Matty’s Rocket creator Tim Fielder was kind enough to send me a referral client! This time out: a speed-build for a fraternal organization’s national meeting. The costume would be used as part of a multimedia performance before 20,000 attendees! A little daunting, but I was excited to take on a project for non-cosplayers and to craft an original design for their event.
I had several discussions with project stakeholders to get a better idea of what they wanted, how the costume would be used and about the person designated to wear the costume. When working on corporate projects, it’s always a good idea to make sure that you have a good grasp of any branding rules or guidelines that need to maintained. Also, as they often aren’t cosplayers it is important to establish expectations regarding timelines, how fittings will take place and what it means to wear a costume. As regular cosplayers, some of the things we are willing to endure, such as limited motion, binding parts, or having to establish an action plan for using the restroom, will not be acceptable for a corporate client or someone appearing in a production. Since the costume would only be worn for a few minutes and require a fast change, I also had to consider rigging and finishes that would both pop on stage and read well on the event’s enormous projection screens. I submitted several design variations before we decided on a 3/4 armor (front only with full gauntlets and pauldrons) set plus cape and tiara. I have created 3/4 armor for similar projects and find it a good compromise for costumes that will only be worn briefly and viewed from a distance. We’d have just under five minutes to get the performer out of semi-formal wear and into the suit, before she’d have to be back on stage and ready to open the evening’s event.
- My client had a strong branding program which included a color palette and recognizable branding elements. Acrylics and airbrush paints do not align to Pantone colors. We agreed that I would find close matches, but some variations would be tolerable and expected. We used a Krylon color-chart and selected both a set of fluorescent colors and two backup satins.
- I would use their ivy motif as inspiration for the costume’s elements, but I also was careful to NOT use the officially-sanctioned shape as I was aware it should not be altered, obscured, stretched, etc.
- Since we were working under time constraints and the costume would only be worn for a brief time, we agreed to use an EVA base without any additional hardening.
- The costume would actually require more rigging than normal, as we had to find a way to get our performer in and out of the costume as quickly as possible. That meant, I’d need to have as many parts pre-fastened/connected as possible.
What Actually Happened
- Fabrication went very well, but the fluorescent colors actually turned out very dull. I had never used them before, but was willing to try the client’s choices first. After two cans, coverage was still uneven and not at all flourescent looking. Paint can look wildly different from surface to surface and even with heat sealing, the surface of the EVA simply remained too porous to be reflective. I tried repainting a sample, using the backup, but was unhappy with the color results. After some test samples, I hand-painted everything with regular acrylics and then used a 30/30/30 wash of airbrush pigment and pearlizer mixed with floor wax. The acrylics evened out the color and the wash made everything pop.