We all love characters from Star Wars and other iconic franchises, and most of us probably long to step into the shoes of our favorite heroes and villains. To actually create a great cosplay outfit takes a tremendous amount of effort and skill. Recently, our talented friend Elizabeth took some time to tell us about her own cosplay experiences, and provide some insight into the work that goes into a great costume.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Well my name is Elizabeth and I am from Vancouver, Canada. I work as a office administrator on the weekdays and on the weekends I like to sew and fabricate costumes.
How did you get into cosplaying?
I originally found out about the hobby after visiting a gaming forum and seeing another user post photos of an Aeris cosplay she was working on. Cosplay was the combination of two things I love to do when I was growing up: crafting and video games. I guess it was only natural that I would be drawn to a hobby that was a blending of these activities.
Photo credit: The Howling Shoopuf, https://www.facebook.com/thehowlingshoopuf/
What are some of your favorite franchises in both movies and games?
When it comes to movies I like the classics like Star Wars, Die Hard and Lethal Weapon. They are series I always watch around the holiday season. I’m also big into horror. Friday the 13th, Halloween and Scream are all great franchises.
I know you didn’t say TV shows but there have been some amazing dramas over the years like Battlestar Galatica, Spartacus, and Black Sails that I couldn’t leave out of this answer.
If you look through my portfolio it becomes pretty evident that I love The Witcher series. Not only did CD Projekt Red create a great series of games, but they also really created some amazing character and armor designs. I’m sure I will be making a couple more characters from that franchise. I don’t want this to go on for too long and will probably forget most of them but also these titles: Silent Hill, Fallout: New Vegas, Divinity: Original Sin, Chrono Trigger, Dead Space, Darksiders, Deus Ex, Legend of Dragoon, Castlevania (SotN and Lords of Shadows) and many more.
I think that was the hardest question of all these. It is like asking a parent who their favorite child is.
What are some of the events you’ve cosplayed at? What are some of the more memorable characters you’ve seen cosplayed?
I have travelled to various anime, comic and videogame conventions along the west coast of Canada and the U.S. such as Sakura Con, Anime Expo, Pax West, FanExpo Vancouver and Emerald City Comic Con.
Some of the most memorable characters I have seen cosplayed have been video game characters. One year at Pax Prime this guy had made the Advanced Suit Rig from Dead Space 2 and it was phenomenal. Not only was it well constructed but the costume also lit up and he even had a plasma cutter that projected lasers. I wish I knew his name so I could properly credit his work.
The most recent convention I attended this year there was a Freddy cosplayer and Jason cosplayer that looked like they stepped right off a movie set. Their prosthetics and makeup were extremely well made and applied.
I tend to notice costumes from series I love. But I think that is how most people are.
Which of your characters do you take the most pride in?
I’m not sure if there is one specific character. More specific parts of each costume that I am really proud of because I either learned a new skill in making it or there is a fun story/memory about how I made it. For example my goggles for my Rey costume are probably my favorite part of that costume because it was the first time I ever attempted to add electronics to a costume. I had to learn some basic soldering skill for joining my LEDs to the battery pack and switch and it was a lot of fun and I think the end result was really cool.
A more fun ‘easter egg’ from my Rey costume was my water bottles on the backpack. I was running out of time to create all the accessories she has and ended up making them out of a ketchup and mustard squeeze bottle. You can’t even tell now, but the fact that they are there makes me laugh.
For my Geralt costume I learned to create a simple chain mail weave and learned how to fabricate the rings out of wire. That was a fun project I recently did and am proud with how it turned out and was inspired to try even more complex patterns in the future.
What are some of the challenges of creating a great costume?
Time is probably the number one challenge I personally encounter. Deadlines can come up fast and work and home life come first. If I am not on top of managing my time I might have to stay up late a couple nights to get things done. Also when you are working with materials you aren’t as familiar with, any mishaps you encounter might set your costume back and you lose out on that time you already put in.
What is your most elaborate cosplay, and can you walk us through its creation?
My most elaborate cosplay would have to be my Triss Merigold costume from The Witcher 3. It involved me working with various different types of fabric such as satin, pleather, linen and velvet. The costume also had me using a lot of different techniques such as beading, quilting, embroidery, leather work and piping.
All my costumes start with doing a fair amount of research. I like to gather my reference images and then start breaking down the costume into various parts and then planning what materials I would like to use to create those parts. I also will look at other cosplayers work to see what they used and read their comments about what they found to be successful and what maybe wasn’t.
Finally I research different sewing/fabrication tutorials others have created using similar materials I will be using in that costume. I think this really helps me identify any challenges I might encounter when starting a costume. This is important because time can be a big factor in how successful my costumes are.
After the research is completed and I have gathered my materials I start with the part of the costume I am least comfortable with making because I have never made something like it before or it is just more challenging. That way if any troubles pop up I have more time to troubleshoot. From there I just go work on one or two parts of the costume and don’t try and start on anything else until each part is 100 percent completed. That way I am more focused.
What are some characters you may do in the future?
Currently I am working on making Garrison from the comic and up and coming game Battle Chasers:Nightwar.
I also started collecting materials for Jyn Erso from Rogue One. Though I am not going to be starting on that one until after I see the movie and more complete references are available.
My dream costume is Frog from Chrono Trigger.
What are some tips for making gear look authentic?
Weathering your costumes. This was a technique that I only recently started doing more on my costumes after making Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It can be a bit intimidating at first because you essentially have to take this garment or prop that you have worked really hard on creating and then damage it, but I think the effect really adds to the costume.
My favorite technique is to dry brush different shades of acrylic paints on areas of the costume where things might rub or come into contact with dirt or dust. Also rubbing your costume with a cheese grater or sand paper helps to break down fabrics, but make sure that before you do anything you test out your materials first. It isn’t really hard to do but there is some thought that goes into it and you need to know how your materials and tools will react with one another.
Where can people follow your work?