Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Fire Emblem: Awakening - Gerome Cosplay Breakdown

Photo by Zacharius

Rivera Edgardo on left cosplaying monster hunter and me on the right as Gerome. Picture taked by Don Dolce Photography.


So with the debut of Gerome from Fire Emblem: Awakening at Anime North 2014, I'd like to mention a few things first before jumping into the breakdown. Gerome isn't exactly a popular character from the series despite being one of the overpowered children and the son of Cherche. I could tell through the reaction of many when I had my brother cosplaying my Marth from the previous year and which many would request photos of Marth and hardly even know who Gerome was although it's expected for casual gamers to recognize the "main" characters (especially those on the cover) more easily and not have played the game to its full extent (pairing, unlocking all children, paralogues, etc.). So at this point you might ask why I chose to do Gerome and the answer is because given a large group, nobody ever really does Gerome and I'm kinda stuck with the whole masked FE characters now but the major factor was that I actually liked his serious attitude and style as well as the fact he wore a nice set of armor based on Cherche's set and also that of a wyvern.

This happens to be another one of my so called rushed masterpieces that caused me a shit ton of stress and insanity. Basically made in about 2 weeks and a half but I did have some assistance which were only for the clothes. I'm really quite happy how Gerome turned out except for the paint job which caused a lot of suffering for me especially since this was my first time taking the Gesso route but all in all it turned out better than I expected for the amount of time and effort. I don't think this is the last of Gerome, i'll be revamping him for next year and only a few things need upgrades.

*Before I begin I'd like to mention that this breakdown isn't a fully detailed tutorial but rather a basic outline of how I went about and the implications I ran into while doing so. This is also a WIP collection so feel free to use this as a reference if need be and don't be afraid to ask if you need my advice. Anyways let's start this.

Planning + Materials:
So planning isn't the easiest thing when it comes to Fire Emblem: Awakening because not only did I run into this problem, but many of my friends did as well when working on theirs. The artist for FE:A doesn't exactly like to be consistent with his work but with the amount of references he provides, you'll most likely have to use them regardless for the different angles. Gerome has only 2 official references aside from the concept sketches in the art book but that sketch doesn't really provide much other than showing the cape length. I mainly worked off of the full body illustration since it provided enough for everything aside from the various cage layers for the waist and shoulder guards. Even if it wasn't clear enough for me I'd just eye it and go with it. Aside from that I had a basic idea of what I wanted to do for everything such as what material for what, and how to go about making it. Having previous knowledge of making armor as well as some knowledge of shapes and geometry helps. Writing a basic outline also helps for keeping track of your progress such as describing colors, patterns, material types, as well as size for each part. The most important part of planning is to work on the project ahead of time and not last minute like I do. Save yourself the trouble of crying when you arrive late to all 3 days of the convention and miss out the only event you planned to go to because of your stupid decision to do everything a month prior to the con.







For the materials I had worked mainly with foam, specifically the quarter inch foam mats to build the majority of the armor and the thin craft foam for detail. For all the intricate stuff such as chest plate and other armor that required complex bends or keeping its shape, I used worbla. Before you look away at the fact I said worbla, I will mention that I used only 1 jumbo sheet and it isn't required but just makes life easier (at some degree, cause worbla can be a pain to fix if you mess up). Truthfully, I'm not about that X sheets of jumbo worbla life and I'm definitely not about that double sandwich layer cause really the amount of dosh you'd have to spend for that would be a little discouraging. Not that Gerome wasn't expensive to make in general cause the dosh adds up slowly as you go. This was also the year where I first tested worbla out since my sister got me a sheet for Christmas, so I had to make use of it. Aside from all the foam, there is the basic tools you need such as cutting tools (exacto knife, scissors, etc.), sanding tools (sand paper, sanding block, dremel, orbital sander, etc), adhesives (hot glue/gun, super glue, contact cement), duct tape, printing paper for patterns, cutting board, cardboard, rulers, markers, masking tape, etc. Gerome required hardly any power tools other than a belt sander to fix the actual shape of the shoes and a dremel to make angled edges and carve details. For the clothes I ended up buying cotton twill for the shirt, pants, sash and cape. I also bought a cheap grey fabric for the inner parts of the puffed sleeve, some bias tape for the trim, and interfacing for the collar. I didn't get any lining cause that wasn't necessary but other than that I bought a dress shirt pattern and a basic pants pattern to use for the clothes.



For my paint technique I went with 2 layers of modpodge, 2 layers of gesso, 1 layer of gloss primer depending on smoothness, 1 layer of gloss spray paint, and then a gloss finish/protective coat. The primer, paint, and protective coat were all of the same brand which was rustoleum. I did have a can of plastidip which I experimented for some parts but I didn't really use it other than to cover backside of foam pieces that were off colored (red,blue,green, etc) and to quickly make my axe.

For my worbla technique I went with 1 layer of worbla over thin craft foam and having the worbla about a cm more than the foam piece to have it wrap behind. I then used hot glue, duct tape, or both to hold it together from the back. 1 layer works, but you do have to take extra caution for how you handle it and watch the heat as well because 1 layer can easily warp out of shape if enough heat is applied to it whether it be outside at a convention all day or inside the trunk of your vehicle.

Wig:
Forgot to write on this one but basically the wig I used was the new Marty from Arda wigs with the widows peak. Had to get it in black because it just came out around May and they didn't have the other colors that I needed available. I do have a Vega sitting around that is more in Gerome's original hair color which I'll probably try working on if I have the time and patience but I'm not expecting it to look amazing cause to be honest I haven't cut a wig in my entire life. The Marty worked well as a backup plan and alternatively, I could just order a new Marty in the reddish/pink now that they likely have the other colors in stock but more dollars I guess. I might just do it since I'm already this far into going original Gerome but I'll try the Vega first.


Shoes + Lower Body Armor:


I worked off a pair of dress shoes I got from Walmart for 18 dollars as the base and I ended up sanding the heel part to make it smooth and flat like Gerome's shoes in the artwork. I had to sand off the outersole on the sides that were popping out so that once I layed the worbla over it, it would sit flat on the shoe and give it the nice flat look. After sanding it down to my liking I just layered it with worbla strips but cut off a little section towards the back so that my foot could slip in without having to force it down and crack the worbla. I used the very basic technique of applying a plastic wrap and using masking tape to create the pattern to transfer it onto the actual material. For most of the shoe I just applied worbla directly on with no layer of foam but to cover some parts that would have the worbla sink into them, I'd add the craft foam layer to secure the flat look. You can see some battle damage on the left picture, but the shoe managed to hold out well after 2 days.



The leg guard were probably the most annoying to make but I basically had to trial and error them to get them right. I was set on having the actual pop out part at the bottom as well as the slim inwards curve towards the ankles so It caused quite a bit of stress having to get it right. Eventually I came up with something that worked and went with it. I did have a back cover part for the bottom of the leg guard but upon trying it at the convention it was slipping all over the place and wasn't even needed so I dropped it. The back of the leg guards have zippers to have them fit on my leg nicely. Added some details at the front by layering thin foam, it wasn't really relevant since the knee guards covered it to some extent.



For the knee guards it's a lot of difficult shapes and bends since there are about 3 layers in total. One of the layers which is the outer layer basically angles out and goes from a long piece to a thin piece at the back. This can be made with a U piece with some adjustment but other than that it's hard to explain. The 2nd layer which was the inner curved layer is basically oval pieces with a semi circle cut out towards the center. The reverse piece would be the same to create the symmetry and then the last layer would be the flat circular/diamond piece that sits directly in front of the knee. This layer was the only piece made out of worbla to have it sit perfectly on the hole since creating a fit piece out of foam to fit directly in a circular cut will take way too long. The bottom part that popped out was the only other part made of worbla since I needed it to keep its shape at all times. The wyvern wing detail was a separate foam piece with a thin craft foam layer and glued directly onto the knee piece.



The upper knee guards were basic shapes and layers of thin craft foam. I made sure they were tight to some extent so they would sit nicely on my upper leg. These were glued at each end and put on by sliding up my leg. These would be put on first, with the knee guards second, leg guards third, and shoes on last.


It was starting to come together nicely.


Waist guard + cages:


The waist guard was a pain to make only because of me wanting the extra details of having its upper and lower halves angle outwards. This was a makeshift waist guard in the end as it did bend outwards but the back would bend inwards. I didn't care anyways cause my back was hidden with the cape and back sash. I used worbla to force it to bend but having a foam base made it harder to do so. Take my advice and don't make belt holes using worbla since they came apart not even a few hours into the convention. I should have went with my gut instinct and secured them using a mix of foam strips with hot glue and duct tape cause seriously that combination works wonders despite how ugly the backside will look. The waist guard was held to my waist using a belt and the belt buckle would be hidden by the front sash that falls from the bottom of the chest plate. The cage part was basically foam layers and it was hot glued directly to the waist guard. I should've had it hang somehow instead but i was afraid at some point it would just come off since lots of people tend to bang into it.

Chestplate:


The chestplate wasn't all that difficult considering that it didn't consist of a round curve towards the front but a more rigid bend. I simply worked layer for layer adding the right bends and details having it pop out a little. The armor resulted in eyeing the outer layer because I wanted to make sure it sat well on my chest and it wouldn't cause problems for the movement of my arms. Because of this I had to adjust it's design a little but it still looks good regardless. The layers consisted of the neck part, the outwards neck bend, the front chest piece, the inner chest piece that is connected with inward curves and the bottom spear part. I did have some problem with air bubbles since i had to reheat it soo often but i didn't care much since they were hardly noticeable unless you stuck your face straight to it. To finish it off I added a foam layer with a carved scale pattern to warp around to the back. The back had a zipper which would make the entire chest piece sit nicely on my chest without needed an upper strap or anything. I plan to later add thin foam to make the scale pattern more clean. Overall, I can't complain since this turned out way better than I expected. Worbla saved me a lot here since I hardly used the stuff and was in a rush.





 Shoulder guards:





The shoulder guards were simply layers and layers of foam. They involve some curved pieces to bend and give it the curved shape and depth. I had to paint each layer before gluing it together and the annoying part was because some of the parts were thin craft foam, I had to go the extra mile to paint the backside. I mean you should regardless but when you're on a time restriction like I am then I have to make sacrifices. Anyways once it was all painted I put them together and I added an elastic strap to have it sit on my shoulders nicely. I also added a little strap at the inside of the top of the guards to be able to pin it to my cape or shirt if it didn't sit right but I didn't end up needed it surprisingly.






Elbow guards + Arm guards: 

The elbow guards are a bit tricky for some as they involve some complicated pieces to make. Since they are at an angle and go inwards they require a U piece. The layer which rises in between the 2 angled piece are crescent moon shaped pieces with enough length to go from half of one side to the other. It takes a little time to figure out but once you get it, it's pretty simple stuff. The elbow guards were made from foam.



For the arm guards, they were worbla overtop thin craft foam. I used worbla to make sure it kept its form and would not unbend its shape. The arm guards itself were simple patterned cut outs and the details were carved with a dremel. Elastic straps were added to the bottom so it would attach to my arms.




Mask:

You're probably wondering why there are no pics for this one and it's because I was stupid enough not to take any pictures of them while they were in good shape. By good shape I mean on saturday where it fit nicely on my face but didn't have the fabric for the eyes. On sunday morning I decided to add fabric to the mask which made it perfect as I could see through it as well to some extent but while driving off I accidentally left it in the garage and my mom called me for it. So when I went to rush and get it, she threw it in the back and what I didn't know was that it was in a plastic bag (zip-lock kind) and you can guess what happened when I arrived to the convention. The mask was cooked and no longer fit on my face. So I ended up using it as a holding prop as I did maskless Gerome. I will remake a new one soon and have the eye fabric on it for sure as it's a must. Also lesson learned is don't put masks in a plastic bag.


Clothing:

I didn't make any of the clothes but I did contribute with the how to and planning for my mom to work on it as I worked on my armor. To be honest, I didn't have time to work on any of it myself so I asked for her help and if it wasn't for her I would have a nice set of armor on time with not a single piece of clothing to wear with it, so much thanks to her. I supplied all the materials for her as well as gave her the patterns and outlines and the result was some pretty well made stuff to be honest.


The sash was made simply with 2 parts, 1 would cover the front and the other would be the back. The whole sash would be attached to a strap and it would be tied and hidden underneath the armor.


I didn't manage to make my gloves this year because of time restrictions so I ended up using costume gloves which blended in fine with the rest of the clothes.


The cape was made long enough to cover halfway around the back. There wasn't any way to have it sit perfectly on my back so I had to tuck the end flaps into my shoulder guards and pin them if there were any problems. It looked alright from both the front and back so I didn't have to worry. The trim was made from bias tape. Fabric is black old navy cotton twill


Pants made from black old navy cotton twill. I have fully functional piss zippers and a button also. The pants were perfect fit at the top so I didn't need a belt. I could've used some pockets but I didn't have much to carry anyways besides my phone and my wallet. Bias tape was used for the gold trim detail. The pants could've used a little more bag but it worked out anyways.


The shirt was made from a dress shirt pattern and the sleeves were adjusted to have a puffed sleeve top with the lower half being a slim fit. The shirt buttons up and the collar was perfect sized and popped out nicely thanks to the interfacing. I couldn't thank my mom enough for making a nicely fit and consistent looking shirt to Gerome's official artwork.


A close look at the puffed sleeves, it has a grey fabric for the under layer or w.e (don't know how to describe) but it worked out nicely and looked perfect. As for how I went about to make the puffed sleeves, I used both Yukishirocosplay's puffed sleeve tutorial and Lillyxandra's puffed and slash sleeve tutorial so credits to both of them for helping me achieve this.


A closer look at the collar, the trim was supposed to be thinner but I guess my mom got lazy and went with whatever, not that I can complain since I didn't exactly do it myself. But anyways, it turned out a lot better than I had expected and many adjustments had to be made throughout the progress of making everything.



All in all I liked how it turned out. The only thing missing is making gloves out of the same fabric and an ascot which shouldn't take all that long.

Silver Axe (not really loool):

You're probably wondering why i'm laughing when I say Silver Axe and that's because the axe I made wasn't even the Silver Axe. Hell, it was some garbage I threw together in an hour and a half before the convention on the friday and I'm not even kidding when i say I speed painted it using a heat gun and spray paint. The axe head was made of insulation foam (pink/purp foam) and the handle was a wooden dowel. I added details using worbla and foam and I didn't even put any effort towards the axe head. I literally just sanded the edges and sprayed it with some plastidip before painting it silver. The plastidip did eat at the foam a little to give it the rough shitty look but I was like this will do I guess. The best part is that I even knew it looked nothing like the Silver Axe, I mean I left out soo much detail and just threw on simple details to make it something that would temporarily work. To be honest I didn't care for it cause it was last minute and I knew nobody would call me out anyways since who would even know the Silver Axe official design off the top of their head. But yeah, someone is going to call me out now that it's up on my blog but no worries I'm revamping it soon.

Looks alright.
Nevermind.


"Gerome! Man I love how you added the rugged texture to your axe,
it really gives it an authentic look" - Random AN guy to me as a
single tear drops from my eyes.

Extra notes:

So Gerome is a cosplay I'm definitely proud of but at the same time I'm somewhat disappointed that the paint turned out a little shitty. I will be using him for future cons and I have him lined up for Conbravo 2014 and Otakuthon 2014 if things go well. In terms of other cosplans I'm scoping out new ideas and possibly thinking of doing a character with a sword and shield or spear. I might want to relax a bit on the heavy armor but you already know I'm always up to some crazy plan. Also... just maybe Sugane Tachibana G-Suit ver.

Anyways feel free to comment and don't be afraid to ask me w.e as I'll reply whenever I get the chance to.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Anime North 2014 Con Report



With the end of AN2014 I can confidently say that this was by far the worst of my convention years. I know I normally bitch about one thing or two but this one is going to be a long ride so bare with me. Before I begin though I'd like to mention that the convention itself was alright and most of my negative experiences were mainly due to me and my own irresponsibility so I'm not exactly roasting AN in the general sense.

TL;DR: late all three days, missed the only event I planned to go to, and AN pulling some autograph BS. Never again.

So to start off, I ended up cosplaying two characters this year which happened to be Masked Marth of Fire Emblem Awakening for the Friday and Gerome from the same series for Saturday and Sunday. The cosplays themselves were in good shape but the problem to begin with was that they were another last minute and rushed which caused me and my friend to struggle nights before as well as the convention nights themselves trying to finish our costumes. By struggle I mean not sleeping at all Thursday night and getting 2 hours of sleep on Friday night.

I didn't even show up on time on Friday since we we're still trying to get shit done so I ended up arriving at AN around 8pm which is 3 hours late to when it started. We were worried that they would cut the ticket lineup because they did say they could do so at 8 but we managed to get our tickets easily and enjoy what little time we had. Now I have to complain that AN pulled some bullshit this year on me because this was the first time I had an interest in a guest which was Yumi Hara who voices Takane Shijou of the IDOLM@STERS and the first time I decided to go to get an autograph. I had already planned to get my CD signed by her on Friday because I didn't want to do so on the Saturday which was the busiest day (photo shoots, events, etc.), so upon lining up early for Yumi Hara at 9pm I got cut from the line along with others only to be told that Yumi herself only wanted 60 people. Now that's fucking bullshit cause like how do you accommodate 20k+ people by only allowing 60 people, and do take notice that it's supposed to be on for an hour. Didn't do much after, just went to check out Koa's new sound voltex controller and play some IIDX before I went home feeling like shit that I didn't get her autograph. Spent friday night slaving to help with my friends stahl as well as finish painting and putting together Gerome.

Gerome was done by 8 in the morning but I decided to throw in a last minute axe which was made an hour and a half just so I could have a weapon this year. So as we struggled to finish stahl we came to the conclusion that the armor could not be completed and that he'd just have to yolo the leg parts and consider it casual. The only event I had planned for the entire weekend was the fire emblem photo shoot because not only would a few of my friends be there but It's what I was working hard for this entire time. I had to go to this cause It was all I cared for other than to catch up with friends. So we left around 2pm and had to make a stop at walmart to get a shirt for my friend for his casual wear but by the time we arrived at AN it was around 3:10 and that was 10 minutes into the photo shoot. Upon this moment I realized I forgot 2 things, one was the hair spray and the other was the fabric that covers the eye parts for my mask. I couldn't do anything about it so I just threw it on anyways. I tried to rush to put my costume on but it took us a good 30 minutes and by the time we showed up the shoot was long over... so I was depressed for the entire convention. I was just disappointed that I couldn't get pictures with everyone and by the end of the day I could only find like 10% of those that cosplayed anything Fire Emblem. My convention got better though once I got to meet up with Amanda and Jason from Montreal who did an absolutely amazing Kill la Kill couples cosplay of Nonon and Inumuta. It was really nice being able to catch up and meet them in person. I was also able to catch up with my friend Edgardo who had recently been on his trip to Japan and was kind enough to bring me a gift straight from Japan itself as well as Reitaisai which is something I've always been interested in. He showed me some cool pictures of locations in Japan and soon enough I had to go about and make my way. Gerome took very minimal damage by the end of the day and only a few people recognized who I was and I can't blame them much for that.


Amanda as Nonon and Jason as Inumuta of Kill la Killa


Remilia coaster, youmu keychain and button pin, and a
charm from an actual Japanese Shrine. I really appreciate
the gift Edgardo, thankyou.


Sunday I slept in a little because lol how the hell do you expect me to wake up on time when I had 2 hours of sleep in the past 48 hours so we didn't arrive till 12:30. Now I did repaint Gerome and fix him up a little but more importantly I actually completed the mask by adding see through fabric that fit the eyes perfectly. Just as I left the house my mom calls me and tells me I forgot my mask so I head back to find out she put it in a bag so I was in a rush and threw it in the back and drove off. We were late mainly cause my mom wanted me to bring my little brother and have him wear my Marth costume. He wasted a bunch of time because he didn't try it on beforehand so It took him longer than expected. And then picking up zach he manages to somehow forget his glasses and I had to do a double take back to get them. Once I reach the convention I feel really good over the fact that I now have my completed Gerome aside from the shitty quick made axe. But to my fuking surprise the mask is cooked because lol plastic bag. Since it was made of worbla it basically heated itself out of shape and got all wrinkly to the point it wouldn't work. I was really disappointed and in that situation brought it anyways to use it as a posing prop. Before it would actually fit nicely on my face but now it was just completely cooked. So I spent the rest of Sunday at the dealers room, trying to take pictures and searching for w.e Fire Emblem cosplayers I could find. I met up with my friend Danrey at the panel where he took confession pics as well as a video of my Gerome. It was nice being able to catch up with him and hopefully one day he will have his Frederick done so we can do a group cosplay. After that I tried to enter the panel but apparently they were full so i stuck around in RWBY anyways before I went off. I finally managed to find Tommy who was cosplaying chuunibyou and ending up chatting a little so it was nice seeing him and meeting his girlfriend also. I was a little sad I didn't catch them both in their FE:A cosplays because his Owain and his girlfriend's Cynthia were amazingly detailed. So after this it was simply pics, tears, and killing time. There was one girl who fangasm'd hard over me because she loved Gerome and said nobody ever did him so I felt a little good to be able to have at least 1 admirer. Although I felt cheated a little because my little brother who wore my Marth got a lot more photo requests of him alone with me standing beside him and half of those people didn't even realize I was an existing Fire Emblem Awakening character. You'd hear "hey Marth! I love your costume and I'm a huge fan of FE! can I get your picture?" but wouldn't even recognize me somehow. Although some didn't know who Gerome was, a few others did and I can't blame casuals for not getting that far in the game or pairing off every character and getting every child. In the end I didn't care as much but I felt like shit for showing up all three days late and missing out the one event I had set to go to. Overall, truly disappointed and eternally depressed.



Tommy as Makoto and his girlfriend as Rikka of Chuunibyou



Me as Gerome and my brother as Masked Marth of Fire Emblem Awakening


This year has killed me pretty hard inside and it has made me realize that I never want to do another late cosplay again even if i need that extra day or two to finish. I'm going to play it safe and say If I don't make it by this day then fuk it, I don't go at all. This way I won't feel like shit for showing up with nothing and that I know it's my fault for doing this last minute. Definitely going to plan early and work early for w.e upcoming conventions and I know I tried saying that the past few years but this year it really struck me hard so I keep my word from here on. I'd like to say thanks to all the friends of mine who made this year worth going regardless of the shitty experience. For future conventions I have plans to attend Otakuthon since I want to be able to spend more time with my friends from outside the province and experience their home convention for once. I'll likely be bringing Gerome over and working on another cosplay, possibly Zen from Persona Q or another If I can manage. I'll also be attending ConBravo again since it's just downtown where I live. In terms of cosplay plans in general, I have nothing really set on my mind but I'm considering doing simpler cosplays or cosplays that aren't heavily armored so I'll have more freedom in relaxing as well as won't kill myself struggling to finish it. Or maybe more armor cause you can never have enough armor loool.


Gangrel of Fire Emblem Awakening

Chie and best girl Naoto of Persona 4

Female Tactician of Fire Emblem Awakening