September 28, 2012

Costume Mechanics

For me, the best part of Halloween is the costumes. If I had more sewing and fabricating skills, I might be really really into cosplay. As it is now, I can only just watch and be jealous.

However I think I am pretty good at solving my own costume issues at low budget costs.
I will mention the two I did this year for examples.

This year I am planning on having two costumes. This is not because I feel like showing off, rather, it is for practicality. My first costume will be only on for a few hours because the kimono that it mostly consists of was soooo expensive and is so delicate that I only want to wear it as long as needed to get some good pictures. This costume will be Yuuko from xxxHolic. Even though I do not have the body type, I feel like no one really does so it doesn't matter. I've got the kimono which I know she would wear, am going to have to find a long black wig (not hard), and I already have my trusty pipe fox. I own geta to match already and am all set there.

The mechanic that I had to figure out for that costume though was the pipefox to kimono interface. Normally I have very large safety pins that go through my bra straps and into the pipe fox and out again. It's all neat, hidden and secure so I don't have to worry about him while I shop and walk about a Con floor. But because I am going to wear him with the kimono, I do NOT want to put pins through it. So instead I bought a set of 10 extremely strong rare earth magnets on amazon for $5. I sewed a single magnet into its own little cloth pouch. I then attached two to the underside of the pipe fox where he normally sits. The other two I attached to the shoulders of the slip I plan to wear under the kimono. This way he is really only magnetized through the kimono to my shoulder, and since each magnet can hold ~8lbs a piece I think he will be just fine. And no damage to the kimono. :)

The second costume is like the first but different. Once everyone has Oooed and we have photos I plan to change into a different kimono and lose the wig. This other kimono was 10 times cheaper, not kidding. And I can wash this one. So new kimono donned, I can add a simple headpiece and be instead... a Persocom! So today's challenge was to make some persocom ears for myself. I found a pattern, (do a google search and you can find many) bought two pieces of craft foam ($1) and took out my hot glue gun. Took me about 30 minutes to cut, assemble and glue the pieces. In retrospect I am not sure the pattern I used was the best, but it worked ok. I did tweak it a bit and might make a second pair, but for now they are great.

Two finished ears and the headband.
Making the ears themselves was easy. The hard part was figuring how to wear them. Most that you can purchase off Etsy come on a headband. Not sure I liked that solution, but since my hair is so short, I realized that even clips might not work right to keep them on my head securely.

Purple is a cone shape glued into the top. Folded it around to fit closer to my head.

So instead I glued a bobby pin on a bit of fabric to the inside. I found a cloth headband nearly the color of my hair and once I put it on and comb my hair right, you can't see it. Then I use the bobby pins to attach it to the headband and volia! I did use a bit of spirit gum to keep the bottom snug to my face as well.

Persocoms can have blue hair right?

Other Costumes I have been mulling over:
Natsuki's Oz Avatar from Summer Wars
Chyrpi the Kenku
Fiona and Cake
Candy Wife
An earth kingdom from A:TLA person with Pentapox
Rainbow Dash
Yukino Miazawa from His and Hers Circumstances
Rule 63 Barfolomew from Spaceballs

September 26, 2012

Halloween Thoughts from DLV

So very soon!!

Halloween is my favorite. It's part of the reason I love the month of October so much. It's finally cooling off here in the salamander ( <--kitchen tool definition) that is Texas. Maybe we will get a tiny minute of Fall. Pumpkin everything is for sale. Cinnamon pine cones and brooms. My bro's b-day. My wedding anniversary. Halloween.

Found a Dracula cape that was lost to the recesses of my husbands childhood home. Put it on and the next day I'm drawing Dumbest Little Vampies.

Think you got something wrong there...

September 24, 2012

30DC-MG: Day 2: Centaur

(30DC-MG = 30 Day Challenge- Monster Girls)

I used to draw a lot of horses back in the day. Meaning when I was 11. Even did a special girl scout camp for horses. Had to memorize at least 5 different kinds. Anyway I suck at drawing them still.

Thought about horses. How they sit. How they lie. How they run. Thinking about horses lead to thinking about ponies, and then of course, My Little Pony. There is a lot of fan art of them in both pony and people form... But I haven't seen any centaur fan art... kinda like the best of both worlds no?

So I apologize in advance for people who like Fluttershy, since I think I did her a disservice. But Oh Well.

^---------------------        I like the stupid duck best.

September 21, 2012

Scooby Norman or ParaDoo

You might remember seeing a little thumbnail on a previous post that I mentioned was something I was rolling around in my head. Fanart for ParaNorman and Scooby Doo... kinda.
Well it is still in there. Annoying me because it won't come out right.

More doodles... Not happy with whole head and neck thing going on.

I think it helped to play around in the app called Paper on my iPad. That way I could get a sense of the color.

Getting to see those posters up close will help inspire me. I have no doubt.

Closest I have come to what I want... Will need to color it.

September 19, 2012

ParaNorman on my doorstep!

I usually tweet my posts here to their relevant subjects or creators if those entities have a twitter handle, for example, I direct tweets of fan art for webcomics to those comics' creators. Usually I get a nice note back from them expressing appreciation.

Last week, I tweeted about my outfit that inspired this post about the film ParaNorman. I got a reply back with a link asking me to confirm my identity and give them my address. I was unsure if I was simply entering their #WeirdWins contest or what. But I thought it couldn't hurt in any case.

I forgot about it until yesterday when a tube appeared on my doorstep, addressed to me, from Blithe Hollow. Blithe Hollow is the fictional town that ParaNorman is set in. Also, it was stamped with this tell tale stamp. I practically had a heart attack right then!

With trembling hands I brought it inside and set it on the table. My plan was to open it with my husband, but he didnt get home until 6pm. It was 12:15pm... could I make it? I busied myself with chores and work and trapping and rescuing a mother cat and her litter of 3 day old kittens from behind my woodpile.

The kitties didn't even have their eyes open yet.
 Now it was 4 something... nope can't wait!

Inside I found a lovely little postcard. Cool art on one side and a nice message to the recipient on the other. Loved the little skull detail at the bottom of the card. That's the graphic designer part speaking.

Rolled up inside was not one, two or three but FOUR... four posters. They are huge: 36"h x24"w. And on really nice paper too. They range from the one you see at the theater, to a few highly stylized zombie genre looking ones. I have no idea where I am going to put them, but I am going to frame and hang each and every one. I'm now thinking I should turn the giant blank wall in my office into a giant inspiration wall and just hang all kinds of random stuff on it, including these four.

This one is at theaters I think.
Looks a little Invader Zim to me.
My favorite.
Runner up for favorite.

September 14, 2012

Khyarete Cat

So following the ideas from last post, I spent a little time coloring the doodle that I ended up with.

First Step: Trace the image that I orignially drew and line shaded so that Illustrator can render me some clean outlines.

Doodle-trace on a sticky note.
Step Two: Photograph trace and take into Photoshop. Use healing brush to get rid of the smudges, then an adjustment layer to balance out the shadow. Then I always adjust the layers to get as much dark and light as possible.

Photoshopped: Not always nicer.

Step Three: Bring adjusted image into Illustrator and use Live Trace tool to get some rough outlines that I can then take BACK into photoshop.

Line art at this point looks like a messy ink drawing. But it's vector!
Step Four: Open a new canvas at the size I want. In this case avatars are square so I just picked a 5"x5" canvas to use. Drop in the line art from Illustrator.

Following this I give the line art its own layer, rasterize it, erase the messy bits and thicken with a black round brush. Color blocking and palette choice is next where I paint some round blobs out together to see how they look. Then I color in the largest sections in their primary tone.

Create a new layer for shadows and larger details, like fixing the eyebrows and cheek dots. Shading the fur and kimono goes on this layer as well.

New layer for eyes is next. I always do them separate since I never usually like them and then can move them around the eyeball as I like if I don't like where I initially drew them.

New layer for the Kimono pattern. They are white chibi totoros. I put this on its own later after making a ton of layers and merging them for each totoro shape. Then I decreased the opacity to get it to look like it was on the fabric.

Then I made two layers for the background dot pattern thing. This part was hard. I just picked two colors to make two layers and then erased dots out of one to put over the other. I then gave the top color a Hue Saturation adjustment layer so that I could mess with the tones without having to recolor the whole thing. Still not sure I like the background colors, but they will do for now.

I decided at that point that the cat was blending into the background and she needed a shadow. Easiest way is to duplicate the line art layer and fill it in with black creating a black shape of the cat itself. Then enlarge it just a bit and lower the transparency on that layer and offset it from the cat to create a drop shadow.

I then had to add my signature mark which I have already in a vector format for this purpose. It gets it's own layer as well.

So you can see the layers...
 Done... for now.

September 13, 2012

Cucumber Quest, Oz & Avatars

So ever since watching Summer Wars, I've wished that Oz was real and that I could really make a custom avatar like was displayed in the movie with all those options. Started sketching around right after I saw it the third time or so... That was months ago now. You can see the direction I was going. The squiddy one is one for my husband.

Already here I was going toward Animal Crossing, Cats and Kimonos
I've left off it and been working on other things. Been thinking I need to get back to webcomic doodles. So the next one on my list is Cucumber Quest by Gigi DG. This comic is so awesome that I backed their Kickstarter because I want a print book of it so freaking bad.

Follows and unlikely hero, Cucumber, in his quest to defeat the Nightmare Knight, along with a whole host of characters. I am totally in love with the art for this comic... It like it has parts of oil painting and watercolors and pastels, parts of children's cutout books, pop up books, samurai jack sponge-painted backgrounds, fanatastic lighting and color. It's got the best parts of Animal Crossing and video games and RPGs and magic. It has cuteness and humor out the wazoo.

Anyway I wanted to draw something, so I just started doodling what I might look like as an inhabitant of Dreamside.

Everone is bunny in Dreamside, so far, I think.
Today I realized that there is a connection between these two different thoughts... I think. Then I was thinking about the previous avatars I have created and Animal Crossing. Anyway I have also been thinking that I need a new Twitter avatar so I did some more doodles today.

I tried to get a full 360 of it in my head. Nailed down her kimono design a bit more. It is a totoro design kimono. Animal Crossing ish shape. Cat like head and calico ish color spots. Cat/Rabbit ish ears. Tail which curls like my dog's. Eyes outline = glasses.  

Bottom left is an idea for a ParaNorman/Scooby Doo Fanart.
Started then thinking more about that twitter design... Might have to fix this since I have her holding the stuff in the wrong hand. I am lefthanded. Might just take it out all together.
I will probably color this.

September 10, 2012

Quick, Cheap and Easy

Now that I have a home, I am slowly discovering all the things that I need, that I do not currently own. Lawn implements, actual trash cans, a lawn mower, etc. Some things are smaller though.

The finished crochet plastic bag holder.

The last few weeks I have been realizing that the wonderful thing of a "plastic bag holder" is missing from my kitchen. The last one we had was my moms and so it went back to her in the move. Today I thought I would remedy this issue. After looking around on the net for a crochet pattern and not really seeing any I liked, I just kind of winged it based loosely off this pattern that uses old VHS tape for yarn.

Here's my pattern:

Items needed:
One elastic hair band (.97 cents for a pack at walmart)
About half a skein of yarn (I used a variegated I Love This Yarn)
About 2 hours
Basic crochet skills

Round 1: 20 single crochet around the hair band
Rd 2: 20 sc around
Rd 3: (2sc in first, 1 sc in next)* Repeat around (30sts)
Rd 4: chain 4, skip one stitch, double crochet in next, (chain 2, skip one stitch, double crochet in next)* Repeat around, close round by slip stitch in to second chain in original chain 4.
Round 5- as long as you want: keep doing chain 2, and one double crochet in the chain space around for as long as you want till you achieve the length you want.
Once you have achieved the length you want, stop and chain 8, slip stitch that back into the stitch you made it from to create a loop for hanging it from a peg.
Round 45: Single crochet around
Round 46: Single crochet around
Round 47: (Single crochet two together (decrease), single crochet)* Repeat around.
Round 48: (Single crochet two together (decrease), single crochet)* Repeat around.
Bind off and weave in. Finished!

Those last four rows are just to give the top of the bag a little structure so that you can fill it easier. If you want a nice wide opening, just do one row of the decreases.

The bottom with elastic band.
The top with hanging loop shown.
You have now saved yourself some money from buying any number of strange devices or "vintage/handmade" items off Etsy!

Before. Shoved into each other and into a cupboard.

After! Out of sight, in between the fridge and cabinets.
Oh! And just FYI, this whole thing is light enough that I am hanging it there with a Command Hook that holds up to .5 lbs. So no worries about damaging your cabinets to install it or something else!

Made a second one for my mom. Slightly changed the pattern a bit, might be clearer than the first.

Hanging Plastic Bag Sleeve Holder
Note: This pattern starts at what will be the bottom of the sleeve and works to the top. This variant of the pattern uses a hair band at both ends (2). Also has the same loop for hanging from a nail or hook.

Row 1: 25 sc around hair band, slip stich to join
Row 2: chain 1, 25 sc around, slip stich to first
Row 3: chain 1, (2sc in one, sc in next) *repeat around (38)
Row 4: chain 1, 38 sc around, slip stitch to first
Row 5: chain 4, skip one stitch, dc in next stitch, (chain 2, skip 1 stitch, dc in next)* repeat around, end by slip stitch in space of the chain 4 from beginning, 
Rows 6 to 40: repeat row 5, anchor the dc in the top of the dc from the row below it, do as many rows as you like making it short or long to your desires
Row 41: chain 8, anchor the chain with a slip stitch into the base of the chain to make a loop, sc around
Row 42: chain 1, sc around (38)
Row 43: decrease (sc two together, one sc in next)* repeat around (25) 
Row 44: 25 sc around a second hair band, slip stitch to join.
Bind Off.

Made a third for a co-worker. She likes cats so I used two different gray yarns and alternated colors for different rows to get it a kind of tabby look. Also added an embroidered nose and whiskers as well as some ears.

The color changing has a pattern to it. It is as follows: Do rows 1-4 in light gray as well as the decreasing at the top. Row 5 starts the color changing with a single row of dark gray, then 2 light, 1 dark, 2 light, 2 dark, 1 light, 1 dark, 1 light, 2 dark and then start over. I guess you can also just do it randomly if you wanted.   

September 7, 2012

ParaNorman on the Brain

Did you see ParaNorman yet? If not, I highly suggest watching your local dollar theaters for its arrival... that's not to say it is only worth a dollar, but rather that it is being phased out of the main theaters as I type this already.

My zombie candy corn t-shirt, purple hair and witch-cat hair clip made me feel very "paranorman".

I cannot give enough praise to this film. Marketed to kids, it is anything but a kids movie. You might have noticed it actually got a PG rating. It sells itself as a zombie genre film, but once again I feel that this "kids" movie is really more of an adult fairy tale. There are some very mature themes in this movie: death, afterlife, bullying, gender stereotypes, public schooling, politics, witchcraft vs. puritan thinking, remorse, murder... I could go on.

This whole package is wrapped up in a contrast of beauty and sheer real ugliness. I dont mean that the characters are ugly to look at, but they are certainly NOT the kind of actors hollywood films hire. The characters are all exaggerations of body types found in the real world on real people.

What also amazes me is the amount of work that goes into these films. And the amount of work done for simply stylistic reasons. There is a scene early in the film that has no characters, it lasts all of a few seconds and it is haunting me. It is a scene of a chain link fence with a trash plastic bag stuck in the wire, flapping in the wind. Now for a regular film thats not hard to make happen... but in this film someone had to create a tiny chain link fence. Weave the tiny wire together in that familiar pattern. Create a tiny pastic bag, rip and age it, paint a tiny fading logo on it. Plant that tiny fence in a small field where every piece of dirt and grass is hand made. Just for two seconds of a feeling to be added to this film. MIND BLOWING.

I have only seen it twice now. Might go again if I can find a theater showing, otherwise I'll be pacing until it is released on DVD. Just so I can pause every scene and watch every detail and marvel at every prop.

September 6, 2012

Reveille of Texas A&M

So apparently there is a tradition of having a Collie dog as a mascot for the Texas A&M college. If you would like to read more about Reveille click here. I of course, following my own tradition of offering crochet toys to expecting parents, was asked to try to make a crochet one for their first baby girl.

Reveille VII with cape.
After scouring the internet for a pattern and not finding one I liked, I saw a few images of this pattern for Abbey the Border Collie by NattyPat. I really liked the overall look and thought that with a few minor changes in color that it would serve my purpose.

Cute face no? I liked the addition of the eyebrows.
From the side.
I used the same dark Toast brown color from the Dalek I did earlier and a creamy soft white. The head and body was a breeze to make. At first I was a little sad that the pup was so small overall, but once I got into making the mane of fur, I was really happy that it was not bigger. That would have made this project take forever!
Sitting up with removable cape.
I had a little trouble with the legs at the top, trying to make sure that they would pose right, but I think I got it in the end. The second thing that troubled me was the embroidery on the face and toes. I am a total novice at embroidery! I've only ever used the thread to make friendship bracelets as a girl scout. It took me a long time to figure out the face markings and eyebrows especially. I do feel like after this project, that I learned a new skill though!

Underside, so you can see the mane and embroidery.
I then used the same brown from the body, a slightly darker gray brown and the white yarn to make the mane. I tried to follow images of collies to see how the colors fade into each other. I then made her a quick little cape like the dogs wear, with the Texas A&M logo embroidered on it.

Total time to completion: ~18 hours, due to novice embroidery skills, looping yarn for mane and follow up trimming and grooming (seriously)