Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cosmetics and the Con

I want to take a second to talk about make-up.

Now, those of you who wear make-up on a daily basis, don’t shake your heads and run off just yet, because this one’s for you, too. And to those who don’t wear a lot of make-up but plan to slap some on for con, well, this is really for you.

Because I’m, y’know, me, I’ve once again organized this post into a series of simple, crucial questions.

What kind of make-up does my character wear?
If the answer is “none”, then my work here is done. Seriously, if you’re going as, like, an SGA gate team (thanks to Sabine for the example) then dust on some powder and call it a day. If your character is a generally normal person in the “real” world, it’s probably best to just go with your regular look (plus special provisions for con). If, on the other hand, your character wears distinctive or complicated make-up, you’ll want to plan ahead.

Do I need to buy new stuff?
That depends largely on whether you’re a hardcore style nerd, like me, or a slightly more reasonable person. Regardless, there are a few things you definitely want to have.
-Good foundation. You want something with good coverage, because those flurescent lights are unforgiving, and something that’s going to stay on well throughout the day. Remember that you’ll be walking, sweating, and laughing til you cry, and you need a foundation that can keep up.
-Eye lid primer. What this does is: you apply a light coating on your eyelid, and it brightens the color of your eyeshadow and helps your eye make-up last longer. You should be able to find this at your local supermarket/pharmacy, as well as at a general cosmetics store. My roommate uses Maybelline Cooling Eyeshadow and Liner, I use e.l.f. Essentials Eyelid Primer, and I know N.Y.X also makes one. So you’re looking at $5 or less for this, and it’s worth having in your regular bag of tricks, anyway.
-Lipliner and lip brush. I realize this might seem a little obvious, but hear me out. If you apply your lipstick in a three-step process (lip liner. blot. apply lipstick with brush. blot. apply lipstick directly. blot.) it’ll last about five times longer than it would normally. And, for the love of Brian Molko, use chapstick and creme lip liner.

What if I need to do something complicated?
First of all, don’t get in over your head. Unless you or someone you know has professional or theatre make-up experience, it’s probably best to avoid things like full-body paint or prosthetics. If you do have access to those skills, then have it, and you can probably disregard this post entirely. Otherwise, it’s best to work with the skills you have. If you need to do complicated eye make-up and aren’t comfortable with (or have never used) liquid eyeliner, Palladio Eye Inks are felt-tip liner pens that are easy to use and great for precision work. I first used them when I cosplayed Death at SDCC, and it worked great. You should be able to find them at the supermarket, but Sally’s also carries them.
...Just a tiny bit smudged.

Should I practice my make-up before the con?
YES. You should always do at least one dry run of your costume before you leave for the con, including hair and make-up, just to iron out any unexpected kinks.

Should I carry some make-up with me at the con?
Definitely. Even the best make-up is going to wear a little as the day goes on, especially lipstick, so you definitely want to keep some things on hand for emergency touch-ups. Keep a tube of lipstick or lip gloss in your bag, and, if you’re worried about your eyeliner smudging or your foundation getting shiny, you’d be well advised to bring those, too. You don’t want to be toting around your entire make-up bag, though, so use your best judgment. 

Obviously, these are just basic tips to help your con experience run a little more smoothly. Because when you run into Joe Flannigan on the floor and ask for a picture, you don’t want to be worrying about lipstick on your teeth.

As always, if you have any questions, email us at frenemycosplay@gmail.com, and we will happily share our wisdom.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Costumes I Have Known: The Question

On this lazy Sunday afternoon, I thought I would regale you with a story of my greatest, easiest, most unexpected cosplay triumph: Renee Montoya as The Question (II).
The whole crux of this costume, for obvious reasons, is the mask. Now, there are lots of different ways to make the mask. One of the most successful techniques involves cheesecloth, as you can see here. The advantage of this technique is that it gives a really smooth look from far away, though the illusion breaks down as you get closer.

But, my children, living as I was in a tiny apartment in the woods on the edge of nowhere, I did not have the requisite supplies. I also wanted something that would look good from close up and from far away. What I found was bathing suit lining. It's available from any good fabric store, it's relatively cheap, it's super stretchy, it's breathable and translucent, all of which make it a perfect material for this kind of application.

I tried a number of different techniques, including piecing the mask on, applying makeup over it, etc.

They all had one glaring design flaw: I couldn't eat while wearing them. And, my children, if you learn only one thing from me, learn that you cannot get through a whole day of con without eating unless you want to pass out. 

So in the end, what I did was cut out a piece of fabric roughly the same size and shape as my face, with enough to go around to the back of my neck, like so.

As you can see, I attached it around my hairline and around my ears, but left the bottom hanging. Because I had long enough hair to cover it, I stretched the fabric to the back of my neck and fastened it with a hair tie. I used eyelash glue to attach it to my face; if I had it to do again, I'd do it with spirit gum, but, again, I was in the middle of nowhere, and there was none to be had (and no time to order it by the time I decided to make this costume).

Since I took this shot at the end of the day, you can also see in this picture where I got mustard on it while trying to eat a hot dog. Whoops.

This method was not without its problems. Since the tie holding the bottom of the mask had to be undone and redone every time I wanted to eat or drink anything, it led to some problems of gapping and stretching.

Fortunately these were easily fixed, and I learned quickly not to adjust my mask without looking in the mirror. The mask also became easier to wear throughout the day, as the material became stretchier and more transparent.

At the time, Renee had just become The Question, so there was nothing particularly iconic about the rest of her costume. Accordingly, I wore what I had at hand (including the tie from my work uniform). I actually screwed up and forgot gloves, but the Rorschach who was travelling with us saved me.

NB: I don't know who this dude was, but isn't his expression priceless?

So that's pretty much how I did it. I think I paid less than 20 USD for the entire costume, because most of it came straight from my closet.

It was, I discovered, an easy costume to mistake, apparently. During the course of the day, I was mistaken for both the Invisible Man (several times) and Anonymous. Also, I learned that when you wear a full face mask, people assume that you can't see them, and they will gawk at you openly. I did freak a person or two out by waving at them as they stared intently at my face.

Would I do it again? Probably not, especially not for Comic-Con. Was it totally badass? Yes, it was.