Blizzcon 2011 Post-con Writeup

Another year has come and gone already! I made so many new friends and learned so many new things in the process of creating my costume. I had a blast with everyone at the Cosplay Dinner sponsored by Alice, Mario and Pocket on Thursday evening, and the food was pretty good too! The cosplay community at Blizzcon is seriously amazing, I am so glad that I am able to participate every year.

I made sure to have some breakfast before heading out to the convention.

Day 1 was spent almost entirely in my Tyrande Whisperwind costume. I didn't get many panels, gaming, or shopping in that day until after the costume contest. Moving around in costume can take a very long time depending on what you're wearing. A note to new cosplayers at Blizzcon - make sure you allow plenty of time
to get around. People tend to stop you and ask for photos quite often, even when you're trying to eat your lunch!

Once I made it to the convention center I saw some people whose progress I've been following through the year and was able to get photos with a few of them. I also saw some people who I hadn't seen any progress from but had met last year (WingedWarrior Cosplay, as Lady Nozdormu). It was great fun roaming the convention floor and seeing all of the awesome work by everyone in costume.

I made the mistake of taking a trip to my room before the group meetup and photo shoot, which resulted in being late due to poor time management. If you think it'll take you half an hour to fix that busted attachment point on your armor or get back into your corset, add an extra 15-30
minutes to that estimate. You may miss more panels that way, but you will have so much less stress about your costume and getting to appointments on time.

The fountain photo shoot is also a really great opportunity to see everyone's costumes and it happens every year on the first day, usually a few hours before the costume contest is scheduled. I saw the end product of Auto Cosplay's hard work on her Tier 11 Undead mage, which turned out wonderfully. The undead fingers and toes really added a nice touch to the costume and made it extra fun.

The group meetup and photo shoot is a wonderful chance to see friends, make new ones, as well as a chance get some epic photos. I snagged a good one with Pouncival in his Matt Horner costume. It seems there aren't as many guys that get into cosplay at Blizzcon, but it's a ton of fun! If you want to wear a costume but are nervous about the reception from other con-goers, just start with something small. People are typically very enthusiastic, enjoy the costumes, and at the least will just leave you alone. Don't be afraid to join the fun!

The group shoot was a little large this year, there were a TON of cosplayers and photographers. The photographers had to swap rows several times to let everyone get a chance at being in the front!

The fountain photo shoot time and date specifics are typically announced every year on the Blizzcon forums as well as the Cosplay.com forums. It is an unofficial event organized by cosplayers and photographers, but it happens every year.

I didn't have time to get business cards made, but a lot of other people were handing them out to photographers. This is a great way to get in contact with photographers, other cosplayers, and new people you meet after the convention.

I was also able to get a photo with Synariel Cosplay and her Druid Tier 4 armor set, which is one of my favorite sets.

Next year, if the group is as large as it was this year, we may need to do more than just one big group for all the photos. I heard someone mention the possibility of breaking down into smaller game-specific groups for some of the photos if the trend continues, which I think that is a good solution.

There were moonkin and rogues and all kinds of things roaming around at the fountain during the photo shoot. I wish that I could include photos of everyone, but I think that might make my blog explode. I will, however, provide a link to the photo gallery at the end of all this.

I was impressed with the level of quality all of the costumes had this year, which makes the prospect of next year a bit intimidating. It is definitely a great feeling to know that everyone brings their best to Blizzcon and strives to do the characters justice. I was also impressed at the sense of community I felt with everyone else in costume. I haven't had much of a chance to attend any other conventions in costume besides Blizzcon (and that one Wizard World this year, but that was for work) but I am impressed regardless. The people are all amazingly talented, as well as awesome in general.

The "line-up" at the stage side curtain (which is actually more of a blob) allowed me to see some of the costumes I had missed in the morning. I met a couple of moonkin and a nymph to name a few.

This was my second Blizzcon, and I was very impressed with the costume contest this year - especially the backstage setup. There were benches! And water! And everyone got their photo taken! Blizzard staff really nailed it this year, in my opinion, as far as the costume contest organization was concerned.

As always, walking the stage was a blur of nerves and adrenaline. I think I may have nearly run across the stage this time. Fortunately, next year I will probably have a harder time with moving quickly.
(Photo by Mr. Muggles).


Day two was much more relaxed, but there was still some costume fun to be had thanks to Tonksceratops Cosplay and her organization of the Aspects of Awesome burlesque/steampunk group.

Here's how it worked: everyone chose a character (the group initially started with dragon aspects from World of Warcraft but it branched out) and created a burlesque/steampunk costume inspired by that character. The group turned out to be more burlesque than steampunk (with the exception of Pocket's awesome goblin).

It was lots of fun and a great way to challenge our creativity by creating a costume based on a character's existing design. Unfortunately, I do not have a photo that has everyone in it all at once. You will just have to visit the gallery to see the rest of the costumes!

G4TV also did a feature that included a fair number of our Aspects of Awesome group, as well as a few other individual cosplayers. Check it out!

Overall, it was an amazing experience and I hope to be able to do it again next year

All photos by Alastair Drong unless otherwise noted. Full gallery can be found HERE.


Blizzcon 2011 Costume Progress - GO!

It's that time again! I've been rather slow to get going on this year's costume, but progress photos should trickle in steadily from now on. Let the Blizzcon 2011 costume progress updates begin!

One of the costumes I will be wearing this year is part of the Burlesque/Steampunk group for day two. I chose to do a burlesque-ified Tyrande Whisperwind.

The design to the left was made near the beginning of the year, when the group initially started brainstorming on the Cosplay.com forums. I based it on the artwork featured on one of the loading screens added in Cataclysm (I believe the art itself is by Wei Wang).
So far I've only got the corset patterned/half put together and the top draped.

The corset pattern I used is from
Katafalk's blog. Her tutorial has specific instructions on how to create your own custom underbust corset pattern using only your measurements, a ruler, writing utensil, and some math. It's pretty snazzy, and extremely useful for those of us who are too lazy to draft our own patterns. Ahem.

It did take me two attempts to get the pattern correct, but that was most likely due to my poor math skills than anything else.
The top I draped from scratch, which took tome trial and error, and I think it should turn out well with the actual fabric.

Transitioning from the top to the skirt should prove interesting, as I plan to avoid a seam along the underbust.

I started sculpting the jewelry and gems this evening, and am planning to do a better job of casting this year. I learned a lot last time around, and sprung for a silicone mold kit to help make the process a bit easier.

I'm using Apoxie Sculpt because a prop maker I greatly admire, Volpin Props, uses it. The clay is workable for two to three hours, sandable once it's dry, and can adhere to just about anything. I am looking forward to seeing how well the clay does with a mold. I'll just have to wait and see for myself how it fares with being sanded and covered in silicone.


Blizzcon 2010 recap

A lot has happened since I started this blog. I successfully completed my first cosplay and attended my first Blizzcon. It was a blast, and I am definitely looking forward to this year's costume build and spending some quality time with the other dedicated cosplayers at Blizzcon this October.

I unfortunately did not end up with any more progress photos after what I have posted already. My camera died and I was working long hours after work every night to get my costume completed in time.

I do, however, have photos of the end product as well as some of the people I met at Blizzcon 201
0. I met a lot of amazing cosplayers, many of them druids. Here's a photo of me standing with one. I remember following her cosplay.com thread about building Atiesh, and was excited to see the final product in person.

It's really amazing to be surrounded by such creative people who love making costumes. These are my people, and Blizzcon was such a blast. The community there was really something special.

A huge photoshoot was set up (I believe by Pocket of http://theoriginalpocket.com/) and we all crowded together for a group picture. There were several photographers and it was a great chance to see all of the costumes I didn't get a chance to view in the main hall.

I got a few good photos with Auriaya and the troll I met earlier, and spent some time hanging out with a few druids.

After the photoshoot, I ran into another druid! I can imagine how hot this costume must have been, but mad props to whoever built/wore that Tree costume. Poor thing was mobbed any time I saw him/her, with requests for pictures.

The costume contest/parade was a lot of fun, but sitting backstage for hours was not something I had prepared for. This year I am definitely making a costume that is properly weighted. I had issues with my shoulder armor being too heavy, large, and awkward which made the whole ordeal much less fun than it could have been.

So, if you are planning to enter the costume contest for the first time - Be Warned! You will have to do a lot of standing in one place.

While in line I met a bunch of people who had not been at the fountain photoshoot, including the contest winner D3 Monk ZerinaX as well as a Diablo Barbarian. It was a great experience, and after the contest I ran into one of my favorite costumes I'd seen the whole day. Professor Putricide! Seriously, how awesome is he? Only the awesomest.

Blizzcon was super fun times, I got to meet some of my guildmates and a ton of amazing cosplayers, and I get to go again this year!

I will be updating here more often with progress now that I've started working on my day 2 costume. If you're thinking about wearing a costume to Blizzcon, I highly suggest you think about joining the Aspects of Awesome burlesque/steamy dragonflight/NPC group for day two.



Well, I still owe you the rest of my Druid Tier 5 progress (which will be posted in the near future) and a Blizzcon 2010 writeup (which will include many photos).. but I will be starting again soon on a costume for Blizzcon 2011!

I just wanted to say that I'm not dead yet, and I am looking forward to a rockin' time this year. Last year was a blast!


Wildfury Greatstaff - Complete! Shoulders progress and more.

It's been another month since my last update, although I have been getting a lot done in the past week. The staff is finally finished! I may go back and add a leaf to hang with the straps, if I end up having time for that.

The straps are made of cotton strips that I sewed together to make tubes, which were ironed flat along the seams. They are attached by hand, and sewn to the unpainted green band.

The design is painted on with acrylic paint. I do not recommend painting acrylic onto cotton, it takes several coats and can be difficult to keep fluid and consistent.

There are fabric paints available at most craft stores, don't be a baddie like me.


The next big
item I have to build is the shoulder armor. I am using a similar process as the staff - build it up with a foam base and cover in paper-mache.

Here you can see them with the first layer. I'll have to go back over once or twice more just so there's enough to sand without going through to the foam underneath.

The raised area in the middle of each piece will have a gem inserted, with an LED and battery pack so it glows.

My first attempt at casting gemstones was Friday night, and they didn't turn out too badly considering the fact that the mold is made out of paper and tape.
I used theproplady's resin gemmaking tutorial over on youtube, which are quite helpful. She has several videos about casting your own gems, so check them out!

The tape I used must have not been the right kind of plastic, or I must not have added enough catalyst into my resin mixture, because the resulting gems were still tacky after several hours drying.

I used 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper to sand the gems in the hopes the left over tackiness will disappear. I will probably still need to use a plastic polish to hide the sandpaper scuffs and make the gems shine.

The large gem in the middle is the only one that has been sanded so far, the other two feel like Jolly Ranchers. Ick!

I may also end up re-casting them if I can get a decent mold out of either alginate or plaster-of-paris.

Making your own mold out of paper and tape is incredibly tedious and difficult to do well if you have difficulty making patterns for geometric shapes.


I started working on the ears I'll need to go with my costume. I could have bought a pair of ears and saved myself some time and effort, but this is something I've always wanted to try. They'll fit better this way, too (in theory).

I found the How to make Hobbit Ears tutorial and have followed their instructions up to the sculpt step.

I used alginate mold material and plaster-of-paris mix from my local Dick Blick. Both have worked well so far, although the dental-grade alginate has been damp to the touch, even after it has hardened, like it sweats. I have no idea why the alginate does this.

Regardless, I was able to get nice plaster casts from the molds I made.

I cut two lengths of wire, one for each ear, and rigged a wire support/armature to build the modeling clay around. I will likely add a wire into each finished prosthetic ear, to keep them from sagging.

There is still a bit of work to do on sculpting the ears to my satisfaction and making them as symmetrical as possible, but they are fairly evenly proportioned and decent enough for about 5 hours of work.


Wildfury Greatstaff [So close!] and more!

There has been much painting over the last week, but the process has been slow-going due to high humidity (sidenote: there needs to be an acrylic paint that dries the same no matter the humidity *shakes fist* as I am tired of waiting 15-30 minutes between coats).

I finished putting on the gesso primer and painting the base green for the staff ends, as well as adding most of the details. Looking back, the most challenging part of this was the gradient green-to-light-green on the crest. That was a royal pain, as I have not worked with acrylics seriously for about 6 years. Here are the results!

The left image is a rough lay-in of where the gradient should be, and I worked with it for what seemed like hours until it was to my satisfaction.

The image on the right shows the top and bottom sections, the top with runes painted on (I may end up going back in to give them more depth; a carved-in appearance, but only if I end up with extra time) and the bottom before runes.

The bottom was much less of a headache because it did not require any difficult painting technique, just one solid color for each design.

Here it is in all its wonderfully difficult to photograph glory!

I still need to decide whether I want to paint the last green band on the staff's head and attach a feather separately, or attach a fabric band so I can include the feather that way. I also still need to sew the two fabric loops to attach on the head of the staff as well - but that requires fabric hunting - and that will need to wait for a few more weeks until I no longer require a boot on my nearly-healed foot.

Fortunately, the bulk of this prop is complete. I just n
eed to finish up those tidbits and give it a nice matte clear coat and I can mark the Wildfury Greatstaff off the to-do list! I will be glad to have it finished so I can focus on the massive amount of work I have yet to complete before this costume is ready to be worn.


The next item up for construction is the Nordrassil Mantle, or the costume's shoulder armor. These will probably be the most time-co
nsuming items I have to construct due to the nature of armor found in World of Warcraft (the bigger the shoulders, the more important the character - ha).

I started with a cardboard base, cut and taped until I got a shape that fit the item's base model, and covered it in a few layers of paper mache. I then filled it with expanding insulation foam (so it would not just be hard cardboard against my shoulders. I may also add additional soft foam later if they end up being too hard still, or uncomfortable). Once the foam had dried, I cut away most of the underside.

The most time consuming part of this, so far, was making the pattern for the top. Patterns might take a while to get right, but they go a long way toward making your costume awesome. A bad pattern will ruin a costume, promise.

Once all the patterning was done and to my liking, I got out the wire mesh. This item is very easy to find in art stores and craft stores, I got mine at Dick Blick. You -can- use the stuff found at stores like Home Depot, but the craft variety is just as expensive, and a heck of a lot easier to work with. I used my crappy scissors to cut the mesh; Please do not use fabric scissors or nice scissors with this stuff - it will make nicks in the blades and turn them into garbage scissors. I bent the sides over to give it shape (and so my fingers would get stabbed less).

Cue the expandy-foam, yet again, and you end up with something Cthulhu would likely be proud of (yeah, it's that scary).

After it was completely dried I got out my knife and carved the foam to look like my reference image. The best part about using wire mesh with the expanding foam is that if you get to it before the foam is rock-hard you can still bend it! And so I did, since the prongs weren't looking exactly the way I wanted.

I'd like to thank masking tape, who has been awesome today, for keeping things where they need to stay and even playing nice with foam. You are the best friend a girl can have.. well, almost.


Wildfury Greatstaff [I'm covered in paint!]

I have been steamrolling right along on this staff, and I am glad to say that the major construction portion is complete! There has been much frustration over getting the faux wood grain to look realistic (because, yes, everything must be perfect and I am a masochist - my back can vouch for that one). Fortunately, I have had success with this endeavor, and have moved on to painting the green top portion of the staff. There was much rejoicing.

I pre-mix my (acrylic) colors in recycled tubs - lids are your best friend if you plan to reuse a mixed color. I will be using the same paint on other pieces, so I mixed a lot of paint.

I ended up using 4 different browns to get a wood grain I liked. There were two medium tone browns for the base and basic grain layout, one light honey brown for the highlights and a black-brown for added texture illusion.

I used a mixture of wet and dry brush techniques. Fortunately, I spent my college career in the art and theater departments/classes so I have a lot of experience with painting. This helped immensely, although I know that anyone with enough patience and determination can achieve a nice faux wood grain.

The key here is following the brush's lead - don't try to force patterns that the brush isn't interested in executing. It is especially important for 3D projects! The surface isn't flat, it is usually much easier and looks much better if you just put on some good music and go with the flow.

I started with the darker of the two base colors, waited for it to dry, added another layer (the gesso shows through if your paint isn't very opaque), and then started using the side of my brush to lay in the lines. I repeated with highlights, added some medium brown back in where the highlights stood out too much, then went in with the dark brown last to give it some depth.

Another important thing to keep in mind when painting faux wood grain is that you should try to avoid going over highlights with your darker colors. Ideally you want to put darker colors next to the highlights in order to give the texture the illusion of depth.

Once all the wood was painted on I went back over the mess with gesso where I needed to paint in the green, so I would not need as many layers of green paint to cover the wood grain. Currently the crest is painted green all around and tomorrow or the next day it should be getting the shading and pattern painted on.