Black Widow Cosplay: Part One.

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Over the past week I have been putting together my Black Widow Cosplay for Yorkshire Cosplay Con. It was a tough decision, but I decided that the variant of the character that I wanted to Cosplay as was a little hybrid of her from the Anime and Comic-Book version. This was mostly due to looking at what materials I already had along with what look I preferred for Black Widow as a whole; being that I preferred the long hair but also really liked the catsuit not showing too much chest. Once this was decided, I started to build my costume.

Luckily, I already had the catsuit and red wig in my possession from way back when I was doing a fancy dress of Selene from Underworld and my Poison Ivy Cosplay. This meant that a large majority of the outfit was already in place and I only really have to add a few pieces together for my full cosplay to be complete; which was great considering that I’ve also been working on 2 other Cosplays in addition. Below is what the catsuit and hair looked like initially upon trying them on, I was really pleased with how well they looked together and had quite the uncanny resemblance to the hybrid of Black Widow I wanted to dress up as; I also added a belt that I had in order to get an idea of how I wanted the belt to look.

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With that being done, the next part of my Cosplay was to make the belt and bullet bracelets. For a long time I was quite undecided as to what type of belt I wanted to do for this Cosplay as there are so many variants; however, I decided that it would be safer to stick to the classic golden disc belt that Natasha wears so that it would look more similar to the Bishjoujo statue of her. I had seen a really helpful tutorial on how to make the discs of the belt by using dry clay; which was more ideal for me as there would be no way I could fire them. For this, I rolled the dry clay and used a glass cup to create the circular shape for each disc and then waited for them to dry. I’d also recommend that you should make however many discs depending on what type of belt you are going to be attaching them to; I myself made about 8 just to be safe in case some of the discs didn’t look right once they have dried. Once this was done I initially painted the discs, but the colour to me looked more yellow than gold; and so I had to buy metallic gold marker pens and spend 2 hours going over which was incredibly tedious…but in the end it paid off and looked much better than the paint itself. When I had coloured all the discs to the appropriate shade, I then used some Gorilla Glue to stick them on to the belt and pinned them down using weights in order to make them stick better. Ideally, I would really recommend using a glue gun instead of simply Gorilla Glue; because although it in theory does exactly the same thing, it was quite annoying having to keep them pressed down with weights. In addition to that, I’d also advise that you measure the spacing between the discs so that it doesn’t look uneven when you’ve got it on. Finally however, once they all had stuck securely on to the belt itself, I then painted Black Widow’s trademark belt buckle with some red acrylic and the belt was finally done!

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Tomorrow, I shall be posting part two of my Black Widow Cosplay which will include the bullet bracelets, shoes, gun prop and finally the make-up. Unfortunately this has been quite a quick post as I have been so buys putting together my two other Cosplays for MCM Manchester in July. I know that its incredibly early to have started to make my costumes so in advance; however I am also doing a photo-shoot next week with them and so have been so eager to get them finished as soon as possible to see what imperfections to the costumes there might be beforehand.

However, I am hoping to add as much coverage for the Yorkshire Cosplay Con on to her as possible and will be taking lots of pictures…so stay tuned :)!

Drawing Inspiration: Black Widow Cosplay

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So in my last post I mentioned my desire to Cosplay as Black Widow for the Yorkshire Cosplay Convention on the 14th June. This is a Cosplay that I’ve actually really wanted to do since seeing Captain America: The Winter Solider, however I feel that many Cosplayers tend to now depict Black Widow as she appears in the movies; and not being one to follow the crowd this is something that I definitely don’t want to do as well. Which means I need to research in to which style I want to make in regards to her outfit so that I can get the materials for this Cosplay asap! Below is the following research that I’ve gathered on the character which will help me decide which one I want to do.

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As mentioned, the most popular incarnation of the character is the cinematic version played by Scarlett Johansson. Although this version will probably prove to be quite costly, its actually very simple to put together; with the exception of making the belts. However, and I know that I’ve said this before in my last post the cinematic version of Black Widow just doesn’t resonate with the character I love in the comics. To me, the character gives the feeling that she’s really only there because Marvel feels the need to include at least one female character in their cinematic line-up to appease hardcore fans…and obviously to reel in the sex appeal; more so than the cool and mysterious Russian spy that we’ve grown to love. Also, I can’t really stand the short hair she dons in the Avengers movie; that’s just not Black Widow to me…but hey, that’s just my opinion; which is why I’ve discarded this version altogether.

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There is also the typical Comic Book version of Black Widow which is a big possibility for me to Cosplay as. I’ve always really preferred this costume over the film version, mostly because it gives off more of a ‘spy’ feel to her characterization than typical SHIELD agent. However, I’m not overly confident in showing too much of my chest…or any of it for that matter; mostly because its so small and I’m not looking that kind of attention with my Cosplay. I have seen other versions of her catsuit being altered in the comics so that it doesn’t show any of her chest however which provides a bit more realism to her spy persona so this is still a cosplay that I could make for myself. I have also seen a lot of different variations on her belt and bullet bracelets in this medium and I have to say that I prefer them when they are gold as opposed to full black suit just because they are more noticeable and iconic. The second image above from the Black Widow comic I have to say is my favourite look for the character, she looks amazing and it looks like such a simple version to put together; this shot has also made me decide that I want to use a sniper rifle as my main prop for her cosplay…because come on, she looks totally badass!

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I’ve also been looking at the type of Cosplays that others are attending as for the Convention, and most of these tend to revolve around Anime. There have been a few interpretations of Black Widow in Anime cartoons such as Avengers Confidential: Black Widow and Punisher; along with the popular Bishoujo statue as pictured above. I really like the look of this version of the character, other than the statue itself, the anime style of her isn’t sexualised at all and the suit is kept more realistic; I also really like the way her hair looks in this variation as its long but doesn’t look ridiculous. I have been thinking that I will use the wig from my Poison Ivy Cosplay for this character and looking at the wig it seems better suited to this type of Black Widow variant. With the convention mostly being related to Anime aesthetics, I feel that its only fair if I Cosplay with this style in mind and by studying the costume itself it doesn’t appear to be all that complicated to recreate either.

For now however, I think that it might be best to take a look at what realistically I could recreate with the materials that I already have and what is also accessible to me financially. Once that is done I will start to make the costume!

Yorkshire Cosplay Con: Black Widow Cosplay.

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So seeing as I am now done with perils of University deadlines, I now have the free time to upload my progress on future characters that I will be Cosplaying as. After seeing Captain American: The Winter Solider (and if you haven’t seen it, go now!!!….I do mean that!), I’ve been sort of obsessed with Black Widow, but not really the cinematic version of the character; because in my opinion, Scarlett Johannson just isn’t Black Widow for me. Its not that I don’t think that she’s a good actress or anything like that, its just to me she doesn’t isn’t that character and I would’ve been far more up for Emily Blunt portraying the character like she initially was; I could go on but I’m babbling quite a bit here ha. Anyway, I’ve always really liked the character and her costume in the comics more so than the cinematic variant and I guess you could say that after watching the film it made me realise just how much I appreciate her role in the Marvel universe. So with that being said, I have decided that I would try my hand at developing my own Cosplay of her.

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As I am still based in Leeds until the beginning of July money is a little bit tight at the moment, especially with having to pay for my Graduation later that month along with just general living expenses; which means that the conventions that I will be attending in the next month or so have to really be roughly around where I am based. Luckily however, while scouring through my Facebook feeds (like every student does while grabbing on to procrastination with dear life), I noticed that there was a Convention particularly dedicated to Cosplay in Doncaster on the 14th June; which is absolutely perfect location-wise as it means I won’t have to spend so much on travel! The convention itself is in its 6th year, and one that I haven’t actually heard of before until this year funnily enough; however, it seems like it will be their biggest event yet with Cosplay Competitions and many special guests as well as stalls all dedicated to Cosplay.

Unfortunately however because I have only recently bought my tickets for the convention, and so I missed the deadline of entering myself in to any of the Cosplay Competition that it mentions on their poster and facebook group. However, although this may be the case I still would really like to go as this will be my second Cosplay that I’ve made pretty much from scratch; and so I feel that the more I attend the more confidant I will feel in character/costume.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be blogging on my progress right up until the day of the convention itself where I’m hoping I will actually be able to video some of it this time! I have posted some progress images over the past few weeks already on my instagram page, I had wanted to blog about this for quite some time but with my University commitments you will know that I just hadn’t found the time until now! So as an apology to all, like my Uni project I shall be reporting on my costume research, design and make right up until the day of the convention…I think that’s a good compromise, don’t you? ;).

Gantt Chart and Final Presentation Feedback

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On Thursday, I presented to my tutors my final Project Implementation and progression; the preparations up until that point had been going very well and I felt that I was more than ready to present on that day. However, the night before unfortunately my printer had ran out of ink just as I was about to print out the handouts that I had put together for my tutors to look at while I was talking through my project. Due to this, it meant that I had to get up at 5am just to print them out at the library on Headingly campus and then rehearse my script until my slotted time to present at 11.40. Because of lack of sleep and general worry about the presentation itself (as I am not the kind of person who public speaking comes easily to) I feel made me quite overwhelmed and so during the presentation itself I started to mix my words up and become quite flustered when reading from the script that I put together; and this was something that was definitely picked up by my tutors. What made it more frustrating was the fact that I didn’t feel as though the idea had communicated to them very well despite being more than prepared; and I feel that this is mostly due to my verbal delivery of the entire project. This is something that in the past presentations has never happened to me despite not feeling overly comfortable with public speaking; and so I can only really narrow it down to nerves and the situation itself and therefore was not due to lack of preparation…I only hope that my tutors will be able to see this.

Despite this, I feel that the content in the presentation was incredibly formative and showed not only my understanding of Geek Magazine’s readership but also the journalistic skills that I have obtained from this entire process by giving examples of similarities between my final product and that of Geek Magazine. I also included an evaluation segment to my final presentation which included the statistics of my progression through my Gantt Chart and examples that I have shown on here and other formats. Below is a more in-depth break down of my Gantt chart:

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Although I had a few setbacks during the entire project, because I was more than prepared in advance to the completion of my project it shows on my blog that I didn’t have much slippage in my critical path. I think this shows just how good my time management and planning was overall and where there was any setbacks such as the Em-Con incident I was still able to come up with an alternative solution. As you can see here in the image above, the only critical elements that had to ready for a specific date were the materials that I needed for my own Cosplay, of which I started in good time before the initial convention I was going to attend and therefore had there been any problems I would still have been able to comeplete these well in advance.

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Although my tutor said to me in the presentation that I didn’t baseline according to the screenshot I had of my gantt chart in the handouts; this was far from the case. As you can see here, I preferred to baseline only specific tasks on my project as I felt it would measure the changes in my plan clearer than just simply baslining the entire project; although I feel that her judgement was clearly due to the screenshot I chose to include.

At the start of this project, looking back I would say that I found the Gantt chart to be frustratingly difficult to use; this is mostly because of the software itself more than the concept behind it. I understand the reasons why it is key to include this type of progression chart on certain projects (especially in a group) as it keeps you up to date with where exactly you should be at. I tried to keep my chart in a chronological order due to what I felt would logically be the next step after the completion of a task as well.  However, as I have always felt as though my time management and organisation has always been good I feel that this project that only solidified just how much I value the importance of this in my professional qualities. I would say that the only problem that I had was keeping up with the amount I was spending on my finances for this project. Obviously,mishaps happened that because of this that influenced the final amount that I had spent; and so this just reinforces that I need to be aware than alternatives to certain mishaps need to be expected so that I can keep on track of this. I feel that although I had my problems with the Gantt chart, I do see the ways in which it can be incredibly useful in the professional world. It is something that I think I may comes to terms with more easily the more I use it and with that it is definitely something that I will want to use in future projects.

Geek Magazine Cosplay Layout (8/05/14)

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After looking back at my layout, it was obvious that there were a lot of aspects that needed to be changed in order for me to make the final product look more professional. Below are the changes that I had made to the layout in the past week:

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With the image above, what was clear to me looking back at this layout was that the copy itself was virtually unreadable. However, I still wanted to have the images that I took of the cosplayers to be in the background so that the reader could identify who is being interviewed. So to tackle this problem I filled in the text box that the copy was in and then made it transparent so that the image was still visible and the text itself was far more readable. I think this made a massive improvement to how the entire spread looked on a whole and getting rid of the questions was definitely a step in the right direction as now the article itself shows that I can edit copy to make it look more journalistic.

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However, after seeing my tutor again she decided to pick apart the layout and said to me that it would be better it I had the images on one side of the page and then the text on the other; and basically once again freeing up the pages by adding more space. This seems a lot more practical to me, as I felt that maybe due to there not being a specific amount of pages that needed to be produced for this project that I might as well take advantage of that. Which is why I decided to completely change the way in which my copy and text were laid out by taking her advice and separating them on to different pages. With the interview articles I feel that this really makes the layout look more inviting instead of it being crammed on to one page like I had initially done. Which is also I decided to use this to influence my photo-diary article as well by spreading out the copy and images on opposite sides of the pages. I thought that it might be more eye-catching it I had the title of the article overlapping the image so that the reader would pay attention to both and one wouldn’t be ignored as well.

As this was the case, although I decided to use this style of layout on a majority of the pages I was not overly sure that it would work on the rest of the photo-diary article. This was mostly because I thought that if all the pages were accommodated to this type of layout then once again the content would just look too repetitive. Which is why for the rest of the photo-diary article I decided that I would mix it up a little by taking another look at some more recent Geek Magazine layouts.

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As you can see from the first image above, in Geek’s current issue they have used a layout where in which the image has been spread out on to the top half of the double page; with the copy and any additional images placed on the lower level. I felt that seeing as this is a recent issue of the publication that it might be good to find influence from this type of layout. Which is why I chose to replicate this design on some of the pages. I think that it makes the article look more professional and eye-catching with the smaller images showing the additional elements to the design and make of my Cosplay diary. Having said this however, I was a little weary of picking the images on the 3rd screenshot above as the smaller images were only taken briefly from my blog; but I thought that it might be good to include them as it would reinforce the idea of my article being a diary and make it more personalized.

Overall, I am really happy with how the layouts have turned out. I am plan to complete the additional pages of my product over the next few days in time for my final presentation which will be on the Thursday. I am feeling fairly confident about my product however I am hoping that all this time planning and researching my product will communicate to my tutors.

Geek Magazine Cosplay Segment Layout (2/05/14).

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Over the past few weeks I have been making sure that the layout for my Geek Magazine Cosplay spread looks the best that it can be. After researching what type of layout I wanted to replicate in previous posts I thought that I had it clear just how I wanted the spread to look; although after meeting with my course leader it seems that I still have a lot to do. While looking at the layout that I had posted previously, she told me that the pages seemed to look very squashed together due to the amount of copy and images that were on each page; making it appear to look less than professional and of an editorial standard that I was trying to recreate. I told her that the layout process for me so far had been incredibly frustrating as I hadn’t used Indesign in over a year and so I felt as though I was relearning everything once again; making it far more time consuming. I hadn’t thought that the layout was going to be as difficult as it actually was, but I agreed with her that the layout wasn’t at all what I wanted it to look like let alone did it compliment Geek’s typical editorial layout.

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Because of this, she suggested that I might want to maybe add more pages to the product so that it would free up the space and make the whole spread appear more breathable; of which I have to say I agreed with, because at the moment its looking far too chaotic. She also said to me that I should take another look at how I write up the answers from my interview article as she felt that having the interview questions from the interviews on each page was quite samey and repetitive; and therefore would make a potential reader deterred from reading the whole article. This was also something that I agreed with, as it did cross my mind while I was making the layout. She advised it might be interesting to remove them from the second and third interviews and edit them to look more like an account; elaborating on this notion by showing me an example of such an interview from the Sunday Times Magazine, which I’m quite familiar with. I think that style of interview would suit the second and third interviews because it would give the impression to the reader that it is more personal and therefore a more interesting read; and only have the questions from the interviews on the first page to show readers they are a key set of questions for each interview.

Although I am quite disappointed in my feedback, I do agree that there is still a lot to do with my layout. To me, at the moment it is just not up to the professional standard that I had hoped to recreate and therefore I feel that I really need to play around with my layout and add more pages so that hopefully this will change how it is looking thus far.

Photo-Diary Article Layout So Far.

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As you can see from the image above, here is my Photo-Diary article layout so far. I thought that seeing as this article has been written for a good while now that I should start with this layout, especially as I am still organizing potential photo-shoots with other cosplayers should I choose to use their images for my interview article. Although I initially wanted the layout to this article to be almost like a timeline, I felt that this would not resonate well with the article that I had written for it. Mostly due to that fact that there was so much copy that I thought it would overthrow the chosen demographic in to reading it as well; which is why I’ve made a bit of a hybird of all the layouts that I have collected for research. I’ve tried to stick to the usual layout that Geek Magazine tends to have by a very ‘techy’ and art deco layout with the boarder being at the side which is where the bleed tends to be. Initially the colour of the text was black, which I would really prefer however it was virtually unreadable next to the navy blue boarder behind it. I am still unsure of how the main image looks against the title of the article, which I’m sure will be subject to change over the coming weeks up until my presentation; however, I must see what my tutor thinks about the overall layout before I start to change it.

I have also enquired with my tutors if we should include advertisements if we are doing a printed publication for the implementation, of which they said it would be advisable. Although this would have the potential to show my understanding of Geek Magazine’s readershi,p I was worried that due to it being an international magazine the advertisements that would be seen would be subject to copyright if I used them. Due to this, I e-mailed my tutor and asked how I could work around this problem and they said I could ask permission to use such posters if I wasn’t prepared to make my own. In my mind I had imagined that because it is a convention special that I am putting together it would be good to use upcoming convention posters as advertisements. For this, I have contacted a few conventions and Cosplay charities if I can use their posters, with one replying back to me giving me permission so far; and  now  I will wait for the others to reply back to me. Although its not a necessity to have in my final product, I feel that it would show my tutors upon presenting it in the next few weeks that I understand what my subject and demographic are while also showcasing how I am accommodated for this as well.

With Wales Comic Con being in just a few days time, once I have attended the convention and edited the pictures taken from this event I will then start to work on the rest of my layout.