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Unread 06-04-2017, 02:06 PM   #1
belligerent
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How "extra" for journeyman at dragoncon friday night costuming?

So I pre-registered for Dcon's friday night costume contest. Since I've been cosplaying a few years and have won a thing as novice, by their rules, I'm journeyman. Fine with me, I got accused of sandbagging by one or two random people when I won best novice of saturday at AUSA last year, but the judges could have bumped me up if they'd wanted, and it was only my second time competing.

After entering this contest, I am wondering if I'm doing enough. The cosplay is like 90% my own work but i didn't cast the buckles myself when I could use stock ones (it does have a lot of other custom hardware). The boots I was planning on using are also just a pair of boots I own. They're mostly covered by a couple sets of gaiters...but I actually do know how to make boots (I taught myself cordwaining so I could make an accurate pair of boots for my aragorn cosplay)...should I worry about that for journeyman? I have to have everything complete by 20 August to turn in documentation. The cosplay isn't done yet; i still have a lot of textile stuff, lights to program, and a hell of a lot of hand stitching leather to do, making pants, etc. Do I need to worry about making the boots myself?

And, further on that...how screen accurate do I make the boots? Is it better to make something accurate-looking or does taking practical consideration on wearability stuff (as long as i justify my reasoning) go over well? For example, I'm pretty sure these boots would have leather soles and not composite rubber but I don't want to fall on my face, so I would like to put some grippier outsoles on them than in canon.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this or know a better place to ask? Thanks!
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Unread 06-04-2017, 06:30 PM   #2
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Well, I can't speak to Dragon*Con specifically, but in the general sense of journeyman work? All of the extras you mention I wouldn't expect to see until Master level. I think you're in the clear. But if DC has a director listed somewhere that could handle queries about their judging, that would be the only way to guarantee you're doing "enough" to pwn at journeyman.

When I'm looking at skill levels, I would expect to see a journeyman still maybe not quite nailing their work with perfection, but they make better choices and push themselves to learn techniques compared to a novice. And they tend to understand the difference between "I made this choice consciously for X reason" versus "well I didn't know any better." So, if you're able to tell the judges you know full well what you could have done differently but chose not to for valid reasons, that's totally kosher. Hopefully whoever they get to judge at DC follows the same standards and isn't expecting Master-level perfection out of journeymen.
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Unread 06-04-2017, 07:20 PM   #3
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I attended the Friday costume contest at DragonCon last year. I was very impressed by all the entries I saw when compared to past competitions I've seen/entered... for example, the novice winner was a 12-year old who made her entire dress out of hundreds of origami cranes, and I believe the intermediate winner was a guy who tanned his own leather and used real camel toe bones and deer skulls he had cleaned himself in his costume. I don't remember what category it was but one of the big winners had a costume of a trooper riding a speeder from Return of the Jedi (if you couldn't see his legs it looked like he was actually riding the thing). That being said, one of the master entries was a 9-feet tall mecha getup which looked quite impressive until she fell down flat on her face (she was ok, but everyone's heart stopped when we saw her sink to her knees and fall from that high up).

So basically, your competition will be stiff at DragonCon, moreso than Anime USA. I went to their masquerade last year and I felt the entries overall paled in comparison to DragonCon's by leagues. Like with any competition, play up your strengths like your technique for making the boots and hand-stitching the leather.
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Unread 06-05-2017, 10:25 PM   #4
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Quote:
Well, I can't speak to Dragon*Con specifically, but in the general sense of journeyman work? All of the extras you mention I wouldn't expect to see until Master level. I think you're in the clear. But if DC has a director listed somewhere that could handle queries about their judging, that would be the only way to guarantee you're doing "enough" to pwn at journeyman.

When I'm looking at skill levels, I would expect to see a journeyman still maybe not quite nailing their work with perfection, but they make better choices and push themselves to learn techniques compared to a novice. And they tend to understand the difference between "I made this choice consciously for X reason" versus "well I didn't know any better." So, if you're able to tell the judges you know full well what you could have done differently but chose not to for valid reasons, that's totally kosher. Hopefully whoever they get to judge at DC follows the same standards and isn't expecting Master-level perfection out of journeymen.
Thanks for the insight. Like, the issue is less "could I have done all these things," because i could certainly cast buckles if i had to, but more like, as someone who isn't a professional with a professional set up and beyond, is it an efficient use of my time to do all this stuff when you can't even see the boots under all the stuff covering them, for example? A smart choice might be, then, choosing to use stock buckles when appropriate so more time can be spent getting more important details perfect.

i'm good at justifying my conscious choices, i think. i also like to do extra extra shit like for instance i made myself a wallet that matches the cosplay, and the character has books on him for some reason which i of course hollowed out to put themed flasks in because this is dragoncon and when i am not competing or need to be able to walk to be in the parade, i plan on being as drunk as possible.

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I attended the Friday costume contest at DragonCon last year. I was very impressed by all the entries I saw when compared to past competitions I've seen/entered... for example, the novice winner was a 12-year old who made her entire dress out of hundreds of origami cranes, and I believe the intermediate winner was a guy who tanned his own leather and used real camel toe bones and deer skulls he had cleaned himself in his costume. I don't remember what category it was but one of the big winners had a costume of a trooper riding a speeder from Return of the Jedi (if you couldn't see his legs it looked like he was actually riding the thing).
you should rewatch the contest because you're wrong about a lot of the stuff that you say in here about what won. (or at least watch the last ten minutes where they tell you the winners) It's on youtube.

and actually rewatching this to see what it said they all did, the person who won their professional category only modified their boots and didn't actually make them.

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So basically, your competition will be stiff at DragonCon, moreso than Anime USA. I went to their masquerade last year and I felt the entries overall paled in comparison to DragonCon's by leagues.
i didn't do the masquerade, I did hall craftsmanship. comparing most anime con masquerades with skit components to dragoncon's costuming contest is apples to oranges because they're completely different events, first of all. the masquerade at ausa is about skits and not costuming. if you look at dragoncon's masquerade, the costuming isn't as high level as what's in their costume contest, either.

also, yeah, obviously my competition is going to be stiff. i wouldn't be asking questions about how many extra miles i need to run to make an impression if i was oblivious to what i'm walking into here. i'm doing this for experience mostly of competing somewhere known to have fierce competition. best case scenario is my finishing and overall execution is good enough to win something. "worst" case scenario is i have something without a win and i can re-compete with it at a different con.

i make a lot of shit any given year but only some of it i consider "competition level." i'm not going to enter something if it's not my best work. i got a lot of photos taken at animazement of my blackwatch mccree but holy shit, i would never compete with it at the level of finishing i wore it at. but animazement is a small con and day non-comp costumes don't have to be perfect.
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Last edited by belligerent : 06-05-2017 at 10:33 PM.
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Unread 06-06-2017, 09:04 AM   #5
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My point was you should pay attention to past winners and what the judges say about how they won, and adjust accordingly. If you want to win, it only matters that you beat your competition out, right? Most of my costumes I make to be worthy of competition and part of my research is looking at what level of detail the winners put into their costumes. (It seems to help novices a lot if it's your very first costume and it's journeyman-level work.)

Just to clarify, by "masquerade" I meant I was looking at the hall costume contest entries which are part of the masquerade, not the skits.
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Unread 06-07-2017, 07:49 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by belligerent View Post
Thanks for the insight. Like, the issue is less "could I have done all these things," because i could certainly cast buckles if i had to, but more like, as someone who isn't a professional with a professional set up and beyond, is it an efficient use of my time to do all this stuff when you can't even see the boots under all the stuff covering them, for example? A smart choice might be, then, choosing to use stock buckles when appropriate so more time can be spent getting more important details perfect.

i'm good at justifying my conscious choices, i think. i also like to do extra extra shit like for instance i made myself a wallet that matches the cosplay, and the character has books on him for some reason which i of course hollowed out to put themed flasks in because this is dragoncon and when i am not competing or need to be able to walk to be in the parade, i plan on being as drunk as possible.
Sounds to me like you're on the right track. Even with the stiff competition, there's a LOT to be said for explaining and justifying to the judges. There's also a lot to be said for misdirection - I've always told novices not to call attention to things they might have fucked up, because it's a good chance the judges haven't noticed it and if they don't, they won't be in deliberations later going "well, their seams were nice and clean and the finishing on the prop was beautiful but then they said they didn't hem the shirt soooooo..." So like the boot that is mostly hidden under other layers? I wouldn't sweat it. Your choices as explained are sound and once you sell yourself hard, they probably won't care. That said, jesus h. tapdancing christ if anyone is expecting a journeyman to scratchbuild their own footwear, they need to be taken out back for a talking-to about not expecting professional-grade work from nonprofessionals.

I also fully support being as drunk as possible and will join you in that endeavor in 2018.
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Unread 06-07-2017, 10:34 PM   #7
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^And even to professionals, somebody who sews for a living might not know a thing about scratch-building a pair of boots. Even God Save the Queen Fashions tends to use ready made boots in their builds. They will repaint them, modify them, but they don't scratch build the things, and they're a professional costume shop.

Shoemaking is a skilled trade in its own right, people have been known to go to school to learn it.
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Unread 06-10-2017, 05:18 PM   #8
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My point was you should pay attention to past winners and what the judges say about how they won, and adjust accordingly. If you want to win, it only matters that you beat your competition out, right? Most of my costumes I make to be worthy of competition and part of my research is looking at what level of detail the winners put into their costumes. (It seems to help novices a lot if it's your very first costume and it's journeyman-level work.)

Just to clarify, by "masquerade" I meant I was looking at the hall costume contest entries which are part of the masquerade, not the skits.
I have done that kind of research, yeah, but you're actually somewhat disproving (or at least weakening) the other half of the point by kind of not knowing what did win in those categories. You start off in your other post by saying I have stiff competition and that's true, but the stuff you remember as being winners didn't even win. The obvious answer to "hey should i do this" is "well if other people did it then you also should do that, so find out if other people did that" yeah, but i'm looking for a little bit of deeper discussion on it. i AM curious about other people's opinions on this stuff.

however, that said, I'm also not totally sure what relevance how unimpressed you were by animeusa has to do with your greater overarching point. i actually have no idea what cosplays i was up against in my category because they only show you the winners of craftsmanship. unless you're trying to throw shade by saying "well i saw your cosplay and it sucked," in which case you're entitled to an opinion but i'm in a movie so your argument is DEFEATED. i don't think you were actually trying to say that, but it does come across slightly that way. but whatever, people have said worse to me about various so i can't really be too bothered about it. i'm cosfamous and cosfabulous. B]

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Sounds to me like you're on the right track. Even with the stiff competition, there's a LOT to be said for explaining and justifying to the judges. There's also a lot to be said for misdirection - I've always told novices not to call attention to things they might have fucked up, because it's a good chance the judges haven't noticed it and if they don't, they won't be in deliberations later going "well, their seams were nice and clean and the finishing on the prop was beautiful but then they said they didn't hem the shirt soooooo..." So like the boot that is mostly hidden under other layers? I wouldn't sweat it. Your choices as explained are sound and once you sell yourself hard, they probably won't care. That said, jesus h. tapdancing christ if anyone is expecting a journeyman to scratchbuild their own footwear, they need to be taken out back for a talking-to about not expecting professional-grade work from nonprofessionals.

I also fully support being as drunk as possible and will join you in that endeavor in 2018.
i was an art major in college and therefore well versed in the art of misdirecting and bullshittery LOL.

i would rather call attention to the things i did right or the little details i did that are funny/creative or likely to stick out. with the thing i competed with at AUSA, I ended up weathering all the buckles on the cosplay by using tomato-based taco sauce on them after dremeling off the nickel plating, because the acid in tomatoes reacts with the metal and turns it a tarnished, old kind of color in maybe an hour or so (ketchup or tomato sauce would have worked better but all i had was taco sauce). i hadn't been totally sure it would work, since i'd never done it before, but i read stuff about weathering buckles with a chemical that is made for doing this, didn't have time to order that chemical, and thought about what else i had on hand that could be potentially reactive to metal. this is weird as shit so I made sure to mention it and apologize if i smelled like tacos. the judges thought that was funny when i mentioned it. they also liked that the dagger in my belt was actually a bottle opener i'd made to look like a dagger and that i had gone to the trouble of making a case for my phone/money that matched the rest of the cosplay.

i don't know if i'm right or not, but if a judge sees 30 entries and you're somewhere in the middle of what's seen, the more memorable things you give them, the more i would think you'd come up in the discussions at the end for some kind of consideration. that's how i approach an interview for jobs and i have a pretty good interview to offer ratio.

and hells yeah, COME FIND ME i will buy you a drink in 2018. dragon con is so unlike any other con that it's really unfortunate that so few of my normal con squad go to it. i'm generally walking around by myself making friends with strangers, which is fine, but i know some of my more partyin' brosquad (who are also damn good cosplayers) would enjoy the fuck out of it over animu con dramu.

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^And even to professionals, somebody who sews for a living might not know a thing about scratch-building a pair of boots. Even God Save the Queen Fashions tends to use ready made boots in their builds. They will repaint them, modify them, but they don't scratch build the things, and they're a professional costume shop.

Shoemaking is a skilled trade in its own right, people have been known to go to school to learn it.
actual cordwaining is a huge pain in the ass which is probably why not a lot of people do it. just constructing the boots themselves is hard enough, but being able to make comfortable, functional footwear is something that takes a lot of knowledge and practice. And doing it without some of the specialized tools makes it a slow process, especially since this is one of those arts where not a lot of people do it and not a lot of those people are very forthcoming about their secrets... it's taken me a couple years to really get the hang of it between other things.

i have a few pairs of 17" chippewa engineer boots that i use for basically everything. If I don't have time to do boots for this, i'm probably going to just use those...but I'm also going to try to make a pair if i have the time and my other stuff is up to the standard i'd like. hell, it's good practice.

TANGENTIALLY (not replying to anyone specifically here):
another thing that i'm curious about is like, is it more impressive to have a wider skillset of things you do decently well or a more specialized skillset where you execute those few skills really well? i think it would vary depending on the person and what level they're competing, but i'm curious what other people think or if anyone has further thoughts.
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Last edited by belligerent : 06-10-2017 at 05:20 PM.
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Unread 06-10-2017, 06:29 PM   #9
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HOLY SHIT that is an award-winner right there. If that's best novice material then I think you could probably hot glue yourself into your boots and still do exceptionally well in journeyman. The fact that you also think outside the box in order to try things for the sake of the costume, whether successful or not, will go a long way. And yeah, as a judge and director, sometimes costumes can be kind of a blur once there's 40-50 entries so something memorable stands out like a taco story. On the other hand, I tend to form my impressions within the first 30 seconds of visual inspection - I can instantly mark a clean seam fro 20 feet away and all it takes is one glance from the reference picture to the cosplayer to think "yep, they pretty much nailed that." The rest of the judging interview is for the specifics, and learning things that would actually put you head and shoulders above all the other outstanding-looking costumes. Like, knowing that you took risks to weather the buckles or chose to tailor something a certain way so that the finished product looked right even if it was a weird way to do it. That information is what sifts out "looks amazing but average skills" from "looks amazing and can you believe they..." - the latter is what wins, more often than not.

As for your other question...well, it somewhat depends on the competition and the field. I prefer, personally, seeing someone with a well-rounded skill set, but on the flip side, I would much rather that someone concentrated on their sewing and nailed every last detail versus took a risk learning how to use Worbla and ended up using it very poorly. The caveat to "I like to hear that you've tried new things and learned new things" is "but you have to not completely fuck it up." It doesn't matter if it was your first time wet-forming leather if you did it wrong, flubbed it, and tried to wear it anyway even though it was warped and couldn't be saved with a nice paint job. I'm much more lenient, even at Master level, with "tried it for the first time and mostly made it work but given time and practice they'll be much better at it."
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Unread 06-11-2017, 01:17 PM   #10
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hey thanks! those pics were actually taken before i even did the weathering on the buckles. they were taken like the weekend before the competition and i was weathering shit last second. i don't know if it made a difference but hey i think the cosplay looks more canon now? blackwall is out in wet woods and shit all the time and so i wanted all his gear to look beat up and well-lived in aside from the straps on the breastplate, which is a Significant Item to him, so he'd keep that one thing in better shape. the note i got from the judges that was the most "positive" (ie it's the thing they mentioned when giving me the award) was that i had taken the time to make the back of the shield look like woodgrain. they also liked that in certain places, i had intentionally used rougher stitching so it looked hand done and rustic, like it was something he'd have repaired, since he's a DIY kind of dude. i'd never played this game before making the cosplay, by the way, but i feel like i really know the character by thinking through what his clothes would go through on a daily basis.

notable with all that as well, that was my first time doing eva foam armor and i also had to make my own pattern for the gambeson, which is hot as hell and probably smells pretty canon by now. dragon age designs are all really complicated and half of it doesn't exist irl as real garments....

so of course i'm doing more cosplay from this game ugh lol.

Quote:
As for your other question...well, it somewhat depends on the competition and the field. I prefer, personally, seeing someone with a well-rounded skill set, but on the flip side, I would much rather that someone concentrated on their sewing and nailed every last detail versus took a risk learning how to use Worbla and ended up using it very poorly. The caveat to "I like to hear that you've tried new things and learned new things" is "but you have to not completely fuck it up." It doesn't matter if it was your first time wet-forming leather if you did it wrong, flubbed it, and tried to wear it anyway even though it was warped and couldn't be saved with a nice paint job. I'm much more lenient, even at Master level, with "tried it for the first time and mostly made it work but given time and practice they'll be much better at it."
yeah, luckily i start my stuff far enough in advance that i give myself some time for trial and error if things aren't going quite right. i make a lot of mistakes but i feel like i learn from it (and redo things correctly before i wear them heh) so i don't care too much. i'm not going to present something for competition if it's jacked. with the thing i'm doing now (this but with the gloves and boots from a slightly different build of this character since they're all customizable and i like those ones better), i'm not a professional leatherworker but i'm taking a lot of care to make the leather look nicer in this one than i did with blackwall because this dude comes from money and his shit would be gucci. also he's less likely to go tromping around in swamps since he is not a warrior?

idk i should really play more of this game but time spent playing games is time i could be spending on cosplay.

i've never judged but yeah, it would depend on the execution for me. if someone is really ingenious about something they've done but it looks like crap, i don't know that i'd give them ingenuity points if someone did something the most obvious way flawlessly.

i have a staff i'm working on for this cosplay and i'm trying to get an electricity effect by using timed edge lighting on multiple layers of petg plastic so that it works kind of like animation frames. i personally haven't seen anybody do that but it doesn't mean it hasn't been done. if it turns out well i'll put up a tutorial because i like to share how i do stuff with people so maybe they can continue to move the artform forward.

i get a lot of people asking me how i do a lot of stuff and then being pretty !!!! when i tell them so i must be doing some things right. what i would really like is some kind of group to get together to talk problem-solving for cosplay applications. didn't make it on this season i guess, but that's the real reason i want to be on cosplay melee, so i can talk shop with other people.
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Unread 06-12-2017, 08:19 PM   #11
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I've done the DragonCon Friday Night costume contest. It's more for craftsmenship than cosplay. When I was there, most of the costumes were original. (There were a few characters though, don't get me wrong.)

People go HARD in that contest. So how extra? Yes extra. Get in. The judges really want to see some sweat. I was there in a full set of armor and I don't think they even cared.

That being said, I can't see buying your buckles or boots as being a major problem, just so long as you've got a costume that's super killer.

That being said ... it wasn't really the most fun contest that I've been in. There were a zillion tech issues. The judges didn't really want to talk to me, they mostly just stared quietly at my costume. They made me go for prejudging an HOUR before I was supposed to go.

If you can, do the DragonCon Masquerade instead. It's much more fun, way more chill, and the costumes are still big time.
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