Costume Musings

Vegan Costuming

We are often asked if our products are suitable for use by Vegans, so we’ve done a bit of research to help you navigate through these concerns. Keep in mind that Cosplay Supplies carries a wide range of products from numerous manufacturers, and it’s not always evident to us if something is 100% Vegan or cruelty free. If we haven’t included something in this list then the answer is probably “we don’t know” and it is up to you to decide if it’s appropriate. With that said, here’s a helpful guide to our most popular products.

Make-Up

We carry the top brands for professional/theatrical grade make-up and many of these companies have published their position when it comes to cruelty-free/vegan products.

Ben Nye
Ben Nye is cruelty free but not vegan. Their products are manufactured in the US. Unfortunately information on ingredients is not readily available on their website or catalog. To contact Ben Nye directly to inquire about products, call 310-839-1984.

Graftobian
Graftobian products are cruelty-free however they do not list ingredients on their website. A Graftobian representative sent a listing of their vegan products to the Cruelty Free Make-Up Artist blog. Their products are manufactured in the US. To contact Graftobian directly you can use their contact form on their website.

Most popular vegan Graftobian products:

Liquid Latex
Castor Seal
Pro Adhesive
Magic Blood Powder
Stage Blood
GlamAire Airbrush Makeup
F/X Aire Airbrush Makeup

Kryolan
Kryolan is cruelty free and has complete ingredient listings on their website (https://global.kryolan.com/) that you can reference before making a purchase decision. Their products are manufactured in Germany. Many of their products are vegan with the exception of  oil and wax based products and certain colors that may contain carmine as a color additive. When in doubt, or if it isn’t clear on the website, you can reach out to Kryolan directly at info-usa@kryolan.com.

Kryolan’s famous Aquacolor line has been confirmed to be mostly vegan (with the exception of specific colors that may contain carmine), and the Aquacolor Metallics are vegan.

Mehron
Mehron states that all of their products are cruelty free. All ingredients used in the manufacturing of their products are also guaranteed to be cruelty free and animal safe. However the line is not 100% Vegan as certain products do contain animal-derived ingredients. Mehron’s website labels any vegan products with their vegan stamp to make it easy for you to quickly find suitable products. Complete ingredient listings can also be found on their website (https://www.mehron.com).

Most popular vegan Mehron products:

Barrier Spray
Celebré Pro-HD
Liquid Latex
Paradise Pro Make-up
Paradise AQ Glitter
Professional Modeling Putty/Synthetic Wax 
ProColoRing Neutralizer
Velvet Finish Primer

Thermoplastics

We asked our manufacturers if their products were tested on animals, if third parties test on animals on their behalf, if their products contain ingredients derived from animals, and if anything contains animal by-products. We are still waiting on replies from some manufacturers and will update this section when we hear from them. It’s important to note that petroleum is involved in most manufacturing of modern plastics. Depending on your personal definition of veganism, we thought we would highlight that so you can make your own informed decision.

Fosshape does not test on animals or use animal derived ingredients/by-products.
Sintra does not test on animals or use animal derived ingredients/by-products.
Styrene does not test on animals or use animal derived ingredients/by-products.
Wonderflex does not test on animals or use animal derived ingredients/by-products.
Worbla does not test on animals or use animal derived ingredients/by-products. They also like to emphasize their use of renewable raw materials (i.e. leftover branches from production).

Footwear

Most of the footwear we sell comes from Pleaser USA (which is the parent brand for Demonia, Fabulicious, Funtasma, Pin Up Couture, Devious, and Bordello). In recent years they have really expanded their selection of Vegan footwear, and many popular styles now have a Vegan version. In terms of durability and comfort, Pleaser’s vegan footwear are just as good as their non-vegan counter parts. Use the keyword “Vegan” to search all the vegan options we have available.

Most popular vegan footwear styles:

Abbey – 02 
Aspire – 608 
Aspire – 609
Cramps – 201
Defiant – 100
Emily – 375
Swing – 103

Wigs

Almost all wigs we sell are made with synthetic fibers or human hair and are appropriate for Vegan use. Specific items like Crepe wool (used to create beards), or wigs made from yarn would not be Vegan friendly, and it is noted in the item description if someone thing is made from wool/yarn. Most synthetic compounds used for wig fibers do contain petroleum which depending on your preference and personal definition of veganism, may not be suitable for use. It is unclear if crude oil/fossil fuels/petroleum come entirely from plants or if there are ancient animals mixed in (the composition of petroleum is mostly from fossilized organic plant matter like algae).

Popular wig lines:
Blush Fashion/Cosplay Wigs
New Look Synthetic Wigs
New Look Human Hair Wigs
Sepia Wigs

Craft Supplies

Many of our general crafting products are manufactured in China. We aren’t sure specifically what can be classified as Vegan, so we will link you to the experts at Vegan Womble who have compiled a great list of brands that manufacture Vegan art supplies.

Vegan Art and Craft Supplies

 

Category: Cosplay, Industry News, News | Tags: | leave comment |

Magnetic Wings Tutorial featuring Varaform

Tutorial by Vickybunnyangel

As someone who travels a lot and works at various events as a cosplayer, it’s important for me to create things to be durable and lightweight. The ability of fitting into a suitcase, and also causing the least amount of strain on my body after a long day of wear, are the main reasons I decided to test out Varaform to create a set of magnetic wings. The particular character these wings are for is Star Guardian Soraka from League of Legends (the most weird part is they attach down by the butt, instead of the back), but you can easily adapt this tutorial to suit your needs!

What is Varaform?

 

Varaform is a lightweight thermoplastic extruded into mesh form. Unlike Wonderflex or Worbla’s Mesh Art, it does not actually have any fabric in it. It is purely plastic. When heated, it becomes soft and pliable like a sticky fabric mesh. To see a full explanation of Varaform, please refer to this post: Potential new product: Varaform.

Wing Base

Materials:
Half sheet of Varaform Heavy
Quarter sheet of Varaform Light (Optional. It can all be made from Varaform Heavy)
Scissors
Heat Gun
Water
Parchment Paper

 

I covered my workspace with parchment paper and had a bowl of water on hand. Varaform is incredibly sticky when heated, and it will stick to almost everything. It can be easily peeled off of parchment paper once cooled, and you will need to constantly wet your fingers while working with it to avoid it sticking to you. An alternative method of heating up Varaform is in a bath of hot water, but I prefer using a heat-gun so my entire workspace doesn’t get wet.

  

I cut my Varaform into 6″ wide strips before rolling it into “bones”. Pro-tip: wear long sleeves when cutting the Varaform because the plastic mesh can be prickly on the skin. It’s not nearly as bad as trying to cut and work with chicken wire though.

Varaform’s lightweight quality is tied to it’s low density compared to other plastics. While this is great for making certain items like masks, for a set of 6 feet wide wings I needed my bone structure to be dense and durable. The middle image above shows a rolled piece of Varaform that has air pockets throughout inside. It felt nearly weightless. That thickness is not strong enough and will snap under pressure. In the third image above you can see my skeletal structure ended up being 4-5x that thickness and I also squeezed the varaform as I rolled it to make it as dense as possible. The trade off of course is weight and my wings ended up weighing about 2lbs, which is still reasonable.

After heating up my thick rolls of Varaform, I shaped them to create the main bone structure of the wing. I recommend looking at diagrams of real wings to get a sense of where the joints should be to make them look more realistic.

Using Varaform Light, I cut out rough feather shapes to create a base to glue my feathers on. I heat the feathers with a heat gun and stuck them onto the skeleton. Unlike Worbla, Varaform only requires one surface to be heated to stick. During this step I also shaped the 3D curvature of the wings. The curvature is much more noticeable in pictures later on after I’ve covered the mesh with feathers.

Residue from the glue in Varaform is to be expected. It looks kind of gross but once it is dried you can just rub it off your hands into a trashcan.

Covering the Wings & Harness

Materials:
5x 8×11 sheets of White Felt
36x packs of White Turkey Feathers
12x packs of White Goose Feathers
20x 1″ diameter Rare Earth Magnets (magnetic strength of 30lbs)
Scissors
Hot Glue
Medium sheet of Worbla’s Mesh Art
2x D Rings
Waistband Elastic
Velcro (optional)

 

I used 2 layers of Worbla’s Mesh Art to create a rigid base board the magnets would adhere to. Worbla adheres really well to the Varaform! This is great to know so you can get the best of both worlds by combining the materials together in a single build. I chose Mesh Art specifically because it is the strongest of the Worbla products and is very resistant to tearing thanks to the mesh embedded inside.

Then I covered the wings in felt to mask the texture of the Varaform mesh. Why? Because feathers (especially white) are actually a bit translucent when held up against light. The felt acts as a diffuser and prevents you from seeing that grid texture. I also made sure my lines were jagged and feathery looking because it blends better rather than looking like a solid straight line. If you ever buy those mass produced Halloween wings that are made with a base of cardboard or foam, you will notice the solid opaque outline of the base when you hold it up to light.

 

The most time consuming part of this build was hands down prepping the turkey feathers. After separating out feathers into left and right curvatures (this matters!), I shaped each one individually. This improves the overall look of the feathers and makes them look more like anime/fantasy wings.

It’s also advisable to categorize your feathers according to length as you tip them. It will make placing them much more efficient later on.

 

Cover the wings with feathers front and back. I did 2 rows of turkey feathers on each side.

 

This part is optional. To make the wings more compact for travel, the tips containing the longest feathers are removable. I glued these feathers to a scrap piece of white plastic (you can use Worbla, Sintra, styrene, piece of a plastic bucket etc.), then attached it to the wings with velcro. I slip it in under the feathers so it hides the separation point and looks blended. These feathers are generally the most fragile on wings because they stick out the most, so doing it this way allows me to continually replace them if needed.

 

Depending on how lazy or on a budget you are, this next part is also optional if you think the turkey feathers alone look good, but for me I like to cover my wings in a layer of goose plummage to soften the edges and hide where the turkey feathers are glued. It makes the wings look more polished and luxurious. Layer them front and back, and on the top. The felt should not be visible after you are done. You can see what this looks like in the photos at the end of the finished wings.

To attach the wings magnetically I used 1″ diameter rare earth magnets that have a rated pull strength of 30lbs. I had used smaller magnets previously with a strength of 9lbs, but found they were too weak to keep the wings up. Since the wings are not attached at their natural center of balance, and 3 feet of wing span has to be supported on such a small point, I decided the larger magnets were best. I would rather overkill with strength and know that the wings won’t fall off my back board.

I glued the magnets to the wings first, then used a slow drying paint to mark off their position. I pressed my backpiece into the paint so I had a perfect transfer of each magnet’s position to attach to the other side (as you can see in the picture above). The magnets are strong enough to rip each other off of the glue, so on my backpiece the magnets are then encased in a layer of Mesh Art.

The backboard is made from craft foam encased in 4 sheets of Worbla’s Mesh Art. I needed it to be rigid and hard as wood, because this piece is what supports the wings and holds them out at a 90 degree angle. Warping or breaking would be bad. You don’t have to do what I did. I just used what I had on hand, but wood or something that is rigid and strong will do the trick too.

I’m holding it up by gripping the back piece alone to show how strong the magnets are.

 

The magnetic back board is then attached to a curved piece so it sits on the contours of my bum better. The curved back piece if made from craft foam sandwiched between 2 pieces of Mesh Art. I attached D-Rings on either side with pieces of Mesh Art then tied elastic to it since we don’t have a sewing machine at the studio or else I would’ve sewn it properly to make it look cleaner. I heated the curved piece and the magnetic back board and attached them together. Mesh Art is very adhesive so no glue was required.

Finished!

Category: Cosplay, Tutorial, Varaform | Tags: | 7 comments |

An Insider look into Star Trek: Discovery‘s Alien Prosthetics

It was the last hour of the last day of IMATS Toronto and while things were winding down on the exhibit hall side, seats of the Open Forum stage were filling up for Star Trek: Discovery; one of the most anticipated panels of the weekend. Make-Up Artist magazine’s publisher, Michael Key, sat down with  prosthetic and special effects make-up department head, James MacKinnon; key make-up artist, Hugo Villasenor; and actor, Doug Jones.

  

Discovery is the newest installment in the Star Trek universe set to premiere September 24, 2017. The narrative takes place ten years before Star Trek (TOS) so it was of particular interest to us to see how the special effects make-up would bring something new to the table while staying true to the continuity of the universe established by Kirk and his crew. Early preview images show the Klingons in particular looking drastically different from their TOS counterpart. When asked if this was a stylistic decision or plot-driven change, MacKinnon claimed it was purely an artistic choice. We’ll have to wait to watch the series to see if his words hold any weight since the entire panel had to be very careful to not spoil any narrative elements.

To keep things focused on the technical aspects of make-up, the panel brought on actor Doug Jones and centred around the development of his character, Lt. Saru the Kelpien. Kelpiens are a new alien species to the franchise. As seen in the teaser pilot, Kelpiens were biologically determined to sense the coming of death as they are characterized as the “prey” species on their planet. Lt. Saru subverts the cowardly stereotype of his species, and becomes the first Kelpien to join Starfleet. Saru’s look had to convey a character that was distinctly memorable and lovable. It seems like he is positioned to be the Data or Spock of the series, so his ability to connect with audiences was important.

That need for connection between Jones’s performance and audiences was the basis for finalizing a design that could be executed using prosthetics instead of relying on CG. Everything from the actor’s natural height to the way he had to move on hoofed platform shoes (putting him at a towering 6’8”) contributes to the physicality of the character. Everything you see on screen is 100% the actor’s performance through the prosthetics. There was one exception for digital enhancement regarding the Kelpien ears, but since that was a narrative-based detail the panel couldn’t reveal too much other than to say “something cool happens”.

Before Jones can saunter around on set like a graceful gazelle, he has to sit in the make-up chair for around 2 hours while MacKinnon meticulously works on painting his prosthetics. Lt. Saru is comprised of 5 pieces: cowl, face, chin, bottom lip, and sclera contact lenses. Most of the prosthetics on the show are prepainted during production to provide the base coloring but the rest is done by make-up artists on set. Using a combination of 6 colors, MacKinnon creates the textures and realism of Kelpien skin (for those curious, the brand of paint he uses is Skin Illustrator).

Fresh prosthetics are used every day as they found it more efficient to cut the actor out at the end of shooting and repaint another set. The prosthetics for Saru are created from a 2 part silicon called Smooth-On Skin Tite, so once all the pieces are attached in the morning it becomes one continuous skin around the actor. In the above picture, you can see what Jones looks like after the back of his prosthetics are sliced down the center back and peeled forward. To date, Mackinnon has done the Kelpien make-up about 70 times.

While the panel was quite hush hush on what other jaw-dropping looks they created (as to not spoil any upcoming alien encounters), they did touch on a few other characters who were revealed in the pilot. Sarek (Spock’s dad) played by James Frain is not as heavy on the prosthetics but he sits in the make-up chair just as long as Jones does while the make-up and hair department painstakingly apply facial hair, lace, and skin blockers to create the iconic Vulcan look. You wouldn’t know it just by looking at Frain’s normal photos, but his real hair is actually used and styled into the Vulcan fringe.

Mackinnon and Villasenor both stressed the importance of creating depth and texture when doing body painting work as one solid color never looks good. That’s a tip cosplayers should certainly keep in mind when doing characters with full body paint. Be sure to accentuate your features with shading and don’t be afraid to texturize a bit to make it more realistic.

For any Star Trek fans in the Greater Toronto Area, the panel did reveal that the bulk of filming is done inside Pinewood Studios, but they have shot on location in a forest and quarry near Mississauga. Should any of you aspiring Discovery cosplayers be looking for screen accurate shoot locations, there’s a neat tidbit for you!

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