Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cosplay: Taiga Aisaka from Tora Dora

Taiga Aisaka from Tora Dora
Photos by ACCosplay.

Taiga Aisaka

I love all forms of media - comics, TV, movies, books, anime... it's all good in my book. So it was surprising to realize that I'd never cosplayed from an anime, despite attending mainly anime conventions and loving anime for so many years.

I tend to cosplay from Western media more often. I think it's a little simpler because some of the characters are up for interpretation (like American cartoon characters). Plus, most of the time, when I like an anime character, their outfit is out of my skill range. (See: Mami Tomoe's magical girl outfit. Swoon!)

So when I saw the jacket and skirt for this costume up for sale, I scooped it up right away! I don't think I could sew a jacket or skirt this structured, and even though I am the third cosplayer to wear this costume, it fit like a dream. 



Taiga Aisaka from Tora Dora

Conventions


Materials

  • Wig: Luthien from Arda Wigs in Sandy Brown, cut and styled
  • Shirt: Thrifted
  • Skirt and jacket: Purchased secondhand
  • Thigh-high tights: Ebay
  • Penny loafers: Ebay
  • Sword: Ebay


The Process

This costume is a little different since I didn't have to make anything. I found a white button-down at a Goodwill, picked up some more specific accessories from Ebay, and styled the wig, and it was done. I thought I was being smart by using faux thigh-highs instead of actual socks, but it wound up being kind of a pain anyway. Next time, I'll just do regular thigh-highs.

My biggest concern with this costume is that Taiga is known for being a small character. She's around 4'11" and very petite - and I'm 5'6'' and not petite. While I think cosplay is for everyone, and I fully believe that everyone should cosplay whoever they want, I wondered if I'd be able to do this character justice in my own eyes. Once I tried on the entire costume, I was really pleased with it! I think it helps that I didn't have any other people cosplaying with me, so there's nobody to compare my own height to. Regardless, this character is a type I wouldn't usually cosplay, so I'm really happy that I went out of my comfort zone and tried something new.

Also, I just want to say that there's absolutely no shame in purchasing or commissioning entire costumes or pieces of costumes! While I love learning new skills, sometimes the only thing holding me back from finishing a costume is a difficult prop or wig. If you don't have the time, resources, or desire to learn to sew/style wigs/make props/whatever, commissioning is perfectly fine. In this case, I could buy the main parts of the costume for a super low price - I couldn't even buy materials for that much, let alone accounting for the time and energy it would take to learn how to sew a jacket. For me, this costume was a worthy investment.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Off to San Diego Comic Con! Resources for the Comic Book Babe (2014)

SDCC 2014 - The Best Resources, Links, and Tips
Photo Cosplayer

San Diego Comic Con is less than a week away!

This time next week, thousands of nerds will be gathered in San Diego to celebrate whatever makes them geeky. I can't wait to be there!

With the con so soon, I thought I'd share some resources to help you make it the best experience ever! Some of these are specific to SDCC, while some are more general convention tips, so be sure to poke through even if you aren't going to SDCC (this year!).

Psst -- sometimes the best way to get information at the convention itself is Twitter. When you check out these links, be sure to follow them on Twitter as well! I actually made a Twitter list of the people I want to keep up with at the con.

Expo Hall Crowd


Inside the Convention


SDCC collage


Outside the Convention


SDCC Cosplay Collage


Convention Tips

Getting into character.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to SDCC info and tips, but I hope it helps you out. I won't be liveblogging during the con, but I will be tweeting, Instagramming, and Facebooking my heart out, so be sure to follow for updates!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Rabbit Heart

And here's a much better photo of the tattoo itself from the artist, @anniemesstattoos

Last week, I got my first-ever tattoo. A lot of people I've talked to thought I already had one (my mom even said she figured I had a secret tattoo I was hiding from her...!).

In truth, I have wanted tattoos for most of my life, but I knew I wanted them to be very, very significant to me. That's why its taken me so long to get one - I wanted it to be thought-out, something that would age well and age with me, something that would always be important to me.

One of the biggest aspects of my day-to-day life is being vegan. While my other hobbies have changed, I've had an interest in animal rights for the almost 10 years. Being vegetarian, then vegan, has been one of the best decisions I've ever made. I knew tattooing something to signify my identity as a vegan would be  important to me, but I also wanted to be careful. 

The last thing I want is a regrettable tattoo, and while I think I'll avoid animal products forever, there may be a day where I don't identify with the vegan label. I've also had a few friends with somewhat political tattoos that end up resenting the daily barrage of questions that come with wearing their beliefs on their sleeve (literally). I wanted my vegan tattoo to be more symbolic, artistic, and personal than tattooing the word on my body somewhere.

I decided on a bunny because they are the symbol for animal testing and also super cute. I've always felt a connection with rabbits. If I don't feel like discussing veganism with the inevitable stranger who might ask, though, I can always just say I really like rabbits. I also picked a placement that's easy to show off or hide, depending on the situation. (And, yes, I totally thought about cosplay when I chose where I wanted my tattoo!)

I told my mom about my tattoo so now I can post day two of the #modsummer photo challenge - a pic of my kicks (and mostly my new tattoo!)  @modcloth


I went to Annie at Golden Age Tattoos with an idea for the design I wanted (bunny in a frame, lots of feminine elements). I was totally shocked when I saw the sketch - it was like she took the image directly from my brain. Absolutely perfect! She got to work right away. It hurt, but only about as much as I expected. A few parts were more painful than others (those flowers took so many layers of color - ouch!) but the whole piece was done in about 4 hours. And, by the way - Annie uses vegan ink! 

So now I'm officially tattooed with a large piece, and I love it. I think it reflects my style perfectly, and I couldn't have asked for a better experience. 

Do you have any tattoos? Do they have a special meaning to you?


Monday, July 14, 2014

Cosplay: Daenerys Targaryen

Daenerys Targaryen
All photos in this post by Aperture Ashley!

Daenerys Targaryen 

I'm so excited to share this costume with you. It's one of the only costumes I have where I've made almost all the pieces (rather than modifying or assembling) and I'm very proud of how it turned out! Also, Aperture Ashley is an amazing photographer and her magic always makes me look fantastic.

Dany was my favorite lady from Game of Thrones (then Margaery took the lead, and now I love Sansa, too). I loved her most in season one, where her character arc takes her from a young girl who doesn't have control of her life to a true leader.

I especially love the scene in season 1, episode 6 ("A Crown for a King") where she eats a horse heart because, to me, that episode best embodies her character arc. She's a true khaleesi and her people love her. She is starting to take control of her destiny. I also chose this version because fake blood is awesome, and I think a vegan doing a costume with a bloody fake horse heart is kind of funny.

Daenerys Targaryen

Conventions

Materials

  • Wig: Matilda from Arda Wigs in Titanium Blonde, styled
  • Necklace: Model Magic, aluminum foil, paint
  • Top: Handmade with a burlap-like material, dye, paint
  • Penannular Pin: Ebay
  • Armband: Handmade
  • Overskirt: Handmade with suedecloth, weathered with paint
  • Belts: Craft foam, hot glue, paint
  • Jeggings: Ebay
  • Boots: Ebay
  • Prop heart: Amazon
  • Fake blood: Amazon
Daenerys Targaryen

The Process

One of the strangest parts about making this costume is that every time I re-watched the scene, I noticed something different about Dany's outfit. At first, it seems like Dany wears the same outfit over and over again during the first and second season. In reality, she wears a similar-looking outfit with lots of different details - pieces are added or subtracted, stitching is added, her hairstyle changes. Then I began noticing how many accessories she wears in this scene - a necklace, a ring, and an armband. Suddenly this simple costume looked a little more complex!

Daenerys Targaryen

I started with the top, since I knew that would be the most challenging piece. I found a burlap-looking fabric that had the texture I wanted, but was far too light. After attempting to dye it three times to no avail, I finally decided to smudge brown fabric paint on it to get it to the right color. I think that actually turned out better than dying the fabric because it looks more rustic and worn. (Did you know that Game of Thrones hand-weaves a lot of their fabric? Intense!) 

I braided the halter top from strips of the same fabric, sewed the pieces together, and added a few darts to get it to fit right. The back is laced up. I modified the top a little bit to be longer in the front - sometimes Dany shows her stomach, and sometimes she doesn't, so I went with the slightly more modest version.

Daenerys Targaryen

The overskirt was significantly easier - I simply cut out the pieces from the suedecloth I bought, then sewed it all together. The two flaps and the white top are all one piece and velcro keeps it together. I made the belts out of tiny pieces of craft foam, hot glue, and paint, held together by faux leather string and hot glue. My favorite part was weathering the overskirt with diluted acrylic paint in spray bottles. It took layers and layers to get it caked on properly so it looked realistic.

The necklace and armband were fun to make. The necklace had an aluminum foil base, which I attached the chain to. Then, I put Model Magic on top, sanded it down, and added gold and black paint. The armband (which I totally forgot to wear in these photos, darn it!) was the same fabric as the top, some craft foam, and a feather. I chose not to make her ring since it's such a small detail and I would already be dealing with fake blood.

Daenerys Targaryen

Wig, Makeup, and Blood

Dany's wig gave me a little trouble since it was my first time working with a lace-front wig. I used spirit gum to glue it down, but getting it to stick to my head was challenging. I'm glad I wore this costume once before my photoshoot so I could get the hang of it! The braids also took a surprisingly long time to style, too. I love the final product, though.

For makeup, I tried to keep it simple and natural-looking. I bought natural-looking fake eyelashes as opposed to my usual huge, cartoony lashes, stuck to a neutral eye shadow palette, and used very little eyeliner. The real focus of Dany's makeup is her eyebrows, which Liz Locksley graciously woke up early to do for me (along with fixing the rest of my makeup). Thanks Liz! 

Daenerys Targaryen

The final step was the fake blood. I did a lot of research and decided to go with gel blood, which dries non-sticky and cakes on like real blood. I applied the blood with my fingers and a makeup sponge. Once it dried a little bit, I added translucent powder on top to keep it from sticking to anything. It worked really well and had the exact effect I wanted. Fire and blood!

This costume is one of my new favorites. People love Daenerys! People called out "Khaleesi" and "Mother of Dragons" to me all day, and I had such a great time pretending to eat the horse heart in photos. I think I'll definitely be revisiting my Daenerys cosplay in the future!

Who is your favorite Game of Thrones character?


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