Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Fire Emblem: Awakening - Marth Cosplay Breakdown

Photo by Etrurias

This isn't going to be a step by step tutorial but it is going to explain the basic process and difficulties I went through while making Masked Marth for Anime North 2013. This is mainly to record my own cosplay progress and a collection of my WIP (work in progress) but it can be used as reference for those interested in starting their own. Just to be clear, this is not a fully completed cosplay since I am missing the Falchion, belts, and sheath for the sword but I will be fixing/finishing Marth up and re-using it for future events. I would also like to say that this is my first time making a costume from scratch so it clearly won't be the best looking thing I've made but I was quite impressed with it nonetheless. There are parts that were simply bought such as socks, leggings and the undershirt but those are REALLY unnecessary to go through the trouble to make them from plain fabric unless they require detail or you happen to be hardcore perfectionist. Anyways, I’ll start off with the planning.

Planning + Materials:
THE VERY FIRST MISTAKE i made happened to be the most important one with that being to give yourself enough time to work on your cosplay. Despite me setting the plans to do Marth all the way back in Sept and even reminding myself in Feb, I honestly didn't start until the beginning of May. I did gather all my materials by then but sometimes I do lose track of things and end up being busy with other things. Another problem was that this was supposed to be a learning experience as a first timer for sewing from scratch since the only prior experience I had with sewing was back when I did a shirt edit for Tidus of FFX (probably my top shit tier creation in my book of cosplay), so choosing Marth was a pretty bad idea since I'd rate him at a 7.5/10 in terms of difficulty. So to sum things up I spent a total of 10 days prior to convention trying to build Masked Marth on time with little to no sewing experience, no time for mistakes, and most importantly, no dr.pepper in the fridge. Yeah....MAXIMUM STRESS AND SUFFERING.

I did give myself a little planning as that would be really stupid had I not so I did the most basic thing which is gather as many pics as reference to go on about this project. I tried to stick with official art at most since fan art can lead you off but sometimes fan art is the only option you have. Luckily for me I own a beautiful copy of Fire Emblem Awakening Model Sheets Knights of Iris, so it provided me with enough detailed images to work with.

Just a sample of the reference artwork used.

Fire Emblem Awakening Model Sheets Knights of Iris. This book is not only
beautiful but it had the best references to use for making Marth.

The next thing I did was decide what to prioritize for the cosplay since that is how I normally work. I usually start from one point and try to scale everything with that piece to make sure the costume doesn't end up having parts that look disproportional. Last year I made the weapon priority but this year would be the costume since there would be no point in having the weapon without the clothes. With that being said, I decided to start from the bottom and work on the boots then make my way up to the arms.

No need to go into much detail for the materials but I some parts will be important. Some parts were armor such as elbow pads, badge, and mask, which required duct tape, hot glue gun, hot glue sticks, foam, cutting tools, ruler, pencil, paints, paint brushes, scrap paper, foam sealer (mod podge in my case), and all other basic tools. I did have to worry a bit with the spray paints since I wanted the color of my armor to be very close to the same shade of color the fabric was. Ideally it would be a better idea to test the spray paint on an armor piece then try to find a fabric as close to that but I happened to do it the other way around and luckily it was good enough.

The basic tools I used to work on this project. This is just a few of the total.

Dark Blue spray paint used for all armor parts and boots.

AS FOR THE FABRIC, I tried to go for something that was accurate in color and texture to that of the official artwork so I went with a dark blue velvet-y non stretch fabric that was on sale costing me $3/m (although the price was nice, there was only about 6m left so I bought all of it). The hard part also was that I would be working with that fabric for almost everything; gloves, boots, tunic, and cape since I wanted the colors to be consistent. Other than that I bought red fabric for the reverse side of the cape, a thick white fabric for the boot and glove collars, a faded gold fabric for the trims, zippers in similar colors, elastic string, and matching thread for the fabrics.

The boots are by far the most difficult piece of the costume due to how complicated they are compared to normal boots. Most people would look at it as a one piece boot that's about knee high but I found it impossible to work with a knee high boot as a single piece. The reason for that is firstly the shoe part has popped out flap and collar parts, and secondly the leg part becomes a tight fit from the ankle up. This would probably be a lot better with a stretch fabric but I couldn't find any stretch fabric with Marth colors so I worked with what I had. I cut this down into 2 separate parts as the shoes and the leg covers. I started the shoes with black boots I got from Value Village which were slightly higher than the ankles and zipped up to close in around my leg which made it perfect. I started by spray painting them and then made a few adjustments so I could add the flaps. I used foam to create the hardened flaps and collar parts on the shoe then I went about wrapping the entire shoe in the dark blue fabric. This was difficult because I had to work in parts to make sure there weren't as many messes. I even had to remove the soles to make sure the fabric was tightly sewn on the shoes. I had to hand sew all of it but luckily all the messy spots are covered by the soles. I used shoe goo to put the shoe back together. This concludes the first part of the shoe.

This is the original boot I got from the stores.
Boots after spray painted.
I used this flap to help make the larger flap.

Adding fabric to the boots.

The completed boots.

For the leg covers it first started with just simply making a tight fabric cover on my leg and then adding the collar at the top for the finish. As easy as it sounds I wasn't using stretch fabric so I had to add a zipper in the back for the tight effect, doing so without a zipper would make it impossible to slide your leg in it or remove it if you even managed to. Upon finishing the base of the leg cover I noticed that some parts were a bit messy to just stick straight on my leg so I decided to layer this. I wore soccer socks underneath this leg cover to give it the full tight and clean look. My movement wasn't hindered or anything so It was perfect. Afterwards I sewed on the collar with the double layer of white fabric and adding foam to give it leather like thickness. I sew on the knee guard after which is just foam and fabric so nothing special about that and that finished the leg covers. Upon wearing the leg covers and the shoes, the bottom of the leg covers would simply be tucked inside of the rim of the shoes and since the fabric of both the shoe and leg covers were the same it would look clean.

The legging covers. There is a zipper on the back.
Soccer socks add an extra layer for the boot leggings.

Marth's boot altogether. It looks like one piece.

This was quite an experience as I had no idea how to really make a perfect fit tunic. It was simple enough not having to do complicated sleeves but I did want to try to make it as similar as possible with the back openings and such. I started off with making a duct tape body and then using newspaper as a rough template. I pinned newspaper and then just cut and added whatever I needed to. Once it turned to my liking I would transfer those templates onto fabric, pin them to the fabric and then hand sew the newspaper on to the fabric to secure it. Once down I simply cut with a bit extra to make the clean folds then transferred those to the sewing machine. Soon enough I was starting to see a decent looking tunic and once I finished it I cut the gold trim, folded that, and then sewed it onto the tunic. I worked on the tunic as 3 pieces with that being the front tunic piece, the main tunic piece, and the back. I had no fking idea how to do actual popped collar parts so I used a dress shirt as template and traced that onto fabric. I did add foam to make it stand up but I will fix it up later to make it more like an authentic collar if need be. I didn't care much since my cape would be covering 90% of the neck area and hiding all the messiness. Overall, not as clean but a lot better than I expected for a first time. 
Using the newspaper as template onto the fabric.

Front side of tunic. A bit messy but it couldn't be helped.

Separate parts of tunic.

Back side of tunic.

Possibly the easiest part to make. I simply took the blue fabric and measured enough so that with the cape wrapped around my neck it would hang down towards the boots and not drag on the floor. Once that was set I just cut the same amount on the red fabric and then sew them together. The dark blue fabric was the back side and the red fabric was on the inner side. Thankfully both the fabrics equaled to a thick cape to make it look and feel nice, especially when it was blowing against the wind. The way I wrapped my cape was i simply took both ends at the top and made a single loop in front of my neck then tucked both of those ends underneath the cape covering the shoulders (hard to explain), and then I used safety pins to secure it.

Front side of cape

Back side of cape

I'd prefer not to talk about this because IT WAS BEYOND GHETTO LOL. I had to work on the gloves in one day so I was starting to get desperate. Stretch fabric would've saved my life but that's okay. I got a bit of help from my mom who helped pin the fabric to my hand and then I just went off from there and made 2 pieces of shit which I don't ever want to look at again. I tried various methods including using another glove and cutting it up to use as a template but I failed so hard that it's not even funny. Not to mention I was so damn exhausted working on them 5 in the morning that I managed to make one glove longer than the other. Either way, I had to work with what I had due to lack of timing. I made the arm collar parts similar to the boots and simply sewn them onto the undershirt's sleeve.

LOL I DON'T EVEN. My glove making skills are shit btw.
The glove collars added to the undershirt. Yes, I did mess
up the sewing lines on them but I'll fix them up later.

Accessories and Armor Parts
This was all easy work for me since it was basic shapes with foam and then sealing the foam with mod podge (3 coats), primer coating, spray painting, and then adding a protective coat. Mod podge isn't the best for foam sealing but it works fine so long as you don't flex the parts. The mask, head band, shoulder guard details and trim, were all painted foam. The badge on the cape was a mix between foam and vinyl wrapped foam. The golden trim on the mask was cut out vinyl and spray painted with primer then gold spray paint. Since I had vinyl left from last year I decided to wrap the vinyl around the shoulder guards and then spray paint them. From my experience It works really well but it also might depend on the type of vinyl and the spray paint. I simply coated the vinyl with rustoleum primer, let it dry, and then painted over that. No cracks or anything so it saved me a bunch of time but I was being lazy. Thermoplastics would've resulted in a cleaner look and paint job but I was running at like 3 day remaining xD. I did test the shoulder pads on Friday as I've had a bunch of rude non cosplaying ppl who had no awareness for cosplayers just shoulder bash me often but in the end the parts still showed little to no damage. I am currently trying to finish up the belt and sheath which will likely be a mix of fabric and vinyl to add a certain thickness so it doesn't just fold itself down. I will update this once I do finish them.

Printed a mask template then transferred it to foam.

Coating the foam with mod podge to seal it before painting.

My quick dry setup LOL. This way it only takes like 5 minutes.

Gluing the 2 parts of the mask together then painted.

How I made the badge. The red is vinyl, everything
else is foam.

The completed face mask made out of foam. Trim is
vinyl spray painted gold.

2 Shoulder guards made out of Foam + Vinyl.

The completed Badge that goes on the cape.

My biggest disappointment at Anime North 2013 since I didn't finish the Falchion in time and overestimated myself thinking I'd finish it in 3 days. I feel naked without a weapon really but I didn't care as much since I'd be asking too much making everything within 10 days looool. Although no weapon meant lack of cool poses so I was like derp most of the time. Anyways, I am building this from scratch out of wood so I will continue to finish it up and then I will post some WIP when I do get to it. My fear is mainly for the details with the hilt as it does look complicated but I'll likely have to dremel it down to detail, or possibly sculpt it on. I don't have fancy machines to do this for me but I do like a challenge.

Printed out a scaled template of the Falchion.
I traced the template onto wood. Some of the
extra details on the hilt didn't fit but I would
add them on afterwards anyways.

Cutting the wood into shape.
Sanding it down a bit.

I really love how this cosplay turned out and I do have to give thanks mostly to my mother and to all of those at the convention that showed some love and made it feel great. I was a little surprised that A LOT more people liked Marth more than last year's Imca but I guess Valkyria Chronicles 3 isn't as popular with everyone compared to Fire Emblem: Awakening which was localized. This is definitely not the last of Marth since I do plan to upgrade him/her up and re-use for future conventions. Also for those wondering what I plan to cosplay next, I have no idea but I will be looking for something challenging and with a badass weapon since I plan to prioritize weapon for 2014. 

Another photo by Etrurias. This is a pretty nice shot
taken at the Fire Emblem photoshoot with a Tiki of FE:A
and a Matthew of FE7.