In September of this year, my son came to his mom and me and said, “I want to be Predator this Halloween.” Now, his mom and I didn’t just want to buy a Predator costume… we had to make it. While I have made a very basic Ghostbusters Proton Pack in the past, a Predator costume felt like it was way over my head. A quick google search came up with everything from EVA foam to Fiberglass Resin to Cardboard and Crayola Model Magic being used for a build. I had absolutely no idea what I was looking at or how to go about even starting a build. I even joined a Cosplay Facebook group for help. It was in all that madness that I decided to write this article. After all, cosplay is one of the things I really look forward to when I attend a convention like Wizard World. So why not feature, recognize and hopefully get some good info from the people that do it?
Mr. H: We had spoken before and you had mentioned that you use 3D printing for some of your cosplay. Please tell me how you go about doing that? Are there just files you can download for 3D printed pieces?
I use both if I don’t have to time to model it myself; I get my downloadable content from Thingiverse.com. I am studying 3D animation and VFX so I already have a background in 3D modeling in the Autodesk Maya program so I found it the natural progression to move into 3D printing for cosplay. In my, Ciri cosplay its a mixture of both free download self-modeled pieces.
Mr. H: What do you like about cosplay? Is there a time you really messed up on a build? If so, what can you say about it? (What happened/How).
The things I love most about cosplay are The avenues of creativity like I stated earlier there are many different ways to bring a character to life, or mix fandoms. All it takes is a little imagination and design skill. The fact I get to literally put on another persona and escape reality for a short time, it’s kind of surreal when you give the one hundred and ten percent when in costume and act like the character. The general reaction from adults and children alike when they see their favorite character in the flesh, to them it’s as close to meeting the “real” Captain America or Wonder Woman as they’ll ever get and it’s a priceless feeling to see the raw joy in their eyes while interacting with them. I could go on but the list would be an article all by itself haha!
As far as messing up a build, I haven’t yet *Knock on wood*, of course, there have been minor mishaps like spilling blue resin on a white carpet, or the wind blowing freshly cut grass onto wet paint but nothing unfix-able or re-doable.
Mr. H: What type of materials do you typically use?
I am a seamstress through and through! I love sewing, it’s almost therapeutic for me haha! I’ve toyed with Worbla and armor building but it’s REALLY expensive so I haven’t honed that skill quite yet; that’s another reason why I’m getting into the 3D printing. The 3D filament is a fraction of the cost to buy than worbla, and its less work intensive to smooth and finish on top of it being SO MUCH easier to get symmetry in things from a computer than eyeballing it with a ruler.
Mr. H: If I were completely new to cosplay, what recommendations could you give me in terms of building? There’s so much different information out there, where should a beginner start?
I would say find your niche and work that skill until you’re comfortable to move up to a new one. Everyone has different skill sets. For example: My strongest skill is sewing, but it wasn’t until maybe a year ago I started to branch out and learn wig styling and more professional makeup skills; whereas some might start out being a wizard wig stylist but they cant tell a sewing needle from a stick pin etc. Contrary to the growing trend, cosplay isn’t a race or competition (unless you are actually competing in a contest), it’s been said it takes at least ten THOUSAND hours of practice to master a skill. Those famous cosplayers you see didn’t online didn’t get amazing overnight, so don’t be hard on yourself as you grow and learn, we all started somewhere.
Mr. H: I understand you came in 2nd in the FX category at the NYCC. That’s pretty huge! Tell me about your build. What materials did you use, how long did it take to build and around what was the cost?
Craft store foam both 6mm and 2mm thick for the main construction of the suit. All of the silver parts are pieces that were either 3d printed then molded and cast out of a liquid plastic or taken from model car kits I purchased from a local flea market. Between the foam, molding and casting supplies, electronics, and paint I actually only have just over $150.
Mr. H: I’ve taken your photo for the last two years at Wizard World. How often do you get stopped for photos?
Hah, In an iron man suit I can barely make it 15 feet before I’m stopped again. But I love it, I feed off of everyone’s energy.
Mr. H:What kind of materials do you typically use?
Craft foam is my favorite material but I also love good old cardboard and most recently any molding and casting product from Smooth-On.
Mr. H: What recommendations might you make for someone wanting to try their hand at building their own costume? With all the information out there, is there a specific place someone should look?
Just dive in and try. Just trying is a learning experience, my first foam iron man suit taught me so much the second is a drastic difference in quality. So just jump in start making. Personally, I think youtube is the best source, forums like the RPF are great sources too but sifting through all of the text for the info you need can be incredibly taxing. With a video source, you know almost immediately watching if it’s the info you need or if you should move on to the next video.
It’s amazing to me to see the different skill sets employed by various different cosplayers. Due to article length limits, this article will have two parts. Be sure to follow the link here for the second part, featuring three additional cosplayers, one of them who happened to be at The Walker Stalker Convention recently in Philadelphia.
Former professional wrestler, father of entirely too many kids but a gamer forever. I live just south of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. I went to school for Game Development and have been following my passion for gaming in top gear recently. --Pain heals, chicks dig scars, glory lasts forever