Cosplay 101: Make-up Basics

Cosplay 101

Cosplay make-up can work a little differently to your everyday look. I make no claims to being an expert but I’ve learnt a few things along the way. Consider this a tips post, not a tutorial.

Face

Think about skin tone. You can adjust your own tone a little, but (unless you’re being Harley Quinn or another character with a literal painted face) it’s quite limited. Pick a shade or two darker or lighter than your usual foundation, but anymore than that and it’s going to look strange against the rest of your skin.

Test a few foundations away from your usual brand to find what will stay longest on your skin. Bear in mind, conventions are sweaty places, so your foundation will need to stand up to that. Seal your foundation with a good face powder. You can top your powder up throughout the day, which will help combat shine.

Eyes

If you’re not going for a specific effect, for eyes you’re basically going for definition. Photographs can make your eyes disappear a bit. Pick an eyeshadow that suits your character, or choose a good nude. Line the eyes (go waterproof if you can, again, think sweat!) and a put on a couple of layers of mascara. Now your eyes won’t vanish of someone gets a little exposure happy with their picture of you.

You can make a more dramatic eye with false lashes. Practise putting them on well before the convention so you’re used to it, and give yourself plenty of time to get them on on the day of the convention. False lashes can be fiddly and if you’re trying to do it quickly, that’s always going to be when you struggle!

Eyebrows

I find brows are another victim of vanishing in photos. If my character has brows close to my natural colour, I just fill mine as normal. If, however, you’re wearing a wig in a different colour, colouring your brows can make a lot of difference.

I’ve had success using a lip liner, eyeliner or brow pencil in the colour I want to use. You can also use eyeshadow and gently brush it through your brows. There are methods involving paints out there, but personally, I don’t think it’s worth it. Stick with actual make-up products, and it’s less likely to upset your skin!

Contour

If you’re clever, shadows and highlights can dramatically appear to alter your face shape. Again, practice is key here. Get a good highlighter and then either a contour powder or a bronzer. If you use bronzer, avoid anything too orange and stick with brown shades, and avoid shimmer. Essentially, if you want to bring something forward, highlight it. If you want to push something back, put the contour powder on it. Blend well, or you’ll look stripy.

Study your source material and see where your face shape matches and where it differs. Experiment with shading and see how well you can match that shape.

Lips

The first step should always be a liner. It will give a more defined shape and help your lipstick stay put.  Whatever colour you use, apply one light layer first and then blot. To blot, gently close your lips around a tissue or a piece of folded up toilet roll. Apply another layer and then blot well. A good blot will help the lipstick stay put and not just transfer to anything you drink out of, and also helps stop it getting all over your teeth. Take the lipstick with you so you can reapply throughout the day if you need too.

 

For cosplay make-up, practice makes perfect! Do test runs at home, and take photographs. Be aware that make-up will photograph a little differently to how it looks in real life, so test this at home for yourself and you won’t be caught by surprise.

 

Friday Round Up – Double Edition

Links, loves and Instagrams from the last (two) weeks.

Friday Round Up

Project Soundlounge – I’ve been playing roving reporter for Brum Radio again recently, this time away from Geeky Brummie. I went along to Project Soundlounge, a series free gigs at Birmingham’s Town Hall. I interviewed a couple of the acts, who were all from around the Midlands. A great way to check out some local talent!

Geeky Brummie – We celebrated Geeky Brmmie’s half birthday with mini cupcakes. I even got a Wonder Woman one. Six months of Geeky Brummie! Here’s to the next six.

Tapas – Dave and I tried out some tapas last night, for Brum Hour. Review to come!

This week’s links:
Flood destroys home of man who said gays cause floods.
Pros and Cons of Instagram stories.
Straight writer blasted for outing Olympians.
CBCS saves ICE.
A bigger George RR Martin universe may be coming to TV.
Deadpool crashes his own honest trailer.

 

Cosplay 101: What Lies Beneath

Cosplay 101

 

Cosplay often involves a lot of weird fabrics, and we’re all trying to obtain impossible comic book shapes in our costumes. After hours building a costume, you can often find yourself what in the hell you’re supposed to wear underneath it. Here’s my guide to cosplay underwear. Most of this will be relevant to the ladies, as that’s my experience, but there are some handy-dandy tips for the gents too.

The Basics

Start on a good foundation. Cosplay often involves fabrics like spandex which shows through every weird bump of your underwear, so start with the smoothest foundation possible. Seam free thongs, smooth t-shirt bras or seamless bodysuits are a great place to start. No lines! If you do go bodysuit, do bear in mind whether you’ll be to escape from it to use the bathroom though. Stick with nude colours so it doesn’t show through. Your costume might look opaque, but fabrics can do weird things under camera flashes. Staying nude avoids any surprises when you get your pictures back…

Cinching it in

Lots of cosplayers are looking to create an exaggerated waistline. There’s a couple of ways to achieve this. Waist cinchers can work to smooth out your mid section and trim an inch or two off. Again, choose wisely and pick nude colours, smooth textures and minimal fastenings.

Underbust corsets can also be a great option to trim your waist. The same rules apply. If you are going to use compression garments like cinchers and corsets, please be sensible. Get measured, learn to put it on properly and don’t lace too tight. Practice wearing it around the house first so you know it’s comfortable and safe. Invest in the best quality you can afford and try not to wear the thing for hours and hours.

Shapewear

If you want to smooth everything out and avoid lines, shapewear can be a good option. Most cosplayers I know use shapewear of some kind under their costumes. There are loads of different options out there, depending what you want to smooth, whether you want shorts, vests, body suits or somewhere in between. You know the drill by now. Seamless, nude colours. Buy the best you can afford for the best results.

Cosplay Cleavage

Spandex can do weird things, including smushing your breasts down. If this is a problem and you want to create a more extreme silhouette, invest in a decent push-up bra. Lots of cosplayers swear by the Victoria’s Secret Bombshell bras to boost their assets. This…is not generally an issue I have so I can’t vouch for their effectiveness personally. Again, nude colour and smooth lines if you can. Get properly measured too!

There is also, of course, Pompberry’s famous Cosplay Cleavage tutorial if you want to do some serious boosting.

Binding

At the other end of the spectrum, if you’re an ampler chested lady wanting to minimise your assets for crossplay, you can bind your chest. I’ve never done this, but there are lots of tutorials out there. However, BE CAREFUL. Done improperly, you can really hurt yourself and permanently damage your breast tissue. Don’t bind with bandages. Just…don’t.

Safer methods include layering a couple of sports bras, sports compression wear, or if you’re going to do it regularly, just invest in an actual chest binder. Your boobs will thank you.

As with corsets, be sensible. Don’t squash too much and don’t wear for too long.

Legs for Days

Wanna know how cosplayers get perfect legs? Dance tights. They’re sturdier than fashion tights, so they last longer and take a beating better. They hold everything in and smooth it out. They’re thicker, so create the illusion of perfect legs while providing more coverage for a skimpy costume. They’re also designed to be with leotards so they don’t have that control top at the top of the thigh, which makes them perfect for wearing with short shorts or leotard based costumes. I’ve worn dance tights for years, as an actual dancer, and I swear by them. My preferred brand is Capezio, which you can buy on Amazon.

And for the gents…

This one is an awkward one, but I see it so often at conventions. Gents, please be aware that spandex is not forgiving and it has a tendency to cling. I don’t need to see every detail of Spidey’s trouser department, but most guys seem oblivious to how…obvious…everything is in spandex suits. You can’t just wear your regular boxers. Sorry. DO NOT try and use a sports cup to disguise it either, as this actually does the opposite. Like dance tights, dancers have the best tricks here. Invest in a dance belt. Buy one in a nude colour. Male ballet dancers wear them and are suitably contained for leaping about in white tights under stage lights without embarrassment.

 

Don’t forget, you can send me any cosplay questions you have and I’ll try and cover them in a future cosplay 101!.

Foodie Adventures

I’ve been a lucky girl this week and stuffing my face at any opportunity. Here’s my round up of foodie adventures over the last couple of weeks.

The Smoke Haus

The Smoke Haus

David and I went for an impromptu lunch at The Smoke Haus in Brindley Place. Dave is a sucker for southern comfort, so it seemed like a safe bet. The inside of the restaurant is classic americana, with pictures of Elvis everywhere, comfy booths, and baseball on the TV. Unfortunately, the air con was a little over-cranked, and even though it was red hot outside, I ended up huddling in my hoodie. We ordered a portion of pulled pork nachos to split, which I apparently didn’t photograph. Loaded with toppings, these were tasty, with pretty good pulled pork. We did come to regret ordering them though when the main courses arrived. I chose the Breakfast Club with a side of sweet potato fries. The sandwich is three slices of bread filled with egg, mushroom, bacon and sausage. It was very, very tasty, but so, so huge. Now, I like a generous portion size, but it just seemed excessive. Even without the nachos there is no way I would have finished this. I managed half, and our super friendly waitress very kindly boxed up the rest for me (I get the impression they do this a lot), but I’d also bet they get a hell of a lot of waste. Try it out, but go hungry. Very hungry!

The Victoria

The Victoria

I mentioned this in a Round Up, but we had another round of Seven Deadly Sins with Brumderland and Bitters N Twisted. This time, we were checking out newly launched food and cocktail menus at The Victoria. I’ll be honest, I often forget the Victoria serve food, and think of it as a place for drinking and dancing. They actually have a pretty sizeable menu, of classic Bitters N Twisted treats, with giant burgers, chicken wings and tasty pizzas. We tried a selection of new items, but the stand outs for me were the Korean chicken wings and the pizzas. The wings were sticky and well marinated, but the Korean flavours stopped them from being any old wings. Tasty twist! From the pizzas, I was particularly impressed with the Los Pollos Hermanos, which is roast chicken with ranch dressing. Sounds weird, but it was delicious. The cocktails, as they are always are at the Vic, were boozy and very drinkable. The new menu has been developed by a couple of the bar staff, which is a nice touch. One negative point, the pub manager, who has been in situ a couple of months now, while very friendly, seemed to be lacking in knowledge of the cocktail menu. When we asked for more details of what was in things, we were often answered with a reading of the menu, which is a little less than what we hoped for…

Apart from that, an excellent night all round.

Pop Up Taco Shop

Pop Up Taco Shop

Birmingham is a great city for pop ups. I’ve paid a couple of visits to Pop Up Taco Shop, in the Jewellery Quarter. I’ve been twice now, once in a large group, and once with just David. The menu is simple, with seven tacos, all priced at £2 each. The staff recommend you order around three a person. It’s a tough choice, as they all sound delicious. Whatever you do choose though, you won’t be disappointed. Prepared to order, each taco is made with fresh ingredients, and is beautifully light. You’ll leave full, but not uncomfortably stuffed. Everything is carefully balanced to bring out the best flavours, and you feel like you’ve eaten authentic, not the usual Mexican option of stuff smothered in cheese (looking at you, enchiladas!). There’s a great selection of tequila based cocktails too, so you can make a night of it. The staff are friendly and helpful when you order. The surroundings are incredibly simple, but the vibe is really relaxed. Both times I’ve been, I think you could have had a quick lunch and been out the door, as the service is fact, but as you get up to the bar to order, you could also sit all night with friends, ordering drinks and more tacos throughout a long evening. GO, before it disappears.

Itihaas

Itihaas

Most of Birmingham blogging were invited along to try out Itihaas, in the Jewellery Quarter. More than your standard curry house, Itihaas aims to offer fantastic food in stunning surroundings. The venue is beautiful, especially the canal side dining room downstairs. The space feels up market, but not stuffy. It struck me as great place to take someone you needed to impress, like an important client. I suspect Itihaas gets a lot of business diners. We started with canapés. Lots of canapés. Every time you turned round there was another waiter at your elbow trying to give you more food. The staff were friendly, but almost over attentive. It was almost overwhelming, although the canapés were beautifully cooked, and delicious. Main courses were just as impressive. We tried a pretty good variety, including lobster, butter chicken and incredible naan breads. Everything was beautifully presented (again with that impressing somebody vibe..). The food felt authentic; well spiced, well balanced and all done with a delicate hand. The only down note for me was the cocktails. With food and decor at such a high standard, I was expecting the cocktails to match, but instead felt they were just ‘fine’. Nothing special, and very boozy.

The Gin Vault

The Gin Vault

Birmingham Bloggers had a meet up at The Gin Vault. Cunningly hidden on Canal Side, the bar is gorgeous inside, with trinkets, fairy lights and cosy corners everywhere. With over thirty gins, and an excellent cocktail list, I was sure to feel at home here. The staff are clearly knowledgeable too. They were recommending and creating cocktails all night, according to people’s individual tastes, and as if that wasn’t enough, they were incredibly friendly too. The vibe in the air is relaxed, and you could easily spend an entire evening there. The Gin Vault also has a tapas menu, which we got to try too. We ate our way through piles of chorizo, calamari, chicken skewers in mango, satay chicken and lots more. Was it the world’s most authentic tapas in the world? No. It was, however, plentiful and tasty, and with three dishes for £10, excellent value. As a tasty bar snack with an expertly crafted gin cocktail, what more could you want?

Cosplay 101: Interacting With Cosplayers

Cosplay 101

You’ve waited for months. You’ve queued for hours. You’re finally in the the convention hall, and there they are. The cosplayers. Like a strange alien species in elaborate armour, light-up props and monster heels. Now what?

I know some people feel shy about approaching cosplayers, so here’s my guide on the etiquette of interacting with cosplayers at conventions.

Photos

We’ve worked hard on these costumes. Please do ask us for photos! We like it, promise. Most cosplayers are flattered to be asked and will be more than happy to pose for you. There are some exceptions of course. Don’t forget, cosplayers are people too. If the cosplayer you want to photograph is eating, sitting and taking a break or otherwise resting…please leave them be. Wait and catch them later. One other thing I find really odd is when people take photos of you without asking, when they’re walking past you or stood a little way away. If I’m walking somewhere or talking to someone and your sneak photo comes out with me making a weird face or an important costume detail covered, on your head be it. Just ask. Cosplayers don’t bite. You’ll get a much nicer picture if we know you’re taking it!

Oh, and I hope I don’t need to tell you guys, but sneaky pictures of bums and cleavage is not okay. 

Silk Spectre Pin-Up

Comments and Conversation

Again, I promise we don’t bite. Come and talk to us. Personally, I am always more than happy to chat about the costume or the character, and I have made so many friends just chatting to people at conventions. Never feel like you can’t go and start a conversation with someone. On a similar note to above though, keep respect in mind. Whatever the character, there’s still a person in there, so keep it appropriate, yeah? At the risk of sounding like your mum, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

And the rest…

It should go without saying,  but if you’re posing with cosplayers, check before slinging an arm round them or touching them at all. You might mean it in a matey way, but not everybody is happy being touched or hugged by strangers. Definitely no grabbing. They might look incredible, but groping is never, ever acceptable.

Friday Round Up

Links, loves and Instagrams from the last week:

Friday Round Up

Eats and Drinks – As usual, there’s a been a lot of eating and drinking this week. The weekend kicked off with happy hour, was followed up by tacos from a truly excellent pop-up in the Jewellery Quarter and finished with tasty ice cream at the Birmingham Caribbean Festival. Next up was a blogger event at Itihaas (post to follow) which was booze soaked and seemed to have the whole of Birmingham blogging in attendance. As if that wasn’t enough, there was also the Birmingham Blogger Meet at the Gin Vault, which is now my new home. Expect foody posts over the next couple of weeks!

Cosplay – There’s been some more deliveries for Wonder Woman this week and some costume testing for Black Canary. SO. Damn. Excited.

This week’s links:
Geeky Brummie.
Killing Joke fails Batgirl so badly.
Joss Whedon may direct Black Widow.

Cosplay 101: Photos and Photoshoots

Cosplay 101

One of the best compliments as a cosplayer is someone asking to take your photo. If you’re not a natural in front of a camera though (I’m certainly not!) it can be a bit awkward knowing what to do with yourself. Whether it’s hall shots or a full photoshoot, here’s some tips to help you relax and enjoy it.

Research

Get on Google images and get searching. Does your character have an iconic pose, or an element of their character you can portray with a pose? For example, for hall shots, for Lara Croft I pose holding up the guns like she does in the games when you have the auto-focus on, like this:

Lara Croft cosplay

Photographer: Sandy Smith Photography

For Poison Ivy, I blow kisses. If you need lots of poses, for example for a shoot, really crank up the research. Look at stills, fan-art, the original comic art (whatever’s relevant). Save images of poses you like. Take them with you to the shoot, and share them with the photographer. I find looking at other cosplay photos really helpful for getting ideas of things I could do. For Silk Spectre, I ended up looking at loads of classic pin-up art, as that vibe fitted the character. Google is your friend!

Posing

You’ve done your research and now someone is pointing a camera at you. Gulp. Now what? Basic tips: over exaggerate whatever it is you’re doing. Facial expressions and poses look ‘smaller’ in a photo, so go big. It’ll feel weird, but look much better. Be aware of your hands and feet. People tend to clench their hands when they’re not comfortable, and it looks so odd in pictures. Try and hold them as naturally as possible. Practise at home in the mirror. You’ll feel like a berk, I’m sure, but you’ll know what the poses look like. You can work out what angles show off your costume best and are most flattering for your figure. Better to learn at home that a certain angle makes you look weird than when you get your pictures back. Practice faces and get used to what your muscles feel like when you do it, so you can recreate the face at a convention without the mirror. There are a lot of great guides out there for cosplay posing. This one from Tux Team is great. Elite Cosplay‘s series of videos on posing for photoshoots are also fantastic.

The Photographer

Remember, you can say no if someone asks you for a picture. If you’re not convinced about someone’s motives, say no and move on. If someone asks you to move to a quieter area, think sensibly. Take a friend along with you. If you’re working with a photographer for a shoot, have a look at their previous work to get an idea of whether you like their style. Choose someone you like and trust. It makes so much difference to the pictures you get out of it. Shoots with photographers I know vaguely are never as good as when I work with friends. My favourite pictures of me are by either Sandy Smith Photography or Gonzography. What do they have in common? They’re both friends of mine.

Cosplay Posing

Silk Spectre: Sandy Smith Photography. Poison Ivy: Gonzography

On Location

Whether it’s moving away from the convention hall, or a separately organised shoot, shooting on location has some unique challenges. Think about where you’re going and what sort of attention you’ll attract and if you’re comfortable with that. For example, David and I used a graffiti wall in a children’s play area for shots of Rogue and Gambit. I was fine in Rogue, but wouldn’t have taken Poison Ivy or Silk Spectre to a location like this. I have to think carefully about where to take Lara Croft, due to both the outfit and the props. I have shot Lara outside of a hotel we were staying in and wouldn’t do so again. We attracted a lot of attention from the road and gathered a bit of an audience of men, and caused some upset working with the guns.

Can you travel in costume? Where can you change if you need to? Think about how much of your costume you can get on in advance. Trust me, it’s a lot easier than trying to change in the car! Take something to change into afterwards, or at least have something to slip over the top. If you’re outside in cold weather, take something warm to put on between shots. What’s the terrain like where you’re shooting? I’ve shot Poison Ivy in an abandoned brewery. There was a lot of rubble underfoot, and a fair bit of climbing involved to get in. I couldn’t have done it in the shoes I use for Ivy, so packed flats for navigating and changed my shoes for photos.

Cosplay Photoshoots

Poison Ivy – Gonzography. Silk Spectre and Lara Croft – Sandy Smith Photography. Rogue and Gambit – Robert John Parker Photographer

Take someone with you. Not only is it safer if you’re working with a photographer you don’t know, it’s actually really useful to have someone there. Whatever I’m shooting, you can guarantee David is there. Whether or not we’re working together, he comes along. He usually has all the pose inspiration saved on his phone so he can show me and the photographer. He holds lights, keeps an eye on my stuff, is ready to answer questions if we attract an audience and generally makes the experience more fun and laid back. In my Silk Spectre shots, if I’m looking off camera, I’m usually making eye contact with David. My facial expressions are a hell of a lot more natural if I’m genuinely smiling at him, rather than faking it.

Credit

You’ve got your beautiful photos back from your shoot, and you can’t wait to share them. If you’re sharing them anywhere, make sure you credit your photographer. Even though it’s you in the photo, because they took it, they own it. Include their name and if you’re on Facebook, tag their page. It’s a requirement, and good manners, to credit and give them some traffic. They should do the same for you. Check if your photographer has specific rules about what is allowed with their pictures. Most will watermark their pictures and some specify that you cannot crop images (apart from for profile pictures) in such a way that the mark is lost. Others prefer you not to submit images for print. If you’re ever not sure, ask. I am yet to meet a photographer who’s been awkward or unreasonable about using their pictures.

 

What’s your top tip for getting amazing pictures?

 

 

Friday Round Up

Links, loves and Instagrams from the last week.

Round Up

Eating and drinking – We’ve been drinking a lot of cocktails lately…which is clearly excellent, but God I’m tired after all the impromptu evenings out. My stand out is still the Hazelnut Old Fashioned at The Victoria. Dave and I also tried out Smoke Haus, where I ate a sandwich bigger than my head. Tasty, but excessive portions.

Pop-Ups – Last weekend, we heading to the Jewellery Quarter Festival with some of the gang from work and Geeky Brummie. On Friday, we saw three gorgeous burlesque dancers, who were really impressive. We went back on Saturday, laughed at the Geeky Brummie boys injuring themselves on the helter skelter and then set off for a try of a taco pop-up. It was delicious.

No Day But Today  – I went to the press night of Rent at The Old Rep on Tuesday. It was a fantastic production, and I’ve been singing the songs from it ever since. If you’d like to read my thoughts on it, you can read my review here.

This week’s links:
Geeky Brummie – Pokemon Go.
Cosplay to meet the office dress code.
James Marsters joins Once Upon A Time.
Adam Savage on cosplay.
Brie Larson cast as Captain Marvel.

Currently watching: Season 3 of Bojack Horseman. If you haven’t watched it, try it. It’s a lot better than I expected.

On repeat:

Rent at The Old Rep, Birmingham

Last night, I went along to the press night of Rent, at The Old Rep in Birmingham, as Brum Hour‘s plus one.

Rent at The Old Rep

Rent is a modern retelling of Puccini’s opera La Bohème, and tells the story of a group of struggling artists in 90s New York, battling addiction, gentrification and the shadow of AIDS. This production for The Old Rep has been developed entirely in Birmingham, with a young cast of actors from around the Midlands.

I’ll be honest, Rent is one of my favourite musicals, and I know the movie starring the Broadway cast pretty much backwards, so I was careful not to go in with high expectations. I needn’t have worried.

Built in 1913, The Old Rep is not a large theatre, and with a show the scale of Rent, clever staging is essential. The set design was simple, but worked fantastically to give the idea of multiple apartments and walkways. All constructed on different levels with a network of staircases, the cast were able to create the feel of lots of different spaces with very minimal set.

Rent at The Old Rep

The cast were all wonderful singers, shown off beautifully in the gorgeous harmonies of numbers like Seasons Of Love, and Will I?

For Rent to work, you need a strong actor in the part of Mark, as we see so much of the plot through his eyes (or camera lens…). In this production, Mark is played by Joe Ashman. Capable hands indeed! Ashman’s singing and acting were impressive, and he played Mark with sensitivity, humour and not a hint of an Anthony Rapp impression. Not an easy feat…

I was also impressed with Jessica Singer’s Mimi (not least due to the incredible professionalism she showed when her microphone was clearly coming detached during her solo! Poor girl. She handled it like a champ though, hooked it back into place and carried on). She had Mimi’s mix of seductiveness and vulnerability down pat. Ashleigh Aston as Maureen had one of the biggest voices I’ve ever heard live. Seriously impressive pipes. I would have liked to see her push the acting up a notch to match that big voice, but she was still good. I just feel that we wait so long to see Maureen after hearing all the characters talk about her, that she ought to be a real show stopper when she does arrive on stage! I did love her take on Maureen’s protest song, Over The Moon, though. It was gloriously bonkers and that voice…wow.

Rent at The Old Rep

The real stand out for me though was Collins, played by Rhys Owen. Now, I admit, Collins is a not a character I’ve ever identified as a favourite in Rent (I switch between Maureen and Angel…), but this man stole the show. He came into his own in the second half, delivering an incredibly emotionally charged performance of I’ll Cover You (Reprise). Owen has an absolutely stunning voice and his acting in this number was stunning. A well deserved standing ovation swiftly followed; the first time I have ever seen that mid performance instead of during the curtain call!

Unfortunately, there were a lot of issues with props, costume and tech for the first night, but the cast battled through like true professionals, whether they were losing their shoes, falling through benches or finding their mic had completely cut out. I really felt for Sophie Poulton in particular, playing Joanne. She was clearly a very talented actress and singer, but her microphone was barely functioning, meaning a lot of her performance was lost. The band were also too loud, I think, especially considering the mic difficulties. When you have such a vocally talented cast, it’s a shame to drown them out! Hopefully these little hiccups will be ironed out for the rest of the run.

I think it’s wonderful to have a production like this created in Birmingham, and with a cast largely drawn from the Midlands. Let’s celebrate our homegrown talent! Over all, this was an excellent production and well worth a watch.

Rent is at The Old Rep until Saturday 30th July, with limited tickets still available. Be quick to book! You can book here.

Cosplay 101: Wigs

Cosplay 101

Wigs. A cosplayer’s best friend and worst enemy. Personally, I’ll find all kinds of workarounds to avoid using one, as I find them awkward to work with and hot to wear. Sometimes there’s no avoiding it though. I’ve always used one for Poison Ivy, and have plenty of plans that will require a wig too.

I’m no expert on wig styling, but here’s some basic tips on wigs for cosplay to get you started.

Buying a wig

Good quality is essential. A cheap wig can instantly spoil a good costume, and a mediocre costume can be elevated by a good wig. Shop around and buy the best you can afford. Better quality means a better look, easier styling and a longer life. Descriptions of fibers as as “silky“, “monofilament” or “Japanese/Asian fiber” generally indicate good quality, but always read the description and any reviews carefully. If in doubt, ask. Most of my wigs have been bought on eBay, and I go by seller reviews, spend a little more and listen to reviews from friends.

Wearing a wig

Buy a wig cap. It looks better and is a hell of a lot easier to get the wig on. You can use a neutral flesh tone (which is what I have, so I can use one cap across all my wigs) or one in a colour to match the wig. You can buy wig caps very cheaply on Amazon, or you can even make your own from an old pair of tights.

Get your hair out of the way. Obviously the longer your hair, the trickier this is. For my long hair, I scrape the lot back into a tight ponytail, and pin the ends of the ponytail flat against the top of my head. Get it as flat as possible to minimise weird bumps in the wig. Wetting or gelling your hair can help keep things under control. I also find hair that hasn’t been washed that day is also a lot easier to cram into a cap. Pincurls and braids are also a great way to keep your hair flat and out of the way. Put the wig cap on from the back of your head. Pull it right down over your forehead then slide it back to your hairline. This catches any loose hairs sticking out. I like to tuck a couple of pins in to keep the cap still. You can tidy up stray hairs with gel or hairspray.

Getting the wig itself on depends on how styled it is or how heavy it is. Rest the front band of the wig in the middle of the forehead and pull the wig back over the rest of the head. I have never put a wig on right first try and always spend a bit of time wriggling it about to get it to look right.

For extra stability, you can pin the wig in place. Practice really is the key here!

Cosplay

Photo by Gonzography

Styling a wig

I try and buy wigs as ready styled as possible, and then just pin the fringe out of my eyes or whatever needs doing. If you want to style it yourself, go carefully. Treat the wig gently. There are loads of tutorials on Cosplay Tutorials, covering everything from cutting a fringe in to building a wig around a wire frame.

Detangling and washing a wig

Treat your wig with care and it’ll last longer. Try not to drag it about too much when you wear it. Ideally, when not being worn, wigs should be kept on a wig form to help them keep their shape. I don’t do this, as I don’t have room for a lot of heads about the place. Instead, I just carefully put the wig back into the original packaging and store them that way. I do get a few tangles, but it seems to be a pretty reasonable solution. Combing it through gently after wear before you store it is also a good idea.

If you have got your wig into a tangle though, don’t fret! You can save it. Get yourself a wig brush, or any brush with plastic or metal teeth, that are quite stiff. You’ll need some wig detangler, or spray in conditioner. I’ve had good success by mixing ordinary fabric conditioner with water in a spray bottle. Work in small sections, spraying the wig with detangler and gently combing it through. Try not to pull too much on the wig’s fibres.

If you’ve really killed it, a good soak in the fabric conditioner and water mix can help a lot (I’ve done this, with one cap of fabric conditioner in a sink full of luke warm water). Soak it well, and gently work through the worst knots with your fingers. Then go for the usual detangling method. Put your wig back on the wig form (or in my case…a bed post) to dry back into shape.