02 June 2014

AX 2014: Toukiden Progress

This weekend I worked on my Toukiden and DMMD cosplays for Anime Expo, which is held in Los Angeles, CA Jul 3-6 this year. It's the biggest con that I attend, so I decided to make a really challenging costume! Let's hope I can finish on-time though... While I'm gathering materials, I figured I'd tackle her shoulder piece, which is made up of gradient-dyed feathers. I got so excited working on it that I forgot that they have to be dyed first, so it's gonna be a little bit difficult to dye each feather now that it's nearly assembled.. oops.

The tips are all cut by hand to look more pointed. I feel like the pointed edges make it look more feral and rough, rather than angelic and soft.

Here's a photo I took of my progress the night before the above photos were taken. You can see the rounded edges at the top and bottom make it look kind of.. cutesy I guess? I had fun curling the feathers at the bottom, which I will explain in a mini-tutorial below!

Curling the ends of feathers tutorial 

Because Ouka's shoulder piece has feathers curled at the ends, I looked up ways to emulate this with the turkey and duck feathers I own. Turkey feathers are very stiff, and naturally you can't heat them to curl because they'll burn. It's a very straight-forward method, but visuals always help!
This is how a typical turkey feather looks. Notice the stem is thick, with a fairly long quill (they make beautiful pens! I used to collect feathers and ask my neighbor to turn them into pens for me when I was little). 
To reduce the bulk of whatever you're working on, and to get a nice full pelt of feathers close together, cut off the quill and afterfeathers (the fuzzy part).

This helps gluing the feathers as close together as possible, showing the most important parts on your costume. If the quill is left, and the piece you're creating bends or if you look at it from below, you can see the stems glued together in their rows, which doesn't look very nice for all the hard work you put in ><

The next steps involve simply snapping the stem until it breaks at certain points to create the curl. Identify first how much you want your feathers to curl, and make note of where the points should be made, then snap away!

Here's the first snap I made. You can already see that the feather is pointing upwards!

A second snap closer to the middle. Work your way down from the tip to the end of the stem (or wherever you want it to stop curling).
Here's the finished feather! What's great about this technique is that you can make the curls more dramatic or more subtle, because the break points are pretty moldable now. Just twist the feather around to the desired effect and it'll retain its curve.

For the ends, I played around with the aesthetic of each feather and how they responded to the overall look of it.
Back view! Still a ways to go in completing it but it's almost done!

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