Saturday, September 7, 2013

My Mounted Mechtorian Head

Hey guys!

I'm taking a breather between Dragon Con photo posts, since my eyes may LITERALLY fall out if I look at Photoshop for one more minute. Plus I was feeling a little craftsy-antsy today. (You know that feel? Like, gimme something physical to do or I WILL explode? Only no housework, because, c'mon. Really.)

So, here's what I did for my super-quick craft of the weekend: 

I bought the little robot/Mechtorian head on the right from Doktor A at Dragon Con, knowing that I had JUST the frame for it. I've been saving that mini painting for ages now - it was an $8 find at Big Lots. (CLASSY SHOPPER, RIGHT HERE.)

The Mechtorian head is resin, I think - it's quite heavy - but the finish was a little dull compared to the frame. So I rubbed on a layer of shiny metallic Rub N' Buff, and then also added clear plastic lenses to the eye sockets, cut from a thick report cover.

Next I painted over the froofy grandma painting (love ya, Grandma!) with a stippled black and brown, screwed a screw in, and...


It's like he's peering down at us!

I thought this idea might inspire some of you vinyl toy collectors out there, since there are all kinds of possibilities here. I could see a whole wall of small frames filled with various blind-box toys  - which would be a really stylish way to show off your collection, too. You could mount the toys with clear fishing line punched through the backer board for a non-permanent option, or glue them with epoxy if you don't mind "ruining" them.

K, that's all for now. Hope you guys are having an awesome weekend!

PS - During my Sabbatical I decided I will TRY to get more comfortable with quick posts like this. It's my blog, right? So if I just want to pop in all quick-like and show off something small or just say hi, that's cool, right? (Don't answer that. I'm just talking here. ;))

Friday, September 6, 2013

Dragon Con '13: The Best Cosplay, Part 1

I'm sorting and editing my DC photos in order, so here are my favorites from Thursday and Friday!

(Thursday is the new Friday at Dragon Con, by the way; more and more folks arrive on Wednesday now, so Thursday has plenty of pre-con parties and cosplayers out and about!)

My first cosplay shot of the weekend: my friend Christie as a mermaid!

(I've had a few people ask, and yes, that IS a Mertailor tail.)

This female Hellboy (Hellgirl?) and Abe Sapien absolutely blew me away:

Their costumes were stunning, and it was nice to get the chance to chat with them and grab a few close-ups. After Thursday getting more than a half second to snap a photo - much less TALK to the cosplayer - is a rare luxury.

I really like the way Abe's shot turned out; her pose is awesome. I'm trying to step up my game with cosplay shots, get some more interesting angles when I can. It's tough since most of these are night shots without nearly enough light (and I don't use flash), but I'm having fun trying!

Obligatory memes:

I love punny cosplays, so I'm ashamed to say it took me a solid 10 second to "get" this one:

Do you get it? Huh? DO YA?

(It's a clockwork orange!)

It can be a bit dizzying when you're crushed in a sea of people in the Marriott lobby, so if you ever start to feel claustrophobic, just look up:

Then you'll feel REALLY dizzy. :D
Oh, and if you enjoy the tickly feeling of your brain dropping into your stomach, then I highly recommend riding one of those glass express elevators up to the very top. (My knees very nearly gave way when we did a few years ago. HEAD RUSH!)

This guy was carrying around a steampunk Kermit, but I couldn't catch him from the front:


And this grumpy Tink is ridiculously adorable:

Coulson lives!

I spotted two fantastic Wonder Woman variations on Friday: the first was this Masquerade style:

How great is that mask?

And the second was this sensational Western Wonder Woman, who even talked the part with a drawled, "Thank ye kindly, ma'am."

 This is actually one of my favorite cosplays from the whole con; so original, and perfectly done.

Friday night there was a steampunk party in the Aether lounge, but it was so dark in there pictures without flash were nearly impossible. I geeked out when I spotted this steampunk Hatter, though, since I was drooling over his costume over on DeviantArt just a few weeks ago:

The hat has a lever on the side that operates the hinged opening and lifts out a teacup. SO COOL. His brass mouse toppled off his shoulder just as I was about to take his picture, so I got to pick it up - and I was THIS CLOSE to making a run for it with her. ;)

I spotted three or four Sherlocks over the weekend - at least one of which was running around in just a bed sheet, which was hysterical. (I heard on Twitter that he kept approaching people dressed as Bilbo and saying, "Oh, I thought you were someone else." Bwahaha!) These two made a great pair; you can just tell they're handcuffed together:

This astronaut looks like he robbed Cape Canaveral. Seriously, the suit and flag were that perfect up close:

Pretty girls in armor:

The one on the right has a color-changing orb floating above her hand - and I'm still not sure how it was attached.

This young fellow is actually an Epbot fan; he and his mom flagged me down in the Hyatt lobby:

The whole suit is articulated beautifully, and it was fun hearing them explain how they did it all together!

(Oddly enough, I actually had more young boys than girls track me down over the weekend - all with their parents, of course. Overall there aren't a huge amount of young kids at DC, though, except for the parade on Saturday.)

Had some fun playing with the lighting on this one:

 It's easy to get jaded about amazing cosplay when you're at Dragon Con - easy to forget these are fans just like you and me, making art and learning new skills all out of love for their passions. It's inspiring, really.

 Another reader, rocking a fab femme Riddler costume!

(Please forgive me for not listing names, guys; next year I need to carry a notebook! o.0)

I was surprised I didn't see more BioShock Infinite cosplay this year. I saw more Bookers than Elizabeths, and no other characters from the game at all. I'm desperate to see someone do the Statue of Liberty ghost soldiers - if I weren't so short I would be ALL over that.

Anyway, major props to this Booker for bringing... a major prop:

And now a blurry shot of some flawless body paint:

She must have been airbrushed. There wasn't a smear or streak on her! 

This gal wins most creative Doctor Who cosplay:

She was kind of like a walking parade float; the three pieces attached to a backpack behind her, and she tells me she made them mostly from foam and fabric. (The Ood is my favorite!)

Some Disney princesses:

And Dug from Up!

Not sure who this is, but I wouldn't want to cross her:

[Per the comments: "Looks to be a Femme Kabal from Mortal Kombat." Thanks!]

And this is one of my favorite cosplay groups:

SO PERFECT. And I love the girl Indy!

Just a few feet away was this group from Middle Earth:

Check out the Rider!

I think this next one needs a caption:

"Hey, man, we said no corporate sponsors!"

This group had color-changing weaponry, and if you look closely you'll see the pink-and-white one is Hello Kitty themed:
[Lydia in the comments just pointed this out: That's HALO Kitty! AAAAH, SO AWESOME!]

Adventure Time prettiness:
It's hard to tell with the poor lighting, but their skin really was painted pink and orange.

This is our new friend JJ, another DC volunteer we first met on the media tour Wednesday night:

I snapped this in the vendor hall with a white column behind her, and now I wish ALL my shots had white backgrounds. (Also shows what a difference better lighting can make!)

This guy was stationed right outside the Vendor building, delighting all us passers-by:

I think you need a little video to really appreciate him, though, so here's a Vine I posted:

Talk about dedication; he has both arms inside the puppet.

And while I'm at it, here's another of three costumes I didn't get still photos of:

Ruby Rhod is da bomb. Love him.

Go, Go, Gadget Girl!

On a technical note: many of these shots were taken in shadows and dimly lit corners, so John suggested I put up a comparison so you can see how I'm adjusting them:

I've found that the Lighting Effects in PhotoShop (under the "Render" toolbar) are my new best friend; they can make a back lit subject like this Red Sonja pop forward without blowing out the background. I also use the Dodge tool to further lighten the faces, and then add a vignette. I'm just playing with sliders 'til I think it looks right, though, I really have no idea what I'm doing. ;) (And I've only adjusted about half of these photos in PS - the rest I just brighten up in iPhoto.)

Oh, and since I'm usually asked: I use a Canon 7D with a 17-50 lens for all my shots.

And finally, this steampunk Cyberman actually won one of the categories in the big costume contest, and it's easy to see why!
The detail on this costume is flat-out ASTOUNDING, and I can't even begin to guess how he made the rubber under suit with all the wires and tubing. Absolutely gorgeous.

Ok. So... that's Thursday and Friday. 0.0  Hope you guys enjoyed, and stay tuned for more!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Dragon Con 2013!!

Lucy, I'm hooo-ooome!

Yeppers, I'm back from Dragon Con and ready to sleep for a week, but first: LET ME TELL YOU EVERYTHING.

No, no, there is too much. Let me "sum up." You know, in a few thousand words or less. (This is NOT the cosplay photos post, so check back later if you're looking for that!)

First and foremost, I have to say that DC has really stepped up to the plate this year where things like security and potential harassment are concerned. There were "cosplay is not consent" notices and an official policy in the guidebook, and also playing before the panels on the big screens, which was nice to see. There's also a round-the-clock security office on call for reporting any creepers.

The best thing about DC is that, unlike SDCC, it's a convention run by fans for fans, so the press & media (like me!) aren't given any real special privileges. We get a small support room and badges, but there's no line-cutting or reserved seating - nothing to separate us from the masses. The press basically has to experience the con the same way everyone does, waiting in the same lines and wading through all the same crowds - and that is awesome.

One more thing about the con organizers, and then I'll get to the goods: I want to mention something about when Dan Carroll, the media director/guy-in-charge over there, took the press on an informal tour Wednesday night. (When I say "informal," I mean we met at a bar and were greeted with bear hugs. :))

Dan is fantastic: an unpaid volunteer (like everyone else there) who works tirelessly throughout the year to promote the con, corral volunteers, troubleshoot with the venues, and what-have-you, all out of love for the fans. He's probably the sweetest guy you can imagine - literally a former mall Santa Claus - but he also has a fiercely protective spirit. That came out when he told us (as the media) that while we could write whatever we wanted in our coverage -  so long as it was honest, of course - that he draws the line at any negative press regarding the fans themselves.

"You start making fun of anyone at this con," Dan said, suddenly serious, "You say something like, 'Look at these loser geeks,' or anything to that effect, and I will pull your badge and ban you and your organization from this con for life."

It was all I could do not to whoop out a loud cheer and high-five him. Seriously.

In addition to DC security, all of the convention hotels had tons of staff on hand checking badges, managing traffic, and generally keeping an eye on things. The hotels have been closed to the public during the con since last year - you need a badge to get in - so that also helps cut down on creepy locals just popping in to gawk.

The DC badge situation is still a mess, sadly, as most con-goers (like my parents) had to wait well over two hours to get the badges they'd pre-registered for, with the line circling an entire city block and doubling back on itself by Friday morning. People paying at the door, though, breezed right through in less than 20 minutes, effectively punishing all the ones who'd done the "right" thing by buying their tickets online. I thought they'd fixed the system last year, but since it's still prone to crashes, I have to go back to recommending you buy your tickets on-site from now on. It costs more at the door, but I don't think the savings is worth the risk of spending multiple hours in the blistering heat while you miss out on panels and fun. Just my two cents, though!

Ok, moving on...

John asked that we attend more panels this year, and I'm glad he did. We saw Adam Savage (of Mythbusters) & Phil Plait (aka "Bad Astronomer") first on Friday, talking about science and cracking jokes, followed by a Star Trek:TNG  panel with Micheal Dorn (Worf), John de Lancie (Q), and Marina Sirtis (Troi.)

(That's Garret Wang on the right, aka Harry Kim from Voyager. He moderates all the Trek panels.)

The Trek panel was uncomfortable from the start, since Marina came out with what I can only assume was a raging case of the grumps. When one of the first fans started out by saying she wanted to be just like her, Marina replied brusquely, "Oh, so you want to be a mean bitch, too?" She later proceeded to interject several squirm-inducing jabs at the South in regards to both gun-control and religion, yelling that she had to have her say even if we didn't like it, and then bluntly asked another fan in a fur suit, "How stupid do you feel in that outfit?" I've seen her on panels before, but she was never this caustic, so I really don't know what was up. Combining this with the last Trek debacle at DC, though (the one with Denise Crosby storming off stage), I think I'm pretty much done with TNG panels for now. I'd just rather see celebs who seem a little happier to be there.

That said, John de Lancie is one of my long-time favorites, and listening to him describe his discovery of the world of bronies was well worth the Marina grump-fest. :D

Our last panel on Friday was our first of three Doctor Who panels. (What can I say? PETER DAVISON IS AWESOME.)

(My dad the photography buff has an extreme zoom lens, which is why John was able to get this shot from over 300 feet away, in the very last row of the auditorium. [I sit in the back to appease the anxiety monster.] TECHNOLOGY! Oh, and if you look closely you'll see that his lanyard reads, "Keep Calm, I'm The Doctor." :D)

Davison is my favorite Doctor, but I'd never seen him in person before. I was thrilled by how charming and engaging he was with the fans, waving and greeting each one before they asked a question, and seeming genuinely pained when time ran out before he could get to everyone in line, begging the moderators for more time. He kept us laughing with stories of arms-up-cows, abusing Adric, and frequently ragging on Colin Baker - but with love, I'm sure. ;) And then of course there's that most world-shaking revelation: Peter Davison hates celery. [mic drop]

Saturday is the busiest and craziest day at DC (imagine over 60,000 of your closest friends coming to visit)  so we took it easy on panels and spent the afternoon shopping. I spotted Professor Elemental browsing in the vendor hall, and when I fangirl squealed his name he came right over to us with a cheery, "'Ello!" and chatted for a few minutes. My only regret of DC is that I didn't get to hear most of his concert during the Masquerade, plus I missed getting a photo with him in costume, since there were TONS of you readers there and I was just having too much fun talking to all of you! (Funnily enough he came over and took a picture of my parents, though!)
What's that? You don't know who Professor Elemental is? WELL THEN, here, watch this:

Or this:

Yes, Virginia, there IS steampunk rap. And it is SPLENDID. Hee!

In Artists' Alley I got a bit of a shock when Bruce Whistlecraft - aka Doktor A and one of my favorite artists - surprised me with the very drawing I featured here on Epbot almost exactly a year ago! I was so dumbfounded when he presented it to me that, to my horror, I started to tear up and then began babbling. Bruce is a soft-spoken Brit, and seemed rather bemused by my reaction. John, on the other hand, figured the best thing to do while I was making a fool of myself was capture it all on film:

Thanks, babe.

Bruce's wife Bryony was also there, and look how stunning:
She actually makes those hair falls, too - check out her shop on etsy!

Saturday night we caught the second Davison panel and then a chunk of the Gonzaroo concert - essentially a mini Wootstock with Paul and Storm, Molly Lewis, Adam Savage, etc, etc.

Sunday was our most hectic day. We started it far too early at a 10AM Buffy panel. See, during my Sabbatical John and I watched the entire series, from start to finish, for the very first time. It was kind of our ritual, watching a few episodes every night, and I think I'll always associate the show with this time - a happy memory. (Well, except for the episode where her mom dies, which may be the single most traumatic piece of entertainment I have ever seen. Ooph.)

Anyway, with the show so fresh in our mind of course we were eager to see the stars, and John in particular was excited to see James Marsters. (I think he may have a little man crush. Heh.)

No zoom lens this time, so please enjoy this blurry extreme crop.

I'm sure you Buffy fans have heard it all by now, but the best bits for me were Marster's story of taking his daughter trick-or-treating in full Spike vamp makeup - and no one recognizing him - and Nicholas Brendon's hysterically bizarre non sequiturs. He would just drop in statements like, "When you're making love to a 2,000 pound gorilla, it's over when the gorilla says it's over." And then he'd just look at us, deadpan, while we all tried to figure out where THAT came from. It was fantastic, and I have a whole new appreciation for him now. Quirky people are fun.

Next we went to an art panel featuring both Doktor A and Brian Kesinger, another of my favorites who paints amazingness like this:

There were only a few dozen of us in the room, so this was a nice change of pace from the massive panels with thousands in the audience. I missed grabbing a photo with them because I was chatting with a few readers, though, including the now-famous Holly who cosplayed as Jenny Lawson/the Bloggess! (We had a mutual fangirl geek-out on each other. ;))

We ended with one final Doctor Who panel - but this one had both Davison AND Sylvester McCoy, the 7th Doctor. McCoy is a delight, and you'll hear stories of spontaneous hugs and spoon performances where ever he goes. I had an offer from Paul (of Paul & Storm) to introduce me to McCoy, and I'm kind of kicking myself for not taking him up on it. Maybe next year?

The highlight of the panel was when a fan asked if Davison played any sort of instrument, and if so, if he would ever play a duet with McCoy on the spoons. Almost immediately someone brought out McCoy's spoons, followed by a guitar for Davison, and the crowd. went. NUTS. Happily Mark - a CW reader - was in the audience with us and filmed what happened next on his phone:


They spend the first few minutes getting set up - at :55 I think Davison says, "Sorry, see, I don't know how to play the guitar." At the one minute mark McCoy asks Davison to play a G, and then pretends to "tune" his spoons. The last two minutes are the best, because Davison actually sings. (Oh, and that bit at the end where he talks about singing at Dixie Trek in the 80s? I FOUND THE VIDEO. Woot!)

We were miles from the stage - even further back than Mark - but here's a picture of the big screen during the best part:

 The 5th Doctor playing guitar while the 7th Doctor plays spoons on his shoulder, everyone.  
You're welcome.

Right after this panel - and chatting with a few more readers - we headed back to the hotel to change into our costumes. I'm pretty sure we broke last year's record for number of fans who found us, and Sunday night was a steady stream of people yelling my name and running over to chat, which of course made me feel like a rock star. :) Going by how quickly we ran out of pins over the weekend, I think we must have met at least 70 of you - maybe more. Plus there were times when I passed someone in the crush who called my name and waved but couldn't actually reach us.

Monday morning - or, ok, after noon, since we slept in - we headed straight to the Walk of Fame to see if Davison was still there for autographs, since his was the only one I wanted this year. And he was! There were only a few people ahead of us at his table, but I still hesitated, debating whether I really should get one or not. I was nervous, and the price was pretty steep at $40, but when I saw Peter was also taking pictures with the people ahead of us, I decided to go for it.

Peter seemed a bit tired, as I think we all were by that point (I call it the DC hangover - no alcohol required!), but he still reached out a hand to shake mine and smiled when I told him he was my favorite. I asked about a knit celery pin he'd been wearing the day before, since the lady who made it asked me to get a photo of him wearing it. He said he'd forgotten to put it on that morning, and started looking around in distress, as if thinking to go and get it, but I assured him it was alright. 

When I asked for a photo he stood up with a slightly perfunctory air, and I apologized for making him move - but he replied it was the only exercise he'd get that day. Still, I felt kind of bad, and expected he'd stand quickly, perform a quick bit of hover hands for the photo, and retreat back behind the table. Instead, Peter put his arm around my shoulders and squeezed me to him warmly in a kind of side-hug. I was so surprised and delighted that I instinctively squeezed him back, which made him chuckle. In fact, in John's rapid succession of photos you can see Peter start out looking tired and mildly grumpy, and then end with a big smile like this:

Yes, ok, so I'm tearing up again here. WHAT.

I'll end this monster post by saying that I was continually amazed and humbled this weekend by all of you readers coming to find me. There were so many hugs and laughs and even a few tears, as we talked about everything from your first cosplays to battling anxiety, and I think we were all proud of each other just for being there. It also crossed my mind that at some point I may have to go ahead and schedule an official CW/Epbot panel at DC, if only so we can all get in one room - and maybe so I can get from point A to point B in under an hour. Ha! (And I am SO not complaining, btw.)

So now that you've read my DC '13 novella, stay tuned for your reward: lots and LOTS of cosplay eye candy! Coming up just as soon as I can get all these pics sorted and edited!