Great news! The new 2017-2018 Cosplay for a Cause Calendar is available for pre-order! The 17 months calendar features never-before-seen photos of cosplayers from all across North America, including a shot of my Power Girl cosplay! This time, 100% of the profits are going to the WildLife Conservation Society. Visit www.cospayforacause.com and pre-order your copy now!
Visit my store for another 8” X 12” print of my Power Girl cosplay.
Making of MKX Scorpion costume – PART 2
The easy part: The pants
Previous versions of Scorpion showed him wearing very tight pants that would have been, in real life, made out of a stretch fabric. This version of the costume, though, shows loose pants that are way closer to the traditional ninjutsu uniform (shinobi shozoku.) However, these traditional pants have many pleats at the waist, which we don’t see on Scorpion’s pants design. I decided to cheat and to make the pattern of very high rise pants, adjusted around the waist (worn under the sleeveless leather top) and loose around the thighs and calves. Tucking these loose pants into the boots gives the same look than on the reference pics. The pants open with an invisible zipper in the back. It was, obviously, the simpler part of the costume.
Scorpion’s yellow uniform, or where the fun begins
The most complicated and recognizable part of Scorpion’s costume is definitely the yellow garment. Since all the reference pics showed very clearly a detailed woven texture, I tried to find a fabric with very visible warp and weft yarns. I finally found what I was looking for in furniture fabrics.
I used 2 layers of this yellow fabric with one layer of thermal batting (or insulated lining) in between to give the piece more thickness. Making a female version of a male character’s costume, I had to keep in mind that I wanted to reproduce the effect of a warrior costume, with structure and thickness. Male characters in MKX are particularly muscular. Scorpion, in real life, would have the figure of a bodybuilder. I not only had to adapt this costume’s proportions to my own figure, but also to use the materials to add bulkiness in order to create a more masculine and credible look. I made a mockup of this uniform and studied carefully the proportions of the black collar and shoulder yokes.
I made the collar very large around my neck to add bulkiness. I used brown leather bias to make the finish around the yellow garment, just like on the reference pics. (This brown bias, by the way, is made of leather straps that I cut in the hide and skived.)
Some details look insignificant, but are actually complicated. As an example, I had to ask a teacher who specializes in leather clothing to figure out how to sew the leather bias around the corners of the yellow garment in the bottom front and back. It was precision work and took some time. It’s a very good example of a design detail that shouldn’t be choosen for mass produced garments. Time consuming techniques that require many manipulations equal a higher cost.
I also tested with my mockup all the straps that go over the pants and yellow garment in a very particular way. If you look carefully at Scorpion’s costume, you’ll see that some straps go over the yellow garment and are attached to the belt while other straps just disappear under the yellow piece of clothing. I had to observe my mockup and think a lot before I figured out a way to make that complex strap system work.
Which strap goes where? How does it all hold together? How does it logically open to make it easy to put on and take off? I didn’t want to have a whole bunch of leather straps and a belt all sewed together. Even though costumes do have design details that you’ll never find in regular clothes, it’s my work as a designer to make these costumes wearable in a credible way. Some of the leather straps are stitched to others while some are removable with snaps so in the end, it’s a leather accessory that makes sense by itself and looks like the reference pics.
I also made a mockup for the black hood since I thought that the yoke, in the center of the hood, was larger than what I would ideally have made it in a regular pattern. The yoke, on the reference pics, is actually so large that I was afraid it would make a ‘squarish’ hood once sewed in leather. Since I had less and less time before leaving for Romania, I decided to make a removable hood using snaps inside the collar. I would make a temporary version of the hood for the convention and could change it after if I wasn’t satisfied. But the leather hood turned out very work well, so I kept it as it was, and the fact that it is removable is just as convenient as it would be for any regular garment.
By the way, there are many ways to make leather straps and each technique will produce a different result. Some techniques take more time, but the straps will look good on both sides, while other techniques are faster, but the straps will look good only on one side. I could explain these techniques more in detail in another blog. The amount of time that I spent cutting, skiving and sewing leather straps for my Scorpion costume was considerable.
Don’t miss my next blog, Making of MKX Scorpion costume – PART 3!
Mortal Kombat came into my life about 20 years ago. I was really into it as a teen, then had less and less time to play, but had always kept an eye on it. When I started cosplaying, it didn’t take long before I considered creating a Scorpion cosplay. I had even started sculpting the previous version’s skull belt buckle, but the project never came to completion. And then, MKX arrived. And they got me. I was literally astonished by the costume designs. Highly detailed with realistic fabric textures, almost every piece was believable and captured the essence of the characters. The costumer in me was pleased. Looking at all the concept art was making me happy like a kid in a candy store. And that was it, I HAD to create a Scorpion cosplay.
But, hey, we’re professionals, aren’t we? I also had serious reasons to choose this costume (of course.) It was a cool opportunity to test 3D printed pieces and to integrate other artists’ work into my projects, like jewelry, as an example. Plus, I was studying specialized leather clothing techniques and needed a final project to get my degree. I graduated partly because of my Scorpion costume. 3D printed mask, molding, fiberglass casting, painting techniques, tons of leather straps, handmade silver buckles and accessories, distressing techniques – my Scorpion costume was a journey in itself.
A word about leather
Before moving on, let’s first say a few words about leather. Working with leather is totally different from working with any other type of fabric, including faux-leather. Leather requires specific techniques for everything: pattern drawing; cutting the pieces in the hide or skin; preparing each piece before sewing; and of course, sewing. I could blog about various leather techniques and I will, eventually. But right now, I want to focus on Scorpion’s costume, so let’s simply mention a few basic facts.
There are 2 types of leather, chrome-tanned and vegetable leather. Chrome-tanned leather is what we use for garments. This type of leather can NOT be hand carved and is sold already dyed. Hides’ color can vary from one lot to another. Thicknesses vary depending on the animal, the part of the hide or skin, etc. Vegetable leather CAN be hand carved. Some hides are sold either black or nude beige in order to be dyed. Some vegetable leather is sold already dyed with embossed patterns, like snake or crocodile imitation fantasy patterns. Vegetable leathers are used to make all kind of accessories, boots and shoes, hand bags, LARP armor, etc. Thicknesses of the hides vary. Cow hide, pig skin leather, lambskin, kid skin leather, rabbit skin leather, snakeskin leather, skate fish leather and so many more can be purchased on the market. Each type of leather will be used in specific ways. Delicate, supple and thinner leathers like lambskin or kid skin leathers can be used, for example, to make fancy women gloves. Motorcycle jackets are generally made of cow hide. Smaller skins like snakeskin will most likely be used to make smaller accessories. The smaller the skin, the more yokes and seam lines you’ll need to have in your design to integrate pieces of a small skin in a garment.
Cutting the pattern pieces in a hide or skin isn’t like cutting in fabric. Each pattern piece has to be placed on the hide, one by one, avoiding any hole or defect. There’s a lot of loss when you work with real leather because some parts of the hides and skins have wrinkles, are thicker and won’t be used for the garment or accessory. The most beautiful part of any hide or skin is the center of it, which is the back of the animal.
For my costumes, I like to use cow hides of 4oz (about 1/16 of an inch of thickness). One of the biggest difficulties of working with leather is the thickness. The more leather pieces you sew together, the more thickness you have. Where many seam lines meet, it can turn into a thickness nightmare. That’s why working with leather requires a lot of preparation. Before starting sewing, all the pieces of the pattern that have been cut in the hide or skin have to be skived. Skiving is the process of ‘shaving’ the edges of a leather piece on the fleshy side with a width that is twice as large as the sewing allowance. Wherever there’s a sewing allowance, it has to be skived. This step can either be done by hand using various knifes or with a machine called a skiver. Skiving the edges of every leather piece is essential and necessary for every thick leather. However, it doesn’t have to be done in thinner leathers like lambskin.
In a leather garment, all the sewing allowances are glued with a special glue following various techniques, regardless if the seam lines will be top stitched or not. Every seam line will be flattened down with a special hammer.
And yes, to sew leather, you will need a special sewing machine called a ‘walking foot’ and a stronger and thicker type of thread and needle.
First step: Analyzing
All my cosplay projects start by the analysis of many reference pics. As many as possible. I need to see the costume from every angle, see every detail. I always work with printed pics that I can easily refer to during the process. I carry these prints everywhere from the workshop to the fabric store. My work as a designer is to understand what the artist tried to capture in his drawing, his intentions, his ideas. What fabric does this texture imitate? What type of seam and stitch does that drawing look like? And how am I gonna translate it in real life, using real fabrics and real sewing techniques? There’s an entire interpretation and adaptation done before I even start working on the pattern of a new costume.
Cleavage, or no cleavage? That is the question.
Making a female version of a male costume obligated me to make a very big (pardon the pun) choice. Original design or sexy version? I could have worn the yellow garment alone, with nothing underneath, like I did for my version of Frost many years ago. But even though many men and women are attracted by canyon cleavage, I choose to respect the original design. Go for the cleavage and some will accuse you of going for the easy, popular option. Go for the original version and others will say they are disappointed not to see your boobs. Folks, I love boobs too, but I think I can wear a more covering costume from time to time, especially when it’s as awesome as Scorpion’s costume. Get over it or, as Scorpion would say… Get over here!
The beginning of my journey: The black sleeveless top
Analyzing Scorpion’s costume, I first had to decide how many garments this costume would be made of. The pants are obviously one piece. Then, the character wears over his pants what I would interpret as a short waist corset, which could be another garment. What about the signature yellow garment? Are the black details on the chest and the hood part of it? Or should they be separate pieces? I decided to make the waist corset and black front part of only one single piece of clothing. A short, sleeveless top with a collar that would cover my breasts on the side, where Scorpion wears nothing, and that would imitate the original look. In the middle front of that black top, there are 4 rings and 6 straps garnished with custom silver pieces hand made by a local jeweler.
The way these 6 straps are drawn made me think that the artist imagined them being sewed in the front opening of the yellow garment, which I already knew wouldn’t be possible since I intended to use genuine leather. First technical problem related to a finishing technique – too much thickness to possibly sew the straps to the yellow garment and make a proper finish in the front. The only logical way to go was to make the 6 straps part of the black sleeveless top that is already decorated with 8 straps holding 4 metallic rings. Leather straps overlapping other leather straps forced me to think of a specific design for the sleeveless top that would make it possible to sew of all these straps. I added in the pattern vertical seams in which the various straps are sewn.
We can’t see that design detail when I wear the complete costume since it’s hidden by the yellow garment. It was all about handling a technical finishing issue. Of course, I had to sew a leather mockup to test this design before sewing the real one. In case you’re wondering, the top opens with a zipper in the middle back, which is hidden by the yellow garment.
Stay tuned for the Making of MKX Scorpion costume – Part 2!
Great news: looks like Scorpion will be visiting Ontario! I’ll be a cosplay guest at Cornwall & Area Pop Event (CAPE) in Cornwall, ON on April 23-24. And for the event, I’ll have a brand new MKX cosplay! Check my social medias to discover which costume it will be and visit the convention’s website for more details about the event:
I’m happy to announce that I’m received as a cosplay guest for Cheyenne Comic Con on May 13-14-15 in Cheyenne, WY. Another State to discover!
Visit their website for more info: http://www.cheyennecomiccon.com
MKX Scorpion Cosplay
OK, I’m very excited about this one : I’ll be in Burbank, CA on January 24th for ESL MKX Season 2 Finals where players from all around the world will compete for 100,000 USD! :D No, I’m obviously not part of the ESL MKX Pro League! lol (Insert your fantasy here.) BUT I’ll be there as a guest, wearing my Scorpion costume to welcome all the players and hopefully bring them good luck! Don’t miss the show and get your ticket here.
What about a little Californian sun in the middle of my French Canadian winter?
Who is gonna leave French Canadian winter behind to enjoy Costa Rica’s sun in December? I’m super happy to announce that I’ll be a cosplay guest at Playcon, Latin American Entertainment Convention! Del 18 al 20 de diciembre en la Antigua Aduana, Costa Rica. And I’ll bring the improved version of my Scorpion costume from Mortal Kombat X. Still don’t speak Spanish perfectly, but I can understand when I read it and I recognize many words and parts of sentences if you speak slowly. I’m improving! You guys will have to teach me new words when I’ll be there.
Right on time for those of you who have started looking for Christmas gifts, I received a new batch of my sexy sugar shack themed dakimakuras! The pillow case is 5 feet long, but the breasts are bigger than life!
For those who like my glamour stuff and have no idea of what Japanese pop culture is all about: a dakimakura is a body pillow case portraying a sexy anime character. One pic on the front, one pic on the back. ;) Hug the pillow!
For all my fans outside Québec: sugar shack is a traditional and very popular thing here in Québec! A sugar shack is kind of a cabin in the woods where sap collected from sugar maple trees is boiled into maple syrup. (By the way, unless you live in Vermont and maybe in Maine, chances are that you have probably never tasted real good maple syrup. The corn syrup served in American restaurants for pancakes makes me wanna cry.) In a sugar shack, they will serve taffy on snow (you have to Google this) and complete breakfasts/meals that you traditionally eat with a lot of maple syrup: eggs, pancakes, bacon, ham, sausages, French toasts, baked beans, meat pie, pea soup,crispy pork rinds, etc. And my favorite: real maple syrup candies with a maple leaf shape and small cones filled with maple butter. Happiness is in chocolate AND maple butter. And here I am, covered with maple syrup, laying in French Canadian traditional deliciousness… Be ready for your next party, get your MC sugar shack dakimakura! lol
Get your dakimakura here. Art by Artofjaguar.com
I never thought that I would visit Romania in 2015! I was delighted to be received as a cosplay guest and judge for the PGL Cosplay Open costume contest that was organized during Dreamhack Romania at the end of October. A cosplay contest in a video game competition deserved a judge wearing a video game related costume! With the latest Mortal Kombat X that had came out, I couldn’t resist temptation and I made myself a gift: a Scorpion cosplay. A challenging leather work and a collaboration with a local jeweller for the custom, hand made silver pieces of the costume. So many details and there will be more. Distressing, skull and spears… Once it will be completed, this costume will be, by far, one of my personal favorite.
Thanks again to the organizers of PGL Cosplay Open who gave me the opportunity to visit Europe again, to discover Romania and to meet amazing, passionate young cosplayers from Romania and around.
Visit my Instagram account for more work in progress costume pics and find out about Vincent Zimmermann from Joaillerie Zimm’s who added an incredible level of details to my costume by providing custom silver buckles and pieces for this cosplay.