Here is a guest column by Alex Clark-McGlenn! Hope you guys enjoy!
While cosplay conventions and activities are fun, a large part of the cosplay experience is the DIY aspect of your costume. While anyone can dress up like Mario or buy a Storm Trooper suit, it takes work, time and an artistic touch to build a unique costume. Don’t rule out futuristic costumes because technology isn’t there yet — you might be surprised what you can make with everyday gadgets. Here are some ideas on how you can incorporate technology into your cosplay:
If your Pip-Boy 3000 from Fallout costume requires a wrist monitor, you may think this accessory is too difficult to replicate. However, it can be achieved with your iPhone. Buy a frame that you can assemble and paint yourself, or build your own out of tough cardboard. Make sure your smartphone can rest secured in the frame on your arm because you don’t want it falling out by accident. Although your smartphone can’t act as a functional Pip-Boy, play a video on the display and run it on repeat for an authentic look.
This is only one way a smartphone can be used in your futuristic costume. There are many more out there, and as long as your frame can support, stabilize and protect your device from harm, you’ll have an awesome accessory on your costume.
You may not want to use tablets as part of your costume since they are large and expensive; however, a tablet like the Apple iPad Air 2 is still an incredibly useful tool for creating your cosplay costume. Tablets are great for finding resources and concept ideas while you build your costume. Coupled with Dropbox, you can share documents from your computer, so you don’t waste pages of paper by printing out concept art.
Tablets also are invaluable tools while at a convention. With a good network like T-Mobile you’ll always have LTE coverage, so you can coordinate with friends, follow what’s happening on social media and use the HD camera for video documentation of the event. After the event, it’s a great tool for editing your photos and videos, so you can easily put them up on YouTube.
EL wire is a great accent on your costume. While some people use EL wire for flare and outline the stronger lines of their costumes, the savvy costume designer knows less is more. For instance, a small, illuminated symbol on a laser blaster or on your battle armor can make an otherwise mediocre costume look authentic. EL wire also can be used to illuminate a wizard’s sphere or light a sword.
Now that 3-D printing is more accessible, complex props and costume accessories are at your finger tips. While printing a 3-D costume prop or accessory may not be user-friendly as of yet, companies like GeekFabLab give cosplay enthusiasts solid advice on how to use 3-D printing for awesome costumes. Another downside to 3-D printing is the cost. The printers range from $1,500 to $30,000, but the price should drop as the technology advances. If you decide to go this route, make sure you know how to create 3-D images on a computer and export them to your 3-D printer.
Alex Clark-McGlenn is currently taking his MFA in creative writing from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts. He has been published in eFiction Magazine, Inkwell at Evergreen, Slightly West Literary Magazine, and appeared in Smokebox Literary Magazine July, 2014. He currently lives in Bellingham, Washington.