Inside the Box: Introduction to Cosplay

Inside the Box serves as a forum for individuals involved in the production of Gearbox Software content to share personal motives, methods, process and results. Gearbox Software projects are created by a diverse range of individuals spanning a spectrum of different backgrounds, interests, objectives and world views. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Gearbox Software or any of its individual members outside of the author.

Hi everyone! My name is Lilith Lindwall and I am a Marketing Assistant here at Gearbox. If you were at Community Day 2013 (an event Gearbox has thrown for the last 3 years where we hang out with our fans and give them a glimpse into the future of the studio) or saw the stream on, you would have seen me all dressed up as Lilith from Borderlands. Why yes, it is confusing having the same name as a video game character. I have answered to the name several times only to hear “No, not you Lilith, Borderlands Lilith.”

Anyway, today I would like to welcome you to the fun and exciting world of cosplay. You may be sitting there asking “what is this cosplay of which you speak?”

This is a question I hear a lot and most of the time, the answer is either vague or only partly describes it. In general, cosplay is “the act of dressing up and sometimes acting like a character from a game, movie or show.”  It is sometimes believed cosplayer refers to someone who dresses up as a character of Japanese origin. Not true! Cosplay refers to anyone who dresses up like a fictional character. The word “cosplay” can even be simply broken down into “costume play”.

I have found there are many reasons to cosplay. Some of my personal favorites are:

  • To recreate something from a 2-D universe in 3-D
  • A fun challenge to see if one can create an exact replica
  • To show appreciation for a media (Anime, Manga, Movies, Games, etc.)
  • Just as a fun hobby! Some people create costumes for others to wear because they simply enjoy the process of creating. (Others, like myself, like it when other people make the costume. I will say I have fallen in love with it enough to start learning how to sew on my own.)

You may say, “But cosplay is expensive! I need food not outfits!”  While it is true you need to eat, cosplay doesn’t have to be expensive. It is true some costumes can be worth thousands of dollars, but they can also end up costing very little.  The point is to simply have fun, whether or not your costume ends up looking like an exact replica or you spent the most money. In fact, there are a lot of cheap alternatives to some of the pricier materials. (Also, thrift stores can be your best friend when finding pieces for a costume.)

Cosplay can be all about the pure joy of creating, but it can also be about a love of acting. Personally, I love this side of cosplaying.  It is crazy fun to dress up like the character, and then strut around like them. It can give you confidence you didn’t know you had, which can filter into your daily life.

I am brand new to the whole process of making costumes (props have always been more my thing).  Luckily I have some friends who know a lot more than me and they have offered to help me out. In fact Ashley Rochelle, a concept artist here at the studio, helped me realize my dream of cosplaying as Lilith from Borderlands for Community Day 2013.  I’d wanted to make the costume for years, but I never did. Why? Well mostly because I am lazy and didn’t want to figure out how to make it, also I had no clue where to start.  Then I met Ashley and we made the costume in a week.

For Community Day 2013, I was asked to run the gameplay booths and I thought it would be fun to dye my hair red and wear a siren sleeve – basically be a super casual Lilith. Just a slight play on the fact the siren and I shared a name. Then, about a week before the event, we thought doing a segment on how to draw the concept art style of Borderlands on a person would be a lot of fun. I was approached with the option of being the said person – which I readily agreed to.  While discussing how it would work, Ashley (who would be the one drawing on me) and I agreed to do a Lilith from Borderlands 1 cosplay to go along with the segment.  Since it would only be shot from the waist up, we only needed to make half the costume, which was a blessing since we only had 9 days to get it done.

First step was finding the wig and contacts. Lilith’s eyes have always stood out to me, so they were a key part of the costume. Being near-sighted, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get prescription contacts on time and would have to settle for being blind for the event. Ashley came to my rescue and we ended up ordering gold contacts which worked out perfectly. Next up was the wig!  Having done cosplay before, Ashley knew exactly where to go and the exact wig style and color.  We ordered a beautiful maroon wig and it was so close to Lilith’s hair, all I had to do was use a bit of got2b glued hairspray and gel to make it perfect.

Second step was finding the pieces for the outfit. Ashley has insane sewing skills, so she offered to alter anything we found. She also figured out we needed to find: a pink tank top, cream or yellow hoodie, and a green cargo jacket.  The tank top would require very little work, but the hoodie and jacket would need to shorten and the sleeves either removed or altered. The jacket turned vest would also need a new furry collar. While collecting the items, I grabbed a grey pair of jeans and brown boots. Even though we wouldn’t have the time to do the chaps, I would wear something similar to the lower half of Lilith’s outfit.

Here is a turn around of Lilith from Borderlands!

The Monday before Community Day 2013, I handed the clothing to Ashley and we set to work. She Borderlands-ified my clothes while I styled the wig and created the stencil for the tattoos.  We found the best way to get the concept art style with the outfit was to wear it.  So, I put on the costume while she drew all over the clothes with Sharpie. It was fun, but we did get a little light headed from the fumes (if you do this, try to ink in an open space, not an office bathroom). A trick she taught me while inking my clothing was while she copied a lot of the lines you see on Lilith, she also inked a lot of the naturally occurring creases.  Borderlands concept art style has a bit of leeway room allowing you to have fun drawing defining lines and putting dots here and there without worry.

Makeup came last! In-between styling, sewing and inking, we had to figure out how to make my face look like Lilith’s. Ashley is a wizard with makeup and she was able to figure out and see all of the different shades and colors of Lilith.  For example, the siren has tints of blue on her inner eyes and blush on her nose and elbows which I would have missed if it weren’t for Ashley. We had a bit of fun practicing the makeup at the office, although I did unnerve some of my co-workers with the contacts. There were several days I went home fully Borderlands-ified and got stared at when I went to grab gloves for the costume. I suppose someone walking into a sports store in a red wig, gold eyes and lines on their face is a bit odd – just seemed normal to me.

At Community Day 2013, we arrived a couple of hours early to get ready. I put on the Lilith costume and was ready to kick butt! However I was not complete and needed Ashley to do my makeup. First step was the face, and then the tattoos. We had a stencil for the one on her chest and Ashley freehanded the one on the hip. We used a blue eyeliner pencil and some blue eye shadow for the tattoos which stayed on extremely well although it was a bit time consuming to do.  It worked too well in fact – I was blue for days. When we do this again, we may try BenNye Magic color which has been used by other Lilith cosplayers with fantastic results.?

After we had finished the makeup and inking, I was Lilith from Borderlands. I had a crazy amount of fun strutting about talking to people and running the Time Trial booths at Community Day 2013.  When it came time for the segment, Ashley did a wonderful job and I just sat there while she drew on my face. There were also four other people on stage with us with one person doing the inking and the other modeling. Chloe Dykstra, host of JUST COSFortPlay, and Cool Story Chlo, did an amazing job turning Michele Morrow, actress, Gamer, Final Girl, into Tiny Tina, and Kris Straub, cartoonist, humor scientist, author of Candle Cove, and Mikey Neumann, creative champion here at Gearbox, started doing the concept art style, but ended up doodling on each other.?

You can watch the panel here at 3hr 15m

When Community Day 2013 was over, Ashley and I were pooped, but happy. It had been a tough week, but all in all, it was fun and worth it. During the process of making the costume, we talked about what would have been useful to know while getting a cosplay ready – especially one for the Borderlands universe. Borderlands has a unique style and having a fun cosplay guide might help cosplayers figure out how to get started, how to make something, etc! So starting off, there are a few key things we want it have.

  1. References
  2. Suggestions for materials to use
  3. Tutorials

So, thus begins my hunt to find awesome cosplayers and people who build amazing props. If you, or someone you know, have any tips or tricks, or simply want to show off your cosplay, please let me know! I’ll be on the forums under the name LilithGBX –  feel free to Private Message me on there, tweet me @TheAgentFox or email your suggestions (for cosplay or what you want to see here on Inside the Box) to [email protected]

Check out Ashley Rochelle’s cosplay page here – and feel free to tweet her @AlpacaAsh

Watch Community Day 2013 here – //