guards.

After one coat of spray
I let them dry for the rest of the day because the 0 °C weather slows down the drying process. During the evening I moved my armors from the open "car garage" into the rather old summer cottage standing on our yard... I let them be there overnight.

The following day, also known as yesterday (5th April), when I woke up I went to the summer cottage to take my armors inside for a while... the summer cottage doesn't count as inside because it has broken windows and the door is half loose lol. I let the armors be inside and "warm up" for maybe 30 minutes before going outside to spray the inside of them.

Inside of the armors before painting...
... and after a coat of spray paint.
I let them dry for a few hours and when I went to check I noticed somehow some hairs had managed to get on the armor pieces and gotten stuck between the spray paint coats during the drying. They annoyed me so I peeled them off and...

... the paint around the hairs went with them. Fuck. :)
Oh well, it's the inside so no one will see it anyway.. and it just looks like some sort of damage so it just adds to the believability or something.. come on, Sengoku Basara is a hack 'n slash game series, no one would actually have perfect armor for long when you think about it. xD trolololo ~

After the inside paint had dried I gave the outside a second coating, there was a few spots where the paint wasn't even so yeah. After the painting was done I went to work with the knee caps but I will make a separate blog post about that later because I'm having some trouble with them right now.

April 3, 2013

Masamune arm guards pt.1

I've been working on the arm guards for Masamune the last few days and figured I could write a progress post now that I'm about half-way into the process. So well, back on last Monday (1st April) I cut out the pieces for the arm guards from craft foam, namely two "bottom" and two "top" parts.

One of the "bottom" parts cut out
With all the needed parts cut out I asked Jäätynyt Enkeli to come help me with the heat forming because hey, two pairs of arms are always better than one. So we went outside and one of us held the craft foam piece in its wanted form while the other one used the heat gun to form it. The first piece we finished looked like this after the heat treatment:

Tadaah ~
And this is what I had after we were done forming them:

Dem shapes ~
I must say craft foam, at least in my case, doesn't hold the shape really well.. it keeps the shape semi-well but I noticed it straightened itself out with time.. at least mine did. *shrugs* Oh well. I didn't do any more progress on Monday.

Yesterday (2nd April) I decided to try using fabric backing for the first time as a way to stiffen, strengthen and support the armor. So I went into the attic to check what fabrics we had that could possibly work; I wanted something smooth, something light-weight that had a bit of stretch. After looking around I found this one very dark blue very soft and nicely flowing knit-like fabric that seemed pretty cool. I took it with me back inside and cut out fitting pieces for the armors, making sure to have some excess just in case.

Fabric backing cut out
I then just took the craft foam armor pieces and glued the fabric on the side that would be against my body, obviously. I used your standard white universal glue and, in my case, that was Erikeeper. I just took a pencil and brushed glue all over the foam and then put the fabric on and pressed it and let it dry. I used a little bit too much glue on the first try because when I was applying pressure the glue "leaked" over the fabric. Well, now when I think about it it's not weird that it did.. the fabric is knit-like after all.. aka small holes. -.- Oh well, it made no difference so no harm done.

Fabric glued to the back side of the craft foam
I did this same thing for all the pieces and after they had dried completely I trimmed the excess fabric away.

Fabric backing to the right
Next step was to seal the craft foam. This step is optional (as well as fabric backing) but I always do it because otherwise you will be spending more paint on the foam because.. well, it's a bit like a sponge or something so it sucks in color a lot. It's better to just seal it because if you do you will get away with fewer coats of paint and posssibly a nicer result as well. Not to mention sealing the craft foam seems to give it a bit more strength too. I use a glue & water mix, aka diluted glue. I just use a normal white glue (Erikeeper, again) and mix it with some water until it's watery enough not to leave any pencil strokes when you brush it on.

Water & glue mix ready to be brushed on
And here's the foam pieces after their first coating, still wet
(you can notice at this point the pieces have lost pretty much all of their curving...)
And the remaining part of yesterday I applied shitlots of coatings; every time the earlier one had dried I put a new one. I think I coated them around 10 times, I'm not so sure, I didn't count. Today I put on a few more glue coats on the morning and then waited until stepdad got back home from a trip to town; he bought me some black spray paint, like I had asked yesterday.

The spray paint in question
I went outside and made a makeshift working table out of small wooden steps and cardboard. I put the foam armor pieces on top of the cardboard.

My makeshift working table ~
I then took the spray paint and shook it for some minutes before I sprayed away.

First coating...
Okaaay... my first reaction was something along the lines of "Oh god why didn't I use a black/white primer?" It's easy to be wise after the event.
I must say the first coating made me scared because the foam didn't seem to take the paint well at all and all sorts of "oh fuck don't tell me it won't work" thoughts appeared in my mind. I then thought that maybe I diluted the glue too much and/or didn't use enough coatings. I don't know, but I got nervous and waited a bit before I tried spraying on a second coating. 

Second coating...
The foam pieces seemed to take in the second coating better but the bright colors still shone through when you looked at them from certain angles and my hopes about this working as well as it had done with earlier projects sunk pretty low. When I looked at them my expression was like:

But I decided to let them dry outside for a while and came back an hour or so later to check. I was not surprised to find out they hadn't completely dried yet...  stupid 0 °C weather, takes forever to dry! Oh well, I decided to spray on a third coating just in case to see if they would turn fully black now.. if not I could just paint them over with an ordinary black paint and then try spray painting on top of that.

Third coating
Okay, my hopes for these arm guards are slowly recovering! I'm not so sure how they will look when dry but at least now the original color doesn't shine through much at all. Currently the pieces are in the sauna drying (mind you, sauna is power off xD) because at this moment it's about to get dark outside and the paint really doesn't dry well in the cold. Oh well, tomorrow I'll see how they have dried. Hopefully the paint will still flex with the foam when dry, it seemed to bend just well without cracking while I tried bending them when they weren't completely dry. Here's to hoping.

More progress later.