This is an interesting article to write. Many people use tutorials, and many people write tutorials but not everyone knows how to use them to their advantage. This guide is to help with that, especially for people who aren’t experienced and aren’t sure if the result would be good. This guide is to help you learn how to find tutorials, and get the most out of them!
Types of Tutorials:
Guide / Article – These are usually in-depth and heavy on text, but can include images as well. These are usually to inform the reader, and can provide a lot of information or are based on personal opinion or experience.
General Tutorial – Almost always a series of images and text, giving you step by step information on how to create something.
WIPs (Work in Progress)– These are aimed at someone who already has an idea of what they are doing. Usually it is not explaining how to do what is shown but is showing the process. If there is progress being shown and information on how to achieve it, then it is generally counted as a tutorial. If it goes into a lot of detail then it is more likely a guide or an article.
Video – These are great for beginners. Video actually covers a range of tutorials, but I am specifically referencing those that show in real-time, possibly with some fast forwarding, how to create the end result.
Other – I can’t really think of something that fits this section right now, but if it doesn’t fit in the above then it will likely go here.
Searching for Tutorials
Lets jump right into it. You have a project, you aren’t sure how to take it on, you want some tutorials to help you! In this example we will say it is a Sora (Kingdom Hearts) wig that you are looking to style.
Wow them spikes. So first off you are probably going to hit up google (and hopefully http://www.cosplaytutorial.com ) for some Sora wig tutorials. Like these:
For some characters you’ll find a lot of tutorials, but for other characters you won’t. Even some really popular characters don’t have a lot of tutorials out there specifically for them. So when you search for tutorials, you need to think outside the box a little bit. What is Sora’s hair style? Spikes. So expand your seach to include that too:
The first one has nothing to do with the Sora wig, I included it to show that not all the tutorials you come across are going to be useful. Can you still find use out of them? Possibly for product suggestions, or ideas for another project, but Sora doesn’t have use for those crazy spikes! You’ll need to use your own discretion to determine if the tutorials you come across work for your project.
The other two, although for a different character, are pretty useful. The spikes are similar, and while the exact tutorial is not for Sora, you can translate some of the techniques over to your own wig styling.
Another thing to look for, and these likely won’t pop up while searching “tutorial”, are WIPs. WIPs are good for those who are experienced, but if you are a newbie and working from several tutorials then WIPs are also good since you can combine your knowledge from other tutorials and compare results with the WIP.
So searching for tutorials are pretty easy. Find tutorials for your character, find similar tutorials that could work for your character, look for some WIPs to help you along. It is also good to search on multiple websites. Check cosplay tutorial,
do a search on google, do a search on deviantart, do a search on cosplay.com, do a search on youtube. Look around until you have a couple of tutorials to work from.
Narrowing them down
So you have a ton of tutorials, how do you narrow them down to ones that are good?
So as you can see we are using Hollow masks for this example, since there are a ton of tutorials out there for them.
The first thing I suggest, and I do this regularily when screening the tutorials to post up on cosplay tutorial, is to look at the finished product, if there is a picture of it. While a poor finished product could be a lack of skill by the creator or just a bad day, it is usually an indicator of a bad tutorial. If suggest checking out the “good tutorial, poor results” section below for an expansion on this.
So you see the fancy final product but that is not always a sign of a good tutorial (lol). The next thing I would advise is checking the supply list. This tells you what you need, and will likely tell you if this is within your budget and skillset, and it hints at the quality. Does it look fancy? Yeah! But do you have a dremel, a vacuformer, 300 lbs of plaster and a screw? Well maybe you do, but I certainly don’t.
So it looks good, the supply list includes materials you can use, what next? Read through the tutorial, derp! Tutorials work best when you have a couple similar tutorials, you read through them all and take tips from them. Even if you end up following only one of the tutorials, the others can give you hints and tips to better work with the material or help if you are having issues. Sometimes a tutorial will be great for making the object (ex. a good mask making tutorial) but another tutorial will help with other parts (fitting it to the face properly, or adding a string).
And lastly, ask questions! People who write these tutorials did so to help others. They are most likely willing to be assaulted by questions about it. If you don’t quite get something then ask!
Use common sense when looking at or using tutorials!
One example, which I won’t link to here, is using acrylic paint to color your eyelashes. Yes, there is a tutorial for this and while the creator probably has not experienced any bad side effects with it, this thread does mention some of the issues with it. The thread I linked to also lists many alternatives, which are made for that purpose, which are safer for your eyes.
Good tutorial, poor results.
I debated showing a tutorial for this one, but I decided I should to show what I mean. So I give you this pokeball tutorial, which really doesn’t have poor results but can show what I mean.
What I mean by good tutorial, poor results, is that the tutorial is essentially not a bad tutorial. It explains well, it has pictures, the result is pretty okay – but it certainly could be improved. The benefit of using tutorials, is that you can learn from other people’s mistakes, or improve upon their works. They already did a lot of the trial and error for you!
For example, if you do decide to use styrofoam balls to make a pokeball with the above method you might notice that it takes many layers of modge podge to fill the holes and smooth the surface. In the closeup shot you can see that the texture of the styrofoam is still visible which may not be the look you are going for. So, while the tutorial is not bad you can certainly improve upon it yourself by doing more layers, use a different primer or a more smoothe base material. You might even go further to create raised details, or color the velcro.
Another example is this keyblade tutorial. While the work is really nice, a critiquer mentioned that it looks rough – and it does. Simply sanding the surface after doing the woodwork would improve the look and provide a nicer surface once complete. If you were to follow that tutorial, you may choose to sand to improve the look of your final product.
This is an interesting topic and something I see come up a lot in wig advice threads. Yellow or Blonde, what color should a wig be? It’s a challenge that can make or break a cosplay! Some people argue that yellow never is good, however I don’t believe that it’s true and I am going to go over some ways to determine if you should choose a blonde or yellow wig!
These characters tend to have a lighter color of hair that is more blonde than yellow anyway. These generally should be a blonde wig.
Yellow Hair, Normal World
In some situations the character will have a very yellow hair color, but is still supposed to be human or appear human. There are few situations where a bright yellow actually works, but in these situations it doesnt. I would reccomend a golden blonde wig which will have more color to it, but still look fairly natural.
Yellow Hair, Other World
Most of the time yellow wigs look bad, they look fake because it is so unnatural. However there are situations where yellow hair is possibly the better choice because the character is not from this world, or isn’t human. With yellow, sometimes it is better to opt for a pale yellow, or a blonde/yellow mix rather than something bright and solid.
Yellow, or Maybe Blonde?
There are characters where it’s tough to decide. The hair can work as both yellow or blonde. An example would be naruto, cosplays of the character look good with both blonde or a pale yellow, and sometimes it looks okay with a brighter yellow. In this case, the best thing to do is look through existing cosplays of the character and decide what you think looks the best, and if you want to do a realistic version of the character orvery cartoony.
Choosing a Yellow Wig
The biggest problem with yellow wigs are that they are this unnatural, obnoxious, bright color that just looks bad. It doesn’t look natural or realistic, it just burns the eyes! So here is a quick guide to choosing a yellow that looks good.
Say no to neon!
If it is a bright bight neon yellow it is going to look bad. Most of the time these are also party wigs which means they end up being low quality as well.
Bright Yellows are a Sometimes Wig
These are fairly bright but a little toned down from a neon wig. These generally should be used for characters that you want to have very yellow hair and not look natural. Most of the time it would be good to avoid these wigs.
Golden Yellow Brick Road to Success
If you want a character’s hair to be yellow but don’t want it to be vibrant and in your face, go with a golden yellow. Golden yellows usually are a darker blonde and yellow mix which gives you a good strong color but without the eye burning.
Yellow blonde wigs are good for characters who have a light blonde / light yellow hair color. It also looks natural but doesn’t have a the bright boom that the golden yellow has.
My goal is that every day I try to have a blog post, and have given each day a theme. Today is tuesday and this has been dubbed my photoshop day. So hopefully every tuesday this will be updated with something done in either photoshop or illustrator, or another image program.
I decided I was going to try and imitate a vintage photo for today! I have a porcelain doll that is apparently from germany and it has a very old look about her, so I set her up and took some quick shots to be used. I’ll add them here if you want to use some of them:
After I had my shots I looked up some vintage photos to be used as a reference. Some common themes I found:
– Black and white
– Yellow tinge
– Little bit blurry
– White areas aren’t very detailed (blown out)
– Sometimes damaged (creases and folds, white spots)
– Some of my mom’s photos have a white border to them, and are square or weirdly sized.
Then I played around in photoshop, imitating my references and this was the result:
For those who want a general idea of how I did this, using photoshop CS4
– I created a new adjustment layer for Hue/Saturation and dragged the saturation bar so that the photo was black and white
– I created a new layer overtop and set it to “soft light” and colored in the background black with a soft round brush, this darkened the background
– I created a new layer and flood filled it with black. Then I went filer > noise > add noise and dragged it to 400%. This layer was set to darken and an opacity of 3%
– The next layer was a white overlay set to 34%, this helped blow out the white areas.
– I created another overlay layer and colored over the shadows with a black soft round brush.
– I created an overlay layer and a color layer with the yellow color
– and lastly I added the white damage. I created a new layer and colored it entirely white. Then I used the rough round bristle brush as my eraser and erased the majority of the white, leaving some scratches.
Everything I used was default with the program, and overall it only took a couple minutes.
So I re-made my dark magician girl staff. I used similar methods but just took more time overall 🙂
The original Staff:
And version 2:
How I made It
The staff’s head is made with pink insulation foam board bought at home depot. This is true for both the old and the new version, except for the new version I cut two pieces and glued them together with white school glue (PVA glue). I then sanded down the entire head of the staff so it was smooth. I drew on and cut the indents with an exactoknife and then sanded in there so it was also smoothe. I used paperclay to fill in any holes where the pieces were bonded and sanded that down. The whole thing was primed and painted.
The first stick was made from a wooden dowell, this one is a PVC pipe from a halloween prop that was cut to size. The bottom raised area is made with paperclay that was built up and then the raised circles were added after. The clay was sanded and then the entire piece was painted with acrilic paints.
The bottom ball is a styrofoam ball which was primed and then painted over several times.
I attached the pipe into both areas by cutting a hole that was the size of the pipe. Then I used hot glue to attach both pieces of foam to the pipe. Be wary, high temperature hot glue will melt foam and can cause toxic fumes from the melting foam. Do this in a ventilated area, and of course use a lower heat glue gun or glue the stick and let cool before placing in the foam.
I then touched up the paint and cut off excess glue 😀
Oh blog how I have neglected you! I need to get back to posting regularily. So expect some pics of my updated keyblade and my cynthia costume sometime soon. But for now …
Panty & Stocking Guide
Simple costumes but still a bit of a challenge, particularily the wigs if you don’t want to find them pre-styled. The outfits are pretty good for smaller cons, meetups or more casual cosplay because they are fairly regular clothes.
- Ebay – Cosplaywig (Prestyled)
- Ebay – yoitsukizuna2008
- Ebay – Wigfever
- Ebay – Wigfever
What is nice is that all of these can be bought pre-made from dollar stores, accessory stores or craft stores. You may need to pick up some paint to adjust the color.
To be honest, there really is no reason to buy a dress if you can sew, because it’s simple you can make it for far cheaper and maintain quality better than just buying it. If you do go the buy route, look for actual dresses that look like Panty’s rather than picking up a “cosplay dress” of her’s.
Make -> Sewing patterns~
These are pretty simple. Red mary jane shoes, closed toe with a strap. You really should have no problems finding these anywhere. For the silver clasp on the strap of the shoe, if yours does not come with one you can go to a craft store like Michaels and pick up something you can put on there, likely in the bead section.
Here are some shoes that may work:
Assuming you already have a pair of shoes that work, or you have gone thrifting and found a great pair, but they are not the right color here are some shoe color changing tutorials:
- http://www.fm-anime.com/ (Pre-styled)
- Ebay – Greatarchy09 (Pre-styled)
- Ebay – jcpunk (Pre-styled)
- Ebay – Lhjun2010 (Pre-styled)
- Ebay – Fancyuush (Pre-styled)
Like Panty’s shoes these should be easy to find, a simple pair of black dress shoes should work and you can find those at any shoe store, and thrift stores. Try to avoid heels since she appears to be wearing flats, or platforms. Something like these would be ideal:
It happens, you buy from a commissioner and something goes wrong. You don’t get your item, you get something that is horrible quality, or you are just unsure if they are trustworthy. Buying on the internet isn’t like real life because you can’t just pick it up at a store and observe the item, you can’t walk it up to the cash and make sure it goes into the bag and that you walk out the door with it.
So there is always a risk with ordering online, but don’t let that scare you away from ordering! Personally I have never had a bad experience buying online, and I buy yugioh cards, wigs, theater makeup, books, cds, and clothes. But I know it happens, I’ve seen the stories of people where a commission just went wrong and they don’t know what to do – so this guide is here to help.
Lets start with prevention
Before buying online you should take steps to prevent scams.
1) Do research on the seller.
If you are buying on Ebay read the customer feedback, if there is anything less than 100% positive feedback do a quick read through for the negative reviews, what was the issue? Sometimes it is just something silly but if it was that bad of a situation then people will leave a lengthy negative comment to help you avoid that seller.
Next you should do a quick search of the seller’s name or shop name with “reviews”. If you find nothing they may be a new seller of they typically have good service. If they are bad, then you will know. For example LimeBarb is a commissioner I have seen both good and bad reviews for so a quick google search of “LimeBarb Reviews” gives me an entire review on a Lulu costume that was commissioned from the seller.
It’s also worth checking out the Commissioner / Merchant Review Thread on cosplay.com, there are tons of reviews on a variety of sellers so you can see what other cosplayers have experienced with them. Make sure you leave your feedback there too, to help everyone else.
2) Use Secure Payment Methods
This is where I recommend PayPal. For one, it is most widely accepted and if a site refuses paypal then they are probably not worth trusting. What paypal does is act as a wall between you and the seller, preventing the seller from getting your credit card or other financial information, keeping you safe from fraud or identity theft. They also deal with other buyer protection in case you don’t receive the item or get something that was not as advertised.
It is also helpful to use your credit card, rather than cash, cheque or money order. A credit card allows you to dispute a payment with the credit card company should you not get your item.
Only buy on sites that are offering a safe web checkout process. Look for company logos like VeriSign and TrustE. Sites with encryption display a locked padlock on the bottom of the browser.
3) Read a Seller’s Full Description, Shipping and refund policies.
What is the description of the item? An honest seller will note things like that it was previously worn, or have a small hole or whatever issue there might be with the item. They might also list information about proper size measurements (since sizes differ from north america to europe to asia) and can prevent unhappy surprises. Sometimes shipping to other countries might take a long time, make sure to note where they ship and how long it takes. Also check their refund policies, some places offer no refunds, some offer exchanges, others will fully refund. Find out now before you run into issues.
4) Contact a Seller, make sure they can reach you and you can reach them
Generally I like to ask a simple question if I am unsure of the seller or product, if they respond you know they are there. Make sure you also offer a valid email so that they can contact you too. Especially for commissioners that aren’t on ebay, you want an easy way to keep in touch!
5) Save Stuff
Print a copy of the email saying it was shipped, have a copy of the contract, have all your conversations with the seller saved until you are complete and happy with your order. If the seller is unwilling to resolve the issue then you may need them to prove your case!
6) Order Early!
if you want something in time for a con then you will want to order early, that way if a situation occurs you can still receive your item on time.
It Happened, Now What?
Okay so you ordered from a seller and now you are unhappy lets first target the issue:
1) It never arrived
Before jumping to conclusions, lets find out what happened. Check your invoice that says it was shipped. What day was it shipped and how long did it say it would take? Usually the mail doesn’t ship on weekends, so make sure you were counting business days. If there were any recent holidays that the mail would be stopped, then it may take an extra day to ship. Make sure you waited the full length of time it said it would take before freaking out. If you have tracking (which is worth paying for if you are buying something like a full costume) then you can also check it to see where your package is currently.
Have you waited the full-time and it still hasn’t arrived? First contact your post office, if it was sent in a package and nobody was home to sign for the delivery then it will be there. They usually leave a note on your door or mailbox but you may not have gotten it, so check first. Remember the delivery name will be under the shipping address’ name!
Still nothing? Contact the seller about the issue, they may be able to resolve the issue. Sometimes there are just mistakes, and what makes a great seller is their customer service. Try to resolve the issue with them and it can work out for the best for you. If they don’t respond to your emails or refuse to help with the situation then start the next steps:
If you paid through paypal you can report the situation through the Paypal Dispute Resolution Page
If you paid through your credit card you can contact your credit card company, most offer online protection.
If you bought through eBay then you can go to the Resolution Center and after reviewing your case you can be eligible for a full refund. Also, keep in mind there are deadlines for opening a case—usually within 45 days of making payment on an item
1b) It went to the wrong address!
First is this your fault or their fault? If you imputed the wrong address and it ships then note that you are the one who should be doing all the chasing and while the seller can help, if they have already shipped it then it can end up being your loss.
First send a message to the seller as soon as possible. If you can catch them before they ship the item then there shouldn’t be an issue. If the item has already been shipped then you should still talk to the seller so you can get them to track it down, if they go to the post office they can recall the package and it will be returned to them. If it was your mistake you may have to pay additional shipping fees for it to be resent. This method is more successful if you have a tracking number associated with your package.
If your seller will not help you or is not responding, contact the shipping service! If the issue is because you have recently moved you can set up mail forwarding so anything sent to your old address that is addressed to you will go to your new address. The united states postal service has this option online, and other postal services should have it available online as well. Otherwise your postal service may help redirecting the package to get to you, or your closest post office.
Otherwise, hope that the mail is sent to a non-existing address and is returned to sender, or that the person who receives the package returns to sender. If you are at fault for the mishap you may have to pay the delivery fee a second time.
2) It wasn’t as advertised
So you order your item and it isn’t as advertised, that sucks because you are not getting what you paid for! Lets start by observing the item. How bad is it? If it is something small and fixable (ex. a wig is a bit messy) than you are probably better off doing the touch up yourself. If it is not something you can fix, or is not something you want to fix (ex. size measurements off) then your first step should be to check the seller’s return policy. Some sellers will only take an item in its original packaging or unworn, you want to make sure that you don’t do anything that will prevent you from being able to return it!
Next, contact the seller. Make sure to include all the information about the issue and what you want the next steps to be. Lets say something came in the wrong size, explain the size issue and then say if you want a refund, if you want to exchange it for a proper size, or possibly a partial refund for you to take it to a tailor near you. Keep in mind their return policy, if they say absolutely no refunds in there then you should aim for an exchange.
So was the seller unreasonable, or they didn’t respond at all?
If you bought the item through ebay then you can contact them about the situation and they should help you deal with the seller. If you bought through a different auction or store site (such as etsy.com) then you can contact the site for help.
Okay so you did what you could and it was hopefully resolved well, but you may still be upset with the seller – especially if they decided to ignore your emails or just offer bad customer service after the mishap. So what can you do now?
Write a review! If you have a blog or website write a review there, or throw one in your deviantart journal or somewhere on cosplay.com, and definitely put one in the Commissioner / Merchant Review thread. This will help more reviews become available for other people looking to buy from that seller, and it may help the same situation from being repeated!
Leave Feedback. If you bought from ebay then you can leave it on the ebay feedback but you may also leave it on the commissioner/seller’s website or shop if they have a space for it. It might help the seller notice their bad ways and reform or avoid similar issues in the future.
Feel free to share your own tips and experiences in the comments
Currently darkelements doesn’t have working contact forms due to the site’s redesign, but requests still get through to me. This morning I got a tutorial submission from a form that has nothing linking to it! I also got messaged on gaia to do a character guide for Jan Valentine from Hellsing, and so I am:
Well he wears a toque. If you wait for winter to come around then you should have a variety of black winter-hat and toque options for a fairly low price. You could also find them in the summer months by checking thrift stores or going online. If you want to make the hat and can knit then that would be the best option for making. Here is a pattern for a basic knitted mens toque – http://hipknitized.blogspot.com/2009/12/mens-sleek-toque.html If you can’t knit and buying is not an option, then you can experiment with other fabrics to achieve a similar look. This is a basic fleece hat tutorial and should work as a good pattern.
He also has an eye on his hat. There are lots of ways to do this so I’ll go over a bunch of them so you can choose what works best for you.
– If you are knitting you can knit the design into the hat
– Create an Applique
– Paint it on with acrylics or fabric paint
– Get a squeeze bottle with a fine tip and fill with fabric paint, then squeeze the paint (like drawing)
– Create with craftfoam and hot glue to the fabric
– Use iron on transfer paper to iron the design onto the hat
– Screen Print
Most people don’t want to go get their faced all pierced for a costume, so this part is a challenge if you don’t have the piercings already. However there are ways to have fake piercings, which have a great secondary use of freaking out your mom.
– One option is buying a fake piercing. You can get them at dollar stores and accessory stores like icing and claires that target a pre-teen audience, and around halloween you can find them at costume and party stores, you can also find them at body art stores. There are also many places online that sell fake piercings, you can look at theatrical and costume websites or sites that focus specifically on fake piercings. I havn’t bought from this site but came across:
Contacts. There are tons of colored contacts sites on the intenet and possibly at optometrists near you, so I’ll just list a couple that I found here.
– Costal Contacts Yellow
– Costal Contacts Crow
– 9mmSFX Yellow Devil
– 9mmSFX Crow
– Fashion Contacts Yellow Bastard
–1 Save on lens Angelus
–1 Save on lens Angelic Color
–1 Save on lens Crow
–1 Save on lens moony
– Vamp Fangs Moony
– Vamp Fangs Crow
His hair is fairly simple since it is under a hat and isn’t too crazy. I believe you can get away with using your own hair if it is the same length and color. If you go to a hairdresser and ask for layers it should help with styling layer on, since it makes it easier to do the spiked tips. His official haircolor is black.
Some wig sugguestions are:
– Cosworx’s Bob. This wig would require some cutting to get the nice layered spikes he has but is a good length.
– Cosworx’s Hanna. This would need to be straightened, and would probably need a bit more work to look like his hair.
– Amphigory’s Fae. This wig is longer than needed but is a excellent choice, just needs to be cut and styled.
There are also a ton of black wigs on ebay that will work.
Shirt & Pants
For making his costume I sugguest using sewing pattern McCall’s Civil war pattern #M4745. It has two patterns in it but the one I sugguest is the one below. It has the collar needed and shape, and it is very easy to just make a closed front and add in a zipper (in fact I have done that several times)
Otherwise check thrift stores, online or your local mall for similar looking shirts or jackets. They will probably need some modifications. His pants can also bemade using that pattern.
White gloves might be a bit of a challenge but you should be able to find them around winter time, or online. If you are looking to make them, this site is the go-to website for gloves:
and in case that isn’t enough for you, I also have links to these two glove tutorials:
Now this is a bit of a challenge to explain since there aren’t any tutorials around for the specific guns. Apparently the weapon is an FN P90, so that should help with obtaining references, or even papercraft files.
As for how to make it, I have seen a lot of suggestions for buying them. Not the real guns silly! There are airsoft variants of that gun available and you should be able to find it online. However, check your con’s weapons policy since some cons do not allow airsoft weapons, or have strict rules about them. You don’t want to buy something you can’t use!
Another option is to make it out of insulation foam which you can carve and attach wood, plastic, or other scraps to build the shape of the gun. Then finish it off with a good paint job. Since these guns are so large, they should be easy to carve the base of.
And if you can find the papercraft, you should be able to fiberglass over it for a solid replica.
Have any questions, sugguestions or comments? Feel free to post them 🙂