BlizzCon just wouldn't be BlizzCon if it weren't for the cosplay -- and this year's costumes were absolutely stunning. We were lucky enough at BlizzCon this year to get a chance to meet up with Christina Sims, who won last year's cosplay competition with her startlingly accurate reproduction of the Diablo 3 monk costume. Christina hasn't been resting on her laurels since last year's win. In between Alexstrasza appearances at the Darkmoon Faire, she constructed yet another elaborate and exceedingly detailed costume for this year, based on the paladin tier 12 set.
Check out the gallery below for a look at Christina's previous costumes, as well as some in-progress shots from this year's entry, and follow us after the break for a few words from Christina about the art of costuming and Warcraft.
World of WarCrafts: Hi, Christina! Tell us a little bit about your background in gaming.
Christina: I've played a few MMOs before I decided to try World of Warcraft for a change of pace. EverQuest started the addiction, and Final Fantasy 11 fueled it. I thought I was getting into something easier and less addictive. Oh boy, was I wrong. I started WoW a couple months after it released and have been playing ever since. Little did I know that when we were all enjoying the wonders and new experiences that was vanilla WoW that I would still be playing it many years later. What started out as casual raiding ended up eventually being sucked into hardcore raiding with one of the top guilds in the U.S. at our peak: Fusion of Turalyon. Now that Fusion is no more, I have settled back down into being a (very) casual player.
How did you get into cosplay? Are you a seamstress, or is this all stuff you picked up on the fly?
Funny enough, going to BlizzCon 2007 started me in on cosplay. I had known people dressed up for anime conventions, but I wasn't into anime enough to sit down and try and make a costume for one con. After going to BlizzCon and seeing all the awesome costumes and the cosplayers having a great time, I made a promise to myself that I would make a costume for the next year to wander the halls in. Little did I know that one does not "wander the halls" in cosplay. You walk in 10-foot bursts in cosplay, especially at BlizzCon.
I am no seamstress, by any means. I doubt I could have sewn a pillow back in 2007. Everything I've done I've picked up on the fly, reading articles on the internet, and practice. And failure. Lots of failure.
You've got some really amazing weapons -- they look so real! How do you do that?
Constructing weapons is one of my favorite parts of cosplay. Swords are fairly simple. You'll need a strong base. Dowels usually work well as a base. A common material for weapons is insulation foam --not the white stuff that crumbles into popcorn-like bits when it breaks, but dense, pink insulation foam used for housing. I've noticed it tends to be more difficult to find in warmer climates.
Anyway, insulation foam can be cut and carved, so you can treat it like soft wood. Glue and layer that over your dowel, and then cut it down into your sword shape. Bevel an edge or two into the sides, and you have a basic sword! Once you seal the foam, you can paint it with acrylics. Don't forget to weather your metal look! You can also give it more depth by carving more layers into or on top of it. Wrapping the handle in some faux leather also adds a nice touch.
Armor can be a pain. Budget will have a lot to do with what route you decide to take with armor. Craft foam is a very common material. It's very cheap but also delicate. It doesn't hold up to repeat wear. Wonderflex, a thermoplastic, is also a cosplay favorite. It's a big sheet of rigid plastic that becomes malleable when heat is applied. As it cools, it retains its shape.
One of my favorite things to use is leather. It's very durable; you can tool and stamp designs into it, you can layer it for very cool effects, it is easy to mold with water, and it can be painted to look like just about anything. Leather can be a larger initial investment, but you will reuse the tools over and over again if you decide to continue using leather in cosplay. I highly suggest it.
Making sure you have high-quality pictures or a model view on hand to see the details of the armor is also key. A lot of times in fantasy armor, some of the details will make you go "hmm." Like three-dimensional borders on cloth. I hate 3D borders on cloth. Why ...
Mother Shahraz was one of my favorite costumes of yours. She was such an iconic looking boss back in The Burning Crusade, and you totally nailed the look. How long did it take you to put that costume together? What were some of the challenges involved with that one?
Thank you! Shahraz was one of my favorite costumes to wear because I got to act evil and seductive and crazy. That costume took about five to six months, I believe. It was quite the endeavor, after working on the Sunwell paladin.
I had no idea how I was going to do the arms until I decided to just make them myself out of foam. They were hands down (all six of them) the most challenging part of the costume. The four extra arms were all hinged at the elbows, wrists, and fingers. The fingers wrapped around the sword hilts, and the lowest arms were attached to my top arms so they moved when I lifted my arms. If I were to redo that costume today, I would go a slightly different route, but what I had done at the time seemed to work. Sadly, when I moved out of San Diego and to Colorado, the movers packed it so badly that there was no saving it. Only the bracers and shoulders survived. They even broke my coffee table. I'm still mad about that.
Haha, Alexstrasza ... if you are the one challenging her at the TCG, prepare to be crushed. As for being Alexstrasza, it was a very fun run. Some conventions got awfully cold, and wearing a bikini in a freezing cold con hall was NOT fun when you're sitting down all day. Sometimes I just had a blanket in my lap under the table since I get cold easily. Otherwise, it was a cool experience. Players seemed to like the event, or just taking pictures, or even having their playing mats signed. I think it really adds something to the Darkmoon Faires. I'm happy I got to retire the character though. I'm looking forward to being something new for 2012.
Any advice for those wanting to try out cosplay and creating costumes?
For people wanting to try cosplay for the first time, my best advice is this: Don't be afraid to try. Many people I have talked to have the passion to build a costume but get scared or intimidated by the other costumes out there. Everyone has to start somewhere, and it becomes a lot easier to handle when you realize there are a lot of people out there willing to help. There will always be trial and error when cosplaying for the first time, but no matter what you do, you will be proud that you did in the end because it was your hard work and effort that brought your interest to life.
Anything else you'd like to add?
I am always happy to help answer basic cosplay questions on my Facebook page. My advice only comes from my own experiences -- I'm no professional! There are many techniques out there when it comes to building a costume, so don't be afraid to ask around when you have a question. I will also be touring the U.S. again with Cryptozoic and running a new WoW Trading Card Game costumed event for the 2012 Darkmoon Faires. Who am I portraying? You'll have to come and find out!
Thanks for chatting with us, Christina. We'll keep an eye out for you at the Darkmoon Faire. Good luck on your future projects!
If you'd like to see more of Christina's work, you can check out her page on Facebook. Are you a cosplayer? Did you hit the halls of BlizzCon? Send us a link and you could be featured, too!
World of WarCrafts spotlights art and creativity by WoW players, including arts and crafts, fan art, WoW-themed recipes, comics, cosplay, music and fan fiction. Show us how you express yourself by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with your not-for-profit, WoW-inspired creations.