08 September 2013

Con Report: Penny Arcade Expo (PAX Prime) 2013

It's been a week since PAX and the whirlwind of beasting out cosplays under a ridiculous time crunch has finally ended hahaha. I think we've both been catching up on much-needed sleep, or as much as we're able with finals coming up next week....
Here's a full-body shot I took of Ai's aaaaaalmost-finished Lightning costume!
 And a full-body shot taken by Sakura Graffiti Photography! Once we fix up her costume, and I make actual bags, we want to do a photoshoot with more friends *^* soon~~

About Lightning

A really ugly WIP shot of the armguards and armor. I mostly just have photos of these 3 pieces because I worked on them first/the hardest. 

The base pieces were first patterned out of marker paper, then constructed out of worbla using a clothing iron. It was a lot of trial and error, and an incredible learning experience understanding how the material works and doesn't works (which is pretty miniscule compared to what it can do). I'm still a little unsure how people can get perfectly rounded worbla pieces though... it's hard! hahahaha
The raised designs were then cut out of craft foam, glued directly to the worbla, and then sanded down for a smoother look. A few places on the chestplate were bumpy cause I had no idea what I was doing, so I went over with a few coats of gesso to fill in the spaces. The armpieces were 3 layers of craft foam, with the top, more intricate layer made of worbla. All of the armor, with the exception of the chestplate, were reinforced with a layer of craft foam for definition.
Before applying any of the paints and primers, we coated each armor piece in several layers of gesso. This acted as not only a base for the Plasti Dip to adhere to, but it also created an overall uniform surface that helped the application process. Plasti Dip, Primer, etc reacts differently to worbla, craft foam, and plastic/hotglue so adding a few coats of gesso made the painting process much easier.
Personally, I would go with Liquitex gesso, even though it's considerably more expensive. I found that the coats were way thicker and dried a lot smoother than the second brand we bought (Studio71). It ended up taking us a lot more time to complete the gesso layers because we had to apply a lot more coats (about 5, whereas liquitex only took 2-3) using the cheaper brand. And even then it looked like it wasn't enough...

Lineup of the materials we used for Lightning's armor. 
L to R: Plasti Dip (1 coat F and B), Primer (1 coat F and B), Metallic Satin Spraypaint in Nickel (1-2 coats), and Matte Clear Finish (1 coat). 

To paint everything, we used 4 cans of Plasti Dip, 2 cans of Primer, 4 cans of Metallic spray paint, and 1 coat of matte clear finish.

Not pictured is the gold paint we used for Lightning's smaller details, which is FolkArt's Metallic Pure Gold.
All of these can be found at Jo-Anns or a local hardware store.

The chestplate, arm guards, and boomerang pieces getting plasti-dipped and primed! Master sander Ai-ball sanded down my boomerang to a baby-butt smooth finish :) My paints went on beautifully because of her!
Another angle! Spent a whole day on the chestplate since it was pretty much the focus, next to the feather skirt @__@ The neckpiece is made out of craft foam folded over to make it bendable. This allowed us to secure it at the back so that Ai could take the armor off (theoretically) easier.
I probably sound like a broken record by now, but this being my first armor commission/project I quickly learned just how much time has to be dedicated to the painting process of it. Thankfully we were blessed with sunny days, so drying took no time at all, but all the layers of spraypainting and weathering really ate up a bunch of time ;A;
The armor pieces painted, with the chestplate and armguards weathered! You can see at the bottom a hip belt piece ungesso'd and unpainted. :P We used googly eyes for the fake rivets.
 Closeup shot of the arm guards! Time constraints prevented me from figuring out how to make the spikes out of worbla, so we used model magic, which unfortunately broke at the tips because of PAX's really congested hallways and exhibit area :(.

One thing I was excited about trying out was suede dye. I have my reservations about real suede and leather, so I wanted to see how it would take to vegetarian/synthetic suede. Like all dyes meant for natural fibers and hides, the dye mostly washed out and merely stained the fabric (we used 100% synthetic suede in a tan color from Jo-Anns). Had we left the straps soak for longer (Maybe a full 24 hrs or so) there probably would've been less run. In order to seal the dye in we sprayed a layer of suede & leather water repellent on all of the straps. The color is correct, but the shade is way too light to be accurate.

A shot of the straps without post-process color correction. 

The arm straps were supposed to be the same color and fabric, but we were attaching everything on last minute ;~; ahahaha.... I'm definitely going to remake/redye the straps so that it's all accurate, as well as figure out a way to securely attach them to the armguards, because they kept falling off.... a friend of Ai's suggested Shoe/Gorilla glue, so I think we'll try that out.
Angelus Suede Dye and Dressing in Wine Tone, purchased from Turtlefeathers. Pretty awesome stuff, but it stains your hands and sink like crazy :(! Gloves, gloves, gloves!!

I talked more about the feather skirt on my previous post, but this was the piece that got the most recognition, and I'm ridiculously proud of it. 

It's made of real duck and turkey feathers, some handstitched on, but most were hotglued. The most important tip I would give would be to look at how feathers are laid out on a bird. You have to lay them out in clumps that fan outwards from one point, and then layer, layer, layer moving from the bottom of the fabric up. Unfortunately we got the turkey (the long ones at the bottom) last so I miscalculated how long they were going to be vs. how high her heels are. This is a piece you should start right away because it is very time-consuming. It's made up of 2/3lb of duck feathers and 1/2lb of turkey feathers. And that... is a lot of feathers t.t It took at least 8 hours to make.

About Hope

I talked about his costume in my previous post but construction hereafter was pretty straightforward. My patterns had already been complete, and the rest was just sewing it all together. The sleeves took the longest because of the bias tape. There's a metal zipper down the CF of the jacket, and then the jacket flap is attached using safety pins (for now). I tried using velcro but it fell off :/ so I'll be attaching either snaps or something else to make it secure. I don't have his tiny closures running down the two sides of the flap, so that'll be added later.
I believe the fabric I used for Hope was a 100% cotton twill, dyed yellow. I already had this fabric for some years now, so I got really lucky! hahaha. The grey fabric for the collar was a gift from Ai, and I believe it's some kind of leather, not sure if real or synthetic. The front, back, and collar are interfaced, the sleeves are not. 
One of Hope's sleeves after adding all the biastape topstitching! 

Thank goodness for premade bias tape, seriously.... I used about 3 packets of 1/4"(?) white bias tape and 1 packet of 1/2" for the whole costume. Ai found these perfect aviator badges for me at the party store *___* They still have the gaudy aluminum color here, so I had to spray paint them before I put them on.
Tiny details hehe.

Painting my boomerang took a lot of trial and error working with gradients, especially since by the time I got to it the sun had already set e___e;;;;. 

The paints I used for the base colors of my boomerang: 
First coat was white, then a gradient layer of yellow, a gradient layer of orange, then a very subtle gradient layer of antique bronze. I had to do a LOT of going back and forth with the white and yellow to get juuuuuust the right gradient I wanted, as well as the orange... it took up a lot of time hahahaha. The rest of the designs were painted with acrylic paint, displayed below:

sorry it's OOF t.t the colors are Dark Blue, Ebony Black, Canyon Orange, and Snow (Titanium) White.

Personally, I wouldn't recommend this orange paint... it was really gross and puffy and didn't apply smoothly at all. :( Made my zig-zag so ugly for a while, and I had to apply around 3-4 coats to get it smooth. The dark blue was mixed with this blue I had on hand and the black, and the consistency was divine hahahaha. Unfortunately I hadn't let the yellow spraypaint dry underneath, so when I clearcoated the boomerang and attached the pieces together, the paint rippled and it was covered with fingerprints..... so sad ahhh :'( it was so beautiful if not for that..... I'm retiring this boomerang, but in the future I'd like to make a new one that actually has a folding and lock system, so that I can get a cool snap-out function when I get asked for photos. I had some friends of friends at the con give me tips, so we might all have a cosplay workday and they can help me figure it out. :)


So what actually happened was..... we missed Saturday entirely due to finishing Ai's costumes :(. But honestly, I would've felt teeeeeeeeeerrible if we had to go to con with only my Hope cosplay finished. It wouldn't have been the same! We were really bummed on Day 2, but we figured we wouldn't let this go to waste and plowed through the day, staying up until 4-5AM (again) to finish everything to the best that we could.


Uh, but unfortunately we were still working on her costume until about 4PM, then headed to the con at 5PM........... only to realize........... EVERYTHING CLOSED AT 6PM OTL SO WE MISSED THE EXHIBIT HALL - AGAIN AHHH!!!! It's only Ai and my 2nd time at PAX I think, so we totally forgot that huge area closed suuuuper early ;~; and I know there's a lot of other events that go on, but we're not huge fans of gaming in front of other people, go figure.... so we wandered around a bit and eventually met up with some of Ai's friends to take a few photos of our costumes. Then they took us to the FFXIV: ARR event down at the Red Lion, which was the biggest event we wanted to go to. (we're on Gilgamesh if anyone out there wants to be friends :'DD)

taken by Sakura Graffiti Photography! The all-nighters and zombie-painting really showed on the original pics, so excuse me for shopping out the tiredness... omg 

THANKFULLY, the highlight of the con was the FFXIV event, hands down. Ahhh it was really amazing and shocking because SO many people came up to us for photos, SquareEnix staff and congoers alike. We weren't expecting it at all and ended up kind of tongue-tied most of the night hahaha! At one point we were about to walk around the room when one of the staff, a really really nice lady, shouted for us to wait because someone wanted to take our picture with his camera. It turned out to be Soken, the sound director and composer for the game?!?!?! LIKE HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN OMG. Neither of us knew what he looked like, so we were expecting a quiet, dignified Japanese man and were a little nervous, but he ended up being this really awesome, fun-loving dude who loves taking crazy pictures and making weird faces hahaha. 
We asked him to do JoJo poses with us, since he seemed to really like unusual pictures LOL

There are many more ridiculous photos like this, but I'll try to keep it short hahahaha. 

We made our rounds around the room, and were JUST about to leave when one of the staff members called out to us saying Yoshi-P was here!!! And he was signing things!! Wahhhhhhhhh. We quickly got in line, and were able to get our costumes signed as well as a quick photo op. :) I'm not sure where FFXIV staff will upload those photos, but here are some Ai-ball's friend took!
Ai-ball and Yoshida Naoki Yoshi-P!!! This is such an angelic photo ahahaha. Seriously, I gush about a lot of older Japanese men so maybe this isn't a valid statement, but he is so cool...... THEY WERE ALL SO COOL.
Sage Sundi, lead GM and Global Online Producer! SUUUUUUPER kind and friendly, and was such a pleasure to talk to, despite me not knowing any Japanese ;~;  I'm glad Ai-ball was with me, because I would've been very lost hahahaha. There were a lot of staff who thought I spoke Japanese too so I had to direct them to Ai-ball instead hehehe. It was really fun!!

A shot of Yoshi-P signing Ai-ball's armor, next to Soken and Foxclon's!! *^* While walking around, the connecting pieces on the shoulder armor just... snapped off... so we had to secure it with metallic duct tape ;_______;

Soken asked us to pose like this.... not sure not sure hahahaha!!! L to R is Masayoshi Soken, Ai-ball, me, and Senior Director and Global Community Producer Toshio Murouchi, aka Foxclon! Our face are all a little awkward, oh well~~
We didn't know that there were free posters to take until after we were about to leave, so we asked them to sign our costumes LOL I had them sign my boomerang :)
Yoshi-P's signature! So cool wahhh!
I didn't think about it until after, but I really should've had all 3 of them sign the front, so I could display them all and mount it on my wall ;~; ahhh oh well......... Foxclon, Soken, and Yoshi-P's signature! The back of my boomerang looks so ghetto, because I didn't paint the details ehehehe.... I'll go back and add them later so it doesn't look so bad..

It'd be really cool to get more SE signatures on this boomerang, but I'm not sure how likely that'd be hummmm. It'd definitely be awesome to get some FFXIII/XIII-2 VAs maybe. c: Every single person at the FFXIV event was incredibly nice and had no problems geeking out with us about SE and the FF series. I mean this is the whole point of cosplaying for us, really. Being able to come together and gush about the series and characters and talk about it all, without feeling the need to be shy or reserved hehehe.

Selfie after the event! Hungry, running on empty..... still tryina be kawaii

Heading back to the con center, we saw a guy selling PAX tickets and asked if he had any Monday tickets left. Since we completely missed Saturday, Ai-ball wanted us to get Monday ones to make up for it. He ended up being this incredibly chill and nice guy who usually worked as a bike-taxi guy. He sold us a Monday pass for $30 flat, and one of Ai's friends had a leftover Monday pass @___@ we were sooooo amazed, because we always heard stories of scalpers jacking up the prices like crazy... we stood there for a bit chatting with him, then eventually parted ways to eat at the Cheesecake Factory. 

I got my usual fettuccine alfredo and calamari appetizer :P I usually take photos of my food but I was so hungry lol... I could only think about eating.

After dinner we left to go back to my place, and intended to clean up, but immediately fell asleep hahahaha. 

Oh well!


Monday was all about the Exhibit Hall and demoing games, so we fixed up our costumes a bit and headed out! Ahhhh, a bit late again because we woke up late lol...... But we made it to everything we wanted to see! I was particularly interested in the Indie Megabooth and got to talk with the team of Reus (it looked interesting! I played a little bit and found it very calming hehe) and Aaru's Awakening, as well as see Hotline Miami 2 and Crypt of the NecroDancer in action. I'm more of a big fan of games/very casual gamer, so I didn't check out too many of the big titles beyond SE. I like farming games.... and MMOs... where I can just level up crafting skills and party with people casually.. hahahaha.
Only picture we took of today, at the Zelda photobooth hehe! My nonfunctional, ghetto, unfinished bags...geh

We met up with classmates and walked around the hall, checking out everything and looking at merch, Afterwards we ate at Blue C Sushi, which we all felt raised their prices to a ridiculous amount???? Maybe just during con season? Ugh, it was kind of awful, but I got full anyways only eating $8 worth of sushi, so that's good... I guess. Soccer mama Ai-ball drove us all back home to our respective sleeping establishments, and she and I headed to my place again to clean up (for real). :) After she left I worked on homework, before finally going to sleep because I had an 8AM class the next day. All in all it was a pretty awesome con, but I hope we never ever rush like we did for this again LOL. It's always hard, especially when we both have school and work, and summer quarter is just a struggle in general. Thank you to EVERYONE who took our photos and complimented our hard work, as well as the new friends we made!! I wish I could've met up with a lot of the friends that I wanted to see, but I'll say that every con cause it's just how things go. T____T 

We'll definitely try to snag some 4-day passes next year, so here's to the last con of the summer season!! ♥

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