If you follow me on instagram at all, you might have noticed I picked up a new (but not so surprising) hobby. It started small at San Deigo Comic Con with Mabel from Gravity Falls. You can see a couple of photos of her here and here (YES I MADE HER SWEATER LIGHT UP AND IT WAS AMAZING– I’ll work on a photoshoot soon).
After going to comic con though, I was inspired to try and step up my cosplay game and do something more… armor-y? I wanted to choose something I of course thought looked awesome (the number one rule of cosplay, afterall, is to cosplay something you like), and didn’t have tooooo much armor just in case I was bad at it.
Along the way, I have done HOURS of research, purchased SO SO SO many things, burned my fingers a bunch and messed up a LOT. I’m almost literally learning every new skill as I go along. I have no prior training in worbla-sculpting (that’s not a thing, but that’s what I’m calling it), LEDs, sewing, foam-dremmeling, pattern making, etc, etc, etc. I thought it would be interesting for me to share what I’ve found to be helpful as a newbie trying cosplay for the first time, so I wanted to do a mini-series of my trials and tribulations per costume.
So, anyways, I have been playing a lot of Overwatch, so I decided that McCree would be a good choice. I also found that concept art (above) by Alexandra “Lexxy” Douglass SO randomly on pinterest and fell in love with the mountain-woman vibe going on. She’s beautiful. #hearteyesemoji
*As of this post, I am about 1/3 of the way done with this McCree. I have so far completed building my belt buckle, body armor and robot hand pieces. From here, I will be painting my armor, adding lighting, building (hopefully) my Peacekeeper, finishing my poncho, building the arm-half of my robot arm and making some chaps. Please pray for me.
So, I got to work researching ALL of the things, and watching about 9000 hours of youtube videos on cosplay. I seriously have been watching everything I could find. From straight tutorials to sped-up cosplay builds. I’ll include links to the different sites I used as I go along.
To decide on the materials (and basically everything else), I’ve been leaning HEAVILY on the advice of Svetlana of Kamui Cosplay. She has videos AND books (the e-books are only $5. DEF worth it, I can’t even begin to tell you) and I can’t recommend them enough.
Here are some of the videos I found helpful in this first phase:
My Top 5 Tips on How to Start Cosplaying – Cosplay Class
How to create Breastplates with Worbla
Black Worbla – Breastplate Tutorial
How to Make a Worbla Bracer
How to Make Female Cosplay Armor, Tutorial Part 1
And then a few sped-up cosplay builds. These were helpful in seeing how the entire process worked. Some of these are VERY advanced (as far as I’m concerned), but I still got a lot out of them
Dark Valkyrie Diana – Cosplay Progress – League of Legends
Nord Cosplay – Making Of
Valkyrie Cosplay Armor Progress
Apart from videos, there were also a few sites I got a lot out of. If you watched Holly Conrad’s video above, you might have seen her mention The RPF. This is a great forum with a lot of information on different costumes people are working on. I recommend just searching for things you are looking for.
I also googled my character to see who else has cosplayed McCree. People have some REALLY smart ideas. This pulled up pinterest pins, reddit threads, Blizzard’s McCree cosplay guide (actually, all Overwatch character cosplay reference guides can be found here). If google wasn’t enough, then I instagram-searched #McCreeCosplay, and that also pulled up a lot of helpful information. People post a LOT of cosplay WIP stuff on instagram, so it sort of became it’s own mini-google for me.
Also helpful: I created an entire secret McCree pinterest board for all of my reference photos and research.
For things like forum threads that didn’t have an attached photo, I would screen shot the comment, and then upload it into my Pinterest board so I could reference it later.
Ok, so now that I’ve covered how I went about researching (a task that really never ends throughout this entire process), it’s time to start covering how I went about purchasing materials.
*At this time, I have not puchased EVERYTHING I will be using (more research needed still, ugh), so I will only cover what I have so far.
Here’s what I’ve got:
ONLINE (Amazon, Cosplay Supplies, ect):
Black Worbla (I have purchased 1 XL sheet, and at this time, I might need just a hair more to finish all of the worbla parts. Kamui Cosplay mentioned that her sets usually use between 2-6 XL sheets. This may vary depending on the skill of the costumer.)
A Heat Gun
Dremmel (This isn’t the dremmel we have at home, the one we have was actually a gift. This one has pretty good reviews, though, but def research before you purchase)
*Many of the following supplies can also be purchased online, but if you are like me and CANTWAITTOSTARTOMG, then you can find a lot of these supplies in the following real-life stores
HARDWARE STORE (Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace, etc):
Masking Tape (you will use a LOT of this if you are making your own patterns)
Wood Filler (I have not used this myself yet, but a thousand pinterest tutorials told me this is helpful for cleaning up armor and props, so more on this later)
Flat Plastic Smoother like a Putty Knife (for smoothing the wood filler)
JOANN’S (or other fabric store)
Red Flannel (this is just what I chose to go with, but there are lots of cool materials for the poncho. Def look at and feel samples whenever you can)
Hand Sewing Needles
Push-Release Adjustable Connectors (there are a few different types of pieces like this. The one’s I got release a little differently, so get whichever you are more comfortable with)
Before you purchase anything, seriously research your personal plan of attack, and make a list that fits your needs. Above is what I’ve been using, but it may be different for you.
Now, construction tips:
I’m not going to go into a step-by-step tutorial on any of my items, because a lot of that information is readily available in the research section above. I will go through a few things that I wish I would’ve known along the way.
*The tutorials might have mentioned these things and I didnt notice, so full-disclosure, some of this may be repetitive
WORBLA BUILDING IN GENERAL
1. When you use the sandwich method (above): worbla/foam/worbla, air bubbles will most likely happen, so don’t freak out (like I totally didn’t do). You can use a pin (like a sewing pin) to pop the bubble from the side and gently massage it out. Later, you can supposedly (I haven’t personally done this yet) use wood filler to clean up those blemishes and then sand it down. Seems legit.
2. During the sandwich method, when you cut off the excess edges, you might cut really close and expose the foam in the middle. Just pinch and smooth the warmed up worbla until it’s not open anymore. This might take some time, but it’s worth it. I used the flat edge of my X-ACTO knife cap for smoothing. You use what you got.
3. Warm worbla is the easiest to cut worbla. I nearly broke a pair of scissors (and also my hand) trying to cut cold, hard worbla. IT’S THE WORST. Don’t do this to yourself. It’s not worth it.
4. Make sure you test out foam patterns before you worbla-sandwich it. I did this with my chest piece and I’m really happy I did. You can catch mistakes early on this way.
( ^ tested foam chest piece)
5. If you are going to light something up with LED’s later, take that into account early on. I had to cut some holes into my already constructed chest piece, and while it wasn’t super difficult, I can imagine this might be harder with more complex pieces.
6. When using a heat gun, MAKE SURE YOU ARE WORKING ON A SURFACE THAT CAN HANDLE THE HEAT. I am SUPPPEERRR dumb and the first time I turned that puppy on, I just put down a towel, thinking “oh hey, this isn’t flammable, right? (LOL IT TOTALLY IS)” and charred the towel within a minute. Nothing caught on fire and Jeff and R2 are still alive despite my best effort, but I definitely grabbed a cookie sheet and some aluminum foil and ikea pot-holder thingies,and now that is my heat-gun surface.
7. If you can create a digital to-scale file of some of the elements you are going to make in a program like Illustrator, that is REALLY helpful. I created my “BAMF” lettering and the repeatable pattern for my poncho in illustrator, printed it out and used it as a sort of stencil-guide and it’s worked wonderfully. Sometimes these guides are already available online, so definitely do a search as well.
8. If you are using custom concepts/fan art to build your cosplay, try to ask the original artist if it’s cool to use their art for cosplay orrrr at the very least, credit them if/when you can.
9. Lastly, once you’ve made your armor, put it on every fifteen minutes, run into the living room and yell, “It’s hiiggghhh nooooonnnnn” at your significant other/kids/dog/roommate/neighbors/strangers in the street. Even in the morning. Right before work while they are still sleeping. It helps, it’s science.
^ after I wake up, before I go to bed #everydayyy
Well, I hope this was helpful information. If I think of anyhting else, I’ll try to add it to this post. If you have any questions, let me know, and if you are a person who has been cosplaying longer than me and see any glaring mistakes or have more advice please let me know!!!! Hopefully I will have a Part B soon after I’ve made some more progress :))